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, faith inspiring explanations of the meaning of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for your sermon, homily, bible study, or reflection.
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Year A - Season of Lent and Holy Week - 2023
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.
A close reading of the Holy Week texts and background information leaves me 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 - "this cup" - for him: To proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
I wonder what courage is called for today to continue to proclaim that a different future-present is already at hand and will be fulfilled in our hearing of this Good News?
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 GET 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 when my arts educated colleagues get all wimpy about the reality of the resurrection.
Lectionary Gospel Texts:
February 22, 2023
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"Lent: The restraint that frees. Three practices to refresh our relationship with God: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting."
February 26, 2023
"The first test is in that first little word Satan uses: IF. "If you are the Son of God ..." Because the unstated possibility behind the word, "IF," is, "And maybe you're not really." It takes us out of our hearts and into our heads. It breaks the bond of confident trust. This test is repeated when Jesus is crucified and the scornful crowds mock Jesus: "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." (Matthew 27:40)"
March 5, 2023
John 3:1-17, Alternate Reading A
"Being born anew / from above is a huge transformation, since it means quite literally starting over with a new 'family of origin.' ... (It) relocates our identity and resets possibilities for our character and life choices / opportunities."
Matthew 17:1-9, Alternate Reading B
"I wonder how much in our heart of hearts, we are still cheering for Jesus as the triumphant Victor, and still longing for a Messiah, when God has already given us all that God has to give: the Beloved?"
March 12, 2023
"A good title for a sermon this week would be, "The Other Good Samaritan." The unnamed woman who grows from a shunned outsider to an evangelist."
March 19, 2023
"Jeremiah 5:21 would be a good text to introduce this story: 'Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but do not hear.' Jesus can cure the blind. Getting us to see past our own self-interest - to see the glory of God in the lowest and the least - now THAT would be a real miracle."
March 26, 2023
"This story about Lazarus shares much in common with that of the Samaritan woman at the well. With the Samaritan woman the issue was seeing Jesus as the source of living water as compared to ordinary water. Here the issue is to see Jesus as the source of living life as compared to ordinary life."
April 2, 2023
Liturgy of the Palms:
"Now Jerusalem is not a large city. And what the authors of the Bible take for granted and fail to mention is that while Jesus is parading in on a donkey 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. Do you think anyone at Pilate's parade heard about Jesus' parade? Heard what the crowd had shouted? Let's see what unfolds in the week ahead."
Liturgy of the Passion:
Matthew 26:14 -- 27:66, Alternate Reading A.
Matthew 27:11-54, Alternate Reading B.
"The Jesus who died on Good Friday was still dead on Easter Sunday. But the embodied passion of Jesus that did not hesitate in the face of humiliating, torturous death did not die on Good Friday, and was seen to be actually, factually, really alive on Easter Sunday."
April 3, 2023
"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 4, 2023
"The hour has come. Our souls are troubled. Can they also remain loyal?"
April 5, 2023
"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 6, 2023
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 7, 2023
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 8, 2023
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 the key liturgical dates for 2023.
Short, easy to use, faith inspiring explanations of the meaning of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for your sermon, homily, bible study, or reflection.