Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lent Day 34 The Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time.

Think about how we may cause or contribute to others falling under their burdens. When we as a society allow poverty to flourish in a land of plenty; when we underfund our public school; when we fail to provide healthcare to all; when we cut social programs; when we allow racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and ableism to flourish. May we find ways to help lift up those who fall and in doing so, we help lift up the fallen, living Christ represented in our humanity. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lent Day 33 The Sixth Station: A woman wipes the face of Jesus.

Similar to the post from yesterday, once again, we seen another act of compassion and kindness exhibited to Jesus, as he carries the burden of the cross. I think it is especially interesting to note that this act of compassion was shown by a woman. Where were all of the male disciples? Peter had already denied knowing him three times and was off hiding in fear. Thomas who proclaimed a wiliness to die with Jesus in Jerusalem is nowhere to be found. Only the women and John will eventually be present at the foot of the cross. I think this reflects traditional masculinity in a number of ways. When things are going well and there is a sense of power men are frequently there on center stage sharing in the success, but defeat doesn’t go well with the male ego. Also, men are quite skilful in showing aggression, such as peter, the night before, cutting off the slave’s ear in the garden during the arrest, but when it comes to showing tender emotions, most men are severely inept. Jesus himself was able to break out of the masculinity box that confines so many men. He showed compassion; he admonished his followers to turn the other cheek, rather than to be vengeful; he said, in the sermon on the mount, that the meek are blessed and will inherit the earth; he was nurturing toward children; he wept at the tomb of Lazarus; he showed apprehension in the garden before his arrest; he even forgave those who carried out his execution. Contemporary men would do well to follow his example and we all would do well to follow the woman’s example of offering compassion to those bearing burdens. In doing so, we minister to the living Christ represented in our humanity. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lent Day 32 The Fifth Station: The cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene.

Cyrene  is in northern Africa, so Simon was a foreigner and outsider in the city of Jerusalem.  Many times, members of the dominant group are blinded by their social privilege and this makes it difficult for them to see the suffering of others and to show empathy. Simeon helps Jesus carry the burden of the cross. I’m reminder of my 7th grade geography class. While the geography facts are sketchy at best, I vividly remember some of the moral lessons taught by our caring teacher. On many occasions, we would see him picking up liter in the hallways and on campus. One day a student asked him “why do you pick up trash and insist that we keep our desks aligned in a perfectly straight rows, don’t we have custodians who are paid to do those things for us?” He replied “I do it to lighten the burden for others” and he admonished us to do the same in our daily lives. In our random acts of kindness we help the living Christ, represented in our humanity, carry the daily burdens of the cross. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lent Day 31 The Fourth Station: Jesus meets his afflicted mother.
Christians revere the cross as a sacred symbol rather than a cruel method of capital punishment. In the ancient world, the cross would have been viewed in the same way we view the electric chair or a lethal injection chamber. Jesus carrying the cross, to the place of execution, would be similar to the modern day criminal being escorted to the death chamber, on the day of his execution. Imagine Mary seeing her son Jesus walking to his death carrying the cross. She may have remember the words of Simeon who warned her on the day Jesus was presented in the temple “ a sword will pierce your own soul too”  The United States remains the only industrialized nation to practice capital punishment, despite the fact that there is no data indicating that it’s a deterrent to violent crime. So why do we do it? The answer is retribution, the old notion of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The data also reveal that there is extreme racial and class bias in our use of the death penalty. Think about how the death penalty harms others, mothers like Mary, spouses, children, family members. In each execution, we continue piercing the soul of the living Christ, represented in our humanity.  Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lent Day 30 The Third Station: Jesus falls the first time.
