Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Holy Week Meditation: Monday


Christ in Bethany (Pugin)

Christ in Bethany (Pugin) (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. Psalm 71

I always tell my unchurched friends (who respect what I do for a living, but don’t quite understand it) that Holy Week is my Big Week.  Then I add as though only I know just how funny I am “it’s Jesus Big Week too.” In my defense, for a parish minister, Holy Week truly is The Big Week.  But this particular Holy Week is bigger than usual.  As we follow Jesus to the cross and then to the empty tomb, we follow the United States Supreme Court in its own version of death and resurrection.   On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments considering the constitutionality of California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8. The next day, the court will hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The timing of these two cases could not have been better. They remind us that Holy Week is about justice.  Jesus was executed because he stood up for the oppressed and defended the disenfranchised.  If Jesus had not challenged the religious leaders, if he had not questioned the social order, he probably would have died quietly of old age.  Instead he died on a cross.  Not for our sins, but because of our sins. This Holy Week, we will watch and wait to see if our own country will make right a long held injustice—the denial of marriage to our gay brothers and sisters. 

Let us pray for the death of an old order and the resurrection of what is new and good.

May Your Week be Holy,

Pastor Jane

(look for a meditation from Pastor Jane everyday this week)


Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Blogging With Jane


Vow of Poverty Pays Off

Pope Benedictus XVI at a private audience (Jan...

Pope Benedictus XVI at a private audience (January 20, 2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vatican is facing a dilemma it hasn’t faced in 600 years. I am not talking about the alarming rise of secularism in the West, or the abandonment of traditional dogma, or the continued presence of scandal among priests.

I’m talking about the pope’s really awesome retirement package.

For the first time in pope-history, the Vatican will manage a retirement portfolio for a retired Vicar of Christ. And something tells me that that same Vicar has not been faithfully contributing to his own 401K.

Not surprisingly, the job of Apostolic See comes with a pretty nifty benefit package. For the remainder of his life, Benedict will rake in the spoils of a truly golden parachute. For starters, he will have a few thousand euro dumped into this checking account every month; private living quarters at the Mater Ecclesiae, a former convent, remodeled just for him (comes with a 500 sq meter organic fruit and vegetable garden—gardeners provided); personal physicians on-call 24/7; live-in assistance of a small group of German nuns (not sure what they do exactly but they’ve been with him a long time); and at his beck and call, a bevy of housekeepers, cooks, and valets. It is a papal parachute of just under $600,000.00 per year. Of course, he has to trade in his big hat, ring, cape, and red shoes. Personally, I would keep the shoes.

OK. Enough with the pope-bashing (even though everything I’ve said is entirely true). I won’t even mention Jesus and his persistent camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle comments or that pesky last-will-be-first business. The pope wouldn’t be the pope if we took him out of the flashy, extravagant milieu of papal culture. And although I am pretty much ready to excuse all the over-the-top excessiveness of popedom, there is a nagging problem.

In the buzz words of today, the pope, the Vatican, and all the cool papal stuff, fit in the category of attractional not missional (except maybe the group of German nuns—never criticize nuns as they are true workers). Attractional means you market the church to the world. Missional means you bring the church into the world. In other words, when I ask myself, what can I do as pastor to get the world to come to Zion—I am being more attractional than missional. But when we go to Grace Church and help serve the Community meal, we are being missional. The trick is to tip the balance of church activity in the direction of missional (you certainly can’t abandon attractional altogether).

There are countless examples in the bible where missional trumps attractional. For example, the book of Acts:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. (Acts 2:44-45)

Out there serving, not inside waiting. Missional, not attractional. That’s why, when the pope flies in his private helicopter from the Vatican to his new posh residence and thousands of people cheer and wave, I wonder how much of the message of God’s Kingdom has been lost. Actually, I don’t wonder. I shudder.

Maybe the new pope will rescue and reclaim the message of Jesus. Maybe he will be the new John Paul XXIII. If he is, I won’t care if he wears the red shoes and the big hat and the gold ring. As long as he remembers who the real head of the Church is.


1 Comment

Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Blogging With Jane

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