Van Gogh, Vincent. Harvest in Provence. 1888. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel..

Life Among the Weeds

Pentecost +5:  Romans 8:12-25 and Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

We live among the weeds—they crowd around us, their roots intertwine with ours, and sometimes the suffocate us.  Surely the harvest will be less bountiful when we allow the weeds to grow among the wheat—we can imagine the full vibrant growth of their grain as they have the full resources of the soil.  Couldn’t we just have some genetically modified wheat, some holy Round-Up to kill the weeds?

Perhaps, but Jesus’ hearers would have understood something important about the wheat that came out of a field of weeds—it was strong and sure, tested by the weeds and able to grow in spite of them.  The seeds of that wheat will carry that strength too—it is this seed that a farmer would want to plant next year, not the untested wheat that can’t stand up to the pressures that will inevitably come.  The question is one of endurance—of surviving until the apocalyptic harvest. Read more

Why Do You Weep?

Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18

“Why do you weep?”  That seems to be the central question of the Gospel reading this Easter Sunday.   It is the question the angels ask of Mary when she looks into the tomb; it is the question the resurrected Christ asks when he finds Mary in the garden and she mistakes him for the gardener.

When the other disciples, Peter and John, came to see that the tomb was empty, they left—satisfied with the reality they thought they understood—Jesus was gone, his body taken, one more event in a series of tragedies that had seen their hopes for a new reality gone.   But Mary remained with the question—she stayed with the empty tomb, the trace of the Lord she still loved, the death she didn’t claim to understand.  It is by staying that she is present for the questioning of her perception—“Woman, why do you weep?” Read more

Reality Hunger

Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; Matthew 5:21-37

Reality hunger.  I read a book by that title last summer and the title, more than the book, describes what many of us are feeling these days.  We long for the concrete, the real, the hard surfaced world against all of the abstractions of the Economy, of the powers and institutions that seem to dictate our lives without our understanding the what and who and why of their existence.  And yet, we must understand that this abstraction is a choice, that our hunger goes unsatiated because we continue to eat the high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fare of the convenience stores lining the interstate through nowhere and to nowhere.  Call them the temple foods of false gods—cheap, convenient, subsidized lies that seem like the real stuff, but leave us sick and unhealthy. Read more

God Made Visible

John 1:1-18; Matthew 2:1-12

What makes God visible?  That was the question that struck me reading the lectionary passages for this week.

This is one of those rare weeks in which the Episcopal Church (my tradition) varies its readings from the standard Revised Common Lectionary, so I read both the gospel readings from John 1 and Matthew 2:1-12 (Episcopal).  Reading both was instructive because both are about God being made visible.

In John 1:18 we read, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”  This comes after we are told of the light coming into the world, a light that makes God visible by dwelling with us and making us children of the light with “grace upon grace.”
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Proper 21: Not Enough For Everyone’s Greed

Amos 6:1, 4-7; Ps 146; 1 Tim 6:11-16; Lk 16:19-31

When I read passages like those in this week’s lectionary I find myself saying, not unlike the Pharisee in Luke 18, “God, I am thankful I’m not wealthy.” Of course, not withstanding the fact that I am quite comfortable and generally don’t go wanting for what I need, these scripture passages invite us into something much deeper than the matter of money; something that will challenge our way of living no matter the contents of our bank account. The lectionary passages this week invite us to a reorientation toward a life of radical dependence. Money is of course a major obstacle toward the realization of this dependence, but other resources such as degrees or physical ability or social status could just as well be stumbling blocks against living in the reality that God feeds us when we are hungry, vindicates us when injustice is done to us (Ps. 146:6). Read more