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  • Maybe I’m growing up.  Maybe three summers at Sewanee are taking their toll.  Maybe I’m just getting soft.  Whatever the reason, I found myself advocating for a return to reading the Passion narrative in its properly assigned place in the Palm/Passion Sunday liturgy.  I honestly couldn’t believe my ears were listening to my own voice.  After years, almost a decade of vocal opposition to the conflation of Palm Sunday and Good Friday, I was arguing to go from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!” in a matter of minutes.  Someone should check my temperature. Of course, this return to 1979 Prayer Book prescribed normalcy (The 1928 BCP has Lent 5 as “Passion Sunday” on which the Passion was not read and the Sunday next before Easter as “Palm Sunday” on which the Triumphal Entry was not read, but the Passion was) won’t be without some added drama.  Prior to the 10am Family Service, we’ll begin 8 blocks from the church at...

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  • In today's gospel, once again we see Jesus acting in an unexpected way. Unlike the previous weeks of grumpy, angry Jesus, today Jesus just seems to be rude. John tells us about some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. They were in Jerusalem for the feast, so they were not pagans. They were likely Jewish proselytes, converts to Judaism. First they talked to Philip and then Philip talked to Andrew and then Philip and Andrew talk to Jesus. Jesus responded to the Greeks by saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified..." What  in the world does that mean and how does it have anything to do with the Greeks' desire to meet with Jesus? Prior to this, in John's gospel, Jesus kept saying that his hour had not yet come, even when his life was threatened. As far as we can tell from scripture, Jesus totally ignores these Greeks and they disappear from the scene. After verse 23, we don't hear any more about them. It seems that Jesus' words were addressed to Andrew and Philip...

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  • ANNOUNCING CLERGY GOLD 2015 I’m Building A Fitness Challenge Team AND I need 10-15 team members. Each year the Gold’s Gym where I workout hosts a “Corporate Fitness Challenge. The aim of the challenge is to give business/companies/corporations the chance to try out their facility for an extended period of time (three full weeks) – in the process, develop some healthy lifestyle practices. Last year I was allowed to form and captain their a team of clergy and spouses which we called “Clergy Gold. Team members gain points working out, attending group exercise classes, attending seminars, and losing pounds. Challengers compete individually and as a team. Last year the “Clergy Gold” TEAM was the overall winner of the challenge (gaining the members several prizes, including an additional month membership at the church. Further, I was the overall individual winner (gaining me a year membership extension). It’s time again for the CORPORATE...

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  • Journeys Home

    Zoroastrians celebrate March 26 as the birthday of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster). His birth date, and even the century in which he was born, are unknown; March 26 is the sixth day after Nowruz, the Persian new year's day. As this site indicates, on Khordad Sal prayers are offered, scriptures read, and parties happen to celebrate the day. "Parsi families come together during the festivities that are put on during Khordad Sal – if families are unable to be together then prayers are offered for those who are not in attendance. It is an important celebration for the Parsi community and because family (and community) is central to the themes of Zoroastrianism guests are invited to participate in the festivities. Parsis also take the time during Khordad Sal to be introspective. They look at ways in which they can improve the lives of others and themselves." See also this site.

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  • This may sound like a rant to some, and perhaps it is knowing that our shadows often obscure the truth from us. But it feels more like a lament. I will trust the wisdom of your replies even as I listen to the emptiness of my own heart, too. Simply put: I am done with working towards reform within the institutional church. It doesn't really matter whether I am talking about my once beloved United Church of Christ, my liturgical affection for the Anglicans or my love/hate relationship with Roman Catholicism. The time has come for me to say: not my circus, not my monkeys.Don't get me wrong: I am not going into early retirement (yet) nor advocating a breach of covenant with those I love and respect in the local churches of my community. Not at all. My own small congregation continues to faithfully struggle to be the Body of Christ and I see that happening on the local scene all around me. Not so much with the wider church. So even as I give thanks to God that the...

