Posts Tagged ‘Lectionary’


Matthew 1:20-23 (New King James Version)

A rather innocuous passage in Matthew is often overlooked, similarly to the passages within Luke in regards to the visitation and questions of Mary. Here, we have Joseph, doing what any man of his era would be doing in finding out his recently betrothed bride to be (she of approximately 13-14 years old) pregnant. Pondering what to do? Shall he declare the crime? Have her taken by the Edlers outside the city gates and stoned to death? Simply cast outside quietly to turn into a beggar? A play thing of the Empire on the road side? Or quietly divorce her and let her family deal with her?

See, Joseph was struggling with pride and reputation. When Holy Love comes into his life, and this is the key moment for him. Do you hear it? That aha moment in the heart? That moment when he realized the power in his wife to be’s YES to the Holy. The “Yes” that shattered the bastardized topsy-turvy world the Empire and Religious oppression had stripped them of. The love, to feel the true awe of…becoming a Daddy (Abba).

See the source image
Saint Joseph and Toddler Jesus, according to Roman Catholicism, St. Joseph is the patron saint of Realtors, families, fathers, unborn children, expectant mothers, immigrants, travelers, explorers, pilgrims, house seekers, craftsmen, engineers, and workers. He is the patron saint of many villages, towns, cities, churches, and countries including- Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Austria, Korea, Americas, China, Croatia, Indonesia and Phillipines.

Now this is where fundgelical praxis theology of the lovey-dovey thoughts hits the snag. See, Joseph became a Daddy with Mary’s pregnancy, Jesus grew up in a loving home, learned the faith from the Matriarchs, and the way of work from the Patriarchs in his family. Having grown up in a trades family, I can guess, he probably had a pretty cool experience with all the building things to play with. Unfortunately, instead of reading the gospel stories of Jesus’ family with the lens of love and belonging in family. Too many take the view of “step” or “adopted”, that is they impose an extra layer of distance the relationship with Joseph and Jesus. The default being, well, Jesus spoke of his Heavenly Father.

Except, the Holy Spirit that came upon Mary is usually in the feminine. Except, in the creation story in the Hebrew Bible, both male and female are created in God’s image. Yet, we do not speak of Mary, as the earthly mother, just as Mum.

So why the differentiation? To allow for a perpetuation of unhealthy dynamics, one that harkens back to the genealogy lists within the scriptures that prove ones “pedigree” (or worth) in society. Yet, what is missed, is that the pedigree of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is of Joseph.

So whose his Daddy?

Is it not time to move beyond this antiquated view of Empire imposed familism?

Do we not yet understand that the point of the birth narrative is to show that the bond of family and belonging is love- FULL STOP- and that Jesus was blessed with an amazing family with both human and divine parentage?

Next time you hear the bad exegesis about Joseph, not being or needing to be his Daddy as Jesus was not his son, simply reply with the theologically best answer I can come up with “bollocks”.

Which is point one of this ecclectica, the other was trying to be politics free on Christmas Day, and only doing spot checks of social media, The United Conservative Party proved my social media musing with the new Covid restrictions/exemptions that had been announced in Alberta a few days before Christmas:

And yes church it was shown once again, for a tweet storm emerged with the UCP sharing of a Christmas greeting:



Found in Revised Common Lectionary Cycle B (found at Vanderbilt University: Year B – Christmas : Revised Common Lectionary (vanderbilt.edu)

Now we can argue over which translation of the Holy Bible was used, and whether the term was government or authority, but it is found within the Revised Common Lectionary for the readings. A lectionary is the reading rhythms that within a two year cycles of Sundays the church will hear all the Bible (and/or major themes) read from the pulpit. This is the example of what the Christmas Day readings looked like this year:

For finding scriptures I suggest http://www.biblegateway.com

Now, there are some things of note.

