Tag Archives: Christ

How To Begin Holy Week How to End Holy Week

salvador_dali_crucifixion
Holy Week begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday.
This is how to begin Holy Week: take one step toward Jerusalem, very carefully look for a Galilean whose face is set like flint and who holds in hand a trampled palm frond.
On Monday, be brave and ask him where he is headed.
 On Tuesday, offer him your pillow, because for three years, his head has rested on a stone each night.
 On Wednesday, do not say a word. Do not try to talk him out of where he is going.  Cry for yourself and all that is irretrievably lost in the world.  Then smell your favorite perfume or cologne and pretend you have anointed him for his burial even while he was taking bread from a leper’s hand.
 On Thursday, drink wine and rejoice in the presence of the Galilean and then look at it and think, this looks like blood.  Sing a hymn.  Worship with others if you can so you are not alone in the night, as he prays over there in the garden alone.
 On Friday.  On Friday.  On Friday.   Hammer a nail into a tree. In the evening of the Sabbath, weep because we killed the Son of God.
 Saturday, find some holy place in order to ponder how it is that humans always name holy ground after the most unholy things possible, like battle fields, cemeteries, and a hill of skulls called Calvary.
 On Sunday, when the sun dances along the edge of the horizon and birds sing doxologies worthy of Mozart, put on  fresh clothes and run to a holy place, so you can hear the news that Magdalene proclaimed first  . . . so you can hear the words that Magdalene proclaimed … so you can hear.
 Pray this all week long.  Christ have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.
In the Name of Christ let us walk now, bravely, fully, into Holy Week. I will see you on the other side of Friday.  Sunday is coming.
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A Mission And A Mandate

 

Christ, woodcutter Steffan

Christ, woodcutter Steffan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Johannes Baptist Metz writes that becoming a human being is both a mission and a mandate.  We are not given our humanity or our destiny as other animals who simply live out of their “natures.” That’s what dogs do. That’s what cats do.  That’s what a lion does. And then of course the next statement is, that is what humans do.  To which Oscar Wilde responded that if a person says they were just acting like a human being you can pretty much count on their having just behaved as an animal.

 

Your mission and my mission is to be fully human. We want to live up to and through what is most noble about that.  This is also a mandate, a call and command to us to grow, expand, and reach for what is best in ourselves and others.  This Lenten season offers us a chance to be introspective about how we’re doing with that mandate.  We do so within the Christian religious context of Christ’s forty days temptation in the wilderness. There he struggled with his human poverty and limits, resisted the temptation to be something other than what God had called him to be and stepped into and through his destiny as the Savior of the world. When he finished those temptations, he came out of the wilderness preaching that God’s Kingdom was near.  What about us? What about you?  If you’re going to “give up something for Lent,” then how about this:  give up those less-than-noble calls that would diminish your humanity and dignity, your life in God. And embrace the mission and mandate to be like Christ. If we do that, we might awaken to that kingdom that Jesus proclaimed is very near.

 

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We Are The Church

Communion

Here’s what I saw today on the first Sunday of February, on my 22nd anniversary as your pastor:  a choir and musicians who inspired us with beautiful music (notice I didn’t use the word, “entertain,” but inspire–they sang from their souls for God and for God’s people); a diverse congregation who, when they had the chance at the Peace of Christ, embraced one another; I heard laughter, the exchanges of peace and greetings between congregants, our children with smiles on their faces, two of our children displaying their Tai Kwan Do skills and being blessed and affirmed by the adults; a young man we’ve known since he was knee-high to a grasshopper arriving at 7:30 to lend me a hand setting up for church; leaders who worked behind the scenes to extend pastoral care and to insure we have heat; people reaching out to friends and inviting them to church; the proclamation of faith; a young adult covenanting with us to love God and others in this place; Holy Communion woven into our lives like golden thread; in short, I saw the Church today.  We showed up. We worshipped. We were blessed and we blessed.

Have a great week.  Go heal the world.  Do not tire of well doing.  And as the choir sang to us, Stand.

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75% Off

The Light of the World (Manchester Art Gallery)

The Light of the World (Manchester Art Gallery) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I stepped into a local pharmacy which also stands in as a consumer- culture-consumed-with-consumables portal.  I was there to pick up a prescription and as I left, I noticed that there were some Santas sitting in chairs with large tags on them that said, “75% off.”  I wondered, is that the mark-up on these products then during season?

If your spirituality is pegged to a season like a Winter cold or Spring allergy then by all means, get yourself to a nunnery.  Well, that’s Hamlet.  You at least might consider that a spirituality marked up by 75% in season just might not be worth very much when the day arrives that you need something long-lasting and dependable in season and out.

