Where You There When They Crucified My Lord?

A week ago, I participated in a Seder dinner offered by our local Rabbi, Robert Wolkoff.  He instructed us in this ancient Jewish ritual commemorating the Jews deliverance from slavery in Egypt.  The rabbi was emphatic that the meal wasn’t just a way to remember the story but to claim it as one’s own.  This was not something done long ago to someone else, this was done to me – both the oppression and God’s redemption.
The hymn cited above has always drawn me.  The haunting melody, the soul-bearing truth of the pain of loss. It calls us all to take our place in the story of Jesus Christ’s Passion.  It gives voice to the sad reality that is at the crux of our faith – Jesus, an innocent man, was murdered.  This hymn invites us to ponder on how complicit we are that act of violence.
It is true that no one alive today was physically present on that day in Jerusalem, but that does not absolve us of the crime.  As members of the Body of Christ and brothers and sisters to all humankind, som…

Do This in Remembrance

As a society, we love commemorating important events, celebrating the anniversaries of occasions with remarks, reflections and festivities.  The bigger and rounder the number, the better! But sometimes we forget that in order to get to the 50th Anniversary, we have to make it through the 1st, the 13th, the 37th and the 49th.  Each is special in its own way and deserves no less attention than the others.  Yet the milestone years do help us in those reflections and allow us the time needed to reflect on what has (or has not) happened.  Unfortunately, we don’t only mark happy events.  National tragedies and other significant events, like the death of a loved one, are also marked with time passing.  The fear of forgetting the event creates sentiments of “Remember the Alamo,” or “Never Forget 9/11.”  As time passes and those directly associated with such events and people pass as well, things are forgotten – not with malicious intent, but the reality of a fast-paced world and other thing…

Resuscitation vs. Resurrection

It’s interesting, if somewhat annoying, to watch medical dramas with people who actually know something about medicine.  They love pointing out the inconsistencies or incorrect procedures that are depicted on the small screen.  Most of the time I have no idea what they are doing on the screen, let alone if it is wrong.  I do know that using a “crash cart” to shock someone’s heart back to beating has great dramatic effect and is done way more often on TV than is usual in a hospital setting.
Regardless of the accuracy of the portrayal, it is awesome to witness someone considered “dead” to be “alive.” In fact, a “crash cart” is part of the miraculous abilities that modern medicine offers us.  Through human intervention, we can bring the dead back to life, hopefully offering them a second chance at living well.
The key phrase in the last sentence is “through human intervention.”  That is the difference between resuscitation and resurrection.  This is an important distinction as we engage…

The Halfway Point

We have successfully traveled through half of the Lenten Season (remember, Sundays are not included in the 40 days), and it is time to take stock of how we are doing with our intentionality.  This is not meant to induce shame or guilt, just a way of checking in and being honest about our spiritual lives.  Truth be told, I have not been as intentional as I want to be, distracted by the “tyranny of the urgent”, but that gives me focus for the latter half of our Lenten journey.  I can re-focus on drawing closer to Christ even in the midst of all that needs to get done.
Where do you find yourself on your journey?  Has your intention faded away or are you creating a holy habit that nurtures your relationship with God? Honesty is the key is any evaluation!  And if you have kept up with your intention, is it working for you?  If not, perhaps you need to tweak what you are doing and find a better way to seek and find Christ in your life.  There is no one right way.  I do believe many paths l…

St. Photina

The Church abhors a vacuum – or at least not being able to call important people by name, even if they are not given a name in the biblical text.  Such is the case of the Samaritan woman Jesus meets at Jacob’s well in our Gospel this week (John 4:5-42).  This is the longest recorded interaction that Jesus has with any woman, including his mother and Mary Magdalene.  However, the woman is never identified beyond being from Samaria, which in itself is telling as there was an on-going quarrel between the Samaritans and Jews about where one should worship God.  And yet Jesus and this woman share a beautiful exchange by the well of their common ancestor, Jacob.
That well still exists in the city of Nablus in the West Bank.  It is located in the Church of St. Photina, the name the Greek Orthodox Church gave to this woman to honor her memory and martyrdom, as they believe she was brutally killed by Emperor Nero’s forces and her body dumped in the well.  Please note that this is a Christian …

Experience, Not Theology

After many months of planning, I was THRILLED by the great response and participation with our Lenten Program “Set Our Hearts on Fire” that started on Wednesday evening.  Our facilitator, The Rev. Gerry Skillacorn, led us on a reflection of why God loves us (Psalm 8:5 What are we that you should be mindful of us, mere mortals that you should seek us out?) with words from the Prophets: I have called you by name, and you are mine. You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you. I am with you. (RSV Isaiah 43:1-4) Yahweh our God is in your midst. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival. (Jerusalem Bible, Zephaniah 3:17-18a)
How does it feel to read those words of love?  Can you find yourself in the midst of this great love story – of God’s love for us? That is what we are exploring and re-membering how to do.
When I was in college studying English, one of my professors impressed upon us th…

Pay Attention to Intention

There is a lot of noise in our world – and it is not all sounds.  We have an overload of information and demands on our time, plus constant pressure to do and have.  It never seems to let up – and it won’t unless we choose to pay attention to an intention of making space for quietness and reflection.
The truth is we make time for what is important in our lives. There is always enough to do what needs to get done – we just need to prioritize those needs that are life giving rather than draining. The season of Lent is a perfect time to take stock of our lives and choose what needs to stay and what needs to go.  Where is our time going and how can we use it to our benefit rather than feeling like there isn’t enough time.
This might mean going without something, things that take up our time – like Facebook or TV or video games – then use that time to be with God through prayer, study and reflection.  Such a reordering of our lives is exactly what this season is all about.  Take a moment…