  1. The meme actually got more air time via progressives attempting to shame, call out, or otherwise put down.
  2. There is some issue with the meme any believer should take, when the Gospel reading of the day is from Luke, the birth of Christ, the scripture should have come from there. Unfortunately, Luke is the gospel written to and for the disenfranchised in society to empower and give voice, it is a rallying cry which with the track record of the government currently would have come across as higher hypocrisy than normal.
  3. The image of the Holy Family used is uber Blonde European. The traditionalist church images used, and not very historic. Some may say minor, some may say major point, but on point for the message.
  4. The use of the government in the quote is to be seen as a nod that the ruling party is there by divine right, yet who is Isaiah? Will share a bit on that.

Isaiah is a major prophet in the Holy Bible, respectfully from the Hebrew Bible portion. His book is 66 chapters in length, which has led some protestants to equate it to the Protestant Bible as an allegory (note I said Protestant as there are many bibles with books in as apocryphal/deutero-canonical or canonical that are beyond the scope of these 66). There was more than likely more than one Isaiah as a writer within the book, through textual historicity, the first writer would be the one who wrote the passage in the meme. Many of the Hebrew Prophets have had moments when their words have been pointed to foretelling the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, or more mystically, the Messiah (for if you are Jewish, he has not yet come). Most of the work was probably written during the Babylonian captivity, around 8th century BCE. The prophets were not necessarily future oriented texts, as much as social justice texts.

The prophets were called out of Israel to literally call Israel out. To point out what they were doing contrary to the heart of the Holy. It was framed in contrary to the Law, yet what is at the core of the Law and the Prophets? Love of God/Self/Neighbour. The prophets laid out unabashedly the harm being done under the guise of the name of God, and then what the repercussions were to be (reaping what one sows), in two cases at least the exiles under Babylon and Assyria. Then the inter-testimental period of silence were Rome seized their world. The world that the angels came to both Mary and Joseph to let them know, much like Zechariah and Elizabeth, that they would become parents of blessed children. Blessed children, what Brother Jesus let his followers know was each and every child.

So yes, this is a simple Merry Christmas from a political party. Yes, it is a message of Christendom (the Christianity of Empire) that speaks to a minority seeking to hold power, but lose the gospel, and yes, it is from the actual scriptures.

What is also clearly shows, like the story of Joseph, is a tool that can be of division, scape goating, and used wrongly.

What it leaves us with, is will we take the deeper message of the birth of Christ? The context of the word’s of Isaiah and the prophets knowing that a governing party just did one of the greatest self owns in history by literally turning the finger back on themselves to say- hey guess who isn’t meeting the call of justice? Guess who is willing to enter the exile for power?

Take time, and yes, it is a time when anyone of religious stripes who wants to speak up clearly and honestly. Share your faith, share how it has been used to harm, share how it has helped, and when politicians or religious leaders or fellow congregants attempt to use it to harm, call them out.

For we are all blessed children, loved, with family that embraces and loves us at this time of year, as today we enter the journey of the Magi following the once in hundreds years astronomical event to warn of the impending genocide.

Be the clarion call to end injustice.

Stand in love.

Amen.

The Call

Posted: July 4, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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Previously in the Legacy Cloaks post we touched upon Elisha taking up the work after his mentor Elijah ascended.  The Lectionary this week continues with a flashback passage that could also be used. This touching upon Elisha’s call by Elijah. For those who may be unfamiliar, Lectionary is a way to read the Bible in church, that is all passages are listed each Sunday, within 3 years you will have heard the whole Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament in the gathering, there is a daily one on a two year rotation.

11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lordwas not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lordwas not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a]13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

-1 Kings 19:11-18 (English Standard Version)

Image result for 1 kings 19:11-21Elijah is used to the show when God shows up, thunder, lightning, billowing winds, etc. What happens though when he comes before God at this moment of discernment in his life? It is Holy Silence he is met with. How often in our own lives when we are looking for a big show to tell us of paths to take, or corrections to make we expect the big show? The fallacy of our world in recovery being that one has to hit “rock bottom” before they are “worthy” of new life. Even our testimony culture, for whatever religion or product out there peddles the same thing…a despairing story with a tight “exhibit a” made it great, or grew my riches…or or or… or not.

