On Sunshine and Easter Eggs

Woke up this morning to a delightful weather report - expecting a high of 60 degrees today and "nothin' but blue skies. . . " This is swell!

Arrived "on the block" at about 11:00 this morning to discover plastic eggs filled with chocolcates strewn about. This too is swell!

We began planning and coordinating the next "Unity Service" with Garrett - the Methodist seminary across the street. The meeting went extremely well (despite my failure to bring my Hatchett hymnal resource!) and we are excited about the service which is scheulded for April 26th at 11:15 AM at Seabury. We are celebrating the Festival of St. Mark and the "theme" is Proclaim the Good News: Peace and Salvation to the Whole Creation based on the propers for that day (Isa. 52:7-10, Eph 4:7-8, 11-16, Mark 16:15-20).


Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!

On Easter morning, "My heart overflows with a goodly theme" (Psa. 45.1). No matter what hymns are jubilantly sung as the sun rises over the Easter service, I always sing:
Ev'ry morning is Easter morning from now on.
Ev'ry day's resurrection day, the past is over and gone.
Goodbye guilt, goodbye fear; good riddance! Hello, Lord! Hello, sun!
I am one of the Easter people. My new life has begun!

Avery and Marsh have been part of my Easter experience since the first sunrise service I can remember: a small group of Presbyterians would gather before dawn at the top of Rib Mountain (now Granite Peak) in Wausau, Wisconsin. We would tentatively join our voices to the voice of Nick Smith's folk guitar, "Ev'ry mroning is Eater morning from now on" - then, with each new line, we seemed to gather new courage so that by the time we greeted the sun to announce, "I am one of the Easter people. My new life has begun!" we could be heard by the Lutherans across the park.

The quiet simplicity of this song reminds me of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb that first Easter. Our tentative voices remind me of Mary weeping outside of the tomb; she sees Jesus, but does not recognize him. Then, as our voices gain strength, we realize the truth before us as Mary runs off to proclaim the good news to the disciples: "I have seen the Lord!"

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!



Wednesday in Holy Week

Wednesday in Holy Week
Text: John 13:21-35

March 23, 2005
Chapel of St. John the Divine
Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

May the words of my mouth and
the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord,
our rock and our redeemer.

What did you during Spring break? I watched South Park – just one episode – really! In this episode, Kyle – always impulsive, but not always too bright – asks his parents if he can attend the Raging Cats concert with Cartman, Stan, and Kenny. His parents, not unpredictably, say “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Kyle’s friend Cartman says – also, not unpredictably – “DUMMY! You don’t ASK if you can go! I’m telling my parents I’m staying at Stan’s house, Stan’s telling his parent’s he’s staying at Kenny’s house and Kenny’s not telling his parents anything cuz they don’t care.”

Not willing to give up, Cartman hatches a devious plan that will rid Kyle of his parents. The plan is so successful that all the children follow suit. Soon South Park’s entire adult population has been carted off to prison. After ten days of ongoing mischief, the South Park kids realize that life was really better with their parents around. They raise up a giant banner that reads “Welcome Back Parents!!!” As they are waiting for the parents to return, Kyle wonders, “Do you think they’re gonna be mad at us for lying and sending them all to jail for ten days?” Stan offers, somewhat optimistically, “Well, they can’t be TOO mad. I mean, we made them a BANNER!”

South Park to Holy Week – this might get a bit bumpy, so hang on!

