Thursday, November 22, 2012

Steps forward, steps back this week

Steps back: 

In England this week, on 20 November 2012, a coalition of fundamentalists in the Church of England managed to defeat church legislation which would have allowed for women bishops.

Note that the Church of England, though an Anglican church, is separate from all other Anglican churches. Its legislation does not affect the Anglican church in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc, which have had women bishops for some time now.

Steps forward:


A big step forward came outside the Church this week, when on the same day, in Washington, White House officials welcomed more than two dozen transgender and allied activists and organizations to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Canterbury Caps

Well, I learnt today what a Canterbury Cap is (quite by accident, it wasn't on the immediate todo list!)

It's a square, soft, foldable cloth hat with four ridges and sharp corners. It's the only headgear officially sanctioned for Anglican clergy to wear in church (aside from Bishops' mitres, of course, presumably.) Usually black, bishops get to wear a purple version though if they wish.

Rev. Bosco Peters writes, "The Canterbury cap is Anglican head-covering, essentially the medieval birettum, descended from the ancient pileus headcovering. Make your own conclusions from the Anglican version being soft and foldable, whereas the biretta, its Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation equivalent, is rigid." ( http://liturgy.co.nz/millinerianism/260 )

The cap can look quite jolly, depending on the person wearing it, I suppose. Here it is, worn by Father Ron Smith of New Zealand: http://en.gravatar.com/kiwianglo#photo-1

Here is a wikipedia entry on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canterbury_cap


Mark Twain on slavery and the church

"Our own conversion came at last. We began to stir against slavery. Hearts grew soft, here, there, and yonder. There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one - the pulpit.

It yielded at last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession - at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery text remained; the practice changed, that was all."

 -- Mark Twain, in Europe and Elsewhere.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sung Compline in Seattle attracts backpack youth

Seattle has a cathedral which most people seem to say is ugly, as it is unfinished -- just a concrete shell that got that far and no further. Still, since 1962, they have been holding a sung Compline on Sunday evenings. It's also broadcast on the radio. Still, what's interesting about all this is the kind of crowd it is now attracting.


"You can even find Compline in various degrees of gorgeousness in all kinds of other places. What makes it special at St Mark’s is the crowd. You see at St Mark’s, they get hundreds turning up. The service takes place at 9.30 pm and lasts half an hour. Most of the crowd are in place quite a while before the action begins. And those hundreds are young. The majority looked to me to be less than 25 and I’d guess that there were 500 there on Sunday evening, maybe more. Think about that. Five hundred people on a Sunday evening, mostly young.They don’t just sit either. They sprawl. They lie down. Some bring blankets. They inhabit the sanctuary and lie flat on their backs. They loll.  That’s part of the puzzle about this Compline. Who are those young people and why do they come? No-one seemed to really know. They did not strike me as being people who generally attach themselves to any other form of organised religion." -- Kelvin Holdsworth http://www.thurible.net/20120925/chant-matters-compline-at-st-marks-cathedral-seattle/


To listen to it live, go here on Sunday evenings 9:30 pm west coast time. http://www.king.org/pages/5250700.php?

Here is a short video of it.




The New Yorker Magazine looks at the Book of Common Prayer

"Suppose you find yourself, in the late afternoon, in one of the English cathedral towns—Durham, say, or York, or Salisbury, or Wells, or Norwich—or in one of the great university cities, like Oxford or Cambridge. The shadows are thickening, and you are mysteriously drawn to the enormous, ancient stone structure at the center of the city. You walk inside, and find that a service is just beginning. Through the stained glass, the violet light outside is turning to black. Inside, candles are lit; the flickering flames dance and rest, dance and rest. A precentor chants, “O Lord, open thou our lips.” A choir breaks into song: “And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” The precentor continues, “O God, make speed to save us.” And the choir replies, musically, “O Lord, make haste to help us.”
The visitor has stumbled upon a service, Evensong, whose roots stretch back at least to the tenth century, and whose liturgy has been in almost continuous use since 1549..."

The New Yorker Magazine looks at the Book of Common Prayer [1]

Interesting read : http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/10/22/121022crat_atlarge_wood?currentPage=all

[1] Though dating it from the 1662 revision, referring to it as 350 years old, instead of  463.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Is Church Possible in Second Life?

