Feasting and Fasting – Br. Lain Wilson

Luke 5:27-32
Isaiah 58:9b-14

I love that, four days into Lent, four days into this season of fasting, we’re reading about a feast.

For me, nothing captures this passage from Luke quite like the scene by the Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese. He turns Luke’s “great banquet” into a wild party. The enormous canvas of The Feast in the House of Levi bursts at its seams with dozens of figures: the disciples and Levi, as well as entertainers, soldiers, children, slaves—even a cat and a dog.[1] Jesus is a still, calm center in the midst of riotous humanity.

The scene is seductive—outstretched arms and turned bodies invite us in, like a friend who opens a place in a circle for you to join. The scene invites us in, to join the throng of “tax collectors and sinners” whom Jesus comes to call. The key question of this scene isn’t that of the authorities—“why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (Lk 5:30)—but the one that Jesus leaves unvoiced—“why don’t you join us?”

Imagine for a moment how those at the banquet might have felt. Tax collectors and sinners were the outcasts and the undesirables, cut off from community. Jesus does not seek to segregate and excise them, as others do, to tell them they are unworthy of his ministry and friendship. He calls them. He claims them. Read More

Interruptions and Acceptance – Br. Jack Crowley

Mark 1:21 – 28

The day-to-day life of Jesus was probably filled with interruptions.  From what we see throughout the Gospel, people constantly interrupted Jesus to ask for things. They asked for things like healing, answers to their questions, signs of his power and favors. From his own mother at a wedding interrupting Jesus to let him know that the wine had run out, to the penitent thief on the cross next to Jesus interrupting Jesus’ dying moments by asking to be remembered, Jesus life was marked by one interruption after another.

One of the many things I admire about Jesus is how he handles these interruptions. Jesus has an incredible ability to tactfully transform interruptions into something good. Something good not just for himself, but for everyone. Jesus does this by fully accepting interruptions and not ignoring them. Our Gospel tonight is a perfect example.

The action starts with Jesus teaching at a synagogue. We are told by the Gospel writer that the people who were listening to Jesus teach were astounded by his words. I think we all know that feeling of being in the middle of really good lesson and you are just hanging on to every word the teacher is saying. Then we are told that suddenly Jesus is interrupted by a man with an unclean spirit who starts crying out at Jesus.

Now as a former teacher, I can tell you from personal experience how aggravating it is to have a good class interrupted. All it takes is one person to interrupt and it can feel like the whole flow is ruined. Somehow Jesus is able to avoid this. Read More

Expansive Love – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

Matthew 2:14-21

Fiber, beads, pigment, wax, wood, copper, historic rosters and photos, digital image and database software. We Brothers played with these and more for a week of creativity. Diverse mediums for diverse persons, each in the image of our Divine Maker.

Matthew opens his telling of the good news with a genealogy notably including four courageous women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Their stories and that of sinful husbands Judah and David are scandalous. All four are foreigners. Jesus’ bloodline is not only Jewish but also Canaanite, Moabite, and Hittite. Jesus came for the world from the world.[i] Read More

To Be A Pilgrim – Br. James Koester

One of the things which fascinates me about the saints is that often those things for which they are most remembered and venerated, probably never happened. We keep today the feast of St. James and John the Apostles. As you know, James is remembered in parts of the Church as the one who first preached the Good News of the Gospel in Spain. It would appear that today only Spaniards believe this, for the earliest accounts of St. James’ travels to Spain only goes back to the seventh century. Truth, at least of the historical kind, seems to be unimportant when it comes to devotion to James, for even today his shrine in Spain continues to be one of the great places of pilgrimage in the Church.

According to that story, sometime after Pentecost, James travelled to Spain to preach the gospel. So far so good. But it gets better. While he was there, the Virgin appeared to him on the banks of the Ebro River, and commanded him to return to Jerusalem, where he faced his martyrdom. This apparition of Mary, known as Our Lady of the Pillar, is the first apparition of the Virgin, in a long series that includes Lourdes, Fatima, and Walsingham. But it gets better. Mary is presumed to have been living in Jerusalem at the time, so this was not so much an apparition, as it was an act of bilocation. Curiously, or not, some of the earliest archaeological evidence of devotion to Mary in Spain, dates to the fourth century, not far from where this apparition is said to have taken place. Another story of James’ martyrdom is that his accuser immediately repented and suffered the same fate as James. Following his death his body was transferred by to Spain, either by angels, or floating in a stone boat. Read More

Life and Lineage – Br. Lucas Hall

Matthew 1: 1–17

Matthew mentions a handful of women in his genealogy of Christ. This is odd. If he was following the convention of the time, which held that descent, inheritance, and “Jewishness” were passed down the male line, he wouldn’t have needed to include any women. But if he was attempting to give a holistic family tree, the few women he does mention are wildly insufficient. So what’s he doing?

I think each time he does this, it’s to point out something surprising about the relationship in question. Tamar is the first mentioned; she, having survived two husbands who God struck down for their sins, was regarded as cursed, and was ostracized from her family; through cunning deceit, including deliberately getting her father-in-law to impregnate her under the guise of being a prostitute, she proved that she was being mistreated, and so acquired for herself the security and status of marriage, bearing sons to a husband who was not struck down for his sins. Rahab is mentioned after her; she was a Canaanite, and quite possibly a prostitute or the owner of a brothel. Yet, she was also regarded as a holy and righteous woman, without whom the Israelites could not have conquered Jericho. Ruth is next; she was a Moabite, a member of a nation normally in conflict with the Israelites, but she demonstrated her faithfulness to God so strongly that an entire book of the Old Testament is named for her. And then there is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah; King David committed adultery with her, and then had Uriah murdered to cover up the subsequent pregnancy. Read More

A Beautiful Day for a Surprise – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum 6I don’t think I’d be too off base if I were to say that generally we Episcopalians don’t care for surprises.  We pride ourselves on the order of our liturgies, can tell you what scripture we’ll read on any particular Sunday (thanks to a well ordered lectionary), and have a committee and/or guild for just about every function of the church.  That being said, today’s gospel reminds me of a story about a particular Sunday surprise in my hometown parish church.

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