Archive for faith

I’m a Social Justice Christian

I’m a Social Justice Christian PSA on YouTube.

KPFK Radio Show Interview about our PSA which begins at 39:36.

Pastor Ryan Bell’s podcast about our PSA.

Huffington Post’s Article about our PSA.

Please take a look/listen to our PSA about what it means to our city to be social justice Christians. And stay tuned for our next two PSA’s that speak to other faith practices around social justice in Los Angeles.

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Readings for Holy Week Good Friday

Good Friday Readings

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! For thus says the Lord: You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money. For thus says the Lord God: Long ago, my people went down into Egypt to reside there as aliens; the Assyrian, too, has oppressed them without cause. Now therefore what am I doing here, says the Lord, seeing that my people are taken away without cause? Their rulers howl, says the Lord, and continually, all day long, my name is despised. Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Read the whole passage

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled;
I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

Read the whole Psalm

Hebrews 10:16-25
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

John 18:1-19:42
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

Come to the Good Friday Tenebrae vespers tonight for a complete reading of Christ’s passion.


Good Friday Prayers

Most remarkable God, your love is astounding! As we gather at the foot of the Cross today, give us renewed trust and love.

Teach us that the darkest human hour is the brightest Divine moment, that where human disgrace sinks to its nadir, divine glory reaches its zenith.

Teach us again that there is no limit to your love, and no exclusion zone to your salvation. Through Christ Jesus your holy Son. Amen.

—–

Loving God, by your Holy Spirit bypass our stock responses and shock us again with the raw, painful glory of your Cross.

Grant that we may never be casual before that awesome love which has overtaxed the skills of even our finest poets and musicians, and left all preachers floundering.

Make us, saving God, reachable and teachable, more responsive to your saving grace and willing captives of the love which grants perfect liberty.

By your cross deliver us from every sin which corrupts us, every weight which pulls us down, and set our face towards the light which comes not to condemn but to save Through this same Christ Jesus our brother and Saviour. Amen!

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Readings for Holy Week Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live
What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.
O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

John 13:1-17, 31-35
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


Maundy Prayers

O Christ, in your presence we discover who we are.
You wash our feet,
and we learn how reluctant we are
to serve one another and the world around us.
We are so like your disciples,
who looked to their own self-centered interests
even as you prepared to give yourself
for the sake of the whole world.

Our love scarcely suffices for those closest to us,
and yet you invite us to join all creation at your feast.
Forgive us,
and help us treasure your presence more deeply,
that we may find this night
a celebration of overflowing joy.

—–

Loving Provider,
you gather me in this upper room with your son,
to be fed by your love.
At that supper, Jesus told us to “love one another”
and I know that is the heart of his gift,
his sacrifice for me.
I ask that I might find the source of my own heart,
the meaning for my own life,
in that Eucharist.
Guide me to the fullness of your love and life.
Amen.

—–

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who gives us food and drink as the body and blood of Christ. Receive the prayers we offer this day for all those in need in every place and grant that all who come to your table may love and serve you and one another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Readings for Holy Week Wednesday

Isaiah 50: 4-9

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Psalm 70

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life. Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire to hurt me.
Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!” turn back because of their shame.
Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

John 13:21-32

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”

Morning Prayers

My Savior,
do you invite me to share
in the glory of the resurrection?
Please stay with me
as I struggle to see
how accepting the crosses of my life
will free me from the power
of the one who wants only
to destroy my love and trust in you.
Help me to be humble and accepting
like your son, Jesus.
I want to turn to you
with the same trust he had in your love.
Save me, Lord. Only you can save me.

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O Jesus, stretch forth your wounded hands over your people to heal and to restore, and to draw us to yourself and to one another in love. Amen.

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Readings for Holy Week Tuesday

Isaiah 49:1-7

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” 4But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” 5And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

7Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Psalm 71:1-14

1In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

2In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.

3Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

4Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

5For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

6Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

7I have been like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.

8My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long.

9Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

10For my enemies speak concerning me, and those who watch for my life consult together.

11They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken, for there is no one to deliver.”

12O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!

13Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed; let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

John 12:20-36

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Morning Prayer

Show us your mercy, O Lord;

And grant us your salvation.

Clothe your ministers with righteousness;

Let your people sing with joy.

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;

For only in you can we live in safety.

Lord, keep this nation under your care;

And guide us in the way of justice and truth.

Let your way be known upon earth;

Your saving health among all nations.

Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;

Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Create in us clean hearts, O God;

And sustain us by your Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

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Readings for Holy Week Monday

Isaiah 42:1-9

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. 5Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8I am theLord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. 9See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

Psalm 36:5-11
5Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

6Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

7How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

8They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

9For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

10O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!

11Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me, or the hand of the wicked drive me away.
Hebrews 9:11-15
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! 15For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
Morning Prayer

God whose word cannot be broken:
with Jerusalem we are stunned this Holy Week.
Like a city overcome with sudden devastation,
we are swept up in the confusion and desolation,
wondering what is happening.
Liturgy, Scripture, and song immerse us in the river that flows to betrayal and the cross.
The gospel we have tried to make manageable has overturned our tables of control.
The sufferings of Jesus that we try to avoid engulf us.
The fruitless fig tree withers
before the majesty of one whose mission is relentless and uncompromised.
Help us with all of your church to watch and pray,
to behold anew the unfolding scandal
and the ragged good news of salvation.
Behold with mercy the agonies of the world
where the suffering of Jesus is being completed, both then and now.
Let the Via Dolorosa for us be both acts of devotion and worship
and of compassion and justice,
so that Christ’s abundant sufferings become the world’s abundant consolations.

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Lenten Reflections

As we are approaching the second Sabbath in Lent I decided to do some research about the origins of the fast of Lent. What I discovered makes a direct connection to Creation Care. The Lenten fast may have originated for practical as well as liturgical reasons. During the era of subsistence agriculture, fasting conserved dwindling food stores from the previous autumn harvest at a time of year when little or no new food-crop was expected. In its earliest form, Lent was an intense period of fasting and prayer for catechumens preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil. Fasting during Lent was both practical and liturgical! We fasted because there wasn’t enough food to feed the people. We fasted for our neighbors. We fasted because of necessity for all. It’s a great connection to what we can do for others when we pay attention to our global needs.

Here in Hollywood, we have so many people who go hungry. Most of us jump to the homeless, runaways, and immigrant families, but I assure you, many others are going hungry as well. Hollywood is the one-stop-shop for artists and filmmakers, editors and writers, actors and musicians. Many of these people work random ‘gigs’ and one or two jobs just to try to stay afloat in Los Angeles. It is extremely expensive to live here semi-comfortably. Many middle class people are losing their homes, and the housing crisis keeps getting worse and worse. You might be surprised if you knew who stopped at food banks these days.

Which brings me back to Lent and the garden. A former worship leader and I went to the garden today to weed and tend the land. As I thought about this time of Lenten fasting and the food that’s growing in our plot, I couldn’t help but to imagine our community of Hollywood as one of those communities who sought to take care of one another earnestly. If I had to miss a meal in order for someone to eat, that doesn’t seem too difficult a task in thought. In fact I feel as though we may be missing a valuable lesson by avoiding this fasting journey of Lent. Maybe this seems a bit idealistic, but I would like to challenge us to think beyond idealism and right into the hearts of those around us. Growing food is one step, but for you it may look like creating art for the community to appreciate and enjoy. No matter what it looks like, use the gift God gave you, especially during Lent.

Isaiah 58 (specifically v. 10) talks about satisfying the needs of the oppressed during a time of fasting. In fact, there seems to be a direct focus on true fasting and a heightened awareness of bringing justice to the oppressed. It’s not as much awareness as it is action.

The carrot seedlings started pushing through this week and so did the kale. I’m excited to see how many people a 5′ x 15′ plot can feed. I pray everyday that God will make abundant our loaves and fishes and remind us that someone nearby may be hungry. USC is doing there part. I found this article impressive. May this Lenten reflection fill you with hope and courage to take action in your own community in whatever way you feel called.

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