This is a question that I have been engaging with recently.  The question has popped up on several blogs where I have been able to engage in some discussion in the comments sections, with opinions ranging from it is not possible and is a mockery of church to yes it is possible to be church in virtual worlds including Second Life.  A more recent discussion about the possibility of celebrating the Eucharist in virtual settings has popped up on the Ship of Fools website.  (Links below).

So my question to you is, is church possible in Second Life?  Based on my four years of experience in Second Life and the past two years leading the community at St Matthew's, my answer is yes.  What is your take on this? 

Following on this question, what are your thoughts about the feasibility and the desirability of celebrating sacraments in Second Life?  My position is that if we are going to be church in Second Life, that we need to explore this.  It may not be possible, but I feel that we need to at least explore the possibilities.  I will note that I am not a priest in Real Life, so even if we figure out how to celebrate the sacraments in Second Life, I will not be the one to lead the celebration. 

So, the floor is open.  Is it possible to be church in Second Life?  What are the essentials of church, and can we do that in Second Life?  What is the role of the sacraments in the church, and what are your thoughts on how we might be able to celebrate them in Second Life?  Is it even possible to do so?

~Caoilin

Links to where else this discussion is happening:

http://shipoffools.com/features/2012/online_sacraments.html
http://liturgy.co.nz/twitter-communion/10347
http://liturgy.co.nz/virtual-eucharist/1078
http://lutheranconfessions.blogspot.com/2011/03/series-on-virtual-life-1-daily-prayer.html
http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/church_growth/will_church_go_the_way_of_the.html
http://kirkepiscatoid.blogspot.com/2009/04/my-first-cyber-funeral.html


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Make sure you watch this one

Integrity USA just released an awesome new video in their Voices of Witness series.  Make sure you watch it!
http://www.integrityusa.org/OOTB/index.html

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A funeral in Second Life: January ‎04, ‎2012


There comes a time when, in Second Life (SL), you think you've just about seen or done it all. That occurs just about 5 seconds before you find yourself doing something you thought you'd never do in SL.

 Sadly, this occurred for me in on January 4, 2012, when St Matt's was asked to hold a funeral for a friend of mine, Illendel Foulsbane, who passed away in RL.

I met Illendel and his partner Xanthia back in 2008 at the Cathedral. They remained at the Cathedral when the rest of us were cast out, because the variety of service hours there worked better for them, but we remained very good friends over the years and they were both strong voices for an inclusive church.

Baoluo Xue and Caolin Galthie
The service was led by Caolin Galthie and Baoluo Xue.

Putting together a service must have been a challenge for them -- I think they drew heavily on the Book of Common Prayer. I 'm sure it was a personal challenge as well for Caolin, who had known Illendel well.

I'm pleased that members of the broader Anglican Community in SL are increasingly turning to St Matt's for their practical needs in SL.

Xanthia remains in our prayers because she, of course, feels the loss as keenly as ever.










Useful Links


http://episcopalchurch.org/

http://www.anglican.ca/

http://www.elcic.ca/

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org/

http://www.elcic.ca/In-Convention/2001-Waterloo/The-Waterloo-Declaration/ACC-Information.cfm

http://www.porvoochurches.org/

https://twitter.com/#!/ruthiegledhill

http://reluctantxtian.wordpress.com

The challenging nature of St Matt's in Second Life (Part One)

A Christmas Service at Epiphany Cathedral 2009-12
A Christmas Service at Epiphany Cathedral
December 2009 : our last there
Chaz here.

This is a three-part reflection which is partly personal in nature; opinions expressed are necessarily my own.

St Matthew's by the Sea is now 2 1/3 years old.

It is a small, but thriving and stable prayer community with services centred around the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

One of the challenges we will probably always face is finding ourselves in the middle of two opposites -- perhaps not unusual for a group of Anglicans! Via Media after all!

On the one hand, we are quite literally a group of outcasts from Church. In the interest of "taking the high road" we don't dwell on this, but it is important not to ignore, as it was the single event that firmed up our resolution to be inclusive and thinking Anglicans. It made us who we are.

We were outcast from the Anglican Epiphany Cathedral back in January 2010.

Even though we and others considered the Cathedral our church in Second Life, the Cathedral had been taken over by more and more rigid religious fundamentalists. Anyone whom this management core didn't approve of found themselves subtly directed to the very back pews -- handily, right by the exit.

