Monday, April 18, 2016

John13:1-35

Year C - Easter5 or Assured5
April 24, 2016


When there is confusion, there is also the possibility of a clarification that will lead us further on.

In this case the disciples appear confused after Jesus gives a teaching, an assurance—”I assure you that whoever receives someone I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

This seems fairly humble and real. Where does the confusion come in?

It seems to be generated at a shift in the action. After the conclusion to the foot-washing scene with the words about “receiving”, there should be more of a stage direction than, “After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed.” How should that "after" be played.

Reading silently can scrunch things up so we don’t feel as significant a break here that begins a parenthetical comment about Judas before returning to the assurance about receiving. Try deleting verses 21-33 and see how it reads.

The disconnect between receiving and loving is unfortunate in a culture that does linear better than tangled. We like our one-liners but miss the way they parallelism can bolster and inform.

I prefer having the sequence be 13:1-21, 34-35, then the disturbance and confusion (21-22) is about the lack of love between the disciples and Jesus (23-33). What is your preference?


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Acts 9:1-6. (7-20)

Year C - Easter3 or Assured3
April 10, 2016


It is easy to claim all differences are made by leaders. It would severely limit this story if it ended with verse 6. To leave it with mere obedience would be a disservice to all of the rest of us.

Things get interesting around verse 10 when Ananias is invited to go to Saul. There is every reason in the book for Ananias to not only ask questions about his assignment, but to actually choose to not do this mission impossible task.

Eventually Ananias does go when G*D indicates Saul is but an “instrument” and will “suffer”. 

Entering on tip-toe, Ananias touches Saul and simply describes the situation, “I came unwillingly so you can see again.” Note here the parallelism of “regain sight” and “filled with Spirit”. One can’t be said without the other being implied. The physical and the spiritual are not separable.

Here sight/spirit happen before baptism, rather than after it in Jesus’ case.

Now, awakened, Saul becomes Paul, reconciled with those for whom he was previously an enemy.

May whatever scales of judgment/justice have kept you from reconciling with those you were previously on the outs with, drop in the face of everyone having already suffered enough.



Monday, April 04, 2016

John 21:1-19

Year C - Easter3 or Assured3
April 10, 2016


In Luke the Disciples know up front that they are shifting from fishing for fish to “fishing for people”. The rest of the story is in practise of how to “care for people”. 

In John disciples just shift from Baptizer John to Jesus. The disciples are shown how to care for people. It isn’t until the end of John that we have a reprise of the Lucan call.

Fishing for fish isn’t always easy, even for locals who know the territory. Jesus called out to unsuccessful fishermen to break the pattern they had set up and fish from the other side of the boat. In this shift, a new vision comes. This gets concretized in Luke with “fishers of people” and in John with a ritualized encounter between Jesus and Peter—

Do you love me more than you love fishing?
     Yes.
          Feed lambs/children.

Do you love me?
     Yes.
          Care for my sheep/people.

Do you love me?
     YES!
          Fish for people.

And so it goes around and around:
     Fish/Care —> learn how to do this —> fish/care —> learn more —> fish care ...






Monday, March 28, 2016

John 20:19-31

Year C - Easter2 or Assured2
April 3, 2016


This chapter began with a similar reference to “the first day of the week”. We have moved from the early morning crying of Mary to the evening doubting of Thomas (passing on the way da guys who came, saw artifacts, and went away believing without any questions).

This gives Peter and whichever of the other disciples was known as one Jesus loved (because no one else could or would?) a second chance at not being typical males with their boxes of categories that never touch one another. Of course they blew it. They knew what they knew and were sure as sure about it regardless if they were anywhere near correct or not.

“I/We’ve seen the LORD” is not an easy affirmation to make or witness to share. Depending on which Gospel story being referenced, folks don’t exactly know what they’ve seen when they’ve seen something and, if they finally figure something out, aren’t believed.

Which is to say, the offering of opportunities that might open self and others to experience for themselves is a precious gift to offer. Eventually this gift will come back to haunt as they can now return the favor to you to grow beyond your current understanding. Isn’t that a wonderful sort of karma to participate in—mutual encouragement!

Happy are those who see a larger trust-venue through their own experience without discounting the experience of others. In many ways this actually starts the other way around: First, no discounting of others; Second, no discounting of self. This is a helpful corollary to “love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

Keep truck’n Peter, Thomas and others caught in knowledge-based experience, you may yet follow the trail blazed by cry’n Mary M. 





Monday, March 21, 2016

John 20:1-18

Year C - Easter or Assured
March 27, 2016


Continuing the theme of loving partners and Judas as a beloved disciple, isn’t it some form of poetic justice that the greatest doubter, Judas, finally trusted the process Jesus had followed in sharing a better tomorrow in the context of not-so-hot today?

