A Healing Word

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?

Psalm 27:1

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

This is Good News?

The Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Philippians 4:4-7
Isaiah 12:2-6
Luke 3:7-18

Gaudete in domini semper.

These words from this week’s lectionary epistle are also the text of the introit of the mass for the third Sunday of Advent. Thus on Gaudete Sunday, when Advent’s sober mood is broken a little and the pink candle on the wreath is lit, we remember that we are invited to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

These words are so familiar that perhaps we have lost the sense of irony in saying or singing them during a season and on a day when much of what we recall is rooted in scandal and gloom: the disgrace of pregnancy outside of wedlock in a strict patriarchal culture and John the Baptizer’s wide-eyed, fiery condemnations.

James Wright‘s poem, “Trouble,” evokes the first (while it also subverts, as do the gospel accounts of Mary, the social norms surrounding teenage motherhood) : Read more

Why World Communion Sunday Is a Bad Idea

The origins of this Protestant observance reveal the best of intentions. But for at least three reasons, continuing to set aside the first Sunday in October to highlight the Church’s signature rite is not a good idea.

One: Observing something called “World Communion Sunday” one day of the year communicates the idea that the Eucharist is special. But if Holy Communion really is the Church’s signature rite, if it is indeed that which makes the Church what it is, then “special” is exactly what it is not. We don’t think of the air we breathe as “special,” the breakfast we eat as “special.” These things are gifts, of course–breath and food–but it is in their givenness, their ordinariness that they are the means for life and health.

In Clyde, Missouri, the Benedictine Sisters
of Perpetual Adoration cut unleavened bread
into communion wafers and gather them
in plastic bags folded, stapled, and later packed
in boxes.

Read more

Slowing Down and Reflecting Cross-generationally

Jason Fischer reflects on Slow Church:

“…I find it appropriate to confess that as a youth and family director my divided heart has been tempted to compare the programs I have created at church against those in other churches. The youth directors over at the other church always seem to have so many kids, small groups, and elaborate worship services while I struggle to keep cranking out the multitude of marginally-attended events at my own congregation. Maybe Pastors have been double-minded in this way as well, but I soon realized that my frustration with low turnout and the endless cycle of busyness was not allowing me, or our congregation, to share the best of what God had given us with each other.”

read the full post here: EP guest post, Patheos Slow Church

Living in a Material World: Lent and Our Bodies

Remember you are soil, and to soil you shall return. Gen. 3:19

The language of “spiritual journey” is commonplace in describing the season of Lent–the 40-day pilgrimage Christians undertake as they trek with Jesus from the wilderness to the garden to the garbage heap of Golgotha and beyond. “Spiritual” in this context, as in almost every other, is so vague as to be not merely unhelpful but an actual obstacle to understanding what it is that Lent through the centuries has called Christians to.

Generally, “spiritual” is meant to signal a concern with matters of the heart or the soul or the deepest self. More pointedly, it almost always springs from–even as it continues to endorse–the tired dualisms of modernity that have divided body from soul, matter from spirit, earth from heaven. This false divide, as Wendell Berry has observed, is “a fracture that runs through the mentality of institutional religion like a geologic fault.”

Interestingly, it is geology (sort of) that can help get us back on track or–forgive the pun–onto solid ground. When we receive the ashes on our foreheads we are marked with a visible sign of our mortality, yes, but we are also reminded of our link to all of creation past, present, and future–to elements both earthly and celestial, to the soil and to the stars. (We could even say: “remember you are stardust, and to stardust you shall return!”).

To read the rest click here.