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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday of Holy Week. Jesus was bullied.

An educational website aimed at kids defines bullying in the following ways:
"Punching, shoving, and other acts that hurt people physically.
 Spreading bad rumors about people.Teasing people in a mean way.
Getting certain people to "gang up" on others."

I found this to be a description of the way Jesus was treated during Holy Week.

Luke 22:63-65 "The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, 'Prophesy! Who hit you?' And they said many other insulting things to him." (Punching, shoving, and other acts that hurt people physically. Teasing people in a mean way)

Luke 23:1 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.  And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king."  (Spreading bad rumors about people. Getting certain people to "gang up" on others)

What does it say to us that our Lord and Savior was bullied?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday of Holy Week Isaiah 42:1-9

Songs of the Suffering Servant echo across the ages, through dark times and light, through hope and despair, we hear the sound of the Servant.

It is Tuesday. In two days he will eat the Supper. In three days he will die. In four days he will descend. In five days...well, we don't know that yet, do we?

Let us wait. Let us ponder the suffering of not only Jesus, but all of those who suffer in Jesus' name.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Holy Week Isaiah 42:1-9

"I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness." Isaiah 42:6-7

Everything for which we hope has come to pass in Jesus Christ. Yet now we ponder, we hope, we wish he would be the powerful warrior prince. Monday. All our hopes are tied up in one Man. But the chief priests and scribes seek to kill him. What will Jesus do? Will He show them He is God?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maundy Thursday Lent Year C

One week from yesterday will be Maundy Thursday. This is the day when we remember the last supper Jesus ate with his disciples. Our church will observe the day with a dinner, and then  a service in which we wash  each other's feet. Some churches may observe this regularly, but it was a new thing for our tradition a few years ago when we started. Of course its not required. One may ask a pastor to wash his or her feet, or ask a friend or loved one, or one may offer to wash another's feet. It's a holy occasion to get down on one's knees in public and wash someone's stinky feet. It helps us to remember his humility.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Holy Week is coming

Sorrowful anticipation for Good Friday
Happy anticipation for Easter
Holy Week is coming. Let us remember his Passion.

When I started observing Holy Week as an adult, I couldn't believe the meaning it put into the events of Jesus' last days for me. As I child of 7  I watched a movie about Jesus (can't remember which one) and remember I almost vomited when the whipped and killed him. It wasn't even at the level the "Passion of the Christ."   A teacher of mine read us The Day Christ Died once. I shook the entire time. I don't advise reading that book to children. I know we can't be shielded from the horror of the event. Over the years I have tried to push the feelings down. I avoided Good Friday services and any visual that had to do with the crucifixion. Now I believe  it is best to embrace the feelings of horror. It WAS the worst thing humanity could ever do. It was obscene and horrific and violent and gory. I tried to watch the "Passion of the Christ" when it came out in theaters. My students were asking about it. I felt I owed it to them. I went by myself. I sat behind a group of people that were laughing and joking and eating popcorn. I sat in front of a group who were loudly sobbing. I sat alone. I couldn't cry, the pain was too deep. Finally when they shoved the crowns into his scalp I left. I shook all the way home. I confessed to my class I couldn't get through it. I have never managed to finish it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on Palm Sunday Year C John 12:12-16

Today I was talking to my Biblical Interpretation class about the historical reasons behind Jesus' death. I was struck by the idea that he could have avoided Jerusalem during Passover...knowing it was already a hotbed of political strife, why did he go? Of course we have the theological and biblical answers...Luke 9:51 "And he set his face to Jerusalem." He made up his mind he would go, humanly knowing what Rome did with "insurrectionists." What was he thinking as he rode the back of the donkey into Jerusalem? For just a moment did he wish that he could accept the praise, use his power, knock Pilate and Herod off their thrones, and take over? I know, he settled that back in the Temptation narrative...but did it ever come back? We welcome him with open arms, and then turn so quickly. God, don't let me do that this year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Liturgy of the Palms Liturgy of the Passion Year C John 12:12-16

The Triumphal Entry in the Gospel of John is placed strategically between Mary of Bethany's anointing of Jesus and the Greeks' wishing to see Jesus. Therefore, Jesus has been anointed for death--foreshadowing of crucifixion, and Gentiles begin to seek him--foreshadowing of salvation offered to all. Unlike Luke, John does not spend much time on the Entry.Only four verses set the stage for the pain and the passion. Mark's account gives us more material also. John seems to enjoy having people state the obvious without knowing why they are saying it.

The people proclaim, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord--the King of Israel!"

What is the obvious?
Jesus rides on the back of a donkey entering Jerusalem at Passover?
Mighty Messiah?
Military Mayhem?
Maybe More?

Expectations and hope fill the air. Palm branches wave. Some scholar say the waving branches of Palms stem back to Maccabean times, celebrating military victory.

What are my hopes this Palm Sunday? Do I wish for God to do violence to get revenge on my enemies? Do I wish for God to punish the "sinners" of the age?

Or do I expect God to forgive and forget? Do I expect grace to be offered to even those who stand in the crowd crying crucifiy him five days later? Do I realize I am in that crowd?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lent 5C John 12:1-8 Mary's Anointing of Jesus. "What if I gave it all?"

