traffic jam

Doing Well to Remember, Remembering to Do Well

Eighth Sunday after Epiphany
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 24:12-18
Psalm 2 OR Psalm 99
2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17:1-9

Traveling south on I 465 around Indianapolis one comes face to face with a ginormous billboard that asks: ‘Who is Jesus?’ For me, the question interrupts a flow of consciousness—call it “utilitarian consciousness”—related to the objects on which my gaze (restlessly) rests—mostly corporate logos for hotel chains, personal injury lawyers, and the occasional public health message “1 out of 5 American children suffers from…”

I must admit to being a little shocked and embarrassed when I came across this particular billboard, somehow not apropos in the environment. Do you REALLY need to ask THAT here, now? I’m not ready to talk about this. Tell me how many minutes, with current traffic, it’s going to take me to get to Exit 2A please! Read more

To Feel as Christians

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Psalm 119:137-144
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Luke 19:1-10

“I am consumed by anger, because my enemies forget your words.” (Ps 119:139)

“But for those who freely serve you, for them, you are their joy. And this is the happy life, this alone, to rejoice in you, from you, through you.” (Augustine, Confessions)

The Christian life goes hand and hand with a peculiar palette of emotions. At times I’ve reflected that to be welcomed into Christian community–to realize that these defining convictions have become one’s own—is the prelude to (and condition for) feelings of anger and even a sense of alienation or being a stranger among one’s own. Read more

Praying for the Nation’s Peace and Justice

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 2:4-13

Last week, in our Episcopal church, the prayers of the people began with these two petitions:

Let us pray for the Church and for the world.

Grant, Almighty God, that who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good.

(Followed by a short period of silence, and then: “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”)

How does praying as the church, the holy people of God, united as one, inform our ability to pray for justice and peace in the nation? Read more

Tensions in the Law

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amos 7:7-17 OR Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Psalm 82
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

Law and land are themes running through this week’s lectionary readings. In Deuteronomy, Moses spells out the law for the Promised Land that the Israelite’s will soon inhabit. In Luke, Jesus discusses Torah and its interpretation with a young lawyer as he journeys to Jerusalem, a journey that requires many Israelites to pass through the land of the Samaritans, a people in dubious relation to the law. In Psalm 82, God is the great judge holding council with the gods of the nations.

As a member of a late modern society, I sense in myself a certain complacency with regard to the law of this land. Even dramatic cases of judicial corruption do not, I am sad to say, disrupt my complacency for long. ‘We’ve got checks and balances,’ I say to myself, ‘the system will right itself.’ In blinding us to corruption, our system may find a reflection in the system confronted by Amos. Amaziah, Jeroboam’s chief priest, becomes a recognizable image of an administrator of human justice. He seems well aware that, for the system to function, protocol must be maintained. And this protocol entails a kind of behavioral training for those who live in the system. Amos flouts the dispositions for the professional prophet with the disruptive tenor of his words. It is not for speaking falsehoods that Amaziah diplomatically tries to banish him to a place where his words can do little harm; it is because he threatens the stability of the kingdom.

So the surface issue of law hovers above a deeper, systematic condition. Law is underwritten by ideology: a symbolic order by which we justify frequently unjust ways of life. Read more

Overcoming Epistemology

Trinity Sunday


Psalm 8

…one God, the one beginning of all things, the wisdom by which every soul is wise, and the gift by which all things blessed are blessed…the Trinity of one substance…the beginning to which we return, the form (or pattern) we follow after, the grace by which we are reconciled…the one God whose creation gives us life, through whose re-forming we live wisely, by the love and enjoyment of whom live blessedly.” – Augustine, Retractions

The doctrine of the Trinity can present itself as quite an intellectual puzzle, perhaps especially to the monotheistic believer, and it is therefore rightly called a “mystery.” However, attending to Trinitarian orthodoxy and its implication of us and God can bring spiritual renewal, when we first make ourselves aware of certain habits of thought we moderns possess that render the Trinity a moral and intellectual “problem.” Read more