Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter 🐣 In Hell 😈

The Welcoming Committee. Pretty much the right backdrop, too. The Committee of the Calendar. A reminder you are in hell. How Easter is celebrated in hell. Other favorite Easter activities in hell. Thou shalt have no other interests before Trump. Better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven. Remember the Sabbath, to keep it wholly about Trump.

Easter Sunday Goin’ Down

Or this:

Later That Same Easter Sunday

Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

—But who is that on the other side of you?

T.S Eliot, "The Waste Land"


Stop me if you heard this one:  two guys are walking down the street, talking about a third guy who's not there because he's dead.  And that's what they're talking about.  And a stranger asks them what they're talking about, and they fill him in while thinking "Is this guy from out of town or something?"  And they get to a diner, and they invite him in to have dinner with 'em (seemed like the thing to do, ya know?) and in the middle of the meal suddenly they realize this guy is the guy they were talking about!  Who's supposed to be dead, but maybe not!  And then, as sure as he was there, this guy they were talking about, he's gone!

Waddya make o' that?

Now that same day two of them were traveling to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were engaged in conversation about all that had taken place.  And it so happened during the course of their discussion, that Jesus himself approached and began to walk along with them. But they wouldn't recognize him.

He said to them, "What were you discussing as you walked along?"

Then they paused, looking depressed.  One of them, names Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn't know what happened there these last few days?"

And he said to them, "What are you talking about?"

And they said to him, "About Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in word and deed in the eyes of God and all the people, and about how our ranking priests and rulers turned him in to be sentenced to death, and crucified him. We were hoping that he would be the one who was going to ransom Israel. And as if this weren't enough, it's been three days now since all this happened. Meanwhile, some women from our group gave us quite a shock. They were at the tomb early this morning and didn't find his body. They came back claiming even to have seen a vision of heavenly messengers, who said that he was alive. Some of those with us went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had described; but nobody saw him."

And he said to them, "You people are so slow-witted, so reluctant to trust everything the prophets have said! Wasn't the Anointed One destined to undergo these things and enter into his glory?" Then, starting with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted for them every passage of scripture that referred to himself.

They had gotten close to the village to which they were going, and he acted as if he were going on. But they entreated him, saying, "Stay with us; it's almost evening, the day is practically over." So he went in to stay with them.

And so, as soon as he took his place at table with them, he took a loaf, and gave a blessing, broke it, and started passing it out to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

--Luke 24:13-31, SV 

"That same day" is the day we now call Easter Sunday.  It's the day of the resurrection.  "Two figures in dazzling clothing" (Luke 24:4b, SV) appeared at the tomb and announced the resurrection, but in Luke's version nobody has seen anything of Jesus yet.  And when they do, they don't know who he is.  Not until he eats with them at table.

It still surprises me this story isn't read at every eucharist.  Among the gospels, it is the only story where Jesus is revealed in taking a meal.  Yes, John has Jesus cooking fish on the beach, and eating it, but the disciples know it's Jesus when they walk up to him.  They're surprised to see him, but they know it's him.  Here two strangers to the audience of Luke's gospel share a meal with the man they've been mourning for three days; and they don't realize it until the bread is broken. If that's not a reference to the eucharist, I don't know what is.

But is the bread now his body?  Is that what Luke is saying? Does Jesus still have a body?  He seems to, but they don't recognize it; and as soon as they do, he leaves.  He vanishes; he disappears. Need I say, bodies don’t do that?

Don't overlook the gesture of hospitality, either.  I think that's more important here than ever we credit.  Abraham was visited by God in the three strangers who came to his tents at Mamre.  They stopped because Abraham invited them to.  They ate because he offered the meal.  Jesus stops at Emmaus because Cleopas and his unnamed friend invite him to, little knowing who he was.  But Abraham didn't know who was at his tent, either.  They were strangers, and he offered them the comforts of his home.  Cleopas and his companion offered a meal, probably at the home of one of them (there really weren't any restaurants as we imagine them, certainly not in a village like Emmaus.  I've lived in villages that small.  The one restaurant that was there while I was, was run out of an old home; and it didn't last long.  To offer someone a meal was to invite them into your home.  How many of us do that for strangers?).  Hospitality is a key aspect of Christ's teachings, but we overlook it.  We don't spend much time thinking about even his teachings on humility:  "The first of all will be last and servant of all."  We elevate "servant" to a position of public authority and honor, and while we more highly esteem the office holders who say they are the "servant of the people," that's not the meaning Jesus had in mind.  Servants served in households.  They served who ever came into that house, sat at that table.  Maybe today we should say "waitress of all."  And without even tips.

