H is for . . .


How dare I suggest any of the Bible is hokum. Hooey. Balderdash. Rubbish. Any of those insults to the Good Book are nothing short of heresy. Sigh. But I think some parts are so much . . . hokum. One example: Mark’s conclusion (Mark 18:9-20). It has that add-on ending, where the Easter story is happily, easily wrapped up. It’s also riddled with buyer-beware footnotes.

Though I grit my teeth when I read it, I prefer the frantic, and more authentic, ending at Mark 16:8. It doesn’t make sense. Too much fear and uncertainty as the women dash away. However, the “bonus” ending feels like putting a fancy, expensive bow on a gag gift.  All pretty and nice.

But trying to define (confine!) the Holy produces our worst hooey. Living is messy. Guilt and grace bump into each other all the time. Better to question than conclude, doubt yourself than smack another with your personal version of the truth. Am I “H for heretical?” Sigh. Probably. But I also shout alleluia at Easter. Such a wondrous, welcoming, dangerous mystery. Life. Death. Life again. Holy, not hokum.

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Let’s Party

Mark’s “many people” spread leafy branches.
Matthew’s “a very large crowd” cut branches from the trees.
Luke’s “people” positioned cloaks on the ground.
John’s “great crowd” displayed branches of palm trees.

Me? I used balloons. But only once.

Palm Sunday – for April 17, 2011

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10)

Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The man from Galilee is astride a donkey; the disciples are marching, heads held high. By this time, in all of the Gospel accounts, the “very large crowd” parading with Jesus would have known him as prophet, healer, miracle-worker, story-teller, preacher, confidant, and friend. Would some have whispered or shouted Messiah? Christ? Son of God? We know they gave Jesus wondrous titles after the first Easter and after several generations passed along a tale of resurrection and after a few centuries when hundreds of Gospels were written, but what about right then? What claims were affirmed or denied in the streets of Jerusalem, swarming with strangers and foreigners, their senses assaulted by the aroma of cooking and the shit of animals? They jostled and cheered, with Kidron Valley behind them and the Holy City’s walls framing them and the harsh blue sky above them.

This we believe, in the brew of fact and fiction, memory and myth: Jesus’ entry into David’s City became a celebration.

Alleluia! Hosanna in the highest! Some must have held their breath in dread, just like kids do when passing a cemetery. They feared what might happen next. Some must have shouted till they lost their voice, as happy to see Jesus then as many are today at the opening day of their favorite baseball team. The world was soon to change.

Let’s party!

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