Monday, March 30, 2015

Anointed for Burial -- Reflection for Holy Monday

John 12:1-11

12 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them[a] with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it[c] so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday.  It is a day of triumph, but that triumph is short lived. Even though John places the entry into Jerusalem after this story, the story of Mary anointing Jesus with pure nard, a perfume, which Judas understands to be of great value, this is an important story for us to hear as we move toward Easter. Palm Sunday reveals Jesus' calling to be the victorious but humble king (Zechariah 9:9), the path leads through death, and therefore it is appropriate that Jesus be prepared for that move.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hosanna! Hosanna! -- A Sermon for Palm Sunday

John 12:12-16

Everyone loves a parade. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Rose Parade or a Fourth of July parade. We love the floats and the bands and the candy thrown to the kids by the paraders! Maybe you’ve been in the parade. You marched in the band, walking what seemed like miles, trying to play your instrument while keeping your feet in proper motion and your lines straight. Maybe you rode on a float, which in a small local parade might be the back of a pickup, or simply walked down the street waving a flag. 

When a team wins a championship, the city will host a parade so that the people can celebrate their team. The players ride by waving to the screaming fans, while confetti falls from tall buildings. Of course, the joy doesn’t last long, because teams rarely repeat their big wins. 

Most parades send messages. A Fourth of July Parade celebrates patriotism, while a championship parade celebrates the superiority of one’s team over its rivals. As that old song from the 70s puts it: “We are the Champions of the World!”

Friday, March 27, 2015

Disciples Taking a Stand in Indiana

Yesterday the governor of Indiana signed a "Religious Freedom" law that essentially gives businesses and others the right to discriminate against LGBT folks on the basis of their religious beliefs.  Indiana is one of many states that is enacting legislation in anticipation that the Supreme Court will strike down gay marriage bans. 

My denomination, which is based in Indianapolis and is scheduled to hold our 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis had threatened to move the General Assembly elsewhere if it was signed.  In a letter sent to the governor, together with the Presidents of the Division of Overseas Ministries and Division of Homeland Ministries, Sharon and her co-signers declared:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recapturing the Selma Spirit

It has been fifty years since the events of the Selma march. That being said remnants of the past linger. Segregation may not be legal, but it still exists in subtle ways. Tonight in Detroit we have the opportunity of listening to voices and hearts and begin to heal the wounds of the past so we can go forward. The Detroit Clergy Gathering has invited the Metro Coalition of Congregations to come together for conversation and commitment to a new future. In the civil rights struggle. Persons like myself -- persons who are white and male -- have stood as allies. But, we must admit that we have not experienced discrimination. We've not faced the prospect of being pulled over by the police simply because of our color. We have not be denied voting rights.  I stand as an ally, but I have much to learn.

With that, I will be sharing a prayer in the event. In light of this, I thought I would share this video that will, I believe, be shown this evening. It does capture the spirit! If you're in the area tonight, join us!!

We have a long way to go, but we shall overcome.  

In The Spirit of Selma from Zachary Cunningham on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Catholic Hispanics Defect -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

While the vast majority of Latinos are Roman Catholic, great numbers are leaving the fold. Many "defect" to Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism.  This is true both in the United States and in Latin America as a whole. There are a number of reasons for this, but it does point out important areas of concern for all of us.  It is not movement from one tradition to another that is the biggest concern -- it is secularism and even more worrisome, indifference.  I invite you to read and respond to Martin Marty's thoughts.

Catholic Hispanics Defect
By MARTIN E. MARTY   MAR. 23, 2015
                                                                              Image Credit: Kamira / shutterstock creative commons 
“Firing Up America” could refer to any number of incendiary subjects, and the cover illustration on The Economist (March 14) doesn’t help much in sorting: it shows an American flag whose stripes are strung-together red peppers. The subtitle alerts readers to something worth sighting, “A Special Report on America’s Latinos.”

The Chicago media is full of stories about a Latino candidate for mayor, and keep Latinos on our minds. We decided to go national/international: