Monday, March 30, 2015

The Resurrection of Our Lord Year B - Acts 10:34-43

Acts 10:34-43
God’s “no partiality” is still particular even if the promise to Jews was extended to Gentiles. That doesn't mean the nature of the arrangement wasn't radically changed. God cut circumcision, the signature sign of the covenant, along with the restricted diet, the observance of days, the sacrifices, etc. But the new “no partiality” is still only shown to those who fear God and do what is right. That means in the most important way nothing has changed in that fearing God and doing what was right was always what God had in mind even if those who lived the outward signs failed to embrace the inward ways. God desires relationship not sacrifice. So how do we who are the recipients of the new “no partiality” repay the favor? I’m afraid we write new rules and make our peculiarities particular to God. Who knows if the God who gave up kosher to include those who think everything's better with bacon might also give up all things for the sake of those God always intended to include in the “no partiality” covenant. Who knows? What we do know is that God determined to die hanging on a tree for the sake of those who could care less which may mean God is partial even to those who fail to fear God and do what is right.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Sunday of the Passion Year B - Mark 14:1- 15:47

Mark 14:1-15:47
The Passion of the Christ according to Mark begins with a woman (name forgotten) who is remembered for her costly act of devotion and ends with two women (names remembered) who see where “he was laid”. It is a story with the usual cast of characters in a human drama; betrayers, deniers, accusers, abusers, the clueless crowd crying crucify and the faithful few fear scattered and hiding. In the center of it all is the One to whom the “beautiful thing is done” by the name forgotten woman as a sign of the burial that the women names remembered see. From the table with the twelve to the garden of “take this cup from me” the confident One who predicts his death and resurrection moves inextricably to the moment where “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” means the Holy One bears the full weight of the world gone horribly wrong. Not that God the (perfect) Father turns his back on the (sin carrying sacrifice) Son but that God enters so fully into the human rebellion against the Divine desire for love that the power and majesty of the “in the beginning” creating Word is abandoned to the inevitable reality of “he emptied himself and humbled himself unto death.” (Philippians 2:7-8) A God divested of power is a God quickly stripped of life. So the beginning might be as important as the end. The woman (name forgotten) is remembered because the one she anointed for burial while alive came back to life after he was dead so that the women (names remembered) could point to the empty place where “swear to God” they saw him buried.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Sunday of the Passion - Year B Philippians 2:5-11

Philippians 2:5-11
I cannot say equality with God is something I would let go of and I’m guessing you wouldn't either. And if I found myself on other side of the Divine I would surely not choose the cross as an exit strategy. So God is not like me although God hopes that even if Christ is not like me I might be like Christ Jesus – “Let this mind be in you.” If God were a gambler we would clearly be the long shot but then again God is “all in” and has nothing to lose except his life – which in the end turns out to be the winning hand. So I guess “let this mind be in you” means be like God and bet everything on a losing hand.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Sunday of the Passion Year B - Psalm 31:9-16

Psalm 31:9-16
Psalm 31 is the song of sorrow for the multitudes who suffer strength failing sighs and waste away with grief. Scorned by enemies and abandoned by friends they are forgotten like the long dead though they live in plain sight. We should take note that in the Christ God chose to embody this psalm instead of “Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46) even though in the end every knee will bow and every tongue will be silent - not counting that every tongue will declare Jesus is Lord. (Philippians 2:10-11) The story of the passion, from palm fronds raised in praise to the palms of his hands pierced by nails, is the story God chose to incarnate. I know in light of what I've written the old saying attributed to Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” might be apropos but I think comfort might be its own affliction when God so clearly identifies with the opposite. So I will confess that even my “worst of times” would be the “best of times” for those who “are as useless as a broken pot” and the only hope I have is that God does not hold the affliction of my comfort against me. But then “to whom much is given much is required” means those afflicted with plenty are called by Christ to use their “much is given” to comfort those who are afflicted by want and thereby enter Psalm 31 with those who live it 24/7.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Sunday of the Passion Year B - Isaiah 50:4-9

Isaiah 50:4-9
James, the brother of the Lord, presumes teachers will be judged more strictly for no other reason than presuming to be teachers. (James 3:1) No one received a harsher and less deserved judgment than his half brother, the one given “the tongue of the teacher” who did not hide his face from insult and spitting. But the lesson the teacher learned "morning by morning" was not sufficient to sustain his life when at the third hour he was stripped naked and nailed to wood. Of course it was because he gave his back to those who struck him and his cheek to those who pull out the beard that the Word made flesh was not put to shame even when subjected to a cruel and unjust death. This is the mystery of God becoming one with all that has gone so horribly wrong with the creation. The creator is crucified by those created in the image of God. And the final irony is that he is killed for being more righteous than the religion he came to redeem. If that were the end of his story the story of the world’s suffering would have no end but since his end is our beginning the weary world will be sustained by the word that even death could not silence.