4 poorly known Holy Week days

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Last Sunday w as Palm Sunday. Christians know it’s donkeys, palm branches and cloaks well. Soon it will be Maundy Thursday, with the Lord’s Supper and the Arrest of Jesus. We know it well, too.

But do we know what Jesus was up to in Jerusalem between Sunday and Thursday evening? That question became important for me this year, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that it was important for the writers of the Gospels as well.

Hear are some of the details from that week, according to Mark, chapters 11,12,13, and 14.

  • Jesus cleanses the temple and tells the sellers they’ve made it into a den of robbers.
  • Jesus tells parables about wicked tenants, about sons whose actions matter more than their words, and fig trees.
  • Jesus cleverly responds to trick questions about paying taxes,the resurrection and the greatest commandment.
  • Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple, warns of coming persecutions and tribulations sometimes expected to precede the end.
  • Jesus receives and praises the lavish anointing by an unnamed woman.

These are the words and actions of Jesus that Mark considered important preparation for learning about the rest of Holy Week. It is not hard to see that such actions and words could anger the religious leaders. I wonder if that’s why he included them?

Most of his first disciples stuck with him, at least until he was arrested. I wonder what you and I would have done, back then. Now that we know, I hope we will be strengthened to stay with Jesus, by whom we are so well known, as  we remember him going through the dark days that led to Easter.

 

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Three Strategies for Choosing Faith Instead of Worry

Do you feel like it’s your duty to worry? I sometimes do. but I’m going to try to use these strategies instead.

Three Strategies for Choosing Faith Instead of Worry.

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Mark 11: Telling the Palm Sunday Story Together

Here’s a fresh and appropriate way to engage children in scripture telling for Palm Sunday,

Mark 11: Telling the Palm Sunday Story Together.

Blessings in the name of the Lord.

Posted in Abuse survivors, blogging, Child Faith, Church season, Congregational life, faith practices, Lent, Palm Sunday, Scripture telling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Facing Dark Mountains

This Blog post from Practicing Parents includes a powerful story for all of us who need courage to face the next challenge, but it also reminded me of the blessings I used to get from engaging deeply with a  class of children in third grade.

Facing Dark Mountains.

Posted in Book Reviews, Child Faith, Child Theology, community, Confession, faith practices, intergenerational | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lent Extravaganza!

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This week, in the middle of Lent, when Lent seemed to be getting a little long in the tooth, a creative team from BC’s Frazer Valley helped me delve deeply into the texts of Lent 2016. Why? Because this is the way Leader magazine draws on the resources of Mennonite pastors and lay leaders to create worship resources.

It was quite a dive, and I’m still coming up for air. I expect they are doing the same.We introduced ourselves, worshipped, read seven weeks worth of Lectionary texts together, pondered and prayed alone, and then plunged into the work of mining the texts for themes and images that speak into our current contexts.

Songs, video clips, and laughter surfaced among the words. Good food fuelled  bodies and spirits as relationships grew. Then we dove down again, trying to imagine the context in which next year’s Lent will find our church. Passions were kindled to speak the right words into what we predicted to be uncertain and challenging places.

And so the search for the sticky and timely themes continued. Draft 2, draft 3, sleep on it, test it again. Give and take, and an image that resonated in all our hearts and minds started emerging.

Tasks were claimed and affirmed, process described and deadlines set. Trust and respect for each other and the task grew deeper as we blessed each other and the writer’s retreat drew to a close. What a draining, and holy, inspiring task.  This must be one of the things Godly Play looks like for adults. Time for a group selfie, I’d say.

Posted in community, Creating, faith practices, intergenerational, Lent, Prayer, Vocation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Sundays

Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel:

Words and sentiments spoken right out of my heart.

Originally posted on Rumblings:

Some Sundays are better than others. Every pastor knows this. Every parishioner surely knows this. Some Sundays the seats are filled, the music is glorious, the prayers and the stories and the sermons are crammed full of inspiration and provocation. Some Sundays there are unexpected divine surprises that catch you off guard and move you to tears. Some Sundays are incredible, and I am pleased with whatever contributions I have made to the worship of Christ.

And other Sundays? Well, not so much.

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Footwashing? Are you sure?

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Feet, with their unique toes, are marvellous and intriguing human appendages. Years ago, I easily identified my fiancee from a group of ‘hidden’ men by identifying him by his toes. When we get to know our babies, we marvel at their fingers and toes, and get to know them well, too, as we clean their hands and feet repeatedly. We even memorialize their footprints in sidewalks and plates of plaster.

But in our wider social circles feet, and caring for them, are a rather private matter. Unless we’re active in health or body care industries, it is unusual for us to touch each other’s feet. Even as Christians.

Many North American Christians therefore have ambivalent responses to Jesus’ statement, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”(John 13: 14-15) That sounds pretty clear, and yet foot-washing is a relatively uncommon practice among us.

And yet this year’s World Day of Prayer (March 3) focuses on foot-washing. The women of Bahamas chose the text and prepared the worship resources. These women are over represented in the manual labour end of Bahamas’ tourist industry. Many of them will regularly have sore and dirty feet that need care at the end of a long work day. Here are a few inspiring points these foot weary women share with the rest of us.

1) When Jesus washed his disciples feet he revealed the radical nature of his love for them and for the world. Washing guest’s feet was a job for  a household servant to carry out when guests arrived, but Jesus showed the disciples the full extent of his humble love, by reversing roles and washing their feet as Jesus, the teacher.

2) Peter resisted being served by his teacher, Jesus, in this way, but learns that it is integral to living and serving with him. The Bahamian writers make the point that “we must all be washed by Jesus if we want to live and serve with love.” I wonder what it would mean if we remembered that each time we washed our own feet; each time we washed the feet of those we care for. What would it do to our relationship with Jesus?

3) Jesus’ radical love transforms us to be ” the servant of servants” as he was. Just imagine the transforming, dignifying impact this concept must have for those who work in the underpaid service industry! They write that “radical love comes from humbleness, compassion, and commitment… It is not servility. It can’t be confused with ways and systems that reproduce racism, classism, sexism, abuse, or fear.” But they identify it with the silent feet of proud Bahamian women as they stood for their right to vote, in the resiliency of their farmers, fishermen and women as they engage their menial labours with dignity, and as they experience the waves wash their feet even as the rising sun warms and touches their skin with the gentle spirit of freedom and liberation.

4) They remind us of Jesus’ question, “Do you know what I have done to you?” If he, who was God and human at the same time, displayed an attitude of humility and service, we must embrace every opportunity to exemplify him.

They have taught us well. May we take their clear articulation of Jesus’ attitudes to heart and love one another with humble radicality. Does that mean we’ll actually wash each other’s feet this Friday? There are some timid preparations for us to do so at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, where I’ll  be providing some input.

What insights do you have into this uncommon Christian practice of foot washing? What insights will you have after March 3rd? Join the service in your neighbourhood and give these words of Jesus another chance to wash your soul.

Posted in Church season, faith practices, Family life, Foot washing, Hope, Lent, Prayer, Women's concerns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment