Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
This week’s texts present the preacher with a dilemma that is perhaps all too common: How to find new life in old words: familiar admonitions in the Epistle lesson, a well-known parable in the Gospel of Luke.
Preoccupied with the problem that money presents for kingdom living, Luke begins this week’s story as he did last week’s: “There was a rich man.” The tradition has named him “Dives” (Latin for “rich man,” first used by St. Jerome in the fourth century) and his life is one of prodigal extravagance and a callous disregard for his poor neighbor, Lazarus. The suffering Lazarus, who knew no peace in his earthly existence, rests, in death, in the arms of Abraham. Dives, no surprise, is consigned to the torments of hell.
The story’s description of the “great chasm” between these two men might tempt us toward an analysis of the ever-widening gap between rich and poor in today’s global economy. And we wouldn’t be wrong to see the parallels between the scene Jesus describes in the parable and the realities of our troubled world.
But that temptation can keep us at the level of abstract analysis. We find ourselves talking about “the poor” in deeply sympathetic ways, all the while realizing that we hardly know any poor people.
So what is there to say? Read more
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
John Donne, Ascension
I was puzzling over what to write here when across my Facebook newsfeed came the story of a New Englander (a “Yale grad” the headline noted) who has offered a burial plot for the Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Three weeks after Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police, and with no cemetery willing to receive his remains, Douglas Keene of Vermont made the offer to Tsarnaev’s family on the condition that it be done
in memory of my mother who taught Sunday School at the Mt. Carmel Congregational Church for twenty years and taught me to ‘love thine enemy.’
It is surprising how surprising Keene’s simple, straightforward gesture seems. But it strikes me that part of its beauty is that it invites us to remember what crucifixion-resurrection-ascension make possible: the overcoming of our violence and our need to scapegoat and exclude. In Jesus’ living and dying, in his rising from death and his ascension into heaven, a new social order is opened up to us–God’s new creation–in which enemies are loved and we are free to relinquish the cherished fiction of our innocence.
We give thanks for the life and witness of our dear friend and brother in Christ, Brian Logan (1961 – 2013), and we grieve his loss with his wife, Suzie, their children, Kolbe and Lydia, and the Church of the Servant King. Hundreds of EP’ers know Brian’s gentle presence, humor, and grace from the many Gatherings he attended.
May Brian’s soul and the souls of all the departed faithful by God’s mercy rest in peace.
Here follows Brian’s obituary:
Second Sunday in Lent, Year C
Revised Common Lectionary: Lectionary for Mass:
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27 Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1 Philippians 3:17-4:1 (or 3:20-4:1)
Luke 13:31-35 or Luke 9:28-36 Luke 9:28-36
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
The gospel reading for the Second Sunday in Lent differs significantly for Protestants and Catholics. The Revised Common Lectionary appoints four pithy verses from Luke 13 which reveal a rather astonishing range of reactions in Jesus as he reckons with both his imperial pursuers and his faithless kinsmen.
To Rome’s proxy ruler, Herod, he sends a message of combative confidence (“go and tell that fox for me . . .”). To Jerusalem, “the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it,” he speaks with surprising, maternal tenderness:
“How often have I desired to gather you children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings . . . “
The fox and the hen. Herod the stealthy predator; Jesus the protective mother. Power versus vulnerability. And we know where this confrontation is headed . . . . Read more