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  • Rev. Jeff Hood


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  • Rev. Jeff Hood

    *I originally wrote this piece for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Forest, Jim. Loving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2014.   Lucifer got jealous of the boss. Haven’t we all made this kind of mistake before? God kicked his ass out of heaven and never let him come back. Ever since Lucifer got banished, he has been raging all over the earth. Every time God tries to get something good going, Lucifer tries to destroy it. Every time Lucifer tries to get something good going, God tries to destroy it. I have no question that the two are entrenched mortal enemies. So, where does God get off telling us to love our enemies? Jim Forest helped me engage this deep theological question.   Though all of Loving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment is fabulous, I was most impressed with the nine disciplines of active love. When I started thinking about the toxic relationship between God and Lucifer, I realized...

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  • Philippians 2:5-11I cannot say equality with God is something I would let go of and I’m guessing you wouldn't either. And if I found myself on other side of the Divine I would surely not choose the cross as an exit strategy. So God is not like me although God hopes that even if Christ is not like me I might be like Christ Jesus – “Let this mind be in you.” If God were a gambler we would clearly be the long shot but then again God is “all in” and has nothing to lose except his life – which in the end turns out to be the winning hand. So I guess “let this mind be in you” means be like God and bet everything on a losing hand.

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  • Reading through this morning's NY Times was an exercise in fear and trembling - and I don't mean the kind born of awe of the Lord. In addition to the fear and loathing of the Middle East - from the breach of trust fomented by Israel 's recent election to the escalating war against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Yemen - American social conservatives and religious fundamentalists are at it again confusing hatred with Jesus and punitive policies with the kingdom of God.  Whether it is the viscious lies of Ted Cruz and his presidential campaign or the outright ignorance of social manipulators like Bobby Jindal, trouble has risen to the surface of American politics for those who are committed to the common good. + In California, a ballot initiative to actively executive gay and lesbian people has been presented to the Attorney General under the title: the Sodomite Suppression Act. (check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/us/politics/california-seeks...

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  • On Sunday, like many congregations, we will celebrate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem by waving palm branches and shouting, "Hosanna in the highest!" (Well, we probably won't shout, but we'll say it as firmly yet politely as Episcopalians can.) Then, we'll hear the entire passion narrative according to Mark, which means the anointing of Jesus' feet plus the preparation of the upper room plus the Last Supper plus the prayer in the garden plus the betrayal plus the trial plus the denial plus the torture and finally the execution. Yeah, it's not just Palm Sunday anymore. It's the full-on, we-don't-trust-people-to-come-to-church-on-Good-Friday story. (Steve Pankey has written about this before, and his words are still with me). All of that means that preachers are already trying to figure out what to say--whether anything at all needs to be said or even can be said--with so much else already going on.So, today, I want to write about something completely different. Well, sort of...

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  • The Blue Room

    Oh my goodness. J J Baskin, a great man and a good man, has died. Every now and then someone offers the gift of letting us witness their journey through illness, and their transition from this life to the next. Steve Hayner was one of those people. So was J J, though the tone of his public posts was […]

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  • The governor of Indiana Mike Pence has signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and made it law in Indiana. While legal experts have argued that similar legislation in other states has yet to be used successfully to justify discrimination, many are still concerned.My question at this stage is how progressive Christians and others concerned about social justice and equality should respond to the legislation, and perhaps protest it. For instance, if someone thinks that this legislation causes harm in ways that are against their religious beliefs, can they refuse to pay taxes that would fund the salary of a governor who would pass legislation like this?The answer is “probably not,” just as it is unlikely that anyone could effectively use legislation like this to justify discrimination, since the case has already been made that the government has the right to protect people from discrimination even when the latter is purportedly justified by religion. The...

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  • As part of my work, I have meetings and conversations with couples prior to their weddings.  We don't just plan the ceremony.  We also use an inventory which purports to measure the couple's "Strengths" and "Growth Areas".  The inventory gives us many possibilities for conversations that we can have about their relationship.Some of the possible strengths (or 'growth areas') named are:  Communication, Conflict Resolution, Relationship Roles, Family and Friends, Spiritual Beliefs, Children and Parenting. You get the idea.Then there is this one:  "Marriage Expectations."  The idea is that if your expectations for marriage are "realistic", then this is a strength for you.  If your expectations for marriage are "unrealistic", then this is a growth area. I've been using this inventory for a long time, and I'll tell you what:  I can't think of one couple who scored well on "Marriage Expectations."  Not one.  They all thought that their...

