Malinda Elizabeth Berry
Malinda Elizabeth Berry is assistant professor of theology and ethics at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
I'm a bit of a congregational song nerd, and the church music folks I know talk about things like "sound pools" and "heart songs." Sound pools are what Mennonite musician, teacher, and hymnologist Mary Oyer and her students (who became my teachers) describe as the body of music that a culture or community shares.
This Sunday's passage from Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome seems to be an example of Year C's theological focus on those who are living in a state of alienation from Jesus Christ and the church. Yet when I think about rebuilding the bridges of love, trust, and belonging in contemporary Christian community, Paul isn't the first person who comes to mind.
The lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday are the same each year. So it almost doesn’t feel like Ash Wednesday if I go through the day without hearing Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
As Luke tells the story, even though Jesus doesn’t turn stones to bread, he feeds those who hunger. And even though he says no when Satan offers him political power, a vision of God’s all-encompassing reign of shalom is at the heart of Jesus’ ministry.