The Emmaus story is unique in the gospels.  There's no echo of it in John's post-resurrection stories, or in Matthew's.  Mark has one in the longer ending; it echoes Luke, almost:

A little later he appeared to two of them in a different guise as they were walking along on their way to the country.  And these two returned and told the others.  They did not believe them either.

But that longer ending could come from the same source as Luke’s. It certainly post-dates the original Mark, which ends with people running frightened from the empty tomb. Jesus' post-resurrection appearance in Mark is to Mary of Magdala, "from whom he had driven out seven demons."  But no one believes her; and they don't believe the unnamed two, either.

In Matthew, he appears to Mary of Magdala and "the other Mary," and the 11 go to the place in Galilee where the two women have told them to, and there they see Jesus, "though some were dubious."

In Luke, the Emmaus story leads directly into an appearance by Jesus among the 11, where he eats some fish (did he even taste the bread the first time?) to prove he's not a ghost.  Matthew has mentioned that the priests and elders bribed the guards to say the disciples stole the body, so stories were already about challenging the gospel narratives.  John tells several stories to prove Jesus is no ghost; but no one says quite what he is now.  In Luke he teaches the disciples a bit more, and then leads them out to Bethany (!), where he ascends into heaven, proving he is no longer of this earth, even if he isn't a ghost.  (Bethany finally earns a mention in Luke here; it is the site of the anointings in the other three gospels).  It's the most interesting of the resurrection stories because it involves hiddenness (or disguise), revelation, appearance/disappearance, confusion, and strangers.  The two men in the story are strangers to us, the audience, which makes Jesus as a stranger even easier to grasp.  They should know him, but we don't know that clearly, because we don't know them.  We know Jesus, and think we'd have recognized him when these two (strangers to us, and therefore dismissible), don't.  But then, we are not among the 11; why would we do better? And why does Jesus appear to them, and not the 11; or Mary Magdalene, or "the other Mary"?  Where does Luke get this story, and, like his version of the anointing, what is he trying to tell us with this version of events?  A version unlike any other in the gospels, and yet as similar to them as his anointing is to the other three.

The story of Emmaus is no small thing.

(The painting, by the way: Caravaggio, capturing the gesture that reveals Jesus. Is it a familiar gesture? Or do they suddenly recognize Jesus? Either way, put it in motion and just after this frozen moment, Jesus vanishes. There in the picture…and then gone. No small thing, indeed.)

Trump’s Easter Celebration…of Trump

If you put him in jail, he’ll stop.

Otherwise, he’s just going to go on being obnoxious. And a megalomaniac. Not a winning political combination, by the way.

His first criminal trial starts in two weeks.

Monetizing Religion For Easter 🐣

It’s more readily available online, in more accessible translations, than Trump’s social media posts.

But Greenwood and Trump don’t make money that way.

The older I get the more I think that the translations into simple, contemporary English get more of the substance across than the ones in Jacobean English. I wonder how much of the unfaithful conception of Christianity is due to People not being able to understand the Gospel.
I admire the KJV as a piece of literature. Then again, I can make my way through Chaucer in his original Middle English (Sir Gawain, on the other hand, is in a dialect as impenetrable as a Glaswegian accent). 

I think a case can be made that the KJV is revered in some circles because it is impenetrable. It’s ironically the Roman Catholic history of the Vulgate going from the common tongue to the only allowable translation, even though it could only be read by priests trained in a dead tongue. Which, of course, is what led to the KJV.

Early Modern English is not as dead as Middle or Old English; yet. But on top of being a bad translation, it requires translation itself. Which puts the power in the hands of the translator. Just what Wycliffe, and others, wanted to change.

Protestantism really is bound up in culture. Ironically, parts of it are recapitulating the history that gave rise to it. 

☦️ 🐣


Eostre For Everybody! ✝️


Pagan? Christian? Or cartoon?

I’m sure somebody from my childhood thinks I’m going to hell.

And Finally, A Christian Message In The News For Easter

Happy Easter To All Who Keep It

Bunnies, Eggs, And Bonnets

Now I have to ask: what is particularly Christian about Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, or anything about Easter celebrations not connected to the resurrection??
According to the Guardian, both Easter eggs and bunnies have connections to paganism.  
“All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures," the outlet noted.
Yeah, no. Ahistorical bullshit. And still nothing to do with the Christian holy day. I mean, at least Santa Claus is somewhat related to St. Nicholas, and the Christmas tree to the Paradeisbaum. But bunnies and eggs are…symbols of Christ’s resurrection? Huh?

