The Sunday Long Read: Dove Songs and Fish Offerings

JonahBy Jim Perkinson, a sermon on Jonah 3:1-5, 10 and Mk 1:14-20, January 21, 2018, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (Detroit, MI)

I am not a fish person—which is why I volunteered to preach this Sunday, where the lessons focus on fish, in the stories of Jonah and the whale and of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee called to become “fishers of humans.” To “catch” the significance of the latter, we need to reel in the former carefully. Though not included in the lectionary, the heart of the Jonah story turns on the following verse:

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jon 1:17).

The text is clear. Jonah was saved by a fish. But we need to go slow, since we often read it the other way around—that Jonah was saved from a fish. So in the interests of getting us hooked on the story-line, I want to string out three pieces of bait. Continue reading

A Divine Offering in a Food Tray for Animals

PerkBy Jim Perkinson, from Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse (2015)

Undoubtedly anxious, perhaps even terrified, Mary breaks water under the bureaucratic duress. Motel 6 is filled, as is the local youth hostel. Tradition has it she camps out in a cave—likely one of the rocky caverns around Bethlehem that shepherds used as corrals. In short order, she has her newborn in a “manger,” feeding trough for domesticated livestock, enslaved creatures whose own wildlands grazing has been reduced to slopping beheaded grain from a wood or stone container.

Meanwhile local herding folk, out on the hills with their flocks, reading the stars and weather, tending to the night cacophony for any hint of danger, schooled, not in texts of Torah but in the sensuous spells of the wild holiness that is their “bible,” are struck with an apparition, an emergent power of the outback, taking shape on the rocks, whispering omens, filtering light into a strange miasma of significance. They hear, are terrified, then comforted. Offered “good news.” An event has taken place. Continue reading

sheep and goats, meat and drink

Valerie Jean

PC: Valerie Jean (Detroit, MI)

by jim perkinson (St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, 11-26-17)

the sheep and the goats
the goats and the sheep
the left
the right
the day
the night

nothing here about church
but the good fundies all say
you must believe with your heart
have the word on your lips
insist jesus is lord
or you will have no part Continue reading

It’s Time to Take Jesus Off the Pedestal

Lindsay GreyReyBy Tommy Airey, an excerpt from chapter nine of Descending Like a Dove: A Journey of Radical Discipleship (to be released Spring 2018)

Like every good Evangelical, my adolescent faith was about giving all glory to the Lord. I sang praise songs to a “high and lifted up” Jesus and always concluded my prayers “in Jesus’ name” (I signed off my emails “Fool For Christ,” but that’s a story for another time). I was taught to utilize “apologetics” to defend the faith and prove that Jesus was, in fact, Divine. I revered C.S. Lewis whose Mere Christianity made a water-tight case for my beliefs. Lewis left readers three choices for who Jesus really was: a lunatic, a liar or the Lord Himself:

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.

Lewis claimed that, when it came to the people who actually met Jesus, they responded in three ways: hatred, terror or adoration. There was no middle ground. Continue reading

Caring for the Old Woman of Samhain: A Riff on Matthew 22:34-46

JPerk
By Jim Perkinson, a sermon (10.29.17) for a turning Season 

In the Lectionary gospel for the day, the stakes are high. Jesus has just side-swiped the annual Passover parade, organized an Occupy-takeover of the Temple the next day, held a teach-in naming the site “Thug Central,” “Den of Robbers,” opened the space to the blind, the lame and children, gone underground in Bethany overnight, come back up to the central shrine, which is also the national bank, begun his word-joust-defense of his action—and the clock is ticking.   The contract has been out on his life ever since the early days of his community organizing in Galilee where he led his inner circle in a civil disobedience action, poaching wheat from fields on the Sabbath. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Kingdom Like a Seed

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wild mustard (public domain)

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 12(17)

Matthew 13:31-32

This week’s Wild Lectionary offers two different but complimentary takes on the seed parables.

The first is a host of resources –devotions, bible studies, children’s curricula, adult education material etc. prepared by A Rocha Canada for churches that are new to engaging with creation care. The free downloadable materials are focused on Good Seed Sunday, celebrated the Sunday after Earth Day, but are also relevant for the Season of Creation and this summer stretch of Year A in the Revised Common Lectionary where we visit the seed parables in Matthew.

The second offering is excerpts from an essay by Jim Perkinson: Continue reading

Sermon: The Wheat and the Weeds: A Riddle of Love?

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Photo by Jessica Rose

By Jim Perkinson, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, July 23, 2017

Such a rich lectionary offering this morning, I am hard put to choose among the Hebrew scripture, the Greek epistle, and the Aramean gospel.  I could easily focus on Jacob’s experience with a dreaming-stone, propping up his tired head on his way upstream from Isaac’s abode in Canaan, charged with not taking a wife from among the indigenous Canaanites, but going north and east to Aramean kin, from whence his ancestor Abraham had fled originally (Gen 28:10-19a).  The stone, likely a meteorite, births vision—Jacob seeing a ladder like a cosmic tree, granting movement between this world and the Spirit-World for angelic folk, the Powers in their proper role, and hears, speaking from the rock, the same great I AM that Moses will hear much further down the road speaking from a bush.  Continue reading