Below you will find a recording of our first class. The video of the Keynote presentation includes the Youtube videos by John Shelby Spong and Fred Plumer that were shown during the class together with an audio recording of the class (the audio is stilted in places but if you wait but a moment it will sync with the presentation). Or, below the video you will find an audio recording of the class.
Today is the Fourth Sunday of the Season of Creation which celebrates River Sunday Our Readings included Ezekiel 47:6-12 and John 7:37-39 and a Contemporary Reflection in the form of a video recording of God IS a River by Peter Mayer. You can find the texts here
Brian McLaren briefly describes the work of religion which harkens back to both the etymology and the “literal” definition of the word itself. Proving once again that, the more-than-literal meaning of the word religion points to a broader understanding. Recorded last month at Greenbelt. Enjoy!
I just got my hands on an advance proof of Pete’s new book, “The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith”. This newly released video will have to tide me over until I can clear a space to read without interruption. Pete previewed some of this work when he visited us at Holy Cross. So, I for one am looking forward to the magic! Meantime, enjoy, An Evening with Peter Rollins from the Transgressions Tour, Live from the West End Wine Bar in Chapel Hill.
About a dozen years ago, I traveled to Vancouver to attend an educational conference for Lutheran Mission Pastors. Most of the conference was spent inside a stuffy meeting room. But one afternoon about forty of us were loaded onto a school bus and we traveled down to the east-side of Vancouver to spend some time with Pastor Brian Heinrich, who ran the Lutheran Urban Ministry Society. I doubt that many of you have ever or will ever visit the downtown east side of Vancouver. Lutheran Urban Ministry was located near the corner of Main and Hastings in one of the poorest areas in all of Canada. It was the sort of place where forty Lutheran pastors stuck out like a sore thumb. At the time the downtown east-side was one of the roughest neighborhoods in Canada. This was before Olympic developers gentrified the neighbourhood.
As we arrived, I noticed the discomfort that was written all over the faces of my fellow clergy. Although I’d travelled to the eastside many times and even lived for a few months in a cheap apartment on the edge of the eastside, my journeys in the eastside were usually quick, with as few stops as I could manage, so that I could avoid the unpleasant sights and sounds that you encounter in places were poverty literally fills the air. Knowing that we were scheduled to spend the day in the eastside made me long for the mountaintops that I could see stretching up to the sky across the river. I could feel the same discomfort that was written on the faces of my colleagues take hold of my own face.
On the steps of the church, a young man was shooting up. In the alley next to the church, very young men and women were offering their bodies for sale. Inside the church we were greeted by several of Pastor Brian’s parishioners. Before we could get inside the sanctuary, a very smelly man extended a filthy hand in friendship. When I took his hand he grinned at me with his two remaining teeth and told me his name was David and that I should make myself at home. Eventually, Pastor Brian introduced us to about a half a dozen of his parishioners. All of them wore their poverty with a welcoming smile. Because the sight of forty Lutheran Pastors being guided around the neighborhood on a tour might have shaken up the local inhabitants, we were divided up into small groups and assigned guides. That’s how I met a woman, for the purposes of this sermon I’ll call, Gracie. Continue reading →
On this the third Sunday of the Season of Creation, we turn our attention to the Wilderness on the very day when ten’s of thousands of people will be taking to the street to demand that the governments of the world focus their attention on the plight of our planet. On the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit, organizers of The People’s Climate March are hopeful that upwards of 100,000 people will turn out to march through midtown Manhattan to demand that world leaders agree on significant and substantial initiatives to move the world toward a path that will limit global warming.
The readings for the third Sunday in the Season of Creation can be found here
On Monday the United Nations will host Climate Summit 2014: Catalyzing Action. Tomorrow to kick off a week of climate events, The People’s Climate March will take place in Manhattan. Organizers hope to draw 100,000 marchers to participate in “the largest climate march in history.” Those of us who can’t join the march in Manhattan have work to do in our own communities. Tomorrow, many churches will continue their celebration of the Season of Creation with an emphasis on “The Wilderness.” Let our celebrations contribute to the “Catalyzing Action!” Disruption – a film by Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott is a documentary that outlines the dangers of failing to act.
