Archive for the ‘God’ Category


“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”



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Holy Saturday

Easter Eve: Sepulchre -Rowan Williams

Constantine knew, of course, just what he wanted:
smooth verticals and marble, crushed glass rolled underfoot,
room for archangels with their orbs and wounds,
space for cool power to stroll, relaxed and heavy-footed

Out to the little scented hedges, under a cross that shimmers,
silver and rubies, soft shadows lapping at the ankles.
He cut and smoothed, levelled and piled and spread:
light; crystal; breezy veils; a new, enlightened holy hill.

History (or something) disagreed. The centuries squared up,
exchanged curt, recognizing nods, moved in,
folded and packed, crumpled and stripped and boxed:
the shadows shook themselves, lurched up and smiled

From a new height; people found other things
to do with silver. Air from the marble lungs
is punched out, and the colonnades are crushed and processed
into a maze of ditches, damp stone capsules,

Whorls, cavities, corners with don’t-ask smells
and fairground decoration. A collapsing star, screwing its stuff
into the dark: soaring heat, density, a funnel
spinning towards the opposite of anything,

* * *

Saturday afternoon, the bodies squashed, wet, boxed,
breathing into the shadows full of smells and tinsel:
flame leaks and spits out of the singularity,
sparks a cracked bell. Iron, rope, smoke

Pant in the tight dark, a light-footed,
high-strung passing. Afterwards we breathe,
dry off the sweat and crying, ask what history
is after, bullying us into waking, into this oppositeness.

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Good Friday

Speculations on the Subject of Barabbas -Zbigniew Herbert

What Became of Barabbas? I ask but no one knows
Let off his chain he went into the brightly lit street
he could turn to the right go straight turn to the left
spin around in a circle crow cheerfully as a rooster
He the Emperor of his own head and hands
He the Governor of his own breath

I ask because in a sense I took part in the whole thing
Swayed by the crowd in front of Pilate’s palace I cried
along with all the others free Barabbas free Barabbas
Everyone was shouting and if I alone had been silent
it would all have happened as it was meant to happen

So perhaps Barabbas went back to his gang of thieves
In the mountains he kills swiftly and plunders deftly
Or maybe he set up a pottery workshop
and now cleans his crime-stained hands
in the clay of creation
He’s a water carrier a mule driver a moneylender
a shipowner–a ship of his carried Paul to Corinth or–the possibility cannot be excluded–
he became a valued spy in Roman pay

Behold and marvel at the vertiginous play of fate
with possibilities power and smiles of fortune

But the Nazarene
was left alone
without alternative
with a steep
of blood

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Maundy Thursday

Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue its mysteries sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the world’s eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling,
Shed for the world’s ransoming.

From Pange lingua, a hymn of Thomas Aquinas

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Last night Stanley Hauerwas was publically interviewed by an Anglican Priest/News Anchorman (weird combination, I know) in the divinity school. I had heard Dr Hauerwas speak in chapel a few weeks ago, which was a great experience as expected. The sermon was on a passage from 1 Corinthians and was fairly straightforward and not particularly controversial. His language was appropriate for a church service and his countenance was that of a minister, not a professor. Last night, however, we were able to get a glimpse of the Hauerwas that has become legendary in theological circles for certain slips of the tongue. Hauerwas the Texan was fully present last night as the interviewer asked him questions pertaining to “being a Christian in today’s world.” Aside from many  typically rich, challenging, profound, and elegant reflections on being a Christian in the modern world were the Hauerwasian one-liners that make Hauerwas the legend that he has come to be. Here are my favorites from last night (please excuse some of the language):

On Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens: “Dawkins and Hitchens simply represent the fact that Christians have become so stupid that they have ceased to give the world anything interesting to think about. It’s not atheism that’s killing the Church, but sentimentality.”

On Christian marriage: “The problem with most sex is that it’s not very intimate…Our spouses get to know us better than we know ourselves, and it just scares the shit out of us.”

On health care reform: “If you live a crappy life there is no reason that you shouldn’t die a crappy death.”

On the recent developments between the Vatican and Anglicans: “I think what Benedict did was absolute shit…They just can’t give up on England. Why they would want England beats the hell out of me”

On the south: “Southern civility is one of the most calculated forms of cruelty I can think of.”

Of course, all of these soundbites were part of much broader and deeply thought-out reflections on the particular issues, but the one-liners are always the fun part. Yet, despite such fun, I was reminded last night just what is at stake when I call myself a Christian and proclaim Jesus as Lord in a world that has no time for God. Here is a passage from Hauerwas that is perhaps more insightful than a mere soundbite:

“Do  I think the truthfulness of Christian witness is compromised when Christians accept the practices of the ‘culture of death’–abortion, suicide, capital punishment, and war? Yes! On every count, the answer is ‘Yes’…Christians betray the grammar of the Christian faith when we try to answer the charge of circularity by divorcing what we believe from the way our beliefs are embedded in the church. In short, I am suggesting that Christians in modernity have lost the ability to answer questions about the truthfulness of what we believe because we have accepted beliefs about the world that presuppose that God does not matter. The problem for Christians and non-Christians alike is the Christian inability to live in a way that enables us to articulate what difference it makes that we are or are not Christian.” -from With the Grain of the Universe

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Ten Thousand Charms

     One thing we have been very conscious of since attending All Saints AMIA church is the fact that it is made up of mostly white, and mostly middle class people. Looking back, that has been the case for most of my church going over the years, and seems to be the case for the majority of churches in America. This stark division was illuminated more so for me this weekend as we attended the performance of The Hallelujah Train with the “spine-shaking Pastor Brady Blade, Sr.” who presides at Shreveport’s Zion Baptist. It was an event that Duke put on and was headed up by Brian Blade (the pastor’s son) and his band, as a way to recognize his father and the work God is doing through him and his vocation. This man sang/preached/danced his heart out and was backed by the Zion Baptist church choir and The Hallelujah Train jazz group (who were about as funky as you can get). And let me just say, he definatly shook my spine! Apparently he has been preaching for over 50 years.

     Now, this wasn’t exactly a church service, it was a performance. But the word of God was preached through those songs in a powerful way and I’m not gonna lie, I danced and clapped and swayed till my feet hurt. My soul was awakened to the joy of the Lord in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long while. As we sat there amongst people from all different backgrounds and colors, I praised the Lord.  I praised the Lord for restoration, and for diversity. I long for a place where there REALLY is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, man and woman. In Christ, of course, this is the reality. But it seems not so in the churches we attend, the social classes we enevitably belong to, and the friendship groups we choose. For now, we can try to be more aware of this, and more open to change.  We can learn to be unafraid of those who are different to us, for we are told that perfect love casts out fear.

     In church this morning we talked about loving our brothers and sisters. I found it interesting to think about how we don’t choose who those ‘brothers and sisters’ are based on what we’re comfortable with. Surely ‘brothers and sisters’ encompasses more than the young white middle-class heterosexual couple who we were sharing our row with in church.  Surely. At the end of communion we sang a hymn that stayed with me. The chorus speaks volumes into where we can find the kind of place I’ve been longing for. Maybe the arms of Christ is the only place where we will truly encounter such rich love and acceptance for ourselves and each other.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

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