Imagine being crucified. Imagine, first of all, the physical torture. Brutal hands forcing your body into a contorted shape. Hammer and nails piercing whole frontiers of agony in hand and foot. Sagging lungs dragging your thorax down, so that every breath is an increasing effort, a fight against suffocation.
The religion of Israel is a great theater. Moses goes up on the mountain and the clouds close underneath him like curtains. He brings down the commandments, and the children of Israel are unimpressed. Solomon builds a huge temple. Inside, behind a great curtain, is the Holy of Holies, where the high priest, like Moses before him, communes with the Lord.
As the gusty winds of change blow unpredictably through the church, Jesus provides an intriguing sound bite in the Gospel lesson: “One puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Fresh wineskins, as faith communities experiment with alternative worship rituals. Fresh wineskins, as local congregations adopt new administrative structures.
When the congregation I serve initiated a prayer chain several years ago, its participants were amazed at the response: healing intercessions requested for all manner of illnesses and ailments—physical, emotional, spiritual, societal. The calls poured in from members and nonmembers alike.