A group of us -- about half the actual active congregation -- felt strongly that today's Anglican Church, especially in SL, must be an inclusive Church for all. We worried deeply that people in SL "testing the waters" about coming back to church would be "turned off" once and for all, for good, when confronted with the behind-the-scenes reality at the Cathedral.


Matters came to a head in January 2010 over what I (Chaz) as a Canadian personally considered basic human and equality rights issues when the Cathedral management team took steps to force the resignation over gender issues of a person leading a prayer service there.

It was clearly indicated to us that the current management core would fight vigorously to prevent any "inclusive" tendencies developing at the Cathedral and that if "worse came to worse", they'd leave rather than be associated with such tendencies. Consequently, rather than fight a stressful battle that no one would truly win, about half of the active congregation took the strong hints and shuffled out the back service entrance which had been left invitingly open for us.

The ragtag band of refugees from the Cathedral, January 2010.
We formed a prayer circle in which we continued our daily evening prayers (our flagship Compline service which continues today) from the Book of Common Prayer. Within a short while, we were invited to use a private Anglican Chapel called St Matt's that an acquaintance of ours had built previously for his personal enjoyment. That person has since left SL and gone onto other challenges, but we have kept the candles at St Matt's lit and call it home now. That was 2 1/3 years ago as of now.

 Knowing the nature of our start is, I think, fundamental to understanding what (jump in here anyone) is perhaps part of our mission in SL:   maintaining a presence and a safe place for all those in SL whom the Church virtual or non-virtual has battered, bruised and rejected, as we were even by our own Church in SL. To be a voice of reason and normality for those seeking to heal the damage done to them by the Church, both RL and SL churches.

So that's the one hand -- we've been rejected by the "mainstream" Anglican church in SL -- which advertises itself as the Anglican Cathedral -- and we're not accepted there as we are.

Now, onto part two and the "other hand"! Click here for part two.




The challenging nature of St Matt's in Second Life (Part Two)

Chaz here.

This is part two of a three-part posting.

In part one, I started the "caught in the middle" challenge that I think St Matt's lives in, and showed how on one hand, we can be seen as a "band of refugees and rejects" from the Anglican Epiphany Cathedral. Based on that crucial experience, I postulated that part of our mission might be seen as maintaining a presence and a safe place for all those in SL whom the Church virtual or non-virtual has battered, bruised and rejected, and to be a voice of reason and normality for them.

Well, the second part of the equation is that, amusingly and ironically, we also frankly face rejection from the people that we want to "be there" for. And with good reason!

To them, the Church in any form is Public Enemy Number one.

The Church (and by that I mean the broader church, too) has done such a thoroughly bang-up good job of battering, bruising and rejecting people that these victims of the Church's ministrations don't want anything at all to do with Church in any way, shape or form now!

To make things worse, later in life many decided to give church one more shot based on the infamous "all are welcome" sign out front, only to discover that those words are code for "just wear the appropriate scarlet letter until we deal with you." Who can blame these people that their motto is now, "Fool me twice, shame on me."

Consequently, they've rejected the very concept of Church so completely from their lives that a mere mention of it brings either knowing smirks and rolled eyes, or waves of bitterness and anger.

The media doesn't help things a whole heck of a lot, either. The American association GLAAD commissioned an independent study by the University of Missouri Center on Religion & the Professions entitled, 'Missing Voices: A study of religious voices in mainstream media reports about LGBT equality'.
The findings confirm that despite growing public support for LGBT people across faith traditions, the media highlight a disproportionate number of anti-LGBT religious voices in the media. Three out of four religious messages about gay or transgender people come from religious groups that have formal policies, decrees, or culture opposing equality. Unsurprisingly, messages from those sources were overwhelmingly negative.... when in reality they speak for a very narrow viewpoint that is becoming progressively narrower within religious circles....Mainstream media uses far fewer voices from the gay-affirming, or even moderate, religious traditions.[1]
So, what do we at St Matt's do, given that we don't have the resources and time, nor I think the inclination, to stand at SL's main teleport hubs foisting leaflets on people (and getting abuse-reported, no doubt) telling them that they just "misunderstood" church in the past.

Because they didn't! They got it all too well.

Well, what we should do additionally in the future is I think still an ongoing "pondering" process. But I think we do one thing quite well right now. We place adverts, give out promo freebies, etc, just to let people know of our existence should they be interested. And each night, we gather and light a candle in our midst as twilight fades so that anyone interested can find us in the middle of the forest.