I have a book detailing the historical bestiary of Christ. Animal imagery used by Christians for 2000 years. Eagles, lions, lambs; but no bunnies. There is the lamb of God. There are animals for all four Evangelists. There is no “bunny of God.” 

I suppose Easter ham is pagan, too.

Like I said, eggs probably got associated with Easter because of Lent. I suppose eggs and bunnies aren’t Christian, and that makes them “pagan.” But only if you’re a Puritan.  Or an idiot.

Don’t be an idiot. Go enjoy Easter, and be nice to everyone. That’s the better message of the day.

Speaking of disrespecting the day:

Dear Franklin Graham:

You go first. 15 years, not 10. And proclaimed by this White House for the previous three years. When Easter didn’t happen to fall on that date.

Lisa Rubin Buries The Lede

More accurately, Trump continues to throw money down a bottomless pit, to no effect at all.  Is Merchan’s daughter a bookie taking bets on the outcome of Trump’s trial? Wade through the hand-wringing, we’ll get there. Does the argument have to be frivolous in order to be frivolous? This could take another 25 tweets. Oh, dear… Not sure how we got here. Where are we, anyway? Maybe it’s time for a criminal trial? And to just ignore Trump’s frivolous arguments? Because, you know: criminal trial? It’s only eroding Merchan’s authority if you say it is; or might be. Because really, at this point, there’s no reason to take Trump seriously. And that’s why. Finally! Precedent does matter. Especially in a legal situation. Been there, done that. Aside from the fact this all depends on what argument Trump’s lawyers make, as opposed to the argument he’s made on social media. (Trump is complaining two of Merchan’s clients raised political donations by referencing this case. That’s not exactly her benefiting from the outcome.) Change the facts, change the outcome; and what new facts is Trump presenting since that opinion from a year ago?

So far: none. And if he does waste more money making his lawyers do it in court, so what?

Now, about that criminal trial….

Lessons For The Easter Vigil 2024

In lieu of an Easter Sunday post.

I have long ago chosen the KJV because of its poetry and ease of access on the internet.  My preferred translations aren't readily available, and its too much to type out.  Apologies.

Readings from the Hebrew Scriptures

First Lesson:  The Creation 
Genesis 1:1-2:3

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Psalm 33:1-11

33 Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

2 Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

4 For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.

5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Second Lesson
Abraham's and Sarah's Faithfulness
Genesis 22:1-18

22 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.

15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Psalm 33:12-22

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

13 The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

22 Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Third Lesson
Israel's Deliverance at the Red Sea
Exodus 14:15-31

15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.

Exodus 15:1-10

15 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.

3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.

4 Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.

5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.

6 Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.

8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

Fourth Lesson
Salvation Offered Freely To All
Isaiah 55:1-11

55 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.

6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 12:2-6

2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

5 Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

New Testament Readings

Our Death and Resurrection in Jesus Christ
Romans 6:3-11

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 118

118 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

7 The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.

11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12 They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:

20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.

21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

23 This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.

27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Gospel Lesson
Luke 24:1-12

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Eostre’s Easter Ain’t What It Never Was

Well, no; not really:
The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown, even in the Edda (Simrock, Mythol., 362); Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern.
Yes, it’s an English word.  No, there was no Teutonic god/goddess by that name. So there were no “pagan rituals” connected to them. Most such information is based on what Biblical scholars call “bullgeschicte.”
New Testament scholars have noted that since The DaVinci Code became a cultural phenomenon, there’s been a surge of conspiratorial claims about Jesus, the early church, and the influence of Pagan mystery religions. Authors such as Craig Evans and Bart Ehrman have written with bewilderment at the revival of “mythicist” theories of Jesus and “nineteenth-century philosophical hokum” that was long ago dismissed by serious scholars who read Greek and Hebrew.

All religious traditions change over time. However, to tell people of a different religion that they don’t know what their religious rituals actually mean is ipso facto not a historical argument but a sectarian one. The claim that Christians unknowingly practice a Pagan mystery religion has a long history combining sectarian claims with goofy pseudo-scholarship. It was Protestant Reformers, in fact, who first accused their Catholic rivals of adulterating Christianity with Paganism.

However, it was during the French Revolution that the “mythicist” claims first surfaced. Constantin Francois Volney, in his 1791 essay “Ruins of Empire,” claimed that all religions are derived from sun worship and that “Christ” is cognate with the Hindu “Krishna.” Charles Francois-Dupuis built on this idea in The Origins of All Religions (1795) and introduced discussion of Babylonian religion, including the resurrected god Tammuz. 
Nobody really knows where the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs came from. Probably just the celebration of spring or, especially in Europe and Russia, the end of Lent and return of eggs to the menu ( remember Shrove Tuesday and the end of eggs from the larder until Easter?). The Bunny? Well, bunnies and springtime are logical fits. 

I’m at least pretty damned sure it doesn’t predate Christianity.

And Easter Sunday just happens to be on March 31 this year. March 31 has been “Transgender Visibility Day” for a decade now.
Yeah, about that: welcome to the computus paschalis.
The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ's death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration; the liturgy (Exsultet) sings of the passing of Israel through the Red Sea, the paschal lamb, the column of fire, etc. Apart, however, from the Jewish feast, the Christians would have celebrated the anniversary of the death and the Resurrection of Christ. But for such a feast it was necessary to know the exact calendar date of Christ's death. To know this day was very simple for the Jews; it was the day after the 14th of the first month, the 15th of Nisan of their calendar. But in other countries of the vast Roman Empire there were other systems of chronology. The Romans from 45 B.C. had used the reformed Julian calendar; there were also the Egyptian and the Syro-Macedonian calendar. The foundation of the Jewish calendar was the lunar year of 354 days, whilst the other systems depended on the solar year. In consequence the first days of the Jewish months and years did not coincide with any fixed days of the Roman solar year. Every fourth year of the Jewish system had an intercalary month. Since this month was inserted, not according to some scientific method or some definite rule, but arbitrarily, by command of the Sanhedrin, a distant Jewish date can never with certainty be transposed into the corresponding Julian or Gregorian date (Ideler, Chronologie, I, 570 sq.). The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast. Easter has no fixed date, like Christmas, because the 15th of Nisan of the Semitic calendar was shifting from date to date on the Julian calendar. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip. 
In the rest of the empire another consideration predominated. Every Sunday of the year was a commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, which had occurred on a Sunday. Because the Sunday after 14 Nisan was the historical day of the Resurrection, at Rome this Sunday became the Christian feast of Easter. Easter was celebrated in Rome and Alexandria on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, and the Roman Church claimed for this observance the authority of Sts. Peter and Paul. The spring equinox in Rome fell on 25 March; in Alexandria on 21 March. At Antioch Easter was kept on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover. (See EASTER CONTROVERSY.) In Gaul a number of bishops, wishing to escape the difficulties of the paschal computation, seem to have assigned Easter to a fixed date of the Roman calendar, celebrating the death of Christ on 25 March, His Resurrection on 27 March (Marinus Dumiensis in P.L., LXXII, 47-51), since already in the third century 25 March was considered the day of the Crucifixion (Computus Pseudocyprianus, ed. Lersch, Chronologie, II, 61). This practice was of short duration. Many calendars in the Middle Ages contain these same dates (25 March, 27 March) for purely historical, not liturgical, reasons (Grotenfend, Zeitrechnung, II, 46, 60, 72, 106, 110, etc.). The Montanists in Asia Minor kept Easter on the Sunday after 6 April (Schmid, Osterfestberechnung in der abendlandischen Kirche). The First Council of Nicaea (325) decreed that the Roman practice should be observed throughout the Church. But even at Rome the Easter term was changed repeatedly. Those who continued to keep Easter with the Jews were called Quartodecimans (14 Nisan) and were excluded from the Church. The computus paschalis, the method of determining the date of Easter and the dependent feasts, was of old considered so important that Durandus (Rit. div. off., 8, c.i.) declares a priest unworthy of the name who does not know the computus paschalis. The movable character of Easter (22 March to 25 April) gives rise to inconveniences, especially in modern times. For decades scientists and other people have worked in vain for a simplification of the computus, assigning Easter to the first Sunday in April or to the Sunday nearest the 7th of April. Some even wish to put every Sunday to a certain date of the month, e.g. beginning with New Year's always on a Sunday, etc. [See L. Günther, "Zeitschrift Weltall" (1903); Sandhage and P. Dueren in "Pastor bonus" (Trier, 1906); C. Tondini, "L'Italia e la questione del Calendario" (Florence, 1905).]
Aren’t you sorry you asked? You didn’t? Well, you shouldn’t have.

