Saturday, August 29, 2009

Arise My Love: God's love poem

So, I am puzzled that the Agnus Day comic changes on my blog when the writer creates a new strip. So, the strip on each blog changes, making the commentary somewhat unintelligible (the commentary may not match the strip). Ahh! a lesson in humility. Perhaps I will figure out the wrinkle, and discover how to keep the strip that matches the weekly lectionary text.

This week lectionary readings are potentially puzzling. This week, the gospel text moves from John to Mark. The Epistle is from St. James. Both readings force us to examine what does it mean to be religious. The Gospel text reminds us that we fail to live up to the law.

The Hebrew text is from Deuteronomy or the Song of Solomon. The reading from the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy) seems appropriate - an examination of the Law. But how does the Song of Solomon fit with the theme? A spiritual reading seems appropriate, with God as the beloved.

God is the lawgiver and God is the beloved. Perhaps when we focus on God as the lawgiver, we forget that God is our beloved. The beauty of the call is lost when we forget that God calls us out of love, and we know God when we respond to the call of love with loving action towards others.

Eugene Patterson's version (The Message) of James 1:27 reads:

"Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."

"Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Song of Solomon 2.13 (NRSV).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is the Church beginning to open our doors?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA),our ecumenical partner, affirmed that they will accept pastors in monogamous same gender relationships this week, and approved a social statement on Human Sexuality. Earlier this summer, the Episcopal Church (TEC) affirmed that God has called and will called same gender loving women and men as priests, deacons, and bishops. Thus they join the United Church of Christ who welcome sexual minorities as members and pastors int heir communion.
For a while, the UCC seemed to be alone. When we passed the marriage equality statement at General Synod in Atlanta in 2005 it appeared to me that we were out there alone. The affirmations of TES and the ECLA say that we are not alone. We are still in a minority in the Christian world. Many of our sisters and brothers feel as if we have cut ourselves off from the tradition and the faith. But at least, I no longer feel alone. This journey may be difficult, and we may be isolated or exiled. But we are not alone. Perhaps this is the beginning of a long arduous journey to a future when the church universal may live up to its calling of accepting all. That is my fervent prayer.

One observation that I read this week that had an impact on me was that lgbt Christians and their supporters were asked to remain in the church while the church struggled to include us. We remained because of our commitment to Christ's vision of a church united. Now traditionalists must consider whether they will remain in communion. In a strange, yet only God inspired way, the traditionalists may gain some insights from the glbt community-how to remain in communion with people with whom you have fundamental disagreements. The ECLA's reflections on bound conscience may prove helpful for those on all sides of this and other controversial issues.

I conclude my remembering the church dividing debates on slavery. Those on both sides appealed to the bible, and many on both sides condemned those on the opposing sides. These many decades later the church has reached a consensus on slavery. Yet we need to acknowledge that for those involved during the struggles to discern the mind of Christ, the consensus did not happen in their lifetimes. Sincere believers on both sides lived and died arguing their deeply held convictions. The white churches in the United States were divided over this issue. Yet those most impacted by this debated, the slaves, my ancestors, were not allow to participate. So I will err, if I must, on the side of those who suffer injury, who are castigated, those who do not have a voice in official assemblies, yet who continue to transform the oppressors' religion into the glorious tale of liberation, who were vindicated not my might, but by their faith in a faithful Saviour.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven: John 6:56-69

Our friends from Agnus Day have posted their latest cartoon strip. The Gospel reading for this Sunday, August 23, 2009 (Proper 16 / Ordinary 21/ Pentecost +12) is John 6.56-69.

For several weeks the gospel lessons have been from John 6. These readings have caused us to reflect on the significance and meaning of the Eucharist. This is a difficult passage of scripture for Evangelicals who have a high view of scripture, but view the sacraments as 'ordinances". A high view of scripture should lead evangelicals to reflect anew on the apostle's writings in the 6th chapter of his gospel.

Soli deo gloria.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SOF: SoundSeen: Brooks and Dionne, Live with Krista | Obama's Theologian: David Brooks and E.J. Dionne on Reinhold Niebuhr and the American Present

In this age of much heated religious rhetoric on critical social issues, we should reflect on the words and legacy of a key American political and religious thinker of the last century; Reinhold Niebuhr.
When I was a student at Union Theological Seminary, I had a part time job as a security guard. When I was making my rounds late at night I thought to myself these were the same halls that Dr. Niebuhr walked. Perhaps he reflected on the critical social issues of his age late at night while walking through the halls. If walls could listen and talk.
I am posting a video of an event at Georgetown University. It is a conversation about UCC theologian Niebuhr's continuing influence on the American political scene. Two social critics, one a liberal, the other a conservative, engaged in a meaningful conversation that models civil civic discussion. Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett is a marvelous programme on public radio.

SOF: SoundSeen: Brooks and Dionne, Live with Krista | Obama's Theologian: David Brooks and E.J. Dionne on Reinhold Niebuhr and the American Present

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dormition of the Theotokos

First, AgnusDay's reflection on this Sunday's gospel reading:

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death."

Certainly few mainline or evangelical Protestants will celebrate this Feast Day, observed in the Roman Catholic tradition as the Assumption of the Virgin and in the Eastern tradition as the Dormition of the Theotokos. While Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption as dogma in 1950, the Dormition has been commemorated in the Orthodox Church as a Great Feast, although it has never been formally declared as doctrine by the Orthodox Church. The belief that God took the Virgin Mary to heaven bodily has been celebrated in the church since the fifth century.

It is a feast that affirms the doctrine of the resurrection of the body and Mary's special role in the redemption. Christians in other traditions who affirm these beliefs should consider joining their sisters and brothers throughout time in celebration this important Feast day.

My recent reflections and meditations about this Feast day has led me to ponder that Mary's devotion to her son, and our Lord's devotion to his mother, serve as models for intimate human relationships. Her Assumption testify that the human body is a divine gift and though tainted by sin(or if you prefer human imperfections), will be glorified.

From the Orthodox tradition:

Kontakion (Second Tone)
"Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lectionary Humour-Bread of Life

Agnus Day offers us an insightful commentary on the Gospel reading for this Lord's Day (August 9, 2009:Proper 14B/Ordinary 19B/Pentecost 10): John 6.35, 41-51.

For other reflections on the lectionary readings, I recommend

Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lectionary Humour

It is the first of August. The last 10 days have been very, very hot (over 90 degrees each day, with three days in a row of 100+ degrees). A compassionate friend gave my mother and me a three night stay at a local air conditioned hotel. Now that the weather is cooler (the high today will be in the low nineties), I return home and to the computer.

Many Christian churches share a common weekly scripture reading in worship on Sundays (known as the common lectionary). There is also a daily lectionary. Many Christian denominations publish the weekly texts on their websites. The United Church of Christ publishes "Weekly Seeds", a reflection on their weekly focus scripture. Vanderbilt Divinity Library provides the lections and texts on their website. Although separated by distance, theology, and heritage, the common lectionary allow the diverse body of Christ to reflect together on the holy texts.

The lectionary texts for Proper 13(18), August 2, 2009 are:
2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:13a or Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 * Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 78:23-29 * Ephesians 4:1-16 * John 6:24-35

I came across a lectionary base weekly comic from (God is still speaking and God is still laughing)!

I will post the comic weekly on this blog. This week's comic focus on the Gospel reading: John 6.24-35.

This week's comic: