(Mis)Remembered Words

Zechariah 9:9-10; Matthew 11:25-30

In an October 13, 1813 letter to his former political rival, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson described his work on a short book, The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth. This was Jefferson’s own distillation of gospel texts, in which he meant to include, “the very words only of Jesus,” while eliminating all elements Jefferson deemed irrational.  Jefferson assumed the parts he found superstitious were simply the result of ignorant men who misremembered or misunderstood Jesus’ “pure principles.”

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Caravaggio Sacrifice of Isaac

Here I Am

Pentecost 2, Year 2 (Sunday, June 26, 2011): Genesis 22: 1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6: 12-23, Matthew 10: 40-42

Here we are.  The latest Advent to Easter cycles of the Christian seasons have now been rounded out by the great gift of the Spirit at Pentecost, the formation of the church and time to reflect on the Trinitarian God we worship.  The church, now equipped with everything it needs to proclaim to the world Christ, crucified and risen, begins the long season after Pentecost of ever deepening discipleship.  And what a story we have to start off with – Genesis 22!

To be honest, this is a story I have skirted somewhat with my almost 8 year old son.  Maybe because it hits a little too close to home, he being a long awaited (13 years) child.  How do I tell him of a God who demands of Abraham the sacrifice of his beloved son, Isaac, as a way to test him?  Read more

Old Jail

Family Ties

Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Matthew 28:16-20

One of our church members, Sally, is serving a sentence in a regional jail.  She joined our church on Pentecost last year, and though she had been baptized as a child, had never been brought up in church.  She’s had very little Christian formation, so she set out to use her incarceration to engage in an intense study of the Bible.  The growth that she is experiencing during this time is phenomenal.  As they say in my neck of the woods, “The Holy Spirit has really gotten hold of her.”

When I visited her this week, in a very excited voice she said to me right off the bat, “I finally understand what family is all about!”  Read more

Painting of disciples at Pentecost

A Quieter Pentecost

Acts 2:1-11(or 2-21); 1 Corinthians 12: 3-13; John 20:19-23

The Catholic Church’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is, ideally, a process lasting many months, during which unbaptized catechumens and baptized but unconfirmed candidates learn from and discern with sponsors and other members of the church community they hope to become part of. My home parish takes this seriously. While the rite is meant to lead to reception into the church at the Easter Vigil, there’s no rushing, no shortcuts, no simply going with the flow. The rigor and probing reflection often make me wish I hadn’t completed my own initiation so young. Read more

Jesus ascending

Gospel Sequel

Ascension Sunday

Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53

“Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”

While last month’s headline grabbing prediction of Jesus’ return, the rescue of believers from the earth to heaven, and the onset of tribulation for an unbelieving world (now revised to October) belongs to an extremist Camp(ing), the basic eschatological question underlies much of American Christianity.

The apostles’ question sounds contemporary two millennia later as believers gaze heavenward and count down until the end of the world, while others with a less definite timetable still await a rapture.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the divide, scoffing at such expectations is easy, especially after announced deadlines pass. Jesus’ own response resounds as an all-too-obvious rebuke to Rapture-enraptured Christians: “It is not for you to know the times that the Father has set by his own authority.” Read more