This film was sent to my by a follower of the blog who thought it might be of interest to others who follow this blog. It is an amazing exploration of the way we experience our surroundings. Splendid!!!
Written and Directed by Ian Watt Produced by Creator Collective in association with Culture Creator Starring Alec Mangum
This preface offered by the creator of this film:
“This film explores some major concepts, but two of them are simple: places and spaces. Places are merely physical locations, with often no meaning attached to them. However, a simple, empty room can be formed into a space; turned into a place of meeting, creativity, innovation, and community. Places are often beautiful, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, but they only become spaces when we engage with them. When we experience beauty, peace, or joy from a place, our reflections and responses to the place are what create an experience, as well as the emotions that we feel.
Here’s the problem, when we reflect during an experience, or bring pre-conceived notions to an experience, we arent truly experiencing. Reflection must exclusively follow experience.
This film is about experiences of the mind. Places of the mind are merely thoughts, ideas, concepts. When we engage with the places of our own minds, we create spaces. Spaces to dream, to think, to create, to become. In this film, a young man engages with some big concepts for the very first time, and as an audience we get to see the spaces he creates and explores. And with that, we get to explore alongside him, and ask ourselves the very questions that he does.
With that, please enjoy The Universe.”
Herald of the Divine Feminine, reformer of the church and green prophet! September 17th is the feast day of the Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen, a woman of great vision, a woman centuries ahead of her time. During her 81 years Hildegard’s talents as an artist, musician, poet, healer and theologian allowed her to produce a wealth of resources for the church which ought not to be ignored. And yet the Roman Catholic Church only got around to officially canonizing this giant of the church this past year.
In 2009, German filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta wrote and directed the movie “Vision”. The DVD version is available from Amazon and I highly recommend it!!!
Matthew Fox’s book “Hildegard of Bingen a Saint for Our Times, Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century” provides an excellent resource for those who are working to change religious institutions today. You can listen to an interview of Matthew Fox about Hildegard here. Fox describes Hildegard as a Trojan horse whose teachings he hopes will shake up the vatican.
At Holy Cross we have developed an Evening Prayer Service inspired by the work of Hildegard. The worship bulletin and an audio recording of the service are linked below. Enjoy the video of contralto Karen Clark who preforms Hildegard’s antiphon “O Virtus Sapientie”
The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday (Pentecost 15A, Proper 20A, Ordinary 25A) offers preachers a splendid opportunity to address economic disparity; an issue which Jesus of Nazareth was passionate about. Back in 2011, I had the privilege of spending a week at Chautauqua when Amy-Jill Levine was the theologian in residence. Each afternoon Amy-Jill addressed the parables of Jesus from her perspective as a New Testament scholar who is also a practicing Jew. The material Amy-Jill covered has found its way into her latest book. Released just this month. “short stories by jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi” is an extraordinary resource, which I am in the process of gobbling up with the kind of relish that fills me with all sorts of ideas for the work that needs to be done by those of us who profess to follow the teachings of the Rabbi Jesus. For those of you planning to preach on Jesus’ parable about the workers in the vineyard, I recommend purchasing Amy-Jill’s new book (it is available electronically so there’s still time) and carefully reading Chapter 7: “The Laborers in the Vineyard”! Below you will find a link to my notes for an interactive sermon I delivered based upon Amy-Jill’s Chautauqua lecture, “Management and Non-Union Workers”.
For those of you interested in the radical teachings of Jesus, stories about jesus is a must-read! John Shelby Spong insists that Levine’s new book provides “a series of stunning new insights into our religious heritage!” I couldn’t agree more!
