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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post

Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Many Meanings of Humility and Love: Palm Sunday Meditation 2

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

At Trinity, we are spending two weeks thinking about the Palm Sunday text:


Mark 11:1-11


During the first week of study of this text, we talked about Jesus riding on a donkey, about the disciples who had gotten to do cool stuff like casting out demons being sent to get that donkey, about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, which would be like cleaning feet that had walked through sewers. 

We talked, in short, about humility and what it means to humble ourselves. 

I immediately thought about Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite 20th century theologians.  He wrote many books while teaching at the top universities in the U.S.  However he spent the last few years of his life living in an intentional L'Arche community with a group of Christians who live with extremely disabled people.  For years, Nouwen was the personal assistant for a man with severe disabilities, which meant he helped with bathing and bathroom duties, while also serving as pastor for the Daybreak community.

Does the Palm Sunday narrative call us to that kind of loving sacrifice?

I've been thinking about other kinds of loving sacrifice this week, a different kind of humility.  I was working on two essays, one about Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed March 24, 1980 in El Salvador and one about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, killed April 9, 1945.  Both men could have turned away from the suffering of the poor and oppressed.  Both men could have chosen not to speak up about the government forces doing that oppressing.  They could have lived comfortable lives.

But they chose to speak up for the plight of the people whom others were ignoring.  And for this unceasing call to be better, the empires which ruled the land killed them.

It's important when thinking about Jesus that we not get so focused on his humility that we forget the ways he was not humble.  In his book Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, Eugene H. Peterson reminds us, "Nothing is more rudely dismissive of Jesus than to treat him as a Sunday school teacher who shows up on Sundays to teach us about God and how to stay out of trouble. If that is the role we assign to Jesus, we will badly misunderstand who he is and what he is about" (page 135).

Jesus showed us the fullness of a life lived in love.  The love he showed went far beyond washing feet and healing the sick.  Jesus called for a change to the very structure of society, a society that was a brutal and dehumanizing experience for all but the ones at the very top.

Jesus spent part of the time leading up to his crucifixion, after all, by pointing out the oppressive power structures that surrounded him and by criticizing those who had made themselves very cozy with the ruling Roman empire.  Think, for example, of Jesus throwing the sellers and moneychangers out of the temple.  The Roman empire put him to death and rather swiftly.

But the Easter story reminds us that God can use even the most abject situations, the darkest times, to move the world towards redemption and resurrection.  At times it may seem that evil has the final word, but the Passion story shows us that even the violence wrought by unjust earthly systems can be changed into a force for redemption and resurrection.  Humans may not be able to force that change--but God can.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

At Trinity, we are spending two weeks thinking about the Palm Sunday text:


Mark 11:1-11

We read about the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Most of us know the rest of the story, what happens when Jesus faces the night. It's one of the central questions of Christian life: how can we celebrate Palm Sunday, knowing the goriness of Good Friday to come? How can we celebrate Easter with the taste of ashes still in our mouth?

I find myself still in an Ash Wednesday frame of mind. Perhaps you do too. It's been a tough year for many of us. We’ve suffered job loss or house loss. If we’ve kept our jobs, we’ve said goodbye to colleagues. In any year, some of us lose loved ones in any number of ways. Because we are mammals that think and know, we are always aware that there will be horrors yet to come. We live in a culture that seems to prefer crucifixion to redemption.

Palm Sunday offers us some serious reminders. If we put our faith in the world, we're doomed. If we get our glory from the acclaim of the secular world, we'll find ourselves rejected sooner, rather than later.

Palm Sunday also reminds us of the cyclical nature of the world we live in. The palms we wave traditionally would be burned to make the ashes that will be smudged on our foreheads in 10 months for Ash Wednesday. The baby that brings joy at Christmas will suffer the most horrible death--and then rise from the dead. The sadnesses we suffer will be mitigated by tomorrow's joy. Tomorrow's joy will lead to future sadness. That's the truth of the broken world we live in. Depending on where we are in the cycle, we may find that knowledge either a comfort or fear inducing.

It's at times like these where the scriptures offer comforts that the world cannot.   God promises resurrection. We don't just hope for resurrection. God promises resurrection.

God calls us to live like the redeemed people that we are. Turn your face to the light. Turn away from the dark. Commit to redemption. Commit to new life. With a peaceful mind, wait for the resurrection that God has promised to you.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, March 8, 2015:

Luke 19:1-10
We've had week after week of people who don't understand Jesus and his mission.  I'm thinking back to Transfiguration Sunday.  Even after seeing Jesus transformed, the disciples show that they don't understand.  Shortly after the events on the mountain top, Peter will betray Jesus.

I think of those twelve disciples.  Do they understand the forces that Jesus has set into motion?  A large part of me understands that they don't comprehend the fullness of Christ's mission.  As they move around the countryside with him, do they worry about what will happen to Jesus?

After all, the Romans were not reserved at all when it came to punishing criminals.  Likewise, the regional rulers chosen by Rome, men like Herod and Pilate, were brutal.  Crucifixion was not uncommon--and other methods of capital punishment were a regular fact of life too.  Life in a Roman outpost was harsh, especially for those groups that were lower on the social spectrum, as Christ and his followers were.

But the disciples cannot see.  Are they willingly blind?  Can they just not cope with what's coming, and thus they live in a delusional state?

Plenty of people in our Gospel stories do see Jesus in a way that everyone else doesn't.  They journey across miles of rough terrain to see Jesus.  Are they just desperate for healing?

And then, there is Zacchaeus, the man who is so short that he cannot see Jesus, even though his eyes are working perfectly fine.  So, he climbs up a tree to get some perspective.

In this story, we get to see Jesus act in ways that have set him on that collision course with the authorities.  Time after time, Jesus turns away from the rich and the powerful, as he heals the sick (often in violation of the purity laws) and invites himself to dinner at the homes of the outcast and lowly.

Christ's acceptance changes Zacchaeus, so that he can see spiritually as well as physically.  He vows to give half of his goods to the poor, and to all whom he had defrauded, he'll repay them four times over.

In a season of stories that presents so many blind people, even those closest to Jesus, it's good to reflect on our own blindness.  Do we really understand the mission of Jesus, or are we blind, just like the disciples?  Are we willing to invite Christ into the center of our lives?

How big a tree will we climb if it means we can meet Jesus? And how will our lives be transformed?