The Nazareth Sermon as Jubilee Manifesto

Nazareth 2

By Ched Myers, for the 3rd Sunday of Epiphany, reposted from Jan 24, 2016 (Luke 4:14-21)

The setting of this famous story is significant. The obscure village of Nazareth has already been well established in Luke’s narrative as the home place of Jesus’ childhood, from Gabriel’s annunciation (1:26) to the Holy Family’s comings and goings (2:4; 39; 51), to the phrase in this week’s lection “where Jesus had been brought up…” (4:16a). Continue reading “The Nazareth Sermon as Jubilee Manifesto”

Abundant Joy

CanaBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, commentary on John 2:1-11, re-posted from January 2016

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee…”

The rich beauty of this week’s gospel sets the stage for the journey into God and discipleship which follows. In his first public act in John’s gospel, Jesus transforms a wedding which has run out of wine into an overflowing, abundant celebration of the best wine. Every detail of this packed scene is worth pondering deeply.
Continue reading “Abundant Joy”

Born to Bow in Reverence to Each Other

By Tommy Airey, a seven-minute sermon on Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.—Genesis 1:26-27

My spirituality is saturated in the biblical claim that I bear the image of God, that we all bear the royal image of God. Hebrew scribes wrote and edited the book of Genesis after they were captured and exiled to Babylon, an empire that placed “images”—or  statues—of their king in public places to remind people who is supreme. Citizens were supposed to bow whenever they passed by. The Hebrew scribes subverted this human hierarchy of value by crafting their own creation story. The scribes stamped every human Being with the royal image of a God of love and compassion who designed a world without a human hierarchy of value. We are all royalty, born to bow in reverence to each other.

Continue reading “Born to Bow in Reverence to Each Other”

Kings vs. Kids

magiBy Ched Myers, for The Feast of the Holy Innocents and Epiphany (Matthew 2), re-posted from 2016

This reflection offers biblical context for two feasts of the Christian church: one minor (Feast of the Innocents, Dec 28, 2016) and one major (Epiphany, Jan 6, 2017). These two holy days commemorate the narrative of Matthew 2 (though in reverse chronological order), which we read in Year A. In fact, the “Twelve Days of Christmas”—when re-interpreted through the lens of these two feasts—can truly be a gift to us, if an importunate one.  These counter-narratives provide a much-needed corrective to the holiday season’s saccharine sentimentality and cacophonous commercialism, and equally to unreflective year-in-review rituals and banal New Year’s resolution-making. For they demand that we re-center our lives around the testimonies of those who are at risk in a world of imperial violence.  Continue reading “Kings vs. Kids”

An Indigenous Soul

An excerpt from Martin Prechtel’s classic 2001 interview with The Sun Magazine.

Every individual in the world, regardless of cultural background or race, has an indigenous soul struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment created by that individual’s mind. A modern person’s body has become a battleground between the rationalist mind — which subscribes to the values of the machine age — and the native soul. This battle is the cause of a great deal of spiritual and physical illness.

Continue reading “An Indigenous Soul”

Liberating Christmas

A note from Will O’Brien, director of the Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia.

Peace On Earth and the Politics of Christmas

A VIRTUAL PROGRAM

Saturday morning, December 11

10:30 am – 12:30 pm EST

Join  the Alternative Seminary on December 11 for a virtual Bible study, “Peace on Earth and The Politics of Christmas” Alternative Seminary coordinator and contributor to RLC Will O’Brien will lead a program reflecting on the “nativity narratives” in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke to see how they express core biblical themes of justice and liberation.  For more information, go to the Facebook page.

Continue reading “Liberating Christmas”

Anchoring the Gospel Story in the Real World

JordanBy Ched Myers, the co-director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (if you’ve been inspired and challenged by Ched’s posts this year following the lectionary, consider making an end-of-the-year donation to BCM, day in and day out, doing the work of radical discipleship)

Note: This is reposted from Ched’s occasional comments on the Lukan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year C, 2015-16.  

The second and third Sundays of Advent focus on the ministry of John the Baptist, first locating him in the wilderness (2. Advent), then focusing in on his prophetic message (3. Advent). Following on his infancy (and young childhood) narrative about Jesus, Luke commences the gospel story proper. More than the other N.T. evangelist, Luke anchors his story in real political space, signaling that we ought not be afraid to do the same.
Continue reading “Anchoring the Gospel Story in the Real World”

True Self-Fulfillment

By Maki Ashe Van Steenwyk, director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination (please consider making an end-of-the-year donation to this compelling organization doing the work of radical discipleship)

You’re under no obligation, whatsoever, to maintain relationships with people who treat you dismissively or disrespectfully.

This idea that you need to embrace self-diminishment in a way that shows love or compassion or empathy towards others is toxic.

Christian folks in particular seems to misunderstand Jesus’ admonition to “take up your cross.” The idea that your deepest fulfilment is at odds with love and liberation of others is false.

Self-fulfillment in a capitalist way is a lie. But true self-fulfillment is bound up in collective liberation.

A Thorn in the Flesh

By Bayo Akomolafe, originally posted to Facebook (November 13, 2021)

I learned this morning about what some news outlets – referring to the stubborn persistence of the coronavirus despite the exertions of the global nation-state order, the pharmaceutical complex, and our increasingly medicalized lives – are haltingly calling “the fifth wave.” Time Magazine asks, “Is the Fifth Wave Coming?” (https://time.com/6117006/covid-19-fifth-wave/). USA Today, through its interviewed experts, writes – as if in response: Yes, and “we may simply come to call it winter.” From France to Pakistan, numbers are creeping up, new mutations are on the horizon, and worried officials with wrinkled foreheads are declaring that the virus is here to stay – no matter what we do.

Reading these reports, I was reminded of those biblical passages I was hunched over as an obsessed teenager – the letters of Paul, undulating prose cross-textured with a messianic lilt and soft humble whispers of self-deprecating awareness. I once delighted in reading the nomadic evangelist’s notes – often under warm candlelight, and was struck by the similar undertones of pathos and lamentation that entangles his letters to the Corinthians with this morning’s pandemic news. In particular, Paul’s passage about the “thorn in the flesh” came to mind:

Continue reading “A Thorn in the Flesh”