But here is Elijah, dedicated from before birth by his mother to God’s service. Having walked through the atrocities of the splintering and corrupt kingdom the people wanted who only did evil by the people not for the people. Here he is, and it is in the Holy Silence that he sits.

Have you ever had a moment of Holy Silence? It is an eerie feeling. Like a vacuum where nothing is heard. Then comes, like to Elijah, this still small whisper voice of direction. God lays out a last plan of who should be anointed in leadership, the turn of phrase in verse 18 alludes to Baal worship practices, and God pointing out that there is a small number that have not succumbed to the shopping channel salesman for a quicker fixer upper.

It is in the silence, that Elijah is encouraged, for he is pointed towards a matter of discipleship of his legacy. That is the next step, Elisha–

The Call of Elisha

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

-1 Kings 19:19-21 (English Standard Version)

Elisha is put forward a new path. Possibly a course correction, there is not much here that tells us if he knew what was coming. In all honesty (and some British Cheekiness) it is akin to the Doctor asking you to be his/her new companion or Batman asking you to be his Robin, could Elisha say no?

Instead what he does, is lovingly makes peace with his old life and past and then celebrates the new.

Are we as prepared for what the Holy Silence calls to us?

Are we willing to be in the Silence to begin with?


Lectionaries are designed within liturgical/mainline churches to have the entire Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament heard within the community in a 2 or 3-year cycle depending on the lectionary used, Other liturgical prayer book resources will take a daily reflective practice for the person through the whole of these two scripture compilations usually within a year.  It is unique that in this part of the lectionary cycle this is the reading that came up in the Roman Catholic lectionary, in the midst of the rise of fascism, Nazism, extremism (at the point of extremism the qualifier of right-left or religiosity is removed for it is simply about hate, power and control, nothing more).

But, this reading also struck on my own renaissance of the past months with my Trekkie ways (that many previous posts have touched upon) and it reflects the Healing Journey of James Tiberius Kirk as seen in the Star Trek II to VI.

As you hear the words of the gospel whether you read within your heart or with your lips, may they embed upon yourself. And the old Franciscan idiom of living it as nature before moving on touch upon your soul:

21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile[e] woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

-Gospel of Matthew 15:21-28 (New Living Translation)

Brother Jesus is a prick in this telling, let’s be honest. The man that has been teaching to rest in the love does the dance of ignorance based on race superiority. His non-chalant I am not here for you people, does come across as a supremacy statement at first blush.  Especially with a child’s life hanging in the balance. It would definitely be jarring for his disciples to hear.

Jarring because it was Brother Jesus espousing what they held to be true of their beliefs as the children of Israel. The Messiah was there for them not those who were actively supportive of the Empire.  I mean one of the many rumours (or truths depending on the narrative of Jesus’ early life you follow) is that Roman soldiers raped Mary and Jesus was the result, but was blessed, others would hold he was born directly from God, and many other stories as the Gospel of John tell us that would be too many to keep up with. Yet the gentiles, or Empire were non-Jews, mostly in this age they were ones that had sold out Israel, battled with Israel, or were Romans in general who only saw Israelite’s outside of the wealthy and religious leaders (that could be used to keep control of the people) as property to be used and/or abused as they wanted.

This is not even touching upon the general view of women across all nations at this time. A view that Jesus’ circle had shattered with their egalitarian equality, equity and justice.  Yet when this woman came upon them and they reverted to old ways. The ways that Jesus mimicked.

“Only Nixon can go to China”

-Spock, Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country

 

Within the cold war height of hysteria, Star Trek’s original crew was in their movie arc. It was this future used to reflect the destructive ways that seeing American or Soviet as the other or capitalist-communist as the other and building fear would lead to.

Within Star Trek it was the Federation-Klingon Empire.  Star Trek II saw Spock give his life to save the Enterprise, quoting the famous line, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. And the genesis bomb went off on the planet Spock’s body was left to rest on.  Kirk had found he had a son, David, yet his best friend, his moral compass was left behind dead.