 This is not to say that Christianity (or Judaism) is unaware of seasons.  Read Ecclesiastes chapter three.  Wise is the person who knows what season they reside in.  The sense of time in the bible that speaks to seasons, as in when the harvest is ready to be harvested, is replete throughout the scriptures.  The sense of a Santa on sale for 75% is similar to the prophetic annunciation that life is like the grass of a field.  It withers. Generations come and go.

 I stopped in a local café and ordered up a “skinny peppermint mocha” since I know the time is rapidly approaching when these won’t be served. The café will move onto other “seasonal merchandise.”  It’s okay to enjoy such seasons.  But for your life, for the journey into the sacred and holy, the season of God’s love that knows no end, that rock of Christ upon which the Church is built, that dear reader, is a far better thing.

 This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of 2014.  It is, however, thousands of Sundays recurring through millennia ever to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world.  Bring your little light into the sanctuary.  I’ll bring mine. Others will bring theirs and we shall begin this year illuminated and full of the joy of God’s everlasting kingdom.  Grace and Peace to you and all whom you love. ~PSTR

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If It Quacks: Duck Dynasty, Free Speech, Hate Speech and Love

English: A rubber duck. Français : Un canard e...The television show, “Duck Dynasty,” is unfamiliar to me. I do not subscribe to cable tv. So I am unfamiliar with the show’s premise and neither had I ever heard of its “patriarch.”  But I am more than familiar with the hate speech that Phil Robertson spewed forth concerning “homosexuals.”  Nothing he said is new to me. Indeed his vituperative comments are of the coarsest kind.  He appears to be a hack for hatred. I have met individuals like him and on occasion, even asked them to leave my office.  You would stand a better chance reasoning with a squirrel about why it insists on eating the seed in the bird-feeder than pointing out the obvious to a squirrelly muse of hatred who deludedly believes he is the patriarch of anything beyond the compound of his barbed wire ideology. In this case, efficient use of words coincides with a sufficient response:  your hate speech is shameful and has nothing in common with Christ.

There are some who, like the current governor of Louisiana and the former governor of Alaska, take such sufficient response as an attack on free speech, thereby revealing two things of importance in regard to their grasp of such issues.  They reveal first that they are clueless about free speech.  Phil the Patriarch said what he pleased and unlike other bigots, got lots of media coverage, for having said it.  But your freedom to spew hate speech does not oblige the rest of us to refrain from calling a duck a duck.  This is where the twin governors are misguided.  They believe a denunciation of hate speech is a denial of free speech when in fact, that denunciation is also free speech!  No one is saying you can’t say these vile things. We’re just pointing out how vile and bigoted that speech is and further, that it should not be rewarded with a tv show and the adulation of anyone, much less politicians who were presumably elected to protect the civil rights of all their people.  Which brings me to the second thing the governors revealed about themselves. They rushed to defend, not free speech, but hate speech.  See my remarks above with regard to reasoning with squirrels.  They rushed to defend hate speech, not free speech. The difference tells you all you need to know about their “core” values.  Now this segues nicely into the final issue I wish to freely speak to:  “biblical” religion or “biblical” values.

 One of the most astonishing (and trite) strategies for denouncing an entire race of people is to say the bible tells you to do it.  Apparently, Phil Robertson’s family asserted he is a “biblical” man. Again, let’s work for both an efficient and sufficient response.  There is no such thing as “biblical.” The reason there is not is that the bible is made up of sixty-six books over a bout 1500 years.  To use this term, biblical, is to suggest the bible speaks in one voice on all matters. It doesn’t.  Just for fun, try reading some passages about pork while you’re chomping on some bacon.  What these folks do is to naively assert (and at the same time, reveal how misguided they have been by clergy too afraid to challenge cultural constructs) that their bible is to be read a certain way. What does Patriarch Phil think of women voting, governing, speaking their minds, holding down jobs? what does he think of slavery?  concubines?  Sorry, but you just don’t get to use the bible as a weapon against people and ask the rest of us to pretend you don’t know what you’re doing.  When you go to the bible, measure its narratives and especially its “values” by the Christ. Hey, Phil, do this: read First Corinthians chapter 13.  It is very possible that you’ve only read it or heard it read at weddings. It is not about weddings. It is about God’s self-revelation as Love in Christ. Read it and then repent. Because Phil, the duck dynasty sounds like an awful, clanging cymbal.  Let me put it another way: you’re a quack when it comes to interpreting the message of Christ. Hate speech will one day end. But faith, hope and love—these will endure and yes, Patriarch, the greatest of these is Love.  

~Pastor Michael Bledsoe, Ph.D.

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