Click here for part three.


 [1] Ross, Murray. Where Are the Pro-LGBT Religious Voices in Mainstream Media? Huffington Post. 12 April 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-murray/pro-lgbt-christian-voices_b_1418604.html

The challenging nature of St Matt's in Second Life (Part Three)



Chaz here.

As you've seen in Parts One and Two of this entry, I think St Matt's can be seen as living with challenges on both sides. One the one hand, those that don't want us, and on the other hand, er, those that don't want us.

But I think there's a Part Three to "The Challenging Nature of St Matt's in Second Life, and that is that we ourselves are a challenge in ourselves to both the opposing challenges we live with.

Here's some ways in which I think we've met the "Church" side of the challenge:

1) We have survived for going on 2 1/2 years now, despite starting as a ragtag group of refugee outcasts. Incredible longevity for Second Life, especially with us having such a sudden, unplanned start!

St Matt's Jan 2012
2) There are about 50 to 60 people who show up at various times over the course of the weeks and months including several active Cathedral members. The support of these people means a lot, because the Cathedral normally operates in isolation, declining ties and relations with any other groups in SL.

3) Finances are rock-solid.

4) We have avoided any nonsense dispute about religious points of debate (yuck.) I (Chaz) personally think it's because we follow the Anglican tradition of, other than the basic creeds of the Church, enjoying a plurality of viewpoints and not being afraid to think and be challenged to think. We orient our identity around prayer, and focus our energy on what healing we can help those that the Church has damaged find.

5) We actually put into practice the Porvoo Agreement (and in Canada, the Waterloo Declaration) of being in full communion with the Lutheran Church. In fact, if it weren't for a Lutheran, we wouldn't be here.

6) We don't play church.

Here's some ways in which I think we've met the challenge of being there for those damaged by the Church:

1) People who were afraid of the Anglican Epiphany Cathedral, or never knew about it, have found their way to us and joined us;

2) People who were battered and rejected by church in general have found their way to us and joined us.

3) Members of the broader Anglican community are increasingly turning to us for their more practical, everyday needs. In January 2012 (shown below), we were asked to hold the in-world funeral for Cathedral member Illendel Foulsbane, who passed away in RL.


This is the end of my three-part post on what I (Chaz) feel is the challenging nature of St Matt's in Second Life. Opinions expressed are of course my own, and not necessarily those of others in the group.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Father Stephen Coles, St Thomas' Church.
Chaz here again. I had an eye opener yesterday -- in the "/me blinks" category.

I was reading about the friendship of Anglican priest Stephen Coles (of St Thomas' Church in Finsbury Park, London) with Abu Hamza of Finsbury Park Mosque. The UK press terms Hamza a "Muslim hate preacher." (The friendship wasn't the "blink" part -- wait for it.)

While working through the article, I started to build up assumptions about Coles, who says, "He [Hamza] is someone with whom it is possible to have a conversation. You might not agree about everything but you can have a conversation with him."

My assumptions were that Coles must personally be a shade to the right of things in the Anglican Church, in order to be able to find some common ground on societal issues, etc, with Mr Hamza.

The final two lines of the article near about made me fall out of my chair :

"Rev Coles is openly gay and entered into a civil partnership in 2006. He is also an open advocate of gay marriage. On its website, St Thomas’s church says it is an ‘open and welcoming congregation, an inclusive church that embraces the joys and challenges of being human with all our differences.’"

Hallelujah for good old-fashioned Anglicanism, always able to somehow, somewhere, find the Via Media.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2128414/The-odd-couple-Anglican-priest-befriended-Abu-Hamza-talks-friendship-says-miss-chats.html

(p.s. Yes, I've been to enough LBGT festivals in the Finsbury Park area of London that, in retrospect, I should have reserved judgement for the Daily Mail's final whammy.)

Holy Cow, Jimmy Carter sounds like an Anglican

Chaz here.

Last week, I came across an interview with former American President Jimmy Carter. He said:

"I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God.

"There are some things that were said back in those days –- Paul also said that women should not be adorned, fix up their hair, put on cosmetics, and that every woman who goes in a place of worship should have her head covered. Paul also said that men should not cut their beards and advocated against people getting married, except if they couldn’t control their sexual urges. Those kinds of things applied to the customs of those days. Every worshipper has to decide if and when they want those particular passages to apply to them and their lives."
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/president-jimmy-carter-bible-book_n_1349570.html

A brief history of modern fundamentalism....