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  • Click here to view the embedded video.In the video above, Tony Burke talks about the Secret Gospel of Mark. See also his post on his blog about the latest episode of Finding Jesus and whether Jesus had a “secret brother.”  

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  • To title this week’s blog post as I have, and to suggest (accurately) that my intention is to title successive blog posts as such, is perhaps to sound as if I’ve completely caved in to despair.  But, I don’t think that’s the case.  I’d appreciate my readers to keep an open mind, and to try not to assume a negative judgment on the word “doomed.”  Given that we are in Lent, I’d prefer to think about my consideration of “doomed” akin to those sojourners on the road to Emmaus.  They thought the story was over, that the movement was “doomed,” and they were leaving town.  And, then Jesus joined them.  But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been talking to a variety of people who don’t attend Old South, or a church like it.  I’ve reached out to a few people who were once a part of Old South but are no longer, as well as a few people who haven’t been attached to any kind of church since childhood.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be spending...

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  • My heart skips — 33 — not the wild leap to express joy but the weary limp to avoid a pain the wince — 33 — the accommodation of a long-standing scar Like scratched vinyl and a track that misses its beat so — 33 — familiar that I sing along with the flawed syncopation as though this is the way the song was intended as though — 33 — the lyrics make perfect sense when that needle skips the occasional — 33 — I learned to dance to broken records so long ago that I hardly notice any more and really — 33 — it’s okay but sometimes when the day’s music is turned down and there’s only the off-rhythms of my heart dodging and dancing with the shadows — 33 — I confess to wondering how vinyl is really meant to sound

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  • The episode begins where the previous one ended, with Sun sitting in her car, planning to kill Ben Linus. She gets a call and talks to her daughter. When she has Ben at gunpoint, Ben says that Jin is still alive and he can prove it.In the past, we see Danielle’s team picking up the numbers broadcast. Jin will help them reach the radio tower. One of the team, Nadine, disappears, and then they hear the smoke monster. It appears, and throws Nadine’s dead body from the tree. Then it grabs another of them, pulling him unto a hole beneath the temple. They hold onto his arm but he is pulled in, leaving his arm behind. They go in after him. Jin persuades Danielle to stay behind. Then there is a flash, and then Jin is sometime in the future. The arm is still there, but it has been there for a while. He sees smoke in the distance. He folows it and finds two corpses, and then Danielle confronting Robert with a gun. He says he loves her and asks her to put the gun down. When she does...

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  • It has been fifty years since the events of the Selma march. That being said remnants of the past linger. Segregation may not be legal, but it still exists in subtle ways. Tonight in Detroit we have the opportunity of listening to voices and hearts and begin to heal the wounds of the past so we can go forward. The Detroit Clergy Gathering has invited the Metro Coalition of Congregations to come together for conversation and commitment to a new future. In the civil rights struggle. Persons like myself -- persons who are white and male -- have stood as allies. But, we must admit that we have not experienced discrimination. We've not faced the prospect of being pulled over by the police simply because of our color. We have not be denied voting rights.  I stand as an ally, but I have much to learn.With that, I will be sharing a prayer in the event. In light of this, I thought I would share this video that will, I believe, be shown this evening. It does capture the spirit! If you...

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  • Beloved Spear

    It was an interesting conversation, as a recent post was shared around with others.  I'd kvetched a little bit about the idea that the sacred--music, in this case--could be copyrighted.  Copyright is about preserving profit, and fusing commerce and faith is dangerous, dangerous thing for the soul and for the integrity of the message of Jesus.One of the commenters slyly suggested that this wasn't all too different from the whole "getting paid to be a pastor" thing, and man, do I feel that.On the one hand, I've certainly got the makings of a pro.  I've got an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies and a graduate degree in divinity and am about to get my Doctorate In Churchly Churchiness.  I've got more than a decade of minist'rin' under my belt, and professional certifications of various and sundry sorts.  That's taken time and energy and resources to accomplish, and it's been worth it.  If you're going to teach about the Way of Jesus of Nazareth, it...