Even with the best of intentions to stand upright we all fall down. When we are judgmental: when we know what should be done, but fail to do it; when we break promises; when we say hurtful things; when we stereotype others; when we remain quiet when we should speak out.  In all of these, the living Christ, represented in each of us, falls under the weight of our own action. When we fall, may we always be able to rise up and continue down the proper path. Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation (transferred from Sunday). This day takes precedence over Lent. The story of the Annunciation is a wonderful metaphor of God entering humanity, but he couldn’t do it alone. He needed the assistance of a strong woman. All of the Marian feasts provide a feminine balance to the patriarchal God and remind us that the ancient Mother Goddess is still with us in the modern word.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly
wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to
love what you command and desire what you promise; that,
among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts
may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lent Day 28 The Second Station: Jesus takes up his cross. Many times people will use the expression “crosses to bare” referring to burdens people carry in life. Many examples come to mind: living in poverty; working hard in a low-wage, dead-end job; facing chronic unemployment; facing life with an incurable or painful disease; trying to stay healthy without access to healthcare; growing up in dysfunctional home; living alone due to the loss of a spouse; those struggling with their sexual orientation; those experiencing depression or mental illness; alcoholism and addiction. Daily, the cross is carried by the living Christ represented in our humanity. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Beginning today and continuing for remaining days of Lent, I will offer social commentary on the Way of the Cross.

Lent Day 27 The First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.
Think about how we condemn people to death everyday through our actions and inactions: in warfare; homicide; hate crimes; capital punishment; malnutrition and starvation; premature deaths from lack of health care. Think about the many other ways we condemn one another: condemning those of a different religion; those of different sexual orientations; those of different political ideologies; those with different cultural practices; those who speak a different language; those who may have a different lifestyle; those who may not conform to cultural norms; those who speak out or pose a challenge to the status quo. In these actions, to one another, we are participating in the condemnation of the living Christ. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lent Day 26: Pride. Many things come to mind: narcissism; hubris; self-righteousness; extreme patriotism leading to nationalism; boasting of one’s accomplishments; self aggrandizement; being unwilling to admit mistakes or take responsibility for failures; being unwilling to make apologies.  May we work toward greater humility.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lent Day 25: Envy. Envy is feelings of resentment for not possessing what others have. Much of modern day envy is driven by the mass media and capitalism, which attempts to persuade us that we need to buy things in order to be happy. This creates phenomenon like: keeping up with the Jones; consumerism; fashion; planned obsolescence of electronic and appliances; unrealistic standard of beauty. May we come to appreciate what we have and lean the difference between what we need and what we want.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lent Day 24: Wrath (Anger) While anger is a natural human emotion, occurring when one is denied, wronged or offended, it manifests itself in very destructive behaviors: Physical aggression & violence; verbal aggression; bullying; animal cruelty; blaming others for our own failures; road rage; excessive honking of horns; dirty looks; impatience; revenge;  passive aggression; ignoring or giving a cold shoulder. It can also be manifest at the societal level in vigilantism; terrorism; warfare; torture; political discourse designed to anger or offend. May we be slow to anger and quick to show compassion and love.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Today is the Feast of St Joseph, it takes precedence over Lent, but here are a few thoughts on St Joseph.  Joseph finds out that Mary to whom he is engaged is pregnant. The religious law would have permitted her to be stoned to death, but Joseph, being a just man, thought about putting her away privately (breaking their engagement) to avoid exposing her to shame. Think about how many religious people today look upon unwed mothers. They want to have abstinence-only sex education, but then when a woman becomes pregnant, they want to deny her right to an abortion. If she chooses to carry the pregnancy to term and give the child up for adoption, they don’t want same-sex couples to be able to adopt. If she keeps the child, they are against providing welfare for her and the child. Christians today might find it useful to examine Joseph and follow his example of compassion.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down
from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world:
Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in