Chaz here.

Many in the broader church these days are willing to roll the dice and risk both the church's credibility and their personal faith on one or two issues, such as sexuality and the role of women. They've made these issues their line in the sand, the hill they're willing to die upon -- even though they are barely touched upon, if at all, in the Gospels.

They seem to feel that examining their interpretation of scripture on these issues would cause their whole faith ethos to crumble like a house of cards.

I recently tripped upon some thinking on the matter, which makes me think that we should be aware that in many cases this might be a personal fear on their part -- that if they examine one point of their faith, their whole world might crumble -- that their fighting the points of sexuality and women might not be so much an "offensive" as a "defensive" strategy for them.

http://rachelheldevans.com/whatisfundamentalism
At the above link, the author writes:
"[fundmentalism] results in a reactionary faith, one characterized by militant certainty and a fear of change. One of the themes of my book is the importance of shedding away false fundamentals—as individuals and as a Church—so that our faith can survive changing environments."
An anonymous commenter had what I thought was an insightful contribution to the discussion that followed:
"Greg Boyd once described fundamentalist Christianity as a 'house-of-cards' theology. Such a theology is motivated by fear, where compromise is seen as a slippery-slope that will unleash every manner of uncertainty about the Christian faith...."
"Take the issue of Genesis 1-3. A fundamentalist will approach this text and say: 'If I don't take this text literally, i.e., as a science textbook/historical chronology written by Moses .... then the whole Bible is a pack of lies.' If someone reminds him/her that there are other ways of reading a text other than a literal mode, they would say 'If you don't read this part literally, why should we be obliged to read Jesus' death, burial and resurrection in a non-literal fashion? .....
"Reaching a fundamentalist would involve demonstrating the fallacy of the 'house-of-cards' theology. The problem is not in the arguments you present, but in his/her fear that you might actually be right. Therefore, all the arguments in the world won't help you. Evidence, like experience, only benefits the mind that is WILLING to receive it. The way to reach a fundamentalist is to convince him why his 'house-of-cards' approach to faith is unnecessary, and to show him THE HISTORY OF HIS TRADITION."
"He/she must be shown that his/her approach is not the orthodox way of Christianity, that their approach is far from being universal; historically, most Christians haven't approached faith and the Bible in the way they have. The rest of the world doesn't do it like that. When they realise this, many fundamentalists will realise that doubting their 'house-of-cards' approach is in no way disrespectful to God's Word. This will allow them to have the confidence to examine their faith in new ways."
(italics added by Chaz)

http://rachelheldevans.com/whatisfundamentalism#comment-456777341

A girl's video message to Christians

Her message...

"Stop the Damnation. Stop the Judgement. Stop the Religionism. That's not our business. It's not our job to change people, we can't. But it's our job to love them."

Welcome

Welcome to our new blog! 
I re-posted several of the posts from our old WordPress blog below.

New Worship Leader

(Originally posted on the WordPress blog by Caoilin Galthie on August 18, 2011)

Please join me in welcoming Baoluo Xue back to the group as a worship leader!  For those who remember, Bao was one of our worship leaders last Fall and led Compline on Friday evenings until his real life work commitments demanded more of his time than he could devote to Second Life.  Now that real life has settled down for him he has agreed to help me to continue leading our group in prayer.  With his deep love of music he will also be bringing new dimensions to our experience of Compline!
The plan is for me to lead Compline at 8 PM SLT on Mondays and Tuesdays and for Bao to lead at 8 PM SLT on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
~Caoilin

An Announcement

(Originally posted on the WordPress blog by Caoilin Galthie on August 15, 2011)