Now, as we go through quick touchstones of the others. I do encourage you to watch the movies and see other gems available, as this is just quick points and not as in-depth as could happen with these storylines.  As another aspect these movies could touch on would be the grief cycle of 5 stages, or the U theory of change, but again, those are for another time.

This is the journey of healing and transformation as the inciting incident of this arc was Spock’s death. In the third film, it is revealed that Spock’s essence is within McCoy. The Klingons want genesis, David and Saavik find a reborn Spock due to the Genesis bomb (life from lifelessness).

This is the rising action that sees Kirk and crew determine the needs of the few or the one can outweigh the many. They break Federation protocol, steal the Enterprise and head back to Genesis to get Spock. Before ultimate win though, the Klingons kill Kirk’s son, David.

Blind rage and grief move from a Cold War battle with the Klingon Empire, to a personalization of hatred for the other within Kirk.

Star Trek IV has Kirk and crew using a stolen Klingon cruiser to go back in time to save humanity from our own shortsightedness as the Klingon Empire sabre rattles for the “war criminal Kirk” to be turned over to the Klingon justice system.  But saving the universe must come before politics as the Crew on their newly christened HMS Bounty go back in time to well, bring back a lost species to communicate with a probe—the Humpback whale.

As Scotty would chime before the jump forward, “We got whales here!”.

It is truly a connecting of the Cold War of the `80’s into the Star Trek universe. It is also a trip where Kirk gets to experience Spock’s new entry back into his life, and learning what it means to be a person of two worlds…both Vulcan and Human.

In fact, the outcome of his Federation court martial is to be stripped of his admiralty and given to be Captain of the new Enterprise A. That is even the Federation realizes the best place for Kirk is as a captain of a star-ship out there exploring and discovering, much to the anger of the Klingon Empire.

Star Trek V has Kirk entering into a search for God thanks to Spock’s half brother Sybok. But the challenge of the search for God is a loss of pain. It is within this journey that Kirk begins to understand that pain is not what is the problem, but when Sybok takes the pain he takes the learning, the growth, the understanding. The intangibles that created who each of the crew were.

Also it raises the question when they are face to face with the entity pretending to be the Creator. It is petty, mean, and separatist. It is the being that extremism creates to give credence to their hatred. Kirk sums it up greatly on his transformational journey at this point, “Why is God angry?” Truly, if you are seeking wisdom, answers and truth. If you are seeking to love and include…then yes, why is God angry?

Which brings us to the end of the rising action and to the climax in Star Trek VI where this exchange happens between Kirk and Spock about the Klingons:

Spock: They are dying.

Kirk: Then let them die.

Sound familiar? Almost like the disciples with Brother Jesus. All this personal discovery, learning and transformation. Yet when the climax came to make a choice, Kirk almost took the path of the comfortable instead of healthy change. Yet it is within the Undiscovered Country that Kirk reaches the point with the Klingons that Jesus brought his disciples to with the woman in 15:28:

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

Kirk was at peace and heading to retirement, as was many of his friends on the crew. The denouement. Then the final resolution of his life was seen in Star Trek VII: Generations as he saves the Enterprise-B and falls into the Nexus, and then with Picard and crew will save the universe again. He imparts this wisdom to Picard: You are where you need to be. The best place, the Captain of the Enterprise, do not let them take it away, do not let them promote you. Stay there for it is the best place. Completely understanding the need to find your passion, and then live it and not let your ego or others building the ego to create a false you that removes you from that path.

Even with detours as seen in Kirk’s life can get back on track, things will thrive and grow. Healing will happen. Transformation and release of the pain associated with your own story. The shadow blocks can be removed for a better world, that begins with a better you.

Much like Kirk.

As Brother Jesus played a mirror for his disciples in how they were still not getting it.

And as trite as it maybe you will live a life, that will make your own part of the world a better place for you being a more complete and you- you.

Do you choose this you?

“It was fun.”

-Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek Generations, last words.