What We Leave Out – Proposal for New Holy Week Format

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On Palm Sunday many churches do a nice processional with children and adult choir members laying down palms as they process into the sanctuary.  Impressive. On Maundy Thursday we read about Judas’ betrayal and break bread and drink from the cup. On Good Friday, if we are really serious Christians, perhaps we have Stations of the Cross.  On Easter it’s all resurrection and hallelujahs, Christ the Lord is risen today. Maybe a sunrise service followed by church breakfast.  Easter cantatas are splendid.  But what do we leave out?  Always pay attention to what we leave out.

Perhaps we should have a Lament Monday, remembering Jesus cried over Jerusalem.  We could get some marginalized people to tell us all that is wrong with the city in which we live and after each statement we could wail for two minutes. Who knows, we might even consider asking the marginalized people to hang around and be a part of  the church.

Tuesday should be Destruction of Church Day.  Jesus created a ruckus in the temple.  Turned over a few tables.  On this day we could shred the church budget and constitution.  End the service by predicting the imminent destruction of the church.

Wednesday could be Woe To Scribe and Pharisees day.  Clergy would not lead or pick out the people to lead these services.  Church leaders would be required to sit beside the clergy and remain silent.

How would you organize Holy Week so  that it’s not so much fluff?

Holy Week Devotional: Granny talks to everyone she see about dying

 

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(Adaptation of Thomas King’s “Magpies” in One Good Story, That One)

Everybody knows this story.

Mary Jane knows this story.  Joe Ray knows this story.  Little Johnny knows this story.  Ladale knows this story.  Uncle Jack knows the story.  My friend, Kathy, knows it too.  Victoria hears this story in Bakersville.  Rufus knows the story, front to back.  Heard it twelve, maybe fourteen, maybe eighteen times before he had his eleventh birthday party.  Here comes that story again, he said.

There’s some dying in this story, to which Granny connects.  Granny talks a lot about dying.  She looks at her leg and thinks about dying.  So she talks about falling over dead.  She says, I’m gonna die one day.  When that Granny starts talking about being dead, people in the room say, no, no, no.  That is just a bruise.  Yellow bruise.  Those ones are okay.

Granny talks to everyone she see about dying.  I’m going to die, she says to me and I say yes, that’s right.  Old people know these things.  It happens.

Granny knows Jesus died.  Jesus die like everybody else.  Granny knows this story.  She says Jesus talked about dying a lot before his death.  Nobody believed him either.  Granny likes to make points.

I’m counting on you, says Granny.

You can count on me.

Granny says Peter said that too.

I say, you can count on me Granny.

That leg get better.  Granny’s leg.  But Granny dies anyway.  Later.  Not right now.  Two, maybe four years.  She falls over dead then.  Like that.  It is finished.

Everybody knows the story.  Jesus says, It is finished.  Jesus and Granny, finished.

Danny is not there when Jesus dies.  Someone says he is in meeting in Los Angeles.  Someone says, no, he is in New York.  Someone says he should have been there.  Wilma, who was there, sniff her nose this way and another sniff her nose another way.  A lot of sniffing.

That’s the end of the story.

No, I was just fooling.

There’s more.

Stick around.

A Holy Week Danger: A God Who Is Comprehended (Cannot Be That Great)

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It’s Holy Week which means very shortly Christians will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus  which, to them, proves everything now makes sense, as if Jews who didn’t turn to the post-resurrection Jesus were stupid.  See Surprised By Hope, the work of conservative (but worth your time) scholar N.T. Wright, who demonstrates how much of a paradigm shift is involved in the Easter event.  Easter is not A=B=C logic.

Christians would do well to remember God cannot be fully comprehended.

Rubem Alves, who is a Brazilian theologian, philosopher, educator, writer, and psychoanalyst, is drawn to such a God. He writes:

I believe the Pope should promulgate an encyclical making obligatory the use of Latin in the Church.  That would convert me. . . that is the only way to convert me.  It would be necessary for me not to understand anything. . . A God who is comprehended cannot be that great.  A sea that is comprehended is nothing but an aquarium. . .That’s why I love Latin:  because I don’t understand it.  The same way I don’t understand the creeks, the birds, the wind, my grandchildren, and love them all. (Transparencies of Eternity)

 

Matthew 49:20 (Goofed-up Bible) Church fundraising

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When Jesus entered Jerusalem he shared a great idea with the disciples. “Hey let’s do a fundraiser.  We’ve low on funds.   We need to take advantage of these crowds.”  (Matthew  49:20, Goofed-up Bible)

 

Sexy Jesus Or Butt Ugly Jesus

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Is your Jesus too sexy/handsome?

Did Jesus really look like Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, who plays Jesus in the movie Son of God?

If you listen to some people Jesus was butt ugly.  If you listen to other people Jesus would have been on the cover of People magazine if People magazine had existed way back then.  It all depends on to whom you listen.

Justin, Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria believed Isaiah 53:2-3 gives us a close-up shot of Jesus:

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Also add Tertullian to the Jesus was ugly camp.  Tertullian concedes that Jesus was “‘inglorious in countenance and aspect, just as Isaiah. . .had fore-announced.”

The most notable allusion to the ugly Christ, however, occurs in Origen.  “He has no form nor glory, and we beheld Him, and He had no form nor beauty; but His form was without hounour, and inferior to the sons of men.”  (Stephen D. Moore, God’s Beauty Parlor:  And Other Queer Spaces In And Around The Bible, p. 97)

Can’t someone put some makeup on Jesus and spiff him up a little bit?  Origen’s Jesus will not make Hollywood.

What if divinity and dental perfection do not go hand in hand? What if God chose not what was pretty but that which was ugly?

What if our church is too pretty?  What if we are one of the pretty people who hasn’t ever had a relationship with an ugly person?  What if Jesus’ message is less appealing to pretty people than we think it is?