April 23, 2011 § 1 Comment
that I washed your feet.
I know it’s a symbol.
I know it’s not real.
But something happened there
as I knelt down
and touched your naked foot.
something came loose inside-
like an over-ripe fruit
falling from a tree
It’s a dark and liquid place,
shapeless and void
Mystery over the deeps
like raindrops of sweat
mixed with new wine
the redemption of time
So dream on
through the morning
and into the night
After all, we’re all dreamers here.
Or else we’re asleep.
April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
I hope I’m not being too heretical by making this confession, but every year around this time I’m tempted to change the ending to the Easter story partly to see if anyone notices, and partly just to stir the pot.
From Palm Sunday through Easter, I toy with the idea of a very different kind of Jesus. In my minds eye, he rides into town on that donkey, but instead of letting the events unfold as they did, his disciples begin to flank him on either side.
The one up front…maybe Peter…he has a trumpet and proclaims the Day of the Lord. The rest of the disciples march in a V formation; Jesus at the front and his posse behind him. The raucous crowds fall into step and the whole procession marches right up to Pilate’s front door.
As they come within striking distance, Jesus draws his sword from the seat of the donkey and the legions lining the streets behind him begin to chant for Pilate’s blood.
The grim-faced disciples are holding sticks and stones. The Peasants behind them are wielding pitchforks and torches. I can almost read their minds as the commoners stand brandishing their weapons of choice. You can read it on their expectant faces. You can see it in their determined eyes…”Finally, salvation has come to Jerusalem. Finally, the messiah has come!”
From the back of his Donkey of War, Jesus levels his gaze to the palace before him, lowers his sword in a symbolic gesture, and is the first to yell “Attack!” in a belly-roar as the throngs rush in to spend their fury in revolution.
I’ll admit, it doesn’t exactly fit as a stand-in for the Easter story as the Bible tells it. If you’re actually offended, I understand and I’ll even agree with you. The picture I just painted of Jesus ought to offend all of us who seek to be known as Christian people.
But at the same time, imagining such a story gives me an odd kind of hope in the God we know and trust.
See, this year more than any other I’m beginning to understand the Easter story in terms of failed expectations. So I imagine what would have unfolded if the expectations of the people were met. How would have the story gone if the crowds got what they wanted (revolution–kick the bums out)? How would it be different if Pilate got what he was expecting (failed revolution–crush the revolt)?
All that to say, Jesus knew what he was doing when he came on the donkey. He set the third way out of the human condition and our endless power cycles of eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth. His ways are higher than our ways (though they often seem lower) and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
Our best, highest, and most well-planned attempts at life will come to nothing. But if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, God will surprise us at our moment of grief, creating resurrection hope out of even the darkest hour of grief.
I know that preaches well. But in reality, it lives hard.
April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s interesting to me that for many (if not most) U.S. Christians, the gospel amounts to either pie in the sky when you die, or some kind of ‘name it and claim it’ prosperity scheme. The thinking seems to be something along the lines of “when you find Jesus, you find yourself”.
I’ve got plenty of well-intentioned friends who might agree with that sentiment, and I can agree with it in some limited ways.
But I do take issue with how we define ‘self’, and how we define ‘gospel’ or even ‘Jesus’. I have no interest in a Jesus who’s role in my life is primarily therapeutic. Neither do I have interest in a gospel that primarily benefits my own personal goals and ambitions (however high they might be).
This week we’re looking at the resurrection on Sunday morning, as John tells the story in chapter 20 of his gospel. I always find it hardest to preach on the most familiar stories, but I think there’s something to how even the Greatest Expectations concerning Jesus (all throughout his life) were flipped on their heads by the end of the story. The Palm Sunday expectations…the Holy Week expectations, the Messianic expectations…all were fulfilled and all were re-defined in some important ways by the time we get to Easter morning.
Maybe that will preach. “Take your Greatest Expectations and flip them on their heads.” That’s the Easter Story. That’s the resurrection.
April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
with your corner on truth
and your pie in the sky ideals,
got time for a question?
Where you goin’?
You and your answers.
self-assured and certain
you’re an ecosystem to yourself
you and your pat answers
spreadin’ the word like wildfire
But your answers while true ain’t Truth.
Can you see?
with your corner on truth
jagged edges bleeding
all over me…
You–the one wrapped in wool
dyed crimson and blue
You’ve got it all, that much I see
Hey you, with your corner on truth
Wanna touch the rounded edges on mine?
it’s worn down, you see–worn smooth to the touch
not as sharp as it used to be
It’s not broken down
just broken in.
That’s what questions do to
Take the edge off
like a stiff drink.
April 14, 2011 § 2 Comments
Over the past several weeks, I’ve gotten quite a bit of inspiration from some facebook interactions concerning the scriptures I’m going to be preaching on in the coming week. There are times (like this week) when I post enough on facebook that it gets a little hard to wrangle all the different threads I have going.
This got me thinking. Other people seem to have some success with blogs devoted to the lectionary cycle. They post their musings and even have a bit of interaction around the scriptures for that week. Maybe I could do something similar in this format. Those of you who like to interact with my ideas on facebook; using this blog as a sphere for conversation could give us the chance to have a more extended conversation beyond the 1 and 2 line thoughts that facebook is well-suited for (I’m still going to moderate your comments though, haters need not apply).
I’ll try to kick off this project next week (Easter seems like a good Sunday to begin something new).
Keep it honest and keep it real!