About Paul Burkhart

Welcome! Currently in Philadelphia, I write about religion, politics, art & culture. I hope you leave thinking & come back for more.

Remember [a Maundy Thursday poem]


Advent-header-Newman-Barnett-Black-Fire

Body.
Soul.
Mind.
Flesh.

Meditations
In the watches of the night

From embattled city walls
Around embattled towns

You will be known like no one’s been known before

___________________________

[read my other Holy Day poetry here]
all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

Holy Week Music: Mozart’s “Requiem”


Klimt-Death-LifeOne of the primary ways I relate to the Church Calendar is through music (hence the free Mixtapes I put out each season). Even when I am terrible at engaging at an intellectual or even a practical devotional way, I am really intentional about filling my life with music that will still put my soul in the proper posture for the particular season.

For this Lent, I found myself spending significant time with Mozart’s Requiem, a “Mass for the Dead”. This was his last (and still mysterious) piece–unfinished before he died. Before Holy Week was over, and as we enter into the Holy Weekend, I wanted to offer this to as a way you might be able to engage in these last few days of Lent. Here is the audio, and below that you will find an English translation of the entire Mass. The words are achingly haunting and beautiful and deserve your perusal whether you have time for the music or not. Have a blessed Lent.

W. A. MOZART, REQUIEM
English Translation, from St. Matthew’s choir
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Liturgy & Readings for Maundy Thursday (2014)


This is from the Liberti 2014 Lent & Easter Prayerbook. Download the book for free for poetry and extended reflections for this week and next.

WORSHIP

call to prayer.

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
–Psalm 70.1

the Gloria.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
-the “Gloria Patri” !

the Psalm.
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Liturgy & Readings for Holy Wednesday (2014)


This is from the Liberti 2014 Lent & Easter Prayerbook. Download the book for free for poetry and extended reflections for this week and next.

WORSHIP

call to prayer.

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
–Psalm 70.1

the Gloria.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
-the “Gloria Patri” !

the Psalm.
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Liturgy & Readings for Holy Tuesday (2014)


WORSHIP

call to prayer.

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
–Psalm 70.1

the Gloria.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
-the “Gloria Patri” !

the Psalm.
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The Darkest Week in Human History.

Featured


bosch-christ-carrying-the-crossIn our Holy Week reading of the Parable of Tenants, we see the startling revelation that the long-awaited Messiah—the One sent of God to accomplish salvation and liberation for his people—will be rejected by those very people.

And yet, this rejection was not limited to these religious leaders, or even to the ethnic group they represented. During Jesus’ Passion Week—which we meditate upon during this Holy Week—we see Jesus rejected at every level of his Creation.

On Palm Sunday, a large group accompanies Jesus, proclaiming his blessedness. This is not the group that later cries out to crucify him. Instead, it might be worse. These are people from the Jerusalem “suburbs” who have been receiving Jesus’ teaching for months. They accompany Jesus to Jerusalem, and then…. they just disappear, showing their ultimate apathy and indifference towards him.
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Palm Sunday: “The Emperor Has No Clothes” [POEM]


I feel far, Lord.
But I know you’re here.  I know it.
(Do I?)

(Can I?)

It’s the nature of the matter; a matter of nature, I suppose.
Perhaps only now I feel at the deepest existential depths:
“I believe! Help my unbelief!”

Or in a word: Hosanna

That cry.  That plea.

The certainty of uncertainty.
The pregnancy of a pause.
The pondering of a moment.

That moment.  The moment.  

The moment that dressed my doubt in assurance.
But that emperor has no clothes
(or so everything says).

So where does my assurance lie?
Where do my feet stand?

My body pelted with rain, snow, and hail;
I pray my heart rests beside a fire,
drinking tea,
rocking in a chair,
my shoulders draped in that most costly of quilts -
my Rest.

Clothe me–
with the coat I lay on your path–
for this emperor is naked

and needs his King.

[read my other Holy Day poetry here]
all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

#Marginalia Weekly Round-Up #5 [3/24-30/14]


Marginalia is a section of this blog dedicated to (mostly) short reflections, meditations, questions, and difficulties I have while going through my Bible reading plan. I’m still trying to figure out the best pace at which to post these, so be patient with me. To aid in helping people engage with these posts, every weekend I post a round-up of all of Marginalia posts that appeared during that week. This list is in biblical canonical order.

Genesis

History, Theology, & Wrestling with God | Genesis 32.24-32

When morning came, it was Leah | Genesis 33.10

How Christians can read Old Testament horror  | Genesis 34.25-31

Exodus

God’s Sovereignty, Moses’ Will | Exodus 3.4

Our infinitely compassionate (and delegating) God | Exodus 3.7-8

The Proof that God’s Right? When He Is.  | Exodus 3.11-12

Who God is When We’ve Forgotten Who He is | Exodus 3.13-15

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Timothy’s Tears: A Holy Week Pre-Game [CASUAL FRI]


paul-and-timothy

This is part of our Lent series, “The Weeping Word“, where we look at different moments of crying, lament, and tears in the Scriptures.