Make of Mary what you will, a physical experiencer of some resurrection, or of a beloved disciple, an experiencer of artifacts of some resurrection, what have you experienced and announced?

When it comes to our participation in the movement from the past to the present to place a claim of not simply repeating what has been and in the movement of the future into the present to plant a seed of a new beginning not fated to remain as it is, a key element is our sense of assurance that a greater inclusion and expansion is currently available to ourself and all. So great is this assurance that it resurrects us into completer and forerunner at one and the same time. Journey well and tell that story.




John 18:1-19:42

Year C - Good Friday or Annihilation Friday
March 25, 2016


The chief priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and teaching. Here is a better reason for Jesus’ death than any bloody atonement theory. Who Jesus associated with and what Jesus said, and did on earth are far simpler explanations for his death than a “strict father in heaven”.

Anyone you’ve associated with or anything you’ve said or done that would bring a calculated dismissal of you—whether shaming, shunning, imprisonment, or death?

Whatever your response, the question becomes sharper regarding the questions you receive. Can you call a false question false and live with the consequences? In today’s political climate we don’t seem to be able to address either subtle or over-the-top lies.

Whatever your response, the question becomes sharper regarding the responses you make when challenged. Can you hold out when equivalent cries of “Crucify” come or will you just wash your hands (even if you have to change stories to do it)?

Whatever your response, the question becomes sharper regarding your catalytic action of binding parther to partner. Looking back on a life, is there an equivalent experience of binding people into a new family?

- - - - - - -

Speaking of a disciple beloved by Jesus, imagine that it is Judas that is still at the cross, to see Jesus die (all the others have run?). What strange business if Judas is the disciple Jesus has had the most love for (being the neediest of it) and is now bound to Mary. Since John doesn’t tell of Judas’ demise can you think that it finally sank in to the disciples that Jesus last “command” was to love one another and that included Judas who was forgiven even Jesus’ death and remained beloved to the end?


John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Year C - Maundy Thursday or Courage Thursday
March 24, 2016


Jesus has already given four “love” commandments (presuming that love can be commanded).
     Love G*D with all ya got,
     Love your Neighb*r as you
     Love your Self, and
     Love your Enemy (meaning they are no longer your enemy though you may be their enemy)

In some sense this is a sequence that moves from easier to harder and it may be important to move through the list in the opposite direction.

Here we come to the most difficult of the love commands: Love each other.

This is the way others will know we are partners with Jesus’ partners as well as with Jesus. It is not that this is unique to Jesus, but that this is the visible evidence of a community of partners. The other four commands tend toward individual behaviors.

This becomes clearer as the evening and next day come around. Folks run. Solidarity crumbles. Creation quakes.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Philippians 2:5-13

Year C - Lent6 or Conviction6
March 20, 2016

False Dawn Sunday and/or Premature Fear Sunday

We went to see a Stage to Screen performance of the British National Theatre production of the ancient morality play, Everyman this past Sunday. It is death, ready or not, who reveals who we are and gives opportunity for us to prepare a reckoning for our life.

I’m not sure about the cause and effect approach here. At any moment any of us might be obedient even to death, remember intentional and unintentional martyrs. If that is all it takes to have a name above all names, some imagined heaven might be a Latino community with lots of Jesus’ running around.

We might ask about how humble it is to intentionally mock a war-horse parade by getting the smallest donkey to ride.

If we were to engage this passage with our own tongue, we might not just proclaim Jesus as a king or entrust our lives to G*D. We might go so far as to honor each one we meet by honoring G*D within them. How would you phrase a “Christian” Namaste? We tend to project a blessing toward others (keeping control) rather than receive one from simply another’s presence (unmerited grace).


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 and/or Psalm 31:9-16

Year C - Lent6 or Conviction6
March 20, 2016

False Dawn Sunday

Premature Fear Sunday

In thanks and in lament there is a tendency to reduce both to a simplistic response of, “G*D”. G*D does it all or needs to be talked into doing a particular something. Either way we are caught in an eternity of Palm Sunday expectation of glory upon glory or a Passion Sunday acknowledgment that worse can only be followed by still worse.

Well, Hooray when events go smoothly and Boo when there are difficulties too large for our grasp. Both these can find their appropriate place when the focus is on their last line: “faithful love”. Here we return to the mystery of life at all and life in its particular expression that includes us. Love larger than praise; Love larger than grief. Who can explain it, who can tell us why? Reason is foolish here. Wisdom knows to stay out of the way.