a conversation continues with new friends around table…they all happen to be pastors…
The earliest gospel is Mark’s. The others follow his lead regarding plot and characters. Matthew and Luke add Birth Narratives we especially love this time of year. Writing styles differ. The treatment of miracles, parables, Passion and Resurrection are varied and provide great material to compare/contrast in preaching (hooray!). But Mark is the prototype the rest follow.
Mark’s 13th chapter is the strange outlier, not picked up by any other evangelist. This exciting mini-apocalypse appears this time of year in the lectionary and includes the New Testament’s only effort to break the fourth wall. Mark’s aside to the audience “let the reader understand” is deigned to get our attention, but surreptitiously. It seems to have been so subtle it may have gone right over the heads of Matthew, Luke and John.
But not us.
Mark was writing in a unique time and setting; namely, before the Temple had been destroyed by the Romans. This likely was the reason for the other 3 ignoring the passage, actually. Before the State exercised its considerable power to neuter and manipulate religion for its own coercive purposes, as happened in 70 CE. Before the fall of the Temple along with its spiritual and financial economy. Before religion ended as we knew it. Mark saw it all coming and compared the cataclysm to the end of the entire world.
The Desolating Sacrilege is language borrowed from Daniel (whose setting of state persecution and anticipation of imminent destruction closely foreshadows Mark). In Daniel, as in Mark, when the secular King was allowed to place his own statue and likeness anywhere he wanted, when even the Temple became merely a public vehicle for his self-aggrandizement it meant our destruction was near. There was no more integrity to the place of worship and the Temple’s function. We were losing our reason for being, our mode of being faithful. We would soon be overrun.
Today we feel a similar tragic decline in religion in our country. We see the weakest Church any of us have known. We witness the horrible abuse of that church by mightier powers denigrating our traditions and making us a mockery in the eyes of the world. We don’t want to become mere pawns in the hands of more powerful people who would use the name Christian to merely strengthen their own political position. We are trying to maintain a healthy sense of justice and integrity. But longing to regain status and working to make the faith meaningful and effective we still sometimes feel at a loss! I’m proud of those of us across the country in a variety or denominations struggling today to be a faithful remnant.
Let the reader understand; these are really bad days for religion in our country. Our friends, family, and ex-attenders have written off the Church as irrelevant. Or worse, they now see our temples and Christian tradition as merely the unwitting tool of mightier, unjust, and profoundly unholy powers. They see the Desolating Sacrilege above us, standing where it doesn’t belong as Mark warned. In the holiest places beside our crosses is an alien banner hovering, ominous. It reads: Make America Great Again.
What we need in place of such idolatry is a fresh religion, begun with new prophetic and urgent hope. That’s a faith worth celebrating and worth telling others about.
We start anew, and again, this Sunday.
Reflections on a great Book, that became a movie, that gets quoted in a famous TV show, that blew my little mind.
Sundays story of the 10 Commandments, housed in Richard Rohr’s wisdom of needing a goad to kick against…
In our concluding paragraphs the stories turn to death, and the prophetic urgency laid upon all of us to address it ahead of time
Conversation with Norm asks “what is different between spirituality and religion?”Also, ridiculousness
Part two and we get talking about Boundaries in chaplaincy and in the parish
The head of Spiritual Services for a city hospital talks to me about chaplaincy. I know him well…
comments on the Great Crossing, our following or leading, and our part both in Liberation as well as Captivity
Further conversation along the road leads us to active life in a faith community and the changes following WWII
The conclusion of my conversation with my Dad leads to his great hope for the youth, and thoughts about permanence
This is the first of three episodes about my favorite Nonagenarian. We cover early childhood up to his volunteering for World War II
The conclusion of my conversation with Mark, about conversion, daughters, love, and of course another Whitworth story:
Part two of our conversation in Eugene OR about family and faith.
Some alternatives to God’s blood thirsty reputation in traditional understanding. Including Reformed thought from the 1500s
Sunday’s Exodus account of the Passover and its ties to the Crucifixion. AND an entirely different way to think about it all…
the strangest verse of Exodus. Maybe it should be the central Evangelism story?
The Call of Moses at the Bush in Exodus Chapter 3 launches a congregational conversation about our own experiences of The Other – with some help from a Philosophy textbook…
Meditation on the first Moses, who set the example for the Second we follow. And the most unsuspected teaching on Resurrection you will hear all year…
Our fall journey begins with two women who say no.
What goes up, optimistic:
must come down…
For me, the start of #BigTent2017 was some of the most powerful of all…
Part 4 – A Friday evening of a glorious few days in St. Louis. A field trip to First Presbyterian of Ferguson, MO – Michael Brown’s hometown
That’s a long title for some fun romping around on a 50th Anniversary
SIDE A: The concept, and what the Trinity has to do with it:
SIDE B: The personalities, and what we might have to do with it:
SIDE C: finishing up with the The Best Song From the Most Influential Album of All Time by the Best Band of All time:
Some surprising late May hiking
finding our Way and “erring”
The real reason for wandering…