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.
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Year C - Season of Lent and Holy Week - 2022
The 40 days of Lent 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 Kingdom of Heaven is at hand - knowing that doing so was treason in the eyes of the Roman Empire.
Among many possibilities, the journey to Jerusalem with Jesus once again gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we imagine bonding with Jesus results in. It certainly does not protect us from all the chaos and injustice of the world's economic and political systems; nor from the chaos and injustice of the world's climate and pandemic crises. Jesus knew this. And yet he headed directly into confrontation with the source of these harms. I wonder how this might help our faith communities respond to the contexts we now face? How will we respond to a future that no one in the past has ever experienced? How will we know what hopes are trustworthy?
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. To bond with Jesus. And that through our bonding, receive the life that was / is in 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:
March 2, 2022
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"Lent: The restraint that frees. Three practices to refresh our relationship with God: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting."
March 6, 2022
"If Jesus were to turn stones into bread, instead of confirming his status as God's Son, it would confirm the validity of the testing; the correctness of asking, 'IF you are...?' Turning stones into bread makes real the niggling possibility: 'Maybe I'm not?'"
March 13, 2022
Luke 13:31-35, Alternate Reading A
"The Pharisees warning that Herod wants to kill Jesus is like one of the tests we read about last week, Luke 4:1-13. Except instead of being tested with glory the test is fear. But the Pharisees are still encouraging Jesus to abandon his mission and save himself."
March 13, 2022
Luke 9:28-36, 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. The crowds at Jerusalem will be cheering for "the one who is bringing the Kingdom of our ancestor David." This is not the same as welcoming God's Beloved. I wonder how much in our hearts, we are still cheering for Jesus as the triumphant Victor?"
March 20, 2022
"In other words - what Jesus is meaning to say:
In this life, undeserved bad things will happen to good people; and,
in the life to come, deserved bad things will happen to bad people
who don't repent now."
March 27, 2022
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
"It is this last act of squandering the property so that foreigners come to own it that transforms the story from one of merely individual reckless behaviour to a story that individual reckless behaviour endangers the whole community."
April 3, 2022
"In this passage, John has Mary portray the shocking intimacy of loyalty, trust, and bonding with Jesus that over-rides cultural norms; and contrasts that with the disloyalty and dishonesty of Judas."
April 10, 2022
Liturgy of the Palms:
"What the authors of the Bible take for granted and fail to mention is that while Jesus is parading in on a colt through one of the back gates, on the other side of the city Pilate is parading in on a war horse accompanied by a squadron or two of battle hardened Roman soldiers."
April 10, 2022
Liturgy of the Passion:
Luke 22:14 -- 23:56, Alternate Reading A.
Luke 23:1-49, Alternate Reading B.
"Brutal execution by stripping naked, whipping, and nailing to a cross was carefully crafted by the Romans to inflict the maximum amount of pain and degradation because they wanted to kill not only the individual but also any followers. That is to say, by demonstrating their iron-fisted authority over Jesus, the Romans hoped to kill any aspirations in any of his followers to 'take up their cross and follow.'"
April 11, 2022
"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."
April 12, 2022
"The hour has come. Our souls are troubled. Can they also remain loyal?"
April 13, 2022
"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 14, 2022
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 15, 2022
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 16, 2022
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."
And here are key dates for 2022.
* 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.