Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, March 11, 2012
[ On the Weekend, I usually comment on the Readings for the Liturgy in the Episcopal Church. But of course I believe/hope that they contain Wisdom useful to all people, and I try to illustrate that Wisdom.]
.. that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul .. [from the Collect for Lent III]
The Ten Commandments [from Exodus 20]
The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes. [from Ps. 19]
The message about the cross .. to us who are being saved .. is the power of God [I Cor 1]
Stop making my Father's house a marketplace! [from John 2]
[ The full texts for the Readings for Lent III RCL as used in the Episcopal Church can be found at:
It’s Lent. Of course, the readings are focusing us towards Holy Week, and in particularly what we call the Triduum … Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter/The Day of Resurrection. Why? Simply put: to proclaim the life-giving power of Love.
Today’s Readings focus on the primacy of Love over Rules, reminding us that Rules/Commandments which do not lead to a Life of Love as manifested in the Hesed of Yahweh, in the Gospel, in Jesus, and in the Cross must be discarded, renewed, or reshaped for contemporary Life. In the Liturgy today, Christians can’t “hear” these Readings without hearing the quiet voice of Jesus saying to His followers on the day He shared the Passover meal and washed their feet, “I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you”.
Here’s what I suggest we “look for” on Sunday:
The Collect (Gathering Prayer) speaks of an “almighty” god. I think it’s important to ponder just what “almighty” means when applied to God. The Collect reminds us that God does not prevent us suffering bodily adversities or things which “assault and hurt the soul”. God defends us. God’s unconditional Love pours over us and infuses us … if we permit it. We will always be mortal and vulnerable; but Love “defends” us … the promise is that Love is stronger even than Death … as the Resurrection shouts!
The Ten Commandments: in the time of Moses, these basic Commandments reflected in a clear way the difference between Yahweh and other deities. Yahweh is presented as the God who “shows steadfast love” forever (“to the thousandth generation”). (Don’t get sidetracked by the nastiness part, the “punishing the children”” stuff; in my view, that’s the work of the myth-writers of the time writing in their cultural context.) Worship only Love , no idols … including Commandments. Don’t co-opt God for anything other than Love. Honour ancestors. Do not abuse friends and neighbours. Learn Love, and Do Love.
Ps 19: If God’s commandments inspire Love/Compassion, then of course they will “delight the heart”! To me, America’s right-wing “Christian” types inspire no “delight of the heart” … I see no rooting in Love.
I Corinthians: The Cross is Christianity’s prime symbol/icon … not because it stands for the suffering and death of Jesus, but because it holds up Jesus’ love for God and for God’s people. “There is no greater love than to die for one’s friends” … essentially meaning that we find our deepest self in serving others in Love, as Jesus taught in washing his disciples’ feet. This is not the “World’s” wisdom, but it is God’s Wisdom. (Such love, by the way, includes loving our selves too.) The Cross is not primarily an invitation to die physically; it is an invitation not to let our Egos get in the way of finding the “true wisdom”, the path to Humanity at it’s most superb. The Readings today invite us to ponder the great Mystery of Love … how it is the core reality of God, of us, of Existence.
The Gospel reminds us that all religion deteriorates. The word “religion” is rooted in the Latin verb “religare", to (re)bind to” … like a ligament (same root) binds muscle to bone. Religion is what we do to bind us to the core truth of Love and the God Who represents it. “The Temple” here is a symbol of Religion … and Jesus is portrayed as firmly making the point that the temple religion of His time had deteriorated into a tawdry business. It had become detached from the Love of God. It can happen anytime, to any of us in our religious communities. The Gospel/Jesus today is saying to us all, “Pay attention to your ‘organized religion’; if it does not bind you to the God of Love, to the Way of the Cross, renew it … and your heart as well.”