Category Archives: Other people’s posts

Online Stations of the Cross

This year, former FCCB intern Meredith Jackson, PSR student Emily Labrecque, my husband Jason and I decided to do something a little different for Good Friday. We’ve put together an online Stations of the Cross, as a way for people to engage in the day from their home or work. The Stations are designed to let you journey through 14 stations through music, video, art, poetry, and prayer. You can do it all in one sitting, or return to it throughout the day. Check it out, and let us know what you think, and feel free to pass it along!
https://sites.google.com/site/stations2014/

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Garden

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The Liturgists: Garden is an creative collaboration between the band Gungor, theologians Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, and several others. Their “Garden” series is created for the Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter weekend. It’s so good and so rich I don’t know what to do with myself. I love the way doubt, hope, pain, and faith is all held in creative beauty and called holy.

We’ll be working with the “Sunday” monologue in Gather this week–go ahead and have a listen now as a preview!

 

One of the most important things that I can almost never do.

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This is a powerful sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber, one of my favorite preachers these days. She speaks about death, resurrection, and broadening our vision beyond our disappointments.

My husband Jason often points out to me when I am “fretting.” This regularly looks like me trying to make sure I have managed every possible contingency for some situation or relationship so that there is as little likelihood of any adverse effect as possible. When I sit with what is behind the fretting, I think I am afraid of losing control of a situation. I get spiral-y about it: That if I don’t manage this now in this way, it will be even more difficult and uncomfortable to handle it later on.

I am always grateful for a call to not worry about controlling everything so much, which is what I hear out of this sermon. That I can’t know what I am attempting to control for, because I can only see so far, and so wide.

When I try to control everything, I am worried about what I might lose if I don’t have control. Would I lose this image of myself as independent if I have to borrow money from my parents? Would I lose the chance at a great job if I don’t maintain this relationship perfectly? It’s like I build this nest of things I can manage around me to protect me from the sucking vastness of ambiguity. I believe that being able to sit with ambiguity is crucial to most things in life–but it still scares the crap out of me.

The fascinating challenge I am coming to is: what would I worry about if I believe in a God in whom nothing, not even the finality of death, has the final word? This immensity of this notion is almost dizzying. That there is nothing that cannot be rebuilt in new ways, nothing that I can never come back from.

At On Tap last week, we talked about dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and resurrection. Someone pointed out that with resurrection, things don’t come back the exact same. New life is not just old life revived; it is something altogether new. It has new qualities, new textures, touches new places. How freeing it is to hope in a God who does not renew things in the image of what I would want to see again, but deals in spaces where we are surprised by joy.

This calls me to release some of that control, that fretting doesn’t get me anywhere because the most life-giving things in my life may not look the way I expected them to. And I’m terrible at not attempting to control things. Despite what I can aspire to, I still fear loss. But I can practice it, and hold those times when I am reminded to release that tight fist close. And, like anything practiced, it gets easier and more natural the more you do it.

So I’ll keep practicing.

 

Criminal Justice and a Broken Theology of the Cross

This article by Benjamin Corey looks at the legacy of how punitive atonement theologies are reflected in our justice system. He makes some positive claims about what Jesus dying on the cross is doing, which you may or may not agree with and which makes for great discussion as well.

But I think his reflection on our justice system is simple and powerful. Whether or not it is a legacy of one theology of atonement that arose out of Feudal Europe or not, a strong contingent of popular theology today holds that If there is offense, then someone needs to be punished. A recent Pew poll on American support of the death penalty still showed white Christians across the board as supporting the death penalty substantially more than the broader American adult population (and the racial differences in support of capital punishment are worth another discussion unto itself).

Granted, punishment as a form of “making things right” has been around for much of human history. But we can see instances of choosing a different path, such as in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-Apartheid South Africa. In that case, those offenders, those who committed heinous crimes and murders, heard the stories of how those left behind, the survivors, were affected. And the offended against heard the stories of their offenders. Across the board, offenders and survivors were humanized in each others’ eyes.

In a culture where violence and punishment make up justice, how can we be agents of reconciliation? How can we keep another’s humanity, his or her joys and struggles,  at the forefront before anything else?

Volunteering as Tribute and Atonement

What story does this sound like:

Out of chaos, a covenantal society coalesces between a greater power and a lesser one. When the lesser one refuses to render due honor and obedience to the greater – in actions considered in rebellion of that covenant – they bring upon themselves the wrath of the greater power, a wrath that can only be satisfied by precious sacrifice, which balances the scales once more. The climax of the story comes when one representing those to be punished volunteers to take on the wrath of the greater power. That volunteer upsets the balance of power, subverting it.

The pattern of violence that balances the scales, that atones, for disobedience or wrath seems repeated over and over. The premise in The Hunger Games series follows this pattern seen in some parts of the Christian tradition around Jesus’ death pretty closely.

One of my favorite podcasts/blogs is Homebrewed Christianity. Two Claremont School of Theology PhD’s/pastors who spin passionate theology while sipping a new beer they brewed. This podcast linked below was one of the first shows I heard, and it feels classic–especially for Lent, when that “Jesus died for our sins” bit becomes more stark, especially as we get towards Good Friday. The hosts talk with two authors who critique traditional concepts of atoning and sacrifice, including in The Hunger Games, and explore how these frameworks get re-inscribed and reflected in our culture.

Listen to the podcast here while you get ready in the morning or something. It’s awesome.

 

Nadia Bolz-Weber on Hope and Vapid Optimism

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2013/05/sermon-on-why-hope-and-vapid-optimism-are-not-the-same-thing/

If you haven’t heard of her, read most everything you can by Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber. She is the pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, a Lutheran church in Denver. From my perspective, she just gets the Gospel in all its grittiness and grace so well. I love this sermon of hers. It articulates a lot of the way that I experience and struggle with hope.

Sense of Home and “Black Iowa Dirt”

This is the song I referenced and sang a little bit of in my last sermon.

I love this song and William Elliott Whitmore’s strong connection to his home, and his passion for talking about it and articulating how important it is to him.

Hope and home are actually tied up for me. For years, my hope has been to one day return Home and live again in Colorado. I want to be back in the place that formed me; it’s comfortable and broken-in. But if that doesn’t happen, I am finding that other places can grow into home eventually.
There’s hope in this for me–that the things I think I will always long for and will never reach eventually wind up sprouting up right under my feet. I have spent time longing for Home only to realize in many ways, I am home here. This realization helps keep me grounded and present in the moment.
What is a sense of home like for you? What is wrapped up in “Home” for you?