Once Upon a Christ (A Palm Sunday Reflection)

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We began the service outside, crying "Hosanna!" and waiving palm branches in an empty parking lot. We continued the liturgy inside, engaged in a responsive reading that culminated with the people--with me--yelling "crucify him!"

That service gave birth to this poem.

*****

If once upon again, a Christ came on a donkey's colt over river bridge and into marketplace, capitol square, or the enormity of Sunday's sanctuary, would the rows ring with Hosannas, the joy of prophecies personified?

                       Or

would there be only dry dreams of fading green palms waiving in the brittle memories of old men, and the fading leaves of recorded myth? Would the ghosts of fickle faith hush or be hushed, know their hushing? Would the powers, politicians, priests mock their ancestors' fear-filled charge? "You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him."*

*John 12:19

*****TINY LETTER SIGNUP*****

In the most recent Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I'm discussing the artisanal theology and the Fayetteville Hipster. It's a little bit snarky, a little bit graceful, a little bit introspective, and a whole lot of fun. If you sign up today, you'll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song "Train Wreck." It's a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.

*powered by TinyLetter

Recovery Room: The Two Fasts

Welcome to the Recovery Room. Here, we'll discuss the things that supplant inner sobriety, and connectedness to an abiding God. Couldn’t we all use a little recovery from something? 

*****

Each Sunday evening, our small church gathers under the warehouse roof. There, we share a meal, laugh, and pray through an evening service that includes a short teaching (or "homily," as some of you might like to call it). This Sunday evening, I had the privilege of teaching on fasting and its relation to my personal recovery from alcohol addiction. Today, I'd like to share it with you.

Imagine yourself there, in that quiet candlelit space. Imagine yourself filled with grand food, good community, and great joy. Imagine yourself sitting with friends in a warehouse. And listen.

*****

In the most recent Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I'm discussing the Lenten season, the darkness of my heart, and the discipline of quiet reflection. If you sign up today, you'll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song "Train Wreck." It's a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.

*powered by TinyLetter

 

Begotten Not Made: An Advent Welcome

Advent: from the Latin advents, meaning "a coming, approach, arrival," in Church Latin "the coming of the Savior," from past participle stem of advenire "arrive, come to," from ad- "to" + venire "to come." (Source link.) Welcome to Advent, the season in which we prepare for the coming of the Hope of the World. Are you following the shining star to the it's illogical conclusion in the baby's manger? Is your heart making room?

Today I'm sharing an Advent poem at Elizabeth Marshall's site. Would you join me?

*****

Begotten Not Made

And though he birthed the star alight, he took to manger underneath the humbled cry of stifled speech, of own begotten form.

He suckled there at woman’s breast, the mouth of God on human skin he spoke before the world began, to birth begotten form.

Continue reading at Elizabeth Marshall's site.

*****

Sign up to receive my monthly Tiny Letter: A Compendium of Projects, People, Places, and Things. In November's issue, I'm examining the question, "what is beauty?" and exploring the beauty found in nature, art, and people. Sign up today, and I'll send you a copy of the November Tiny Letter, and you'll receive my monthly Tiny Letter updates!

powered by TinyLetter

In addition to the Tiny Letter jump on over to my Facebook Page for daily updates.

Scriptural Imagination and Ferguson (Part III)

In light of the Ferguson protests,  I’ve been exercising “scriptural imagination,” and reading the words of Jesus with fresh eyes. (Follow this link to read the entire series). Yesterday I examined Matthew 7:1-23. Today, I’m taking a fresh look at Matthew 7:24-29. Follow the hashtag #ScripturalImagination on Twitter for more renderings, and feel free to add some of your own.

*****

Matthew 7:24-29

The Two Foundations

Jesus drove the point home. “Everyone who hears and acts on my hard teachings—the teachings on secret prayer, mindful action, bearing the sorrows of others, and bearing peace—is like a wise person who builds their house on the high ridge of reconciliation outside the flood zones of violence. The rain of terror and violence may fall, the floods of oppression may breach the sandbag wall, and the winds of propaganda may blow and slam against that house to the point of great fear; and yet the house will hold strong. It will not fall, for it has been founded on the rock of a correct and active faith. It has been founded on the rock of my teachings.

"But what about those who hear these words of Mine and do not act on them, who opt instead for violent revolution, the terrifying teargas oppression, or who otherwise seek glory through contrived and false reconciliation? Or what about those who see a 'good crisis' and act in self-interest, self-righteousness, or self-indignation? They will be like foolish men who built a high-rise apartment complex at the lowest point in the flood zone. The rains of terror will fall. The floods of fear and oppression will come. The winds of propaganda will blow and slam against the building, and because the high-rise was built on an incorrect faith, it will fall. And its fall will be loud and raucous, and it will be broadcast on CNN for all the world to see.”

When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their politicians and pundits.

 

*Photo by Debra Sweet, Creative Commons via Flickr.

Scriptural Imagination and Ferguson

In light of current affairs, namely the Ferguson protests, I've been reading the words of Jesus with fresh imagination. His teachings seem more and more relevant with each passing day of protesting, and so, I thought that perhaps it'd be a good time to recast the teachings of Jesus into the modern context. Today, and every day this week, I'll be exercising my scriptural imagination, will be recasting Matthew 7. I'd like you to engage your own scriptural imagination, to begin the process of apply specific passages to the world around you. Also, follow the hashtag #ScripturalImagination on Twitter for more renderings, and feel free to add some of your own.

*****

Matthew 7:1-6

Judging Others

Jesus said, “do not curse the ignorance of others unless you want your ample ignorance exposed and judged. For in the way you condemn others and wish for their damnation, you will be condemned. And the standard you use to judge ignorance will be used against you. Consider the implications of that.

"[tweetherder]And why do you look at the Molotov cocktail that is in your brother’s hand, but do not notice the AR-15 that is in your own?[/tweetherder] Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the rock, the cocktail, or the picket signs out of your hand,’ and you haphazardly spray rubber bullets across the crowd? You hypocrite, first lay down your guns, your teargas, your tactical gear, and your PR campaigns and then you will see the path of reconciliation.

“Do not Tweet righteous indignation to the racists, prejudiced dogs, or even to the indifferent. Do not throw your wisdom before the enlightened swine of the twenty-four hour news cycle. Do not engage the bully-pulpit. They will waste your time attempting to make your wisdom appear foolish. They have boots made only for walking on you, and that’s just what they’ll do.

Prayer and the Golden Rule

“[tweetherder]If you really want reconciliation and not just a war of words, pray and it will be given to you[/tweetherder]; seek peace and an end to violence, and you will find it; knock on the doors of the oppressed and be ready to listen when they let you in. Those who pray in earnest for reconciliation receive it, and those who seek peace find it, and to those who knock with a willingness to listen, doors will be opened.

"Let me ask you this: when your son asks for supper, will you give him homemade bombs and loaded sawed-off shotguns? Or, when a child asks for toast and eggs, will a father give him riot gear and a gang-load of submachine guns? If you know how to give good, sustaining, and nourishing gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask!

“In everything, therefore, treat all people—the violent, the peaceful, the ignorant, the wise, the prejudiced, and the enlightened—with the patience and thoughtfulness with which you want to be treated. Try to emulate your Father, God. This is what the Law and the Prophets were all about."

*photo by Shawn Semmler, Creative Commons via Flickr.