Palm Sunday, too

A Token Performance

Palm Sunday
Passion Sunday

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 11:1-11

Hang on to the wheel
for the highway to hell
needs chauffeurs for the powers that be
– Mark Heard, “Rise from the Ruins”

Early in my years as a pastor, I was conscripted to be in a pageant as part of a gathering of area churches. Several of us chosen ones wore either a crown of rejoicing, a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory, or a crown of life. As the appropriate Scripture passage was read, each one of us, dressed as royalty, processed down a long auditorium aisle and placed our crowns on a stage altar. The producer/director/stage manager/costume designer (the sister had a lot invested) was as earnest as the day is long in wanting to portray visually a Revelation-like casting crowns before the throne. My wife hesitantly had to admit afterwards that the overall visual message was more like “Elvis impersonators are in the building.”

I think of that night as another processional draws near. 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

The White Savior Industrial Complex

Teju Cole is the author of Open City, which won this year’s PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He expounds on the sentiments behind his tweets regarding the Invisible Children / Kony 2012 videos at The Atlantic website.

I disagree with the approach taken by Invisible Children in particular, and by the White Savior Industrial Complex in general, because there is much more to doing good work than “making a difference.” There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.

read the entire article here: The White Savior Industrial Complex

197px-The_Vision_of_The_Valley_of_The_Dry_Bones

The Deep Hope of Easter

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34.

What is the new covenant that God has made in Christ and what does it mean for our life in Christ today? This question is an essential one raised by today’s Old Testament text.  The ways in which Christians have answered this question through the centuries have often led to anti-Semitic attitudes and oppression of the Jews.  The gist of the reasoning has been that the Jews screwed up and God had to start over from scratch and now the Christians are the people on whom the blessing of God rests (and, of course, the Jews are outsiders, heretics and the ones who had Jesus crucified, and thus worthy of having all manner of violence inflicted upon them).

Is this really the sort of God, covenant and people that Jeremiah is proclaiming here?  I hope not, but let’s look a little deeper.  Gerhard Lohfink, in his classic work Does God Need the Church?: Toward a Theology of the People of God sheds some light on this passage:

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The Problem with Rowan Williams

From Australian theologian Ben Myers who writes at the blog Faith and Theology:

It is often said that Williams is an unusual churchman – too scholarly, too ponderous, too sensitive to complexity – but it should equally be said that he is an unusual scholar. Although he has made important contributions to several academic disciplines – not only theology but also history, political philosophy and literary criticism – his deepest commitment has always been to the cultivation of community rather than to any particular intellectual project.

If his critics complained that he was an unusually academic archbishop, Cambridge will also find him to be an unusually priestly scholar.

To read the rest click here.

Michelangelo's Nicodemus

Naked Intent

Fourth Sunday of Lent

2 Chronicles 36:14-23 OR Numbers 21:4-9
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21 OR John 6:4-15

I am Nicodemus: scared, grasping in the dark for certainties. For all my learning and skills with words, a disgraced Samaritan woman gets Jesus faster and wastes no time in spreading the news. (see John 4)

Is it because I, scared of what people will think, prefer coming at night, tripping over words and their meanings? Maybe you know how that feels. Maybe you’re Nicodemus, too. Read more

What Space Must the Church Occupy?

by Craig Wong 

At a 50th birthday party my dear wife recently threw for me, Pastor Bill Betts waxed eloquent about the “Greek, Roman, and Jewish phases of our lives.” The first phase swirls with lofty idealisms…dreams about our future and the world we hope to change. The second is where we take on the world with concrete energy, striving to make our mark. It is in the Jewish phase, however, when we realize that, when all is said and done, it is our friendships, family traditions, how we’ve lived our lives with one another that ultimately matters. Bill’s words provided food for thought for many of us that day.

Read more

Anger in Church

Third Sunday in Lent

 

“The gesture in the temple is all the more poignant and prophetic when we imagine it executed by a man too slight to carry his own cross without assistance, a man whose idea of a workout is a forty-day fast.”

Garret Keizer, The Enigma of Anger

Read more

stepping

Following Jesus One Step at a Time

Second Sunday in Lent

Mark 8: 31-38

This Second Sunday of Lent we come face to face with the hard news of following Jesus. Last week we read of Jesus in the wilderness facing Satan and wild beasts. That was hard, but that was about Jesus. This week there is no skirting the issue; Jesus is talking to us about what it means to follow him. This is hard and it’s about us. Read more