Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary.
My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and faith-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation.
Year B - Season of Lent and Holy Week - 2021
The 40 days of Lent actually do NOT include the Sundays. So the Sundays are referred to as being "in" Lent. For example, "Lent 2," means, "The second Sunday in Lent."
This means the Sundays are always a mini-celebration of the resurrection - even in Lent. So, while we are preparing ourselves for the walk to Jerusalem and all that will happen during Holy Week, there is no need to pretend that we don't know about, and are not already celebrating, Jesus' resurrection.
I've had the time to give a close reading of the Holy Week texts and background information. I come away even more amazed at the courage of Jesus to voluntarily face the torture and humiliation of Roman execution on a cross, in order to remain faithful to God's calling - God's purpose - for him: To proclaim the Kin_dom of Heaven is at hand.
As usual with the Season of Lent, we get to spend time with the Gospel of John.
I like to think of John as like a good day at the spa: Soaking in the swirling eddies and quiet back pools of his repetitive, non-sequitur, images and stories. John wants us to really SEE the life that is Jesus. What could be more refreshing than that?
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Lent and Easter Resources:
Lent: The Restraint That Frees
is a brief introduction to the three classic spiritual practices of Lent: Almsgiving, Fasting, and Prayer interpreted for our day and age. A link is provided for a PDF three-column pamphlet. Click here for a link to Lent: The Restraint That Frees.
Alternative Lent Lectionary
The Last Week
I re-construct the lections for Lent to use each of the 6 Sundays to take us through the last week of Jesus' final days in Jerusalem. This change is largely the result of long dissatisfaction with the lectionary's "salvation history" approach that gives the long view (which is a good thing to know), at the expense of the immediate context (which is a bad thing not to know).
What You Need to Know Before Preaching Your Next Easter Sermon
The Reality of the Resurrection
Jesus’ resurrection was not unexpected. The surprise was that he was resurrected so quickly. On the third day! What could this mean?
Israelite Burial Customs
This doesn't sound very sexy, but unless you know this historical information, you will not understand why Jesus was placed in a tomb not a grave; and why resurrection is "in the flesh" and not just spiritual.
You Don't Really Need to Know This Before Preaching Your Next Easter Sermon
My Annual Rant about the Resurrection and Science
I majored in mathematics and physics at university, and so I'm extra sensitive to why my arts educated colleagues get all wimpy about the reality of the resurrection.
Lectionary Gospel Texts:
February 17, 2021
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"Lent: The restraint that frees. Three practices to refresh our relationship with God: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting."
February 21, 2021
""Believe in the good news" is better translated as "Trust into the good news," since the whole point is not, "Have an opinion about the good news." Rather, Jesus is calling for a radical, total, unqualified basing of one's life on his good news."
February 28, 2021
Mark 8:31-38, Alternate Reading A
"Just exactly how do we lose our life so that we get it back? The key is to not skip over the crucial qualification: "for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel.""
Mark 9:2-9, Alternate Reading B
"The Transfiguration is an apt Preface to Lent and Jesus' journey to Jerusalem because what lies ahead is both a confrontation between the non-violent justice of the Kingdom of God and the violent injustice of the Roman Empire; as well as the non-violent way of the Beloved versus the hoped-for victory by the Messiah."
March 7, 2021
"Just as Jews continue to read the Passover in the first person plural, present tense; I wonder how this passage would sound to us if we read this as Jesus' cleansing our places of worship today? Are there any habits we might have fallen into which are insulting God?"
March 14, 2021
"No one is saved by intellectual agreement with a belief. Salvation is all about the restoration of broken relationships. Being saved means being restored to the proper bond and trust of true kinship with God."
March 21, 2021
"There is a deliberate pun in John about the "raising" of Jesus - on the cross, and from the grave. In the first, the rulers of this world are shown to powerless; in the second, death is shown to be powerless."
March 28, 2021
Liturgy of the Palms:
Mark 11:1-11, Alternate Reading A.
"The Bible doesn't tell us about Pilate parading in the main gate of Jerusalem, or what the crowd shouted, but you can bet it wasn't, "Blessed is the coming of the Kingdom of our ancestor David." That would be treason. And treason was punishable by? You guessed it, by execution on a cross."
John 12:12-16, Alternate Reading B.
"Sitting on the young donkey would signal to the crowds that Jesus would lead no riot; force was not in his repertory for the social change he had in mind."
Liturgy of the Passion:
Mark 14:1--15:47, Alternate Reading A.
Mark 15:1-39, (40-47), Alternate Reading B.
"Jesus' cry, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" is surely the most heart-rending - and dreaded - words in scripture. Heart-rending because of the pain of despair that has been added to the physical pain. Dreaded because one of our worst fears is that in our time of greatest need we will be abandoned and left alone."
"Lazarus' presence with Jesus fills the room with the unfinished sentence: Just as Lazarus, the one whom Jesus loves, has been raised from the dead by Jesus, so will Jesus, the one whom God loves, be ... . Just how this sentence will be finished is exactly the fear - and the hope - that is in everyone's hearts."
"The hour has come. Our souls are troubled. Can they also remain loyal?"
"But that they don't understand when Jesus gives the dipped crust of bread to Judas and then says, 'Do quickly what you are going to do,' simply reveals that unlike Jesus they are not able to 'read the signs.'"
Holy Maundy Thursday
April 1, 2021
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
"Fortunately, this passage actually has TWO new commandments: 1) Love one another as I have loved you. And, 2) Forgive one another as I have forgiven you. Christ-like-love is the goal. Forgiveness is the salve that heals brokenness and makes love possible once again."
April 2, 2021
John 18:1 -- 19:42
"To outsiders, a battered and broken Jesus could no longer hold his head up and died in humiliation and defeat. But to those who believe into him, a true Son of God has completed his great work, and with a royal nod (and maybe a mischievous wink?) has passed on his Spirit so that we too might have life - the life that was in Jesus."
April 3, 2021
Matthew 27:57-66, Alternate Reading A
"And just in case we might think that later events were a hoax, Matthew relates that the Jerusalem authorities take steps to guard the tomb."
John 19:38-42, Alternate Reading B
"The crucial piece of background information is the belief that the flesh contained a person's evil deeds. And the year-long rotting of the flesh was a purging of these deeds, leaving the bones (which contained the personality of the person) ready to receive the new body fashioned by God at the resurrection. But the resurrection of Jesus on the third day will interrupt this process before it starts."
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.