Ultimately, a parable may leave multiple impressions over time. Why? Perhaps because Jesus is asking his hearers not only to listen, but to think as well. And that’s a combination that is not only a challenge, it’s an art – some would say a lost art. Lost because it involves too much effort.
O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Karl Rahner was a German Jesuit, a brilliant man, a deep thinker and a very familiar name in Christian theology – some would say his work fairly dominated Christian Theological thought in the 20th century. And yet it’s said he claimed that if the doctrine of the Trinity were to quietly disappear out of Christian theology, never to be mentioned again, most of Christendom would never even notice its absence. That sounds like a pretty provocative statement, but, let’s face it…
Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
While I have observed many Ascension Days in my life, I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever preached on Ascension Day. Being a lover of liturgical history, it was rather fun boning up on some of the church customs around the feast day. Traditionally, it was on Ascension Day that there was a blessing of the first fruits — usually grapes and beans. In
“Hope.” There’s that word again; it must be important. I’m thinking in fact that hope is at the very foundation of what it means to be in relationship with God. We can’t prove God exists, so we have faith in God — faith that includes doubt. Faith plus doubt equals hope. And when I think of hope, believe it or not, I actually often think of the Hebrew Bible. The story of salvation in Jewish Scripture is incredibly rich and vibrant with bright colorful imagery and poetry with drama and intensity. The stories themselves not only reflect God’s movement through vast oceanic expanses of feeling that undergird the behavior of individuals, tribes, and nations; these stories reach into our very core places.
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Where do you encounter God? For faithful Jews of Jesus’ day, and surely Jesus himself was one of them, the ultimate locus of divine/human encounter would have been the Temple in Jerusalem. Beautiful and awe-inspiring, hallowed by prayers and history, focus of the sacrifices commanded in the Torah. It was an obligation and joy to worship there at significant moments of one’s personal life
This year as part of my Lenten practice I am reading a poem every day from the book The Heart’s Time, compiled by the wonderful English liturgist Janet Morley. She says this about poetry, whether written with conscious religious intention or not: “It is common for a poem to examine something familiar in such a way that it becomes newly strange. Applied to religious