thinking theology

Archive for the ‘Kingdom’ Category

Propers for January 26, 2020

This week’s prayers are based on the idea that Zebulun (one of the twelve tribes of Israel) was associated with being entrepreneurial, especially in matters associated with the sea. Naphtali (also one of the twelve tribes) was known for his holiness and eloquence. In Isaiah 9:1-4, we find this curious phrase: “…in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” Galilee, while prosperous, was a cultural mix of Jews and gentiles, with the Nabateans on one border and the Samaritans on the other. The area was seen as inferior by the elite of Jerusalem.

Collect
O Holy One, we come from many places, many backgrounds, many stories. Gather us together in compassion, in the work of justice. Together, may we become the healers of the earth, the makers of peace. We pray in the name of Jesus, who calls us into community here and beyond the sea, the faithful of the nations. Amen.

POP
Holy and Loving God, in you there are no boundaries, no division. As we pray, remind us that in you, we are one, in body and spirit.

We give thanks for life, for this earth that both nurtures us and rages against our selfishness. Today, we lift up….

In solidarity with the other creatures, the land and the sea, we search for healing….
We remember all who suffer in body and spirit…. When one suffers, the community is wounded. When one rejoices, they bring healing to all.

We invite the repentance and renewal of religious institutions, that we may speak with your prophets and saints, remembering Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Murray Sinclair, Sarah Bessie and….

Holy One, May our hands be open in love; may our feet carry us even into difficult places in your name; may our lips speak only peace. May we serve in joyous humility and courageous actions.

POG
Gracious God, we give thanks for the bounty that we receive from you. May it strengthen our service and lighten the path of others. In the name of Jesus, the risen One. Amen.

PAC
Loving God, in community we find your Spirit of peace. May your living Word and your blessed sacrament keep us in the Way of salvation for all. Amen.

Mothers and Shepherds

Happy Mother’s Day! I guess. Aside from the emotional minefields produced by that greeting, for many it is a wonderful day. As a person almost totally lacking in sentimentality, I would just forget it except for my great kids who want to remember it. My problem with the idea of the Good Shepherd has similar problems.

On Mother’s Day, we forget the terrible mothers, the tragedies in motherhood, the women separated from their children by incarceration or social stigma. Similarly, the picture of the Good Shepherd is usually that of a kindly, white, clean, handsome man, holding clean lambs in his arms. And we see ourselves as those dear little lambs, being kept in safety from accident, or being lost, or perhaps being butchered. 

What if we adjust the lens on these pictures? What if the pictures of mothers we hold up are those of starving Yemeni women struggling to find food for their kids, of Palestinian mums trying to shield others, of black mothers worrying whether or not their sons will come home safely? What if the picture of the Good Shepherd is our broken church struggling to remember that the lambs we are called to protect are the very people we avoid? What if we, like Judas and Peter, are ourselves broken and confused? What if this is the struggle to transform our world not simply with words, or political rhetoric, but with action, with money, with advocacy?

How do we celebrate this day? I think we could begin by agreeing that there are lots of ways of mothering and of being mothered. None of them is easy, but often the reward is in the doing rather than being acknowledged. We are all born within our Mother Earth, the paradise given to us by God. If we are good mothers, we will teach our children not to soil their environment. We will teach justice as the path to peace. We will learn to discriminate not on the basis of class, but of neediness, of solidarity.

As shepherds in the risen body of Christ, we confess our woundedness to each other, so we will be free from judging others. We will know that being a shepherd does not require us to spend time making ourselves look good. Shepherding is a dirty, dangerous business. But the lambs are more important than concern for ourselves. We will see that there is only one flock and its name is humanity, albeit in all the crazy diversity that our Creator seems to love. 

And so let us welcome each other to this day, accepting our narratives as the ground for greater love. Let us mother each other and be mothered into a way of peace. Let us reach out to be rescued, turning to the lamb on the precipice beside us, and dragging them along with us. And so, hand in hand, generation upon generation, we learn how to let our mothering, shepherding God grow in our souls, in our hands and in our minds, so that the world may be re-knit in the loving image in which we were made.