In my sermon yesterday, I recalled Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’ comedy routine about the 2000 Year-old Man. This morning a blog follower sent me the link to Rabbi Chava Bahle’s TED talk in which she too recalls the same comedy routine. What a delight to discover such a splendid spiritual paradigm shifter!!! Sometimes those of us involved in a particular religious tradition fail to raise our heads and look around to the splendid work being done in other religious traditions. Rabbi Bahle speaks of “Deep Ecumenism: honouring our own traditions while comfortably being inspired by the truths others’ as well” and insists that “this game-changing is the sacred technology that will change every single one of our institutions.”
“We are the first species on this planet that can choose not to become extinct. Of course we haven’t made that decision yet.”
For those of us following the lectionary readings for The Season of Creation, this Sunday is “Land Sunday.” Matthew Fox’s challenge for to us to “wake up” provides much inspiration to develop worship that shakes us from our sleep and empowers us to work together to develop harmonious relationships with creation that will foster healing of the Earth.
At Holy Cross, we are currently celebrating The Season of Creation. As we ponder Christianity’s share of the responsibility for the abuse of the Earth, it is important to remember that we have a role to play in the protection of the planet. Evolutionary Christian Michael Dowd (Thank God for Evolution) insists that Christians need to remember our call to be a blessing to humanity. In this video, recorded Aug 25, 2014, Dowd insists that theology must include ecology and challenges us to move forward in ways that foster right-relationship with all of Creation.
This week the world will mark the thirteenth anniversary of 911. Much has happened since that day that changed our world. Sadly, much has stayed the same. This Sunday the Gospel reading for those congregations following the Revised Standard Lectionary comes from Matthew 18:21-35 and is all about forgiveness. Looking back on the sermons that I have preached on this particular text, I discovered that on the first anniversary of 911 the same reading came around to challenge preachers and their listeners. Reading that old sermon, I was struck by how very little we have learned over the years. My theology has changed considerably over the years and so the way in which I speak about the work of the Divine in the world has also change. But, replace some the names like Sadam Husain, Taliban, and El Queada with ISIS or ISEL, or Hamas, or Assad, or dare I say, Putin, and the world’s willingness to use violence seems almost inevitable. What has not changed for those of us who seek to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is the challenge to change our ways and seek peace. So, I post this old sermon here, in the hope that some of the echoes of our past might enlighten our present with a desire to work for peace.
I seriously considered quitting my job this week. It’s been a tough week and I’ve gotta tell you, that by the time Friday rolled around, I felt like handing in my notice. I was sick and tired of my boss’s holy than thou attitude and I didn’t want to work for Jesus any more. You see all week long I’ve had this gospel lesson rolling around in my head. This is a lousy week to try and write a sermon on mercy and forgiveness. Images of towers crumbling, family members weeping and American politicians calling for an escalation of the war against terrorism, aren’t exactly conducive to thoughts about mercy and forgiveness. On any other week, I could write a sermon proclaiming the goodness of God’s grace and reminding you how much we owe God. On any other week, I could come up with a story about the colossal debt we owe our God and how dramatically God has wiped the slate clean. On any other week, I could write a sermon urging you to look with compassion and mercy on those who are in your debt. On any other week, I could proclaim the good news of God’s mercy and point to the many ways that we have sinned and count up the many times God has forgiven us and urge you to be just as forgiving to those who have sinned against you. On any other week, I could do my job. But this week Jesus’ words about forgiving not once, not twice, not three times, not even seven times but forgiving those who have sinned against us seventy-seven times is more than I can bare.Continue reading →
I am indebted to John Philip Newell’s new book “The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings” for inspiring this sermon. The Season of Creation is a relatively new addition to the Church calender and the first and Gospel readings are those prescribed for Forest Sunday: Genesis 2:4b-23 and John 3:1-16. The contemporary reading is from John Philip Newell. The Scripture reading were taken from ‘the inclusive bible: The First Egalitarian Translation” which opens a new way of understanding both the Genesis story and the Gospel According to John simply by using more inclusive literal translations of the Hebrew and Greek. You can find all three readings here