Edging Toward Lent

Men with blades!

There were men with blades.

Sound dangerous? Well, I suppose so, in the same way a shortstop courts danger while planting his feet by second base when a runner from first goes airborne, hurtling toward the shortstop’s vulnerable legs. Or like a basketball player leaping for a rebound, fighting a rival player for the ball, sharp elbows punching face and chest, as she inevitably plummets, intertwined with the other, onto a hardwood floor.

I recall my first—and still only—professional hockey game. As with any sport, there was danger. Those blades on the skates were sharp. The hockey puck, bagel-sized and stone-hard, traveled at breakneck speeds.

So, yes, dangerous. Controlled and chaotic. But, truth be told, I had no idea what was going on. I was there because my wife and I were invited to attend a fundraiser. The hockey team, bless their community outreach efforts, was sponsoring a local non-profit’s work.

Did I have fun? Continue reading →

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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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