Ethics After Pentecost

According to the Christian liturgical calendar, we are now gathering to worship on Sundays during the Season after Pentecost, which is also often referred to as Ordinary Time even though the Scriptures for Sunday, August 17th (Roman Catholic lectionary) are full of extraordinary, even quite surprising, tidings. Another name for this season is Kingdomtide, and I would like to suggest that these Scripture passages are about the kin-dom that God desires to happen on earth as it is in heaven. That is, the common thread running throughout these readings is that God’s salvation essentially involves hospitality, compassion, and justice for all peoples–including, unexpectedly, those who are “other.” Read more

Third Sunday After Pentecost

What does it mean, I wonder, to hear this week’s appointed scripture texts if you are a Christian in Myanmar or in the Sichuan province of China? What would you make of all this talk of mountains shaking; the sea roaring and foaming; swollen waters on the earth; rain, flood, wind, destruction, death?

Those of us who have never experienced the kind of catastrophic devastation associated with cyclones and earthquakes can too easily romanticize the natural world, admiring only its beauty: a breathtaking sunset, a beautiful beach, a majestic mountain. As modern suburbanites and urbanites we’re happy with our isolation from nature’s wild, unpredictable side—as our neatly landscaped lawns and pretty container gardens make plain. We like nature well enough; so long as we can manage it—so long as it doesn’t try to hurt us. Read more