Talking About God

Trinity Sunday

 

 

Genesis 1:1-24a

Psalm 8

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 28:16-20

Trinity Sunday can be exciting and perplexing. For some pastors, it is an occasion to dust off some of their theological knowledge from seminary and maybe stretch laypeople’s intellectual muscles. For others, it is a nerve-wracking time. Knowing all the inadequacies of popular Trinitarian analogies, they are full of concern about having something to say about the Trinity (and having something relevant to say). While the church certainly needs to learn and remember the Trinitarian affirmations found, for instance, in the Athanasian Creed, there is also the need to speak to the moment. This is the tension as we arrive at Trinity Sunday. Read more

Air Hunger

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-21

Psalm 104:24-34

1 Corinthians 12:3-13

John 20:19-23

 

Then the LORD God formed man from the dust

of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the

breath of life; and the man became a living being.

                                       Genesis 2:7

 

When he had said this, he breathed on them and

said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

                                     John 20:22

 

You who pour mercy into hell, sole authority in the

highest and lowest worlds, let your anger disperse

the mist in this aimless place, where even my sins

fall short of the mark… Arouse my heart again with

the limitless breath you breathe into me, arouse the

secret from obscurity.

                                    Leonard Cohen,  The Book of Mercy

 

Pentecost, with its attention to the life-giving breath of God, seems especially poignant this year, with the world immersed in a pandemic caused by a virus that takes away breath and, tragically often, life.  In spite of assurances that the worst may be over, many of us continue to live day-to-day with simmering anxiety that threatens periodically to boil over into full-blown dread, that we or someone we love will become sick and perhaps even die. One of the most fearsome things about the virus is the way it attacks the respiratory system, making it difficult for the lungs to oxygenate blood. Inadequate blood oxygen causes faster and deeper breathing, which causes changes in blood chemistry that lead, among other things, to panic. The name for this response and the terror it causes is “air hunger,” and anyone who has had a serious asthma attack has experienced at least a measure of it. It is a dreadful thing to watch, much less experience.

It’s small wonder, then, that we are so anxious, for breath is essential to life. This is as much a theological claim as a physiological one; Creation is animated by the breath of God, and the breath that sustains the life of every creature has God as its first cause. Just so, the lectionary for this Pentecost reminds us that God’s ultimate intention, both for us and for the rest of God’s beloved Creation, is not sickness and death but healing and wholeness, given freely in the limitlessly merciful and limitlessly powerful breath of God. Read more

Distance Learning

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:6-14

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

I work in a school, and on March 12 we dismissed students a day early for our Spring Break because the Governor had ordered all schools to close due to COVID-19. Of course, we had no idea that school wouldn’t be back in session for the remainder of the academic year. 

Since then, like many educators, students, and supportive families across the world, we’ve attempted to cope with this new reality. From new distance learning platforms and video conferencing tools to drive-by graduation parties and online award ceremonies, we have been struggling to be human without the real presence of humanity.  Read more

Communities in Transition

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Psalms 31:1-5, 15-16

Acts 7:55-60

1 Peter 2:2-10
The world changed. There’s no going back to “normal” — only a march toward some kind of new normal that hasn’t fully revealed itself.  Society is restructuring to figure out how to meet people’s basic needs, but a lot of people suffer and die in the process. Some people cover their ears, grab weapons and mob the truth tellers like Stephen.  With all of the post-resurrection upheaval, life must have been so disorienting, overwhelming and exhausting for the early church.

Acts describes a community in transition that’s trying to figure out how to live in light of the ongoing revelation of God.  Spoiler alert – they weren’t the first and they aren’t the last to embark on this journey. In the epistle lesson, Peter compares that community to spiritual infants.  Figuring out how to order our lives seems to be the eternal Judeo-Christian project. Read more