Erecting False Idols

On one occassion a legal expert [!] stood up to put him to the test with a question:  "Teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life?"

He said to him, "How do you read what is written in the Law?"

And he answered, "You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your energy, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus said to him, "You have given the correct answer, do this and you will have life."

But with a view to justifying himself, he said to Jesus, "But who is my neighbor?"

Jesus replied:

There was a man going from Jerusalem down to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers.  They stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead.  Now by coincidence a priest was going down the road; when he caught sight of him, he went out of his way to avoid him. In the same way, when a Levite came to the place, he took one look at him and crossed the road to avoid him. But this Samaritan who was travelling that waycame to where he was and was moved to pity at the sight of him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring olive oil and wine on them.  He hoisted him onto his own animal, brought him to an inn, and looked after him. The next day he took out two silver coins, which he gave to the inkeeper, and said, "Look after him, and on my way back I'll reimburse you for any extra expense you have had.

"Which of these three, in your opinion, acted like a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?"

He said, "The one who showed him compassion."

Jesus said to him, "Then go and do the same yourself."

Luke 10: 25-37 (SV)

Remember the reason Christians observe Easter.  Do not make an idol of the day. And remember the observance of "Transgender Visibility Day" always falls on March 31.  While Easter, is a moveable feast.

Evening of Holy Saturday 2024

Now some women were observing this from a distance, among whom were Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome. (These women) had regularly followed and assisted him when he was in Galilee, along with many other women who had come up to Jerusalem in his company.
In the canonical gospels it is consistently the women who pay attention to the body of Jesus. They appear in the Gospel of Mark for the first time, here; but they are two of many, we are told. The irony is not lost on Matthew, who records the days before Jesus' death this way:

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
And yet to this day, we don't know who she was. Most memorials are like that, though. We see the statue but have no idea who the person was, or what they did. Or we hear the stories, yet misunderstand them or lose their meaning over time. The crucifixion stories are especially subjects of this problem.

And when it had already grown dark, since it was preparation day (the day of the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimethea, a respected council member, who was himself anticipating God's imperial rule, appeared on the scene, and dared to go to Pilate to request the body of Jesus. And Pilate was surprised that he had died so soon. He summoned the Roman officer and asked him whether he had been dead for long. And when he had been briefed by the Roman officer, he granted the body to Joseph. And he bought a shroud and took him down and wrapped him in the shroud, and placed him in a tomb that had been cut out of rock, and rolled a stone up against the opening of the tomb.
The writer of Mark's gospel is concerned to allay stories that Jesus of Nazareth was not dead, and so never rose from the dead. Skepticism abounded, then as now, to such a claim. Joseph of Arimethea is a wealthy follower of Jesus, another unknown person in Mark's gospel until this point. He appears in order to make the burial in a tomb of a Nazarene peasant executed for sedition, for threatening the Pax Romana, credible. Dom Crossan argues it is more likely such a criminal was removed from the crucifix when dead, and tossed in a shallow pit, to be devoured by dogs and carrion eaters. It is not, on the other hand, impossible that a person notable enough to leave such a following behind, would be notable enough in his lifetime to have rich followers who would wish to honor their teacher in death.

But Crossan's version helps us strip away the patina of the story after 2000 years, to see it as less an inevitabilty leading to Easter morning, and more as a finality ended before Holy Saturday.

Versions are important here. One version of the Easter story relates it to Ishtar and Sumeria, "[i]n the Sumerian tradition, in which much of the Bible is rooted."  The Gospels, however, are also rooted in Greek traditions, no surprise as they are written in Greek, not in a Semitic tongue like Aramaic or Hebrew. Stories of resurrection of heroes are not unknown in Greek literature; they reflect the special favor of the hero by the gods. Paul's account of the resurrection (which, aside from the eucharist, is all Paul ever tells about the life of Jesus of Nazareth) reflect this understanding of the resurrection. Is the story related to that of Dumuzi and Ishtar? Frankly, that one sounds more like Persephone than Jesus of Nazareth, especially as the "descent into hell" and the "harrowing of hell" are not mentioned in the gospels at all, and come much later in Christian doctrine. But again, versions and interpretations highlight the humanity of the stories. These are myths, perhaps, but "a myth traditionally is not just a false tale. Rather, it is a story that, at least at one point in time, had a very powerful spiritual resonance. The story of death and resurrection is one such story." Restoring the power to that story is ever the task of the body of believers. Annually, is good.

And Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses noted where he had been laid to rest.
It is a woman who anoints Jesus in all four gospels. And in all four stories, it is women who come to the tomb first. Women care for the dead as if they were living; or, more importantly, as if death really meant something.

2000 years later, it still does, and still should. We gather to worship and pray at the tomb of a crucified god.

Job 14:1-14

14:1 "A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,

14:2 comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.

14:3 Do you fix your eyes on such a one? Do you bring me into judgment with you?

14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can.

14:5 Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass,

14:6 look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days.

14:7 "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.

14:8 Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground,

14:9 yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.

14:10 But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they?

14:11 As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up,

14:12 so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep.

14:13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

14:14 If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come.

Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24

3:1 I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God's wrath;

3:2 he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;

3:3 against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.

3:4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones;

3:5 he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;

3:6 he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago.

3:7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me;

3:8 though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;

3:9 he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.

3:19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!

3:20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.

3:21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

3:22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

3:23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

3:24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16

31:1 In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.

31:2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.

31:3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead me and guide me,

31:4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.

31:15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

31:16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

Matthew 27:57-66

27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.

27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

27:59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth

27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.

27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

27:62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate

27:63 and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.'

27:64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first."

27:65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can."

27:66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Jesus Christ Superstar


The great controversy about “JCS” when it was released was that it treated Jesus as human. An ironic complaint, given that Holy Week is the church’s annual remembrance that the Christ was Jesus: was arrested, whipped, tortured, and executed in one of the most brutal and inhumane ways ever devised. And then died. Yes, “executed” incorporates “died,” but Christians have to remind themselves of that. They aren’t uniformly good at it.

The tenor of the times, the reason, I’d argue, for the controversy, is contained in the title song, sung by Judas just after the whipping and just before the crucifixion ends the opera. The repeated chorus says “Don’t you get me wrong/I only want to know.” The song is addressed to God, who supposedly would be offended by such questions. Ironic, that, since theologians and church leaders and Biblical scholars have been asking such questions for 2000 years. But among congregations and “ordinary people”? The status quo of religious belief is to be preserved at all costs. God knew what God was doing 2000 years ago, and don’t question it now.

“O that you would come down!” Yeah, nobody was reading that part of Isaiah to me in high school. AFAIK, I first read it in seminary a good 20 years later. It wasn’t pointed out to me before seminary how many times people question God in the scriptures, or how many times God demands they question God. Judas’ questions and proviso seemed pretty sensible to me. It would take me another 10 years out of seminary to realize the problem with Judas’ situation in “JCS” was not that God intended Judas to be damned for all time (we get that through Calvin, actually. Or rather, through mixing Calvinism (which ain’t all Calvin all the time) and Greek fatalism (via Greek tragedy). It’s a bad combination.), but the doctrine of the atonement that says Jesus had to die. I think now even Paul would at least mutter “You stupid Galatians” over that one.

Pauline theology was that Jesus became divine because of his absolute faith in God, and at the time of the resurrection. After death, in other words. It’s no coincidence Paul has virtually nothing to say about the life of Jesus (or his sayings). That alone poses a problem for the gospel writers, who don’t want to leave the reveal to the end. Mark manages it (no nativity story, and no encounters with Jesus after finding the empty tomb), but Matthew and Luke and John push the godhood in Jesus of Nazareth back further and further, and the nature of the man qua man becomes more difficult to interpret. The atonement theory, Christ was born to die on the cross, was meant to be a solution to that problem.  Jesus had to be human to die, but God in order to atone. But the central conflict of “JCS,” that Judas was born to play his role in making the crucifixion happen, raises a new problem. Do we thank Judas for his timely betrayal? Or damn him for all time? And what kind of salvation scheme is this, anyway? One that depends on a particular person being damned so the rest of us can step over him like a bridge to our salvation?

Thank you, Judas?

I should not be understood by this to be denying the mystery of the Holy Trinity. I’m not going Unitarian on you. I just think the atonement theory has outlived its usefulness, because the truth is, we are always struggling to understand ourselves and God and the revelation not just of God but of the creation and our own humanity. Theories change, in other words. That doesn’t mean God does, anymore than the universe does because our theories about it change. But we do, and what and how we understand does. God does change, in fact, even as we do. But mutatis mutandis, we remain who we are.

Consider it another mystery.

