Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dangerous Holy Week

Holy Week is filled with uncertainty and danger, peopled with all sorts of characters:

~ the rich and the powerful determined to bring an end to the Jesus thing ... 

~ a man willing to betray himself for 30 pieces of silver ... 

~ another man with a hair-trigger denial when asked if knows the man from Galilee ... 

~ the Procurator Pilate, more than likely frightened of making the wrong decision, and wondering what this all means for his career ... 

~ soldiers doing their job ... 

~ merchants and mendicants ...

~ bystanders and tourists ... 

~ travelers from afar ... 

~ disciples on the verge of panic ... 

~ crowds eager to spill some blood and welcome back a champion by the name of Barabbas ...

~ and Jesus who broke bread with his friends, who knew all too well how it was ending, who choose the power of silence when confronted by his accusers, and then beaten to within an inch of his life, needing help to carry the cross ... dying between two revolutionaries who likely had blood on their hands ... he utters words of forgiveness, laments his abandonment, then cries out in loud voice and is dead!

In a world such as ours, with turmoil and trouble on every hand, politicians run amok, violent men and women eager for blood ... children suffering ... fear running high.

I find some strange assurance in Holy Week ... such is life, such is the world into which the Son of Man comes ... the cross he bears is the cross of every moment ... the death he dies is humanity's death ... 

He stayed the course and didn't relent ... the original temptation in the wilderness was defied to the end, and then some.

He's worthy of my love.

In his life, and in his death

And some say, the tomb couldn’t hold him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Save Us, We Pray

In a world of deep fractures and violence,
We are tempted to allege the guilt of others,
And protest our own clear and inviolable innocence..

Save us, O God, from such childish palaver,
That we might more honestly assess the nature
Of our broken and bleeding world.

For those injured, our prayers.
For the dead, our blessing.
For the grieving, our tears.

For those who can find no other recourse,
But their own death for the death of others,
We pray for the causes of such despair and hatred.

For the nations of the West which have so
Arrogantly toyed with the Middle East; the British
For the sake of India.

France for glory.
Russia for the Orthodox Church.
The United States for oil.

Bombs dropped from altitude kill, as well:
Children and babies and mothers and fathers.
And we say, "We sorry!"

And the rogue State of Israel continues
To foment outrage and instability.
While eradicating the Palestinians.

Where are the innocent?
Not in the capitals of power, that's for sure.
But the children.

Always the children, O God.
They're the innocent ones.
And Moms and Dads on their way.

O God, save us from mindless palaver.
The easy assignment of blame.
The autocratic pretense of political innocence.

Remind us, dear God, of Joshua.
Who ran to the man in the road.
Demanding to know on whose side he stood.

And the angel of the LORD said:
On no one's die.
And Joshua bowed down.

And so we pray, for the mechanisms of justice.
For a new resolve in the West to honor the Middle East.
To corral Israel and free the Palestinians.

And to pay attention to our Muslim neighbors and friends.
To honor those who seek for peace.
And correct the vast imbalances.

In a world of deep fractures and violence.
Hear our prayer. Amen!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Have a Blessed Day"

"Have a blessed day" has become rather common, as a phone sign-off and an email signature ... and I don’t like it.

First off, what does it mean?

Is it the equivalent of “Good Luck” or “Have a nice day!”? 

I suppose it sounds pleasantly religious ... but theologically, speaking as a Presbyterian, isn’t every day a blessed day?

That is, isn’t God’s hand upon us, God’s love all around us ... even when we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death ... and the skies are dark, and the rain is cold, and life has turned to shit, as it sometimes does?

I mean, when David is fleeing Saul, Elijah is running for his life and Jesus hangs on the cross?

The Biblical writers are clear - for weal and for woe, in thick and thin, in sick and sin ... God is there, and God’s love is at work in ALL things for good ... surely for those who “love” God, and for everyone else, too, because everyone is connected, and those who “love” God are connected to those who aren’t too sure about it, and those who aren’t too sure are connected to those who want nothing to do with it, and it’s all mixed up, even for those who “love God,” and God’s work is universal, in all, for all, and with all, 24/7.

I have a “blessed” day every day ... whether I know it or not, whether I’m delighted in God’s hand upon my life or thinking that the “weight of glory” might be better served if it were on someone else’s shoulder.

Might it not be better to say, “Your day is blessed, whether you know it or not, even when it’s raining and shit is happening.” Well, maybe, eliminate the fecal-reference, as to not offend the sensibilities of the more piously inclined.

I’d rather someone say, “Have a nice day,” or even “Good Luck!” (which I’m not inclined to say, since it’s a world of faith and not fates in which I live ... wherein love, God’s love, surely not my feeble effort at love, determines things, not luck, or the throw of a die, or the success of a trite christian mantra.

Anyway, it’s slightly irritating, and seems to be “christian code,” ... and I don’t like christian code ... things that play around with God, with how it’s all going, and maybe we can tweak the Ol’ Boy’s nose and get some favor.

I mean, if my day isn’t blessed, what is it?

What’s the alternative?

May your day go to hell in a handbasket because God is pissed at you?

May your craven worldliness be struck down by the wrath of God, so that you’ll turn your life around and come to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth ... and then you’ll be blessed?

Or maybe just say, “You better watch out, and if you don’t, you’ll go to hell.” Which might well be a whole lot more honest for those who trade in the blessings of god and believe they have the upper hand in such things.

Or maybe just say: Cordially, and be done with it.

Or maybe add, God’s Peace, if a “religious” note seems appropriate ... as a simple declaration of a universal constant.

Cordially, and God’s Peace.