I've been meditating on this scripture for the past 2 days. The thought that keeps rising to the top is, "What if I gave it all?" Interesting that John places this passage directly after the raising of Lazarus. Mary's brother has just died, and she did not use this perfume on his body? I've never thought of that. She saved it for Jesus. And ask she pours it out, does she truly realize that his death is coming? Some scholars say she would have heard the evil heartbeat of the Jewish leaders who sought to kill her friend. She bought if for his burial, but she pours it on his feet before he dies. Is she telling Jesus she understands that he will give it all? Is she saying she is giving all she is because she knows he will give all he has? Why does Judas question her motives? There is always someone out there who will question one who gives without wanting something in return. For those who cannot do that, they cannot believe anyone else will. Judas believes everyone has a scheme like he does. Perhaps he thinks Mary is after a blessing.  Interesting that Judas will be the vehicle by which Jesus is sold into death. We know what his motives are.

What if I give it all to a crucified man?  There's nothing left he can give if he dies (according to Mary). Therefore, she pours out her year's wages at his feet. Would I do the same? Or am I Judas, sitting there wishing I could be like her, but knowing I cannot due to my own selfishness?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lent 4C Luke 15 The Jealous Older Brother and the Loving Father

I don't think this parable should be called the Prodigal Son. I would like to rename it, "the Jealous Older Brother." I remember the first time a teacher pointed this out to me...that the message might not just be the father who forgives and the son who returns. There is the older brother who sits home and gets angry when the spoiled brat returns. The parable never says the older brother changes his mind. Perhaps the message to most of us sitting in the pew that we are the older brothers. Are we envious because God is generous? Yes. What about all the years I gave to God while "They" were out sinning? Don't they count for something? No. Not really. Its about God's love and forgiveness...not about our righteousness.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lent 3 C Luke 13:1-9 Did they deserve it?

This passage concerns Jesus discussing the idea of "Did those bad people deserve what they got?"  Apparently the people are asking Jesus' opinion of a horrible act of violence by Pilate (how about that for foreshadowing) against Galilieans who worshipped at Jerusalem, and the fact a tower collapsed near the pool of Siloam. They seem to be thinking perhaps the collapse of the tower was retribution for the massacre. But no one in particular caused the collapse. We call that a natural disaster. But these people had no frame of reference for natural. It was only God or nothing.

I fear we are often guilty of that same reasoning. Sadly some religious leaders have jumped on this and publically proclaimed that God was judging (fill in the blank). Today it is Haiti and Chile. Tomorrow there will be more disasters because that is the way the earth works. Plates shift, tornadoes rage, hurricanes flood, and blizzards freeze.

Jesus' message here needs to be our message. "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

We are all sinners. We all deserve death. Yet Jesus offers us forgiveness if we repent. All of us are in the same boat. We will all drown without the Lifesaver.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Everyone who thirsts Lent 3 C Isaiah 55:1-13

"Eat what is good" Now that is a good quote for Lent!!! Have you ever seen the movie, Chocolat, in which a woman opens a candy shoppe in a Catholic village DURING Lent?

Ok, I will confess I gave up sugar and wheat for Lent. So far so good...only one lapse into Mardi Gras (Pink Swirls, I was weak)...I'm finding it easier than the year I gave up Ebay.

Back to Isaiah, this text is about feasting on that which we did not earn--a beautiful picture of God's grace. In a bad economy, no one gets a "free lunch." We work our fingers to the bone for pennies and hope we have enough at the end of the day to feed our babies. I feel guilty that I long for wheat and sugar when there are so many starving for any food in this world.

So may the God who provides manna in the wilderness and quail from nowhere, and water from rocks provide for us. May those who have plenty, give, and those who have none, receive. Amen.

Changing face of education

Ok, so I know this doesn't fit the category of Lectionary Thoughts and Sermons. But it is a THOUGHT. I was observing today on how education has changed in the past 20 years. Yes, I am admitting my age. Some of this material is not original as I'm sure lots of people my age and older remark on it. I am closer to thirty than forty, and I graduated from college in the early nineties...That's as close to admitting age as I'm gonna get. I am a professor at a private college.

When I was in college Scantrons were High-tech
Now I give even essay tests in an online format. No paper needed, thank you. Save the trees. I am old fashioned perhaps by making my traditional students bring laptops to class rather than take the test anywhere.

When I was in college, my professors caught plagarizers because they were familiar with the subject matter. For instance, one professor for which I served as Teacher Assistant, instantly recognized a student's paper on sin as the first chapter of a book from his bibliography list--word-for-word.
Now I use Students upload papers, and it checks the paper against every published book and internet source in its exhaustive database, and against every other students' paper.

When I was in college my professors wrote on chalkboards
Now I use powerpoint presentations with a laptop and overhead projector, and my school is behind times. In the public school classrooms in buildings next to ours, they have smartboards. Large touch a large iphone...
I do teach in the classrooms in which I sat as a student. And we still have the same chalkboards--hidden under the projection screen. Occasionally I resort to the old fashion chalkboard for variety's sake....cause students get bored with powerpoints!

When I was in college (dorms), we were happy to have phone-jacks that we plugged our phones into and had phone service that was included in our tuition. Now they have removed the phone jacks cause everyone has a cellphone.

I predict that traditional college classroom education has a limited lifespan. If you can take classes via your iphone and go to class while lying on the beach....are students going to keep "going to college" geographically? Any thoughts???

And welcome to my new regional women minister friends---please leave comments--