I don't know why you come to church on a particular Sunday, or why you don't. Sometimes you show up; sometimes you don't. When you don't, maybe it's because you are sick or out of town or your alarm clock didn't go off or you just can't bear to be in a room with those particular people on this particular day. Maybe you are caught between wanting your kids to experience God and a faith community, and the reality of what it's really like to be a part of a faith community.
A few months ago, a Twitter friend deleted her account in favour of Facebook, then signed on again because she missed the interaction with her Twitter friends. Another friend signed up for Twitter, but soon dropped out because it seemed too noisy and busy, and the short form was just too short for what he wanted to say.
I ran into Ralph at the café. Ralph is a retired paper mill worker, a Vietnam vet, and a self-proclaimed “wise sage” who drives everyone in the café crazy with his incessant theological chatter. He always interrupts my sermon preparation. He wants to talk about God or Jesus or numerology or the chickens he’s raising. But most times, I come away from a conversation with him having yielded a little jewel of insight.
First, you get a question. “What is God's will for my life?” or “Are my parents really in purgatory” or “What about babies who die before they are baptized?” or “What about all those people who lived before Jesus was born?” or any one of a number of questions you get when you wear the funny shirt with the little white tab in the middle.
Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. How easily we pass over them, eyes set eagerly on Easter Sunday. Or anticipating Thursday’s opening of the Triduum.
Our first half of Holy Week probably looks a lot like yours. Work. School. Kids. Meetings. Chores. Bills. The lackluster pregame show before the big kickoff. The forgettable prelude before the fanfare. The ordinary before the extraordinary.
A few nights ago we ate ratatouille. We sweated the onions over a low heat for 45 minutes. We added basil, garlic, and Italian parsley—all fresh from our garden here in New Zealand. Over time, we added the vegetables: pepper, eggplant, courgette, tomato. Finally, we mixed cheese and bread crumbs together.
I’m reading Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship along with our Lenten Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount. I’m not sure when I last spent any time with this Christian classic (25 years, 35 years?). Coming back to it after all those years, it’s striking both in the way it reflects its historical context and the ways in which it transcends its time and still speaks to us decades later.
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