In the Grip of Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-11Palm Sunday – for March 29, 2015

“Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields.” (Mark 11:8)

With a closed palm, we warn with our fist . . .
With a closed palm, we warn with our fist . . .

Today I read Mark through John’s eyes.

Only the Gospel of John mentioned palm trees.

Mark and Matthew were branches, with no palms allowed.

And Luke? Well, Luke didn’t know, didn’t care, or got the memo late about the greenery. There were no palms in the third gospel, just cloaks scattered on the ground when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

Palms, like other elements in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, were symbolic. For example, the bread and wine shared during the “last supper” were common parts of a meal that became essential symbolic elements. Don’t forget the iconic gold, frankincense, and myrrh in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ beginnings. After Bethlehem’s gifts, there was the high-in-the-sky symbol of a dove descending. And if your literal-leaning faith prefers to interpret the gold at Jesus’ birth in the clutches of a flesh-and-blood magi or a visible and heaven-sent bird at baptism soaring in the clouds above the Jordan River, at the least we can agree those—and other Gospel events—have become symbolic.

Palm trees too. Continue reading →

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The Verbs of Lent: 5

Jeremiah 31:31-34The 5th Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 22, 2015

“For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins . . .” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Forgive“For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins . . .”

Two questions stalk me in the early mornings before any first word of a new lectionary-inspired musing is typed. These questions are simple and unsettling:

Can you say anything new?

Will you be honest?

Since that honesty question has been admitted, I’d better be honest. Usually, there is an “I” in those two queries rather than a “you.” Can I say anything new? Will I be honest? It is merely me questioning myself. It is no more than an odd, banal moment of a writer’ and believer’s self-awareness when seeking to start and finish a faithful sentence. And yet there are enough mornings when an unexpected you—not I—anchors the phrase. Dare I call that unbidden you another voice; perhaps a divine nudge, a Holy whisper with a Holy urgency? Is it a challenge to be, well, fully me? Continue reading →

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The Verbs of Lent: 4

Numbers 21:4-9The 4th Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 15, 2015

“The people became impatient on the road. The people spoke against God and Moses . . .” (Numbers 21:4-5)

The people spoke against God and Moses . . .

words_hurt_too
In the season of Lent, or in the mundane and mayhem of your regular life, what have you “spoke” that hurt another?

I didn’t have to read too many verses (though I did!) to seek a Lent-appropriate verb. This scene from Numbers was familiar, with the Children of Israel—free from the injustices of Egyptian slavery and sojourners in the wilderness—complaining to Moses. Like today’s kids (and adults) on a road trip with a destination that never seems to appear around the next curve or over the next hill, their protests included meals. The food’s bad! Not enough. Not the right kind. Not what you promised. Not what we’re used to eating.

It wasn’t only their stomachs that were growling!

I don’t have to read about the snakes God sent. I don’t have to read about how those wandering whiners were eventually contrite—after a multitude of nasty snakebites—and then spoke again to Moses. They would be good. They could be better.

Me? I got stuck on the verb spoke. Continue reading →

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