Lent Bootcamp: Love in the Time of COVID-19

By Dee Dee Risher

Like each of you, I am spinning and dancing in the flux that is COVID-19.

My city, Philadelphia, is on lockdown, people asked to go out only for necessities or to the doctor. Every day I have gotten news of loved older ones exposed or friends who have COVID-19, schools and colleges closed, information overload. I’ve cancelled retreats and trips I have looked forward to for months, reeled home one college student from across the globe. I’ve been anxious about what the virus will do in Project HOME’s 900-resident community of formally homeless and vulnerable people, concerned and sad about life experiences cancelled, uncertain about how long it may go and how bad everything may get. You probably have a similar list of things falling, failing, the world shifting a bit under fear and responsibility.

Continue reading “Lent Bootcamp: Love in the Time of COVID-19”

Rome Will Destroy Us: Resisting Anti-Judaism in John

Woman at wellA great opportunity for radical disciples as Lent approaches on our calendars. This free webinar starts at 8pmEST on Mon, February 24. Register HERE. It will be led by Rev. Anne Dunlap, Faith Coordinator for Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

The Lent 2020 lectionary readings from the Gospel of John are challenging for Christians trying to counter anti-Jewish/anti-Semitic interpretations of these stories. The choices seem stark, and the enemies seem clear. What alternative readings could there be that do not perpetuate dangerous interpretations that have been – and continue to be — the excuse for violence against Jews and others? Continue reading “Rome Will Destroy Us: Resisting Anti-Judaism in John”

A God Who is Very Different from the Almighty

AugsburgerFrom the conclusion of David Augsburger’s recent piece “Lent: Is God Like Jesus?” originally posted on The Mennonite blog. Read the entire Lenten reflection here.

“Christ is not only God-like, but God is Christ-like,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in Strength to Love (1963). The Christian gospel proclaims a God who is very different from “the Almighty,” the historic God among all the gods who is, by trusted definition, an omnipotent paragon of ultimate invincible irresistible power. The God of Jesus Christ, in Leonardo Boff’s phrase, is “weak in power but strong in love” (Cry of the Earth; Cry of the Poor, 1978).

God is like this gentle good gracious guest at Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ home, at Zacheus’ table, at Simon’s banquet, at Cleophas and spouse’s supper. Continue reading “A God Who is Very Different from the Almighty”

Wild Lectionary: Roots and Stories

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Wangari Maathai mural in the Lower Haight. Photo by Phil Dokas.

Lent 1

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

By Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie

As I reflected on today’s readings, the theme they seemed to weave together is to begin Lent by reviewing our stories. With the First Reading, in which the writers of Deuteronomy are giving the reader a sort of Last Will and Testament of Moses, God’s people are reminded of their history and God’s presence in it. They are told to recount that history in ritual and celebration. We are also being reminded to reflect on our personal intergenerational stories. Who were our ancestors? How was God with them as they journeyed? How do their stories impact your story? How has God’s presence in all of our stories led us to where we are today: physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually? The First Reading reminds us to ponder these questions as we reflect on our stories. Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: Roots and Stories”

Wild Lectionary: Leafy Branches Sunday – Domingo de Ramos

imagejpeg_0-5Palm Sunday, Year B
Mark 11:1-11

By Carmen Retzlaff

The Palm Sunday story in the Gospel of Mark says that

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. (Mark 11:8)

The Greek (from Thayer’s Greek Dictionary) is:

stiba¿ß; stibas, stibados; a. a spread or layer of leaves, reeds, rushes, soft leafy twigs, straw, etc., serving for a bed; b. that which is used in making a bed of this sort, a branch full of leaves, soft faliage Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: Leafy Branches Sunday – Domingo de Ramos”

Bright Sadness

indexA litany for Lent, to be read while “How Can I Keep From Singing” is played in the background, after which the congregation sings one or more verse of the song

by Ken Sehested

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the season of Lent is described as a “bright sadness.”

In the sadness that surrounds our lives, our community, our world, we give thanks, nevertheless. More is at work than we can see. Continue reading “Bright Sadness”

What Resurrection Means

LyniceOur Last day of the Lenten Journey.  [S]he is risen indeed.  From Rev. Lynice Pinkard of Oakland’s Seminary of the Street, in an interview with Sun Magazine in 2014.

We’re not going to do this work — of bringing people together, of stemming the tide of ecological abuse, of dealing with income inequality — without having something inside us change. Before I even get to my interaction with you, I need to examine my own self-interest. That’s what resurrection means to me: being able to rise above self-interest and the interests of your group. For me resurrection is about laying down our weapons and getting up off our assets. Resurrection is not merely about whether Jesus is dead or alive, in the tomb or not. In Romans, the Bible says the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can quicken our mortal bodies to life. We can leave our cemeteries, abandon the deadness and the death-dealing nature of our lives. We can rise above the life-limiting forces that hold us down. For me, that’s resurrection: crossing over from self-interest to true solidarity.

A Struggle of Interpretation

ElsaDay 46 of our Lenten Journey beyond “Beyond Vietnam.”  From Costa Rican biblical scholar Elsa Tamez, an excerpt from an article entitled “The Bible and Five Hundred Years of Conquest” (2005).

We see that for five hundred years we have been involved in a struggle of interpretation: some from a liberating perspective and others from a legitimating perspective of oppression. The struggle for a liberating reading of the Bible is good, nevertheless, it seems to me. After taking a look at history and seeing ourselves there as in a mirror, we need to go beyond the hermeneutical struggle. We should revise the discourse of our written canon and the logic of Christian thought; maybe there is a deeper problem that facilitates the rapid inversion of values. I am referring to aspects such as the biblical conception of time, that is, infinite progression toward the final victory (the Day of the Lord, the battle of Armageddon, the crushing of the enemy). These can be a double-edged sword—or the idea of a universalist, tolerant, egalitarian God, which is projected in the following scheme: “God is good for all; for that reason, all are good for God.” There is no distinguishing the difference. The sacrificial discourse, principally christological, sometimes degenerates into demands of unnecessary sacrifices or into the logic of crucifying the crucifiers; others such as the Elect of God, the Holy War, and so on need to be reworked. This is a matter not just of intellectual concern but of honesty before unjust practices that are easily legitimated with the Bible and theology. All of this leads us to rethink popular hermeneutics and to rework in great depth the significance of biblical authority.