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law."-- Romans 3:31A... way of making void the law through faith is the teaching that faith supersedes the necessity of holiness. This divides itself into a thousand smaller paths, and there are many who walk there. Indeed there are few people who wholly escape it--few who are convinced we are saved by faith, but who are sooner or later, more or less, drawn aside into this byway.All those are drawn into this byway who, even if it is not their settled judgment that faith in Christ entirely sets aside the necessity of keeping His law, yet suppose either: (1.) That holiness is less necessary now than it was before Christ came; or: (2.) That a less degree of it is necessary; or (3.) That it is less necessary to believers than to others. Yes, and so are all those who, though their judgment is right in the general, yet think they may take more liberty in particular cases than they could have done before...

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  • All things being equal, they aren't.Just one of the indignities of old age is the realization that some things don't stop growing--noses, people say, and ears and feet. Your biceps don't swell, and your skin doesn't firm, and what doesn't grow just sags frightfully.  It ain't fun.I came upon this ridiculous still life a morning or two ago--my size 15s (and growing) beside my wife's cute little 8s. I don't think the pic works all that well. In real life, this still life is vastly more grotesque. I can almost put my wife' pair into one of mine. Yeah, yeah, yeah--"what a sturdy foundation," you're saying, and I'll be the last one to fall in a stiff prairie wind. Yuk. Yuk.Let me share my pain. Bowling has been spotty. "Got 15s?" I ask some kid behind the shoe counter, and he rolls his eyes. Ice skates? forget it. In Africa not long ago, our hosts were kind enough to provide slippers if we had to use the open-air hole-in-the-ground in the middle of the night. We were in a medical...

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  • Larry Patten

    Hospice ADLs:  My Adventures of Daily Learning.114 The hospice chaplain explained that one of his new patients, “Has a Baptist background, but he doesn’t go to church.” Later, about another patient who’d recently entered hospice care, the same chaplain said, “She was a Baptist, but hasn’t been to church since she was a knee-high to a grasshopper.” He paused. “Her words, not mine.” The chaplain chuckled. And then, still later, about another of his assigned patients: “He was raised Baptist, but hasn’t been involved anywhere after his children grew up and moved away.” On that particular morning, at our team meeting, it seemed all of that particular chaplain’s new patients were raised in, had been affiliated with, or once deeply involved in some church in one of the many Baptist denominations. But the next meeting, and the next new patients, will always reveal other religious allegiances: Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, and more of the vast array of Christian “tribes” (from Armenian Orthodox...

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  • The discussions about my recent post on the topic of university education (which has since become a letter to the editor and posted online by The Collegian) reminded me about this topic that I had saved as a draft blog post to come back to later.NBC and Hemant Mehta covered the attempt of a Bible college in Illinois to get the prestige that the label “degree” brings, but while bypassing the standards that accreditation seeks to ensure. I find that as despicable as when young-earth creationists cheapen the meaning of the word “museum” by trying to cash in on the authority of the word while abandoning everything that it stands for.John Loftus suggested that accreditation should be withheld from some institutions that currently have it, such as Biola, which has a stance at odds with the conclusions of the biological sciences.I would be in favor of denying accreditation to any school that requires one to sign in advance that one will not draw certain conclusions....

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  • The Gothic king Athanaric despised the Christians within the territories that he called his own.This was at the same time that Christians were despised and persecuted in Roman territories, as well. In this case, the enemy of Athanaric's enemy was not his friend. He was admittedly surprised with the incredible speed at which Christianity grew within his people--it seemed that the faith the Christians professed was infectious and subtle in its transmission. The Christian faith was able to grip hearts and bring peace when Athanaric found he could only command and threaten.Further, Athanaric was well aware that his military goals could be compromised by split loyalties among his people. So, he devised a plan to eliminate these split loyalties and draw his people together around a god he could easily control and manipulate.The Gothic Christians met for their worship in tents in the countryside. They weren't meeting in secret but they were meeting far enough away from...

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  • Rev. Jeff Hood

    *These reflections are taken from pieces of the last words of the last 40 persons executed in Texas. Robert Ladd-   “Let’s ride.” We stop. We are afraid. We don’t want to move an inch. Danger is a paralyzing force. In the face of certain death, Robert Ladd looked danger in the eye and shrugged. If we place our trust in God, we too can have such confidence. Staring down whatever danger you face, I invite you to pray the last words of Robert Ladd: “Let’s ride.” Amen.

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