him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lent Day 22: Sloth (Laziness) We have many examples of laziness within contemporary culture. People who litter rather than put their garbage in trash containers; drive-thru windows and remote controls that promote inactivity; using the elevator or escalator, rather than the stairs, if one is able to walk; televisions that turns many into couch-potatoes; able-bodied people riding motorized carts in stores; not taking down your yard sale sign after the event is over; students who cheat or do the minimal amount of work to earn a grade; habitual procrastinators; not using one brain to think; not speaking out in the face of injustice; taking the path of least resistance; not flushing the toilet in public restrooms; pushing the snooze button on the alarm. May we learn to get up off our asses and become more active for the sake of our physical health and the social benefit of the community.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lent Day 21: Greed Where shall I begin on this one? Record corporate profits while worker’s wages remain flat; record oil industry profits with $4 a gallon gas prices; CEO salaries compared to average worker wages; a tax system that favors the rich; professional athletes salaries; sub-prime lending practices; fraudulent financial schemes; insider trading; market manipulations; securities fraud; hoarding; global greed of rich nations at the expense of poorer nations; May be come to embrace charity and relearn that childhood lesson of sharing with other.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lent Day 20: Gluttony. It’s easy to find examples of gluttony in our society. Buffet restaurants where patrons pile their plates high and go back for multiple refills; growing rates of childhood and adult obesity; junk food; super size orders; larger portion sizes; multiple servings disguised in a single package; eating contests; reality shows focusing on over-weight people; food addiction; binge drinking; gluttony of natural resources; gluttony of oil; wasteful use of water. May we seek moderation in our diets for our health and conservation of resources for future generations.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beginning today and continuing for the next seven days, I will have social commentary on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Lent Day 19: Lust. Traditionally lust has been defined as inordinate desire for or enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Most would agree that uncontrolled sexuality can have negative consequences and most would agree that sexual harassment, rape, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, sexual tourism, violent or degrading pornography, child pornography, necrophilia and incest are all destructive manifestations of sexuality. At the same time, our attempts to regulate adult consensual sex may also be viewed as dysfunctional. Abstinence-only sex education programs; attempts to deny women access to birth control & abortion; laws regulating consensual sexual behavior; homophobia & heterosexism; condemnation of masturbation; extreme modesty; negative views of nudity and the human body; sex phobia that prevents honest and open discussion of sexuality all contribute to personal and societal problems. May we come to view sexuality in more realistic, healthy and positive ways.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lent Day 18: Boldly sign the ash cross on cemeteries for the repentance of the sin of death denial.   For treating death as a taboo topic in our society; for using euphemisms to help us avoid talking about death; for sheltering children from death education; for prolonging suffering with unnecessary medical care when death is eminent; for denying death with dignity; for religions focusing on afterlife rather than the needs of this world; for sending flowers at the time of death while neglecting to do so for the living; for lavish funerals; for land & water pollution from embalming fluids. May we come to view death as a part of life and develop healthy and economical ways to deal with human mortality.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lent Day 17: Boldly sign the ash cross on every cigarette, ash tray and lighter for repentance of the sins of tobacco. For 400,000 deaths each year in the U.S.; for heart disease; for cancer; for a multitude of smoking related diseases; for rude smokers; for second-hand smoke; for indoor air pollution; for accidental fires started by careless smokers; for the tobacco industry placing profits above health; for cigarette butt litter; for state legislatures that have failed to place restrictions on smoking. May we continue to work diligently to reduce or eliminate smoking for the good of our nation’s health.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, 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; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the HolySpirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lent Day 16: Boldly sign the ash cross or every gun for repentance of the sins of weapons. For homicides; suicides; for drive-by shootings; for armed robberies; for school shootings; for accidental deaths; for warfare; for atomic weapons; for the radical gun lobbies. May we beat or swords into ploughshares and find non-violent and peaceful ways to resolve interpersonal and international conflicts.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lent Day 15: Boldly sign the ash cross on cars for repentance of the sins of the automobile. For oil dependency; for high gas prices; for traffic jams; for pollution; for rude drivers; for road rage; for drunk driving, for texting while driving; for talking on cell phone while driving; for lack of public transportation; for lack of concern for pedestrians & bikers; for tearing up green-space for parking lots; for contributing to laziness; for unnecessary trips; for not car pooling; for using cars as status symbols. May we learn to drive more responsibly, politely and design more fuel efficient cars.