Liturgy & Readings for Holy Tuesday (2014)


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.
-the “Gloria Patri” !

the Psalm.
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The Darkest Week in Human History.

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

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.

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


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.

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


Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey….
Exodus 3.7-8

Notice the verbs hear that God uses to describe how he relates to his people. He observes, hears, knows, and comes down. How intimate, tender, and powerful. Also, it’s a little funny that he says that he has come down to save if his people right as he’s commissioning Moses to do it for him.

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

Ancient Miracles, Skepticism, & Historicity | Mark 2.12


And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Mark 2.12

Even ancient people knew magic tricks. This was utterly different than anything else they’d ever seen or even thought was possible. This point is especially interesting considering the things they believe God had done in history in the past. Even though they “believed” the things happened, it wasn’t until they were face to face with the New Creation that they really saw the things this God could do.

Similarly to today, I wonder if there’s a subtle, unconscious “wink-wink” about how seriously we take some of these things. In their case, I actually think it was right, however, as those miraculous things in their stories were to be seen more as symbols and shadows that would point forward to an “actual” manifestation in Christ–not as historically-essential events. And yet, when that Christ was there, it still blew there minds.

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

Our Exile is for the world’s salvation | Acts 7.6-7


And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years.‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’

Acts 7.6-7

Our exile/ambassadorship/pilgrim-nature as well as God’s judgment are all for the sake of the ultimate worshipnot condemnation–of the nations and the world!

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

Random Thoughts on Preaching: The Trinity


First: Our worship is a participation, mediated by the Spirit, in Christ’s Communion with the Father.

In this Trinitarian picture of worship, where does preaching fit in? Well, there is an eternal “conversation” happening among all the members of the Trinity. The divine words of Creation are presented as an “overflow” of this divine conversation. So to me, preaching is a Spirit-”infused” (and humanly articulated) mediation of the words between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Because the Spirit enables our union with Jesus, and because Jesus is joined to the Father, we find ourselves mystically and intimately in union with the whole Trinitarian God Himself. And so, preaching is–in a sense and at its best–an articulation and “listening in” on this eternal “trialogue” within the Godhead.

The world having been created through and for the Son means that the Father’s words to the Son are now his words to and for us. And this Word that is spoken to the Son by the Father is the Gospel. When it is offered to humans, this eternal, mysterious articulation of the Gospel in the Godhead is always mediated and contextualized in order to be received and perceived by the hearer. This is why the Bible is the way it is.
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We worship Christ and…. the Resurrection? | Acts 17 & 24

Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.)

Acts 17:18

One of the funniest moments in Acts. Notice they accuse him of preaching foreign “divinities” (plural). The Greek word for Resurrection is Anastasis. Paul has rolled in preaching “ton Iesous kai thn Anastasin”, or “the Jesus and the Resurrection”. The Philosophers think that Paul is preaching about two gods: “Jesus” and his wife, “Resurrection”.

I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Therefore I do my best always to have a clear conscience toward God and all people.

Acts 24:15-16

Paul is obsessed with the resurrection. Well technically, Luke is. If you see the charge against Paul earlier, it was that he was preaching Christ and the Resurrection. They thought he was teaching two gods. Apparently, he must have been talking about the Resurrection so passionately. Almost as passionately as Christ.

They did not accuse him of preaching Jesus and the Cross, Jesus and the Tomb, Jesus and the Jews, Jesus and Grace through Faith, or even Jesus and the New Creation! It was Jesus and the Resurrection. The Resurrection is Paul’s way out of trouble. It’s his way of telling his story. Of causing divisions between himself and some Jews, and to show his solidarity with others. It’s everything to who Paul is and what he’s come to do.

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

The King’s Authority: more Christian lessons from Esther | Esther 8.7-8


hen King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”
Esther 8.7-8

Oh the beauty here. Look at this. This is the king who had conquered the enemy of God’s people, sitting down and lending his authority to the very people that he was previously in a contract of anger and condemnation towards. He lends them his very authority and gives them the responsibility and freedom–based on what they know of the world and culture around them–to proclaim the good news to their people with the king’s authority. Sound familiar? This is what we do as Christians, and we strive to do that faithfully.

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

God’s Sovereignty, Moses’ Will | Exodus 3.4


When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3.4

What an interesting interplay between God’s Sovereignty and human will. The angel, or an expression of God, calls out to Moses and then waits for his response. The text then makes a point to say that it was only after God saw Moses obey the call and come to him that he begins speaking his promises and showing his identity to Moses. God here shows patience, and waits for Moses.

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

Mark Driscoll: Now just another fundie, but it still hurts


Let not those who hope in you be put to
shame through me, O lord God of Hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to
dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
Psalm 51

I have written before how much I enjoy my own ignorance of the Christian blogosphere. Things happen in evangelical corners of the world, that I have no idea about. I am happy to know more about the Ukrainian crisis than whatever crisis some mega church or celebrity pastor is going through.

And yet, somehow (usually Facebook), I always seem to keep up with whatever is going on with Mark Driscoll. He has lots of critics, and I am certainly one of them, and many of them seem to be grasping at whatever they can to “bring him down”. There seem to be so many Driscoll obsessions out there, be it plagiarism, making fun of “effeminate” church leaders, extreme church discipline, messy staff turnovers, un-credited ghost writing, or buying his way onto best seller lists. (If you care about those “scandals”, just Google them.)

I have big problems with how a lot of folks criticize Driscoll and the glee they seem to feel in each new thing we all find out. Lore Ferguson has the best and most beautiful articulation I’ve read of the unhelpful ways people levy these criticisms his way.

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God & Job | Job 1.8

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.”

Job 1.8

We so often forget that this whole thing was God’s idea, and he initiated it. He is the first one to drop Job’s name and suggest this scheme to Satan.

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

Responding to the Covenant | Genesis 35.9-13


God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.
Genesis 35.9-13

Here is God renewing the Abraham covenant with Jacob. Notice that this is not a new covenant, but a passing of the mantle of stewardship on to Jacob. This is the same covenant we are under, except this mantle of stewardship has gone to, and stayed with, Jesus himself.

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