The first followers of Jesus were Jews—not only did they themselves identify as Jews, but they were largely recognized by most other Jewish sects as Jews. Of course, they had this peculiar belief in the bodily resurrection of their leader, Jesus, but even this wasn’t enough to kick them out of the Jewish community.
I once threw a house party on Good Friday. I’ll never forget the judgmental voice I heard as I left the Good Friday service at the church I grew up in. “A party on good Friday, oh myyyyy… bless your heart” she scolded in her southern drawl as I jumped on my pink bicycle riding home from church. I was 19 years old and had had an awful year.
A meditation for Monday in Holy Week by Mike Kinman, Rector of All Saints Church.
Mary brought a pound of costly ointment, pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. (John 12:3)
If there was ever a passage of scripture that should be read slowly, savoring each word, letting the images it evokes fully come to life … it is this one from the Gospel assigned to Monday in Holy Week.
Do you have any idea what our brand is?
Levi. Coca-Cola. Ford
These are a few of the brands that built the United States. Each one of them was established with its basic product before 1925. Each one is still totally recognizable ninety-two years later. The term “brand” originally derived from the stamping or marking of cattle or sheep for identification purposes.
Believe me, I have no desire to be visibly stamped or marked like sheep. However, I’m painfully aware that I have both a brand and have been branded as a follower of Jesus and as a child of the resurrection.
I gave up worrying for Lent as my personal form of sacred resistance. This is much more difficult for me than choosing to forego cheese or wine or Trader Joe’s Sriracha Potato Chips. Worrying feels like an addiction, a reflex, and a habit that I carry to the detriment of my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
“Words are things I’m convinced. You must be careful about the words you use or the words you allow to be used in your house. In the Old Testament, we are told in Genesis that in the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was with God. Words are things, we must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names using sexual pejoratives and racial pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Someday we will be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things, I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs, in your upholstery and your clothes and finally into you.” — Dr. Maya Angelou.
On Being Kneaded and Becoming Needed
It’s interesting how Lent can trigger past memories long forgotten. Of course, the triggering could be attributed to several things. For me, it could be that I recently spent time with my sister’s family and other relatives in Florida, where I grew up. As a child, one of my fondest memories was awakening to the smell of freshly baked bread.
In February I had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. One of the major exhibitions was called “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World.” It focused on several indigenous philosophies about the creation and order of the universe, and the spiritual relationship people share with the natural world.
Reading Greek mythology was my favorite as a pre-teen. There was Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt. The patron goddess of Athens and the Greek goddess of wisdom, was Athena. She was an active participant in the Trojan War, where one of my heroes, Achilles died. I was fascinated by the labors of Heracles. While I didn’t initially grasp the story of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, I somehow discerned that his story was far more than entertainment.
Flowers are often gifted as an expression of love and friendship, gratitude or celebration. Just think about the last time someone gave you flowers. Wasn’t it fun, surprising and exhilarating? It is amazing how the simple gesture of being given flowers can make us feel so much and how we can look at the them resting in their vase in our home or office – and feel … so blessed. Why do we all too often, wait, to be gifted flowers?
Lessons from Joseph
The Old Testament lesson for this Friday in the second week of Lent is found in the book of Genesis and may be very familiar to many of you. It’s the beginning of the story of Joseph, his father and his brothers and tells how Joseph ends up in a pit because of jealousy, insecurity and hatred.