Beyond Wood and Stone

Rev. Elisabeth's Cedar Park Blog site

Month: November 2012

Reign of Christ

This is a ‘day of dissonance’, according to Barbara Lundblad. Dissonant because everything we usually associate with ‘kings’ and ‘reigns’ – pomp, ceremony, fancy duds and hats and crowns,  does not apply to the “Christ” of this Day.  Christians have been faced with this paradoxical dilemma since the first days of resurrection: how to reconcile two seemingly contradictory statements about Jesus:  He Died and was buried.  He is Risen and alive for evermore.  How is Jesus of Nazareth, to rule in 21st century Montreal?  What might that reign look like?  What trappings of monarchy will be his? What expectations will be overturned in us when we encounter Christ as King?

It’s tempting to end the year with a bang! Have a parade for the king of kings! But this year, Mark’s Gospel leads us not to triumph but to trial. Herein lies the paradox, which like all good paradoxes, should never be fully resolved, but simply lived.  Come tomorrow to hear the choir sing an awesome anthem, Christus Paradox, and you’ll hear what I mean.


It’s almost over!

We have two weeks left in the year! (The lectionary year, that is). Next week “Reign of Christ” marks the end of the lectionary journey which began late last November with the season of Advent, the time of anticipation of the birth of the Christ child. After a short season of “AHA!” (Epiphany) and celebration of God’s coming here in flesh and bone, we moved quickly through Lent to the death of this man Jesus, to be surprised again on Easter Sunday with the news that death was not the final act, but the beginning of a world-changing faith.  Pentecost filled us with the light and firey inspiration of the Spirit of God,  and launched us into the looooong season after Pentecost, where we explored Mark’s Gospel account of a Jesus on the move, in a burning rush to proclaim the Dream of God, and now, all of a sudden, it’s almost over!

Mark’s Gospel has been a rough and tumble read, Mark’s Jesus is not a patient or gentle soul, but a passionate one, on fire with conviction that God’s Dream – of  human communities mirroring God’s compassion, jGod’s ustice, God’s gift of equity based on common humanity, rather than humanly constructed inequity based on greed –  was the only way to live in a world of empires, selfishness and fear.  We might hope for a simple summary from Mark, a moment of quiet teaching and encouragement from Jesus, but not. What we get is “a little apocalypse”.  (Mark 13:1-8) Rumours of wars, end-time signs, a real sense of ‘imminent danger’ a code-orange type text deliberately designed to unsettle… Thanks at lot, Jesus, via Mark!  I hope you can join us on Sunday to see what we do with this apocalypse; if you can’t you will find the sermon posted on our church website by mid week.

Meanwhile, perhaps you’ll find encouragement from the second reading for this Sunday – Hannah’s Song. It’s in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, and you can click the link here.  If you hear echoes of Mary’s Magnificat in this song, you’d be right.  I like to imagine that Hannah’s song was passed down from mother to daughter for generations, a precious pearl in the spirituality of women, shaping a womanly awe at the God-given miracle of every human birth.  For those of you who are mothers, or the husbands or sons of mothers, imagine the miracle of your own birthings, and see if you don’t find yourself written and sung into the verses of this song.  What verses might you add from your own experience??


Daily Bread

This Sunday we finish our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer.  You can find all the previous sermons on the CPU website,  This  Sunday we look at the deceptively simple petition ” Give us this day our daily bread.”  Until reading John Dominic Crossan’s book on the Lord’s Prayer, I had not fully appreciated the radical nature of this  request for daily bread.  Jesus’ prayer petition for daily bread is set in the context of his own “mealtime ministry” which itself is set in the context of Roman policies of  food taxation, where “daily bread” was anything but a certainty for most.

Crossan shows that Jesus’ repeated shared meals, in which he is seen repeatedly “taking, blessing, breaking and sharing” the food staples of the region, serve to remind everyone that  the bounty of creation is God’s, given for the good of all, (rather than to be taken by Roman and given to a few).  We see this clearly in the feeding of the multitude parable-miracle stories in all four Gospels, and most clearly in Mark’s first feeding narrative in Mark 6:32-46.  While it has been a longstanding interpretive tradition to ‘spiritualize’ these stories, but in the fragile food security of first century Galilee, and 21st century global food crises, these stories are about real hunger.   What is even more striking in Mark’s narrative is the way Jesus never takes away the responsibility of the disciples to respond to that hunger with what they have.   It is by disciples -then and now – taking what we have, blessing it (acknowledging that it is a gift of a creative generous God, breaking  and sharing, that the staples of the earth  can be distributed equitably, for the common good, to the hungry.

In today’s sermon I invite Cedar Parkers to think of the ways in which we too  already “take, bless, break and share” God’s gifts  of daily bread in our ministries both within and beyond our wood and stone.  AND, to imagine how Jesus is showing us new possibilities for living this very concrete, practical, petition in the Lord’s Prayer, to “Give us (i.e. all people), this day our daily bread.”

Use the comment box to share your insights, questions, proposals.  I look forward to your responses!

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