Judas is a traitor AND a disciple. He is consumed by Satan AND chosen by Jesus. John’s Gospel takes pains to ensure that we hear this both / and by always pairing the name Judas with a reference both to his ultimate role as betrayer AND with a reference to his membership in the group of chosen ones. Today’s gospel lesson is no exception. Imagine we are guests at this intimate supper – a supper Jesus is sharing with his friends. Judas is among those counted as friends. You and I are among those counted as friends. Through the sharing of bread, Jesus offers hospitality and love to those gathered. Through the sharing of bread, Jesus designates the one who will betray him. Knowing what Judas was about to do, Jesus nonetheless gives him the piece of bread – he shares his hospitality and his love with the one whose very actions will lead ultimately to his crucifixion.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Judas – dare I admit – I recognize myself in him from time to time. My own betrayal of Christ is surely not as overt as that of Judas – my betrayal is perhaps more like Peter’s later denial of Christ – and yet, every time I do not love another as Christ has loved me, I betray Christ. When I am asked, “What do you do?” and I respond, “I’m a student” – deliberately choosing not to admit that I am responding to God’s call to become a priest and secretly hoping they will not ask me what I am studying OR when I walk past the homeless man or woman on the street, avoiding catching their eye, because I am in a hurry or don’t want to be bothered – am I not betraying Christ? Through ours sins, known and unknown, through things done and left undone - are we not betraying Christ? Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for Judas. . .

. . . because there is hope in the story of Judas. From the beginning, John’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus knew Judas would betray him and still Jesus chooses Judas to be a disciple. After Judas leaves the table, Jesus commands his friends, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Jesus shares a meal with his friends and shows them his love. Judas was counted among them. You and I are counted among them.

As we journey through Holy Week, we hold out hope, like Stan in South Park, that despite our betrayal of Jesus, he will nonetheless see the sincerity behind our banners – banners of worship, belief, love, and repentance – and that Jesus will ultimately welcome us home. That is the promise - the Good News - that awaits us at the end of our Lenten Journey.


What's the message?

Arrived at Seabury this morning just before 7AM. Andrea kindly agreed to drop me off "on her way" to work so that we could share a ride home this evening after Tenebrae. Classes start at 9AM (just after Morning Prayer). Turns out, my preaching class has been cancelled due to the instructor's illness. Alas, what can this mean? No preaching class on the day I am scheduled to preach? Cleary, it is a good omen - I am ready. No, no, no . . . that can't be right. Clearly, it is a bad omen - nothing preaching, preached, and preachy will go as expected today. No, no, no. . .that can't be right. Not going as expected is not necessarily bad. . .

Clearly, there is no correlation between no preaching class and my preaching. Clearly.

Having established this fact, I can move on to discussions of other things. This has been an odd week - my class on Monday was cancelled because the instructor was at a conference out of town. My class on Tuesday is an "independent" study which is a misnomer as there are 3 students studying together with the instructor. And, as already stated, my class this morning has been cancelled. The Spring Quarter is off to a bizarre start. I do expect to have Systematic Theology this afternoon. . . but then, things have not been going as expected. Cleary this is a good omen. . . or a bad omen. . .

Maybe just another case of too much caffeine too early in the day!


Preaching on Wednesday

I am scheduled to preach at the eucharist on Wednesday. Two problems: (1) AKMA is presiding - just a little intimidating for me and (2) episode 416 of South Park seems relevant. Let me elaborate: of these two problems, the second is much greater. I can get over the first by simply starting off with a GREAT opening like, "I found myself . . ." Problem 2 on the other hand is a bit murkier - South Park and Holy Week?!

Stay tuned - this could get very interesting!


I'm Back

Beth, I got sucked in --- I love lists (scroll down to February 23)! I'm back from reading week feeling lighter and thankful. The skiing was great (Ryan, Mary even bought a pair; they cost money, therefore, they are (my apologies to my readers for this ongoing inside joke)). The studying was awesome - I was doing a research project on St. Gregory of Nazianzus and 4th century rhetoric and suddenly thought, WOW! I could do a PhD in Greek patristics or early church history - I am LOVING this! (Someone please wake me up - this clearly is a nightmare as just a year ago I would have sworn to you, "I HATE studying history"). Whoever new it could be relevant? O.k., somebody new, but it sure wasn't my high school history teacher! Shame on him!

Now. . . the list:

Oh, never mind --- I formatted it in MS Word and cannot figure out how to copy
and paste it here without losing the formatting AND because the list contains
379 items, I refuse to redo it. If you absolutely MUST see it, let me know
and I'll figure it out somehow.