But JCS is mired in the atonement Christ, and caught in that theory is the human Jesus of Nazareth. The value of this is that it reminds us the Easter morning we take as an inevitability was impossible to even imagine during the original (un)Holy Week. Part of the purpose of Holy Week is this remembrance, and the effort to live it over again as if we don’t know the outcome. Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday used to follow each other in the last weeks of Lent, opening Holy Week by remembering the crucifixion, which itself is observed on Good Friday. Good Friday itself was actually the beginning of Triduum, and the Easter Vigil which lasted until Easter morning. Sunrise services on Easter were an echo of the Great Vigil (the other vigil on the liturgical calendar was Christmas Eve, the remnant of which is the midnight service that welcomes the birth of the Christchild. One vigil sits up with the dead and the mourners; the other waits with the expectant parents). 

The Great Vigil was a service of four services, recapitulating the salvation history of scripture (I haven’t abandoned soteriology, just relocated it). They are: a service of light (Christ as light of the world); a service of water (Christ as water of life, and recalling baptismal vows); a service of the word (Christ as logos); and a service of bread and wine (Christ as the Eucharist).I used this service as my Easter service, starting in a dark worship space and introducing light, and then music. The scriptures began with the Exodus story, ending with the resurrection story. The service ran from darkness to light to baptism remembered to a joyful Eucharist.

JCS is about the week before the victory was known or expected. Judas reflects the Pauline theology: Jesus is not God before Easter morning. “You’ve started to believe/the things they say of you/You really do believe/This talk of God is true.” And a twist on Paul, who seldom mentions what Jesus said: “You’ve begun to matter more than the things you say.” I often think of that line when I’m in the presence of people who emphasize salvation over servanthood.

The enemies of Jesus don’t see him as God; they see him as human. All too human, and dangerous for it. And here is where JCS clearly follows the gospels, rather than history. It’s unlikely the religious authorities (it’s anachronism to even label them “Jewish” at the time if Jesus, even though John uses the term some 75 years after the first Easter Sunday) were upset enough by Jesus of Nazareth to want him dead. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, reserved for political prisoners, the greatest threat to the Pax Romana. Pilate probably executed Jesus without a second thought. In fact, he was removed as governor of Judea because he crucified too many, too freely, even for Rome. Most of the gospel stories of Pilate dithering or arguing with Jesus or washing his hands in public, or even agonizing over the decision to execute Jesus, are pure invention. Jesus was executed for being the guy who caused so much trouble in the Temple the week before Passover. It took a while to identify him, but when they did, Pilate didn’t need priests and Sadducees asking to rid them of this troublesome prophet. He probably didn’t care what they thought in the first place.

The gospel writers cared what Rome thought, though, they blamed their enemies: local religious leaders who were opposed to their religious movement. Rome had the power to do to them what it did to Jesus. Even Herod couldn’t do that.

But JCS reminds us Jesus was human. Luke says he sweated blood in Gethsemane. He was truly afraid of death, the Synoptics agree. JCSC presents this as part of God’s plan, as John does, but I think that lets us off the hook. We killed Jesus. People like us. Human beings. JCS hits this, too. It’s the chorus, literally the Greek chorus of a tragedy, the voice of the people affected by the decisions of the tragic hero, who demand Jesus’ death. This I find more likely. What Jesus says becomes a burden. First shall be last? The first of all shall be last and servant of all? The sheep are the ones who served others, the goats are the ones who served only themselves? And the sheep are ushered into the presence, the goats left out where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth? No wonder salvation is about @letting Jesus into your heart.” No wonder that matters more than the things Jesus said. It’s so much easier on us.

JCS reminds us that Holy Week, especially, was about Jesus being fully human. And that we are fully human, too. Capable of the humanity of Mary Magdalene (Yvonne Elliman was justly praised for her love song in the opera, but her brief passage gently rebuking Peter fir denying Jesus literally throbs with sorrow, confusion, and heartbreak. Her character represents all the women who are Jesus’ disciples in the gospels. That portrayal is very true to the gospel stories.), as well as the blunt cruelty of the crowd demanding Jesus’ head.

Who killed Jesus? We did. Why was Jesus resurrected? In spite of us. What should we do about it? Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. And love one another, as Jesus loved us . Because, after all, Jesus was one of us, too.

Waiting For Easter

The Bible is available in a wide range of translations for the price of internet access. As is most of that right-wing media spin.

