Monday, February 27, 2006

March 5, 2006 - Year B - Lent 1

Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

Covenants come in positive form - it is good, you are my beloved. Covenants come in negative form - I won't cut you entirely off.

As we begin a Lenten it will be important to identify what covenant we are moving toward and what covenant we are fasting from. Of most interest will be where we think there is a conflict between covenants and where we don't notice that one has taken precedence over another.


  1. Mark 1:9-15

    How would you summarize a turning point in your life?

    Here it is: beloved, tempted, near.

    The nearer the presence of G*D is the more easily and clearly we find our own belovedness and our own temptations.

    This sort of direct correspondence steadfastly offers a new way out of old difficulties.

  2. 1 Peter 3:18-22

    Two important covenants that are worth fasting toward are a good conscience and presence with others.

    Can you imagine that your fasting will send you to places where folks have found themselves frozen in relationship to the energy of the universe? Whatever was the stimulus for being absent from a growing vitality, folks have given up on a changed or better future. When we fast we are to move into solidarity alongside them, and to bring the warmth of steadfast love, even to the unlikeable, that we might truly feast together. [Dante’s cold is the image here for those who had already died.]

    Can you imagine that our fasting will not only restore a right relationship with creation, but with your own best gifts and intentions? Whatever has slid into place to make us slippery in accountability needs to be revealed and re-chosen against. When we fast we are to do so that our health be enhanced - physical health, mental health, emotional health, relational health, to mention a few - by linking our intentions with our actions [thus defining a good conscience].

  3. Psalm 25:1-10

    Can we fast from shame and exultation? Are these the result of not fasting toward a preferred future of steadfast love received and responded to with our own steadfast love?

    Does the creation image of being created in the image of a creator call us to fast from and toward a variety of covenants so that the image of steadfast love and faithfulness becomes our own image? If it doesn't so call us, we are intentionally deciding that where we are is good enough, that wholeness takes too much work.

    One of the tricks here is to finally recognize that no short-term fast for limited goals is going to satisfy. We practice fasting that we might live fasting. In this way fasting really is never away from something as much as it is toward something more desirable than our current limitations.

  4. Genesis 9:8-17

    Covenants change. A prior covenant had folks being vegetarians. Here the covenant shifts to that of being an omnivore (vs 3). This leads to a trick covenant. God covenants with all living things not to drown them out again (maybe a fire next time, but not a flood). Instead we can do one another in. Humans can eat enough chickens that it becomes a commercial enterprise with only a bottom line to care for, not the care of chickens that their legs be strong enough to hold them up. Chickens are slyer than they look. They can't battle themselves out of cages but they can sneak a bird flu through the bar to do in their tormenters. The next generation of chickens will be truly free-range.

    When was the last time you connected the rainbow with Gaea setting things right, providing justice for chickens?

    The rainbow is a covenant to fast from flooding. What is the positive corollary to the rainbow? What are we fasting toward here? Has the prettiness/form of the rainbow obscured the function of watering down a prior covenant? Is this an early example of fooling us with forms/titles like Healthy Forests so old growth forests can be cut, Clear Skies to allow more pollution of the air, and Iraqi Freedom to preemptively destroy the infrastructure of another nation?

  5. 1 Peter 3:18-22

    Compare and contrast: "suffered for sins once for all" and "made alive in the spirit."

    These two phrases may have something to do with fasting from and fasting toward. Some will find themselves drawn toward one or the other. Others will go a third way of being drawn toward both. Doing this reflecting will help us clarify our natural inclinations. Some tend to focus on the past, on suffering, on absolutes. Some tend to focus on the future, on growth, on possibilities. Generally we call them glass half-empty or half-full folks. Some tend to focus lightly on the poles and to gaze gently at the ambiguity of passing moments and persistent motifs.

    If this reflection is not so much about Jesus as it is about you, how does that affect your Lenten expectations?

  6. Mark 1:9-15

    Just as Joshua and the boys had to take a step into the Jordan before they found it was actually going to back up for them to cross, so Jesus had to leave the baptismal waters to receive the blessing of belovedness.

    Often we visualize this as a dunking style baptism (though you may be interested in most of the early depictions of this scene show a standing Jesus with water being pour or sprinkled over him). In this we associate the descent of the spirit concomitant with or immediately upon the completion of the baptismal water ritual.

    Suppose for the moment that the baptismal ritual of John was the baptismal ritual of John and Jesus was simply doing his best to continue paying attention to G*D. Everything went according to plan and it wasn't until Jesus had fully completed the ritual and was stepping back onto dry land that the rainbow insight came that the threat of destruction, even by fire, was really over and done with. Redemptive violence was no longer to be the way of G*D. No wonder he was encouraged and enlivened to proceed to test whether that really was going to be the way (each of the traditional temptations can be read as variations on the theme of violence) and to practice it at the end (in Mark everyone runs away from Jesus' death as it didn't prove a rejection of violence against another would avoid violence done to one and in Luke we hear the sometimes attested words of Jesus to forgive even those who don't understand what they are doing).

    Is belovedness separable from repentance? Can I still be beloved, though yet unrepentant? Can I call another beloved while they are yet unrepentant?


Thank you for blessing us with your response.