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lent Day 14: Boldly sign the ash cross on every globe & world map for repentance of the sins of the global community. For global exploitation of labor; for global inequality of wealth & income; for global inequality of education & healthcare; for pollution that transcends national borders; for disregard for the suffering in poor nations; for wars & terrorism. May we strive to think beyond our borders and come to see ourselves as citizens of a broader human community and work for global justice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lent Day 13: Boldly sign the ash cross on Family albums for repentance of the sins of the family. For patriarchy; for partner abuse; for child abuse; for psychological abuse; for elder abuse; for sibling violence; for neglect; for incest & sexual abuse; for dysfunctional families; for abandonment; for authoritarian parenting; for lack of parenting; for denying marriage or adoption to same-sex couples; for disguising hate & intolerance in words like “Family Values”. Let us work toward building strong families in a variety of forms and provide adequate support to create healthy environments for our children.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lent Day 12: Bolding sign the ash cross on sports equipment for sins of the institution of sports. For cheating; for illegal betting; for steroid abuse; for violence on playing field; for fan violence; for forcing children to play sports; for ridiculing children who lack athletic ability; for using Native Americans as team mascots; for gender inequality in sports programs; for idolizing athletes even when some engage in bad behavior; for thousands of sports injuries; for the pipe-dream of becoming a professional athlete that diverts many students form academics. May we put sport in perspective and emphasize the values of sportsmanship, fair play and recreation.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lent Day 11: Boldly sign the ash cross on our computers & cell phones for the sins of electronic technology. For email spam, for cyber bullying, for identity theft; for cyber stalking; for time wasted on the internet; for contributing to a sedentary lifestyle; for texting while driving; for surfing while in class; for computer games that leads to classroom boredom; for replacing face to face interactions with facebook & texting; for rude cell phone users in public. May we learn to occasionally disconnect and live in the present moment with the people in our presence.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2nd Sunday in Lent

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious
to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them
again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and
hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ
your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent Day 10: Boldly sign the ash cross on the scales of justice for the repentance of the sins of our legal & criminal Justice system. For  racial profiling; for racial & class based discrimination in sentencing; for wrongful convictions;  for not pursuing white-collar crimes; for ignoring victims & lack of restitution;  for the criminalization of victimless crimes; for attempting to legislate morality; for locking up drug users rather than treating them medically for their addictions; for emphasizing retribution over rehabilitation; for high rates of recidivism; for prison violence & rape; for discrimination against those with a criminal record; for prison overcrowding, for having the highest rate of incarceration in the world; for police brutality; for capital punishment. May we invest in social programs to prevent crime and work toward building a criminal justice system that’s fair & equal for all.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lent Day 9: Boldly sign the ash cross on every trash can, smoke stack, and waste pipe for repentance of the sins of pollution and destruction of the environment. For air pollution; for water pollution; for nuclear waste; for destruction of the ozone layer; for degradation of the land; for destruction of the rain forest, for global warming & climate change; for strip mining; for littering; for depletion of precious resources; for oil spills; for fluorocarbons; for not recycling. May we develop a reverence for the earth and find greener ways to live in harmony with nature.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lent Day 8: Boldly sign the ash cross on prescription drug bottles, on the sterile walls of hospitals, and on health insurance policies for the repentance of the sins of our healthcare system. For being the only industrialized nation not providing universal access to healthcare; for skyrocketing healthcare costs; for medical bankruptcies; for placing profits above patients; for denied care; for exclusions for preexisting conditions; for allowing 50 million Americans to go without health insurance; for hospital acquired infections; for prolonging suffering rather than facing death; for inadequate preventive care;  for unnecessary medical procedures and waste; for ignoring the diseases that affect poor nations; for inadequate care for the mentally ill; for ranking 37th in healthcare in the World Health Organization rankings. May we come to see healthcare as a basic right of humanity and work to insure all have access to quality care.