As I type that I realize no one supporting Trump’s blasphemy considers the translation he’s shilling is archaic English inaccessible to most modern readers, and not accessible at all to non-English readers. I guess they don’t need the “word,” huh?

(I’m listening to a recording of Hayden’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.” The readings of scripture between each quartet is in French. I guess if they can’t speak English, they can’t be part of God blessing the USA, huh?)

Something about “whited sepulchers” comes to mind….

Holy Saturday 2024

Friday, March 29, 2024

Good Friday 2024: "Words Are A Stain On The Silence"

And when they reached the place known as Golgotha (which means "Place of the Skull"), they gave him a drink of wine mixed with something bitter; and once he tasted it he didn't want to drink it. After crucifying him they divided up his garments by casting lots.  And they sat down there and kept guard over him. And over his head they put an inscription which identified his crime: "This is Jesus, the King of the Judeans."

Beginning at noon darkness blanketed the entire land until mid-afternoon.  And about 3 o'clock in the afternoon Jesus shouted at the top of his voice:  "Eli, eli, lama sabachtani" (which means "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?")

Jesus again shouted at the top of his voice and stopped breathing.

Matthew 27:33-37, 45-46, 50 (SV)

"Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid."--John 19:41

Good Friday should be silent.  The church should be shrouded, the altar stripped, funereal cloths draped, only prayers and whispers heard.  No music; certainly there should be no music. A few words from the pulpit, perhaps.  Not a sermon, not even a homily.  Scripture readings; prayers.  But largely: silence.

Good Friday should be silent.  This is the one day the church should be dominated by silence. The world needs occasions to consider the values of silence.

This is also the one day of the liturgical year when even Protestants should display a crucifix: a cross with a body on it, hands and feet pierced with nails, blood and liquid running from a wound in the figure's side, crowned with a particularly vicious crown of thorns. Then again, who would come to church to see such a thing, and be reminded?

I will also point out that the words shouted by Jesus are the first lines of the 22nd Psalm.  The one that precedes the much more famous 23rd.  There is an entire sermon in that alone.  But not on Good Friday. This is not a day for more words.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

“I’m With Stupid”⬅️

A default is a withdrawal or an unwillingness to present a defense. Lake has defaulted and asked for a jury trial on the issue of damages. However, like Trump, she doesn’t seem to understand what “defamation” is. There is no clever strategy here. Richer was always going to have to prove his case. Lake just made it easier for him to do. Now he doesn’t have to prove liability, only damages. And pretty much any evidence he presents on liability, in order to prove damages, can’t be challenged, except on the narrow issue of damages. Liability is now a given. Charlie Kirk is a RINO in 3…2…1… BREAKING NEWS!  “If you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich?,” was found beaten to within an inch of its life in an alley this morning. Prognosis for its recovery is not good. 🫠 Nowhere to hide.😶‍🌫️ 

Comites Christi

When the son of Adam comes in his glory, accompanied by all his messengers, then he will occupy his glorious throne.  Then all peoples will be assembled before him, and he will separate them into groups, much  as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.  He'll place the sheep to his right and the goats to his left. Then the king will say to those at his right, 'Come, you who have the blessing of my Father, inherit the domain prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  You may remember, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a foreigner and you showed me hospitality; I was naked and you clothed me; I was ill and you visited  me; I was in prison and you came to see me.'

Then the righteous will say to him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and gave feed you or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we notice that you were a foreigner and extend hospitality to you?  Or naked and clothed you? When did we find you ill or in prison and come to visit you?'

And the king will respond to them, 'I swear to you, whatever you did for the most inconspicuous members of my family, you did for me as well.'

Next he will say to those at his left, 'You, condemned to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers, get away from me!  You too may remember, I was hungry and you didn't give me anything to eat; I was thirsty and you refused me a drink; I was a foreigner and you failed to extend hospitality to me; naked and you didn't clothe me; ill and in prison and you didn't visit me.'

Then they will give him a similar reply: 'Lord, when did we notice that you were hungry or thirsty or a foreigner or naked or ill or in prison, and did not attempt to help you?'

He will then respond, 'I swear to you, whatever you didn't do for the most inconspicuous members of my family, you didn't do for me.'

The second group will then head for everlasting punishment, but the virtuous for everlasting life.  (Matthew 25: 31-46, SV)

Nothing there about "full term abortion clinics*."  Plenty about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and befriending the prisoner.

I'd think the Christian thing to do is, do those things.  And don't judge, so you won't be judged.

*whatever the hell those are