To Timothy, my beloved child…

I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. (2Tim1.2-4)

Next week is Holy Week, the high (or low?) point of Lent, leading to the crescendo of Easter. It will be a time of darkness, reflection, lament, and meditation. But we’re not there yet. Before the seriousness of Holy Week arrives, I thought I’d share with you a funny memory that’s connected to our Lent series on tears in the Bible.

I was sitting in the little campus ministry Bible Study my junior year of college. Our style of Bible Study was simply sitting down with an eloquent, wise, and gifted pastor, and then walking verse-by-verse through a given book of the Christian Scriptures.

Having just finished nearly a year in the book of Romans, we were just starting our next book: 2 Timothy. Many scholars believe it was Paul’s last letter he wrote before he died. And he wrote it to the man he mentored more than any other we know about: Timothy, a young elder at the church in Ephesus who was still struggling to get this little church plant off the ground.
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The Tears of John: the Turning-Point of History


job-silohetteToday we continue our Lent series, “The Weeping Word“, looking at different moments of crying, lament, and tears in the Scriptures.

The Bible has 66 books. After 39 of those Old Testament books, God’s people are left with these words:

Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.

And the Hebrew Scriptures end. God’s people sit wondering what the heck is happening to God’s promises, all while God just gives them another promise: “I will send Elijah, and I will not curse the land”. That’s it.
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On alcohol, abstinence, & the “weak in faith” | Romans 14:1-4


philly-beer-resurrection-ale-house

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Romans 14:1-4

Look at that first line. What an interesting way to open this discussion. How might this apply today? Mainly, I think it shows that this goes a whole lot deeper than just “don’t drink around people that have a problem with alcohol”, or some such usual application. Growing up, this was the main way these verses were used in my life. People would say “you shouldn’t drink alcohol, because some people might have alcohol abuse problems and, seeing you drink, it might lead them into their alcoholism.” This introductory line shows us this is a lot deeper than mere behaviors or doctrinal superiority.

As for the rest of these verses, there a few other big takeaways (other than the hilarious swipe at vegetarians, haha).

First, it does not say that because some hypothetical believers out there might not feel comfortable with some things that others who otherwise feel free to do those things should abstain all together, always, in all places. The burden here is on the person who is “weak”, or who is bothered. They bear the weight to communicate this to the community. They are to let it be made known, and the body is to respond accordingly.

This is Paul teaching us how to respond to the realities and messiness of actual, particular members in the community, not to act generally in anticipation of possibilities.

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Responding to Prophets: The Holy Spirit Changes Everything | Acts 11:27-30


At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:27-30

Sounds pretty Old Testament to me. But notice how the people of God respond. In the OT, when prophets spoke all of this, the people either barely responded, or responded in overdramatic wailing and (temporary) repenting. This group of God’s people, however, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, proceed to act in light of the prophecy to seek human flourishing and societal good. This is the response that the prophets of old were looking for and never got.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Where on Earth is Jesus’ Bethlehem? | Luke 2.1-5

Quote


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2.1-5

Recent archaeological evidence suggests that this Bethlehem is not the traditional site, but “Bethlehem of the Galilee” (which would make sense). The traditional site is 150km from Jerusalem, whereas this other, newer proposed site is only 7km. A lot easier for Mary. Although some dispute this, pointing out that Justin Martyr in the 2nd-century identified the traditional site as the correct site. Who knows?

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Who God is When We’ve Forgotten Who He is | Exodus 3.13-15

Quote


But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.

Exodus 3.13-15

Oh this could be for us. The people had been so far from there God, that they may have even the forgotten his name. I feel like this is a similar time to where we are now, with people needing to be told the name of God and reminded who he is and what he does.

God says that this is his name for every generation. Even now? Could this somehow be a model for how Christians today are to live in this world where people have forgotten the name and identity of God? What if we lived as if God is not “The One Who Must be Defended”, “The One Who Judges & Condemns”, “The One Whose Way of Living Must Be Forced Upon Societies”, “The One Who Must Be Pleased”, “The One Who Accepts All”, or even “The One Who Saves Us”.

How would our lives look if we read this Exodus passage, saw this name, title, and covenantal nature and lived embracing this name and identity: The One Who Simply Is, and Is Ours.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

What the heck is Preaching, even?


peter-preaching-statueFor my preaching class, we’ve been trying to get at what this weird thing called “preaching” really is. It’s not a lecture, it’s a not a conversation, it’s not a debate. So what is it? Here are some of my random thinking on this. But I’d love to hear yours.

As much as I want something far more profound and original, I have not been able to find anything simpler and clearer than Alan of Lille‘s definition: “Preaching is an open and public instruction in faith and behavior, whose purpose is the forming of men [sic].”

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