I want to share with the group the news that Mason has decided that he
no longer has the time to be actively involved in the group and in
Second Life and has therefore decided to withdraw from the Friends
group.  He has turned ownership of the group over to me and has also
transferred to me all donations of Lindens that have been lovingly
given by the community and visitors so that I can use the Lindens to
continue the ministry of this group.  (I have transferred these
Lindens to an alt account so the the funds will be kept separate from
my personal funds).
The chapel building was designed and built by Mason and is his
personal property, so he has returned it to his inventory.  The prayer
labyrinth is still set up on the parcel, and we will continue to
gather there for Late Night Prayer (Compline).  Moving forward I will
be seeking input from the group regarding what kind of facility we
will need and want to support our activities.
St Matthew’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Chapel has been a place of peace and
sanctuary in Second Life since Mason founded it in 2007 in honor of
Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was brutally beaten and murdered
in Wyoming simply because of hatred for how God created him.  St.
Matthew’s has been a place to honor and remember our LGBT brothers and
sisters who have faced persecution and death in Real Life.  It has
also been the home for our active worshiping community since April of
2010 when several of us left the Anglicans of Second Life group and
made our home at St. Matthew’s.
On behalf of this group and also the LGBT and Christian communities in
Second Life, I thank Mason for his ministry amongst us and for the
beautiful gift of St. Matthew’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Chapel.  I hope
that he will rejoin us if his Real Life commitments allow him to get
involved again in Second Life.  In the meantime we wish him well and
God’s blessings in all of his endeavors.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me
either by IM, notecard or email at caoilingalthie@gmail.com
~Caoilin

Simmer Down, Sons of Zebedee

(Originally posted on the WordPress blog by Prizm Tungsten on March 24, 2011)

Finding myself unable to sleep, despite all out exhaustion, I thought I would allay the concerns of Caoilin and Mason and see once and for all whether or not I am able to post on the St. Matthew’s blog.  And, lo, it appears I can!
Let us hope this does not lead to ruinous disaster.  After all, a little bit of power…
Speaking of, the particular thing on my mind at the moment is one of my favorite Bible stories.  It’s one of the shortest possible Bible stories.  Indeed, I can cut and paste it in its entirety with as little as four verses from Luke, chapter 9:
53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them[b]?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
Many thanks to BibleGateway.com for quick and easy passage lookup, by the way.  I used the NIV because that is what came up.  I know, I should have probably chosen something more PC like the NRSV, but for our purposes here, let us not split hairs overly much on such matters.
It may be puzzling to some what could possibly be compelling in such a tiny slice of the Gospels.  Indeed, why include this bit in the Gospels?  Contextually there is an enormity of background to this scene.  Indeed, this is the beginning of the grand climax of the Gospels, of Jesus’ ministry and of his very life (in the earthbound realm).  A mere two verses before we are told, in fact:
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
So, why, in the midst of all that has come before, and of all that is to unfold from this point, would any Gospel writer or any Gospel reader stop to consider that, of all the (decidedly limited, most likely) details culled from Jesus’ life it should be remotely noteworthy that at this moment, Jesus rebukes two of his disciples.  We do not even know what the substance of the rebuke might have been, except inasmuch as we might experience through reading and prayer time.
Still yet, even now, in this Season of Lent, as we ourselves turn to head into Jerusalem, standing at the precipice of the most arduous time for Jesus, for his disciples then, and for his disciples now….  this tiny sliver of the Gospel, without fail makes me pause….  and smile.
Smile?
Jesus is turning towards Jerusalem.  The context of this passage is the foreshadowing of his ultimate rejection by the masses, and even of his closest disciples.  What on Earth is there to smile about here?
That, though, is precisely the point.  What, indeed, on Earth — “on Earth as in Heaven” — is there to smile about?
Consider for a moment what the Christ might have done, the Messiah, the Salvation of God’s people Israel, and the Light unto the Nations, the Alpha, the Omega, the Son of God might have done.
This passage in the Gospel could have read:
And then the Son of God in Majestic Glory turned and offered an insightful and profound parable about the nature of compassion for those who scorn us.
Or…
Christ, Messiah, heading into Jerusalem to face his death on the Cross for our Salvation stopped to preach to his disciples…
But it says neither of these things, nor many other things that the Gospel might have said.  It says only “he turned and rebuked them.”
And this, for me, is the most tender and poignant of matters, the revelation of Christ’s ultimate humanity.  For here stands Jesus, in this moment, on this Earth, not as the Son of God, not as Christ the King, etc., etc., but as Jesus, a man rather like a frazzled parent, or harried schoolteacher in any age understanding as a parent or schoolteacher might what is actually happening with his disciples and responding in the most human of ways.
Jesus knows at this moment that his disciples do not understand where they are headed or where they are going.  Not really do they understand.  They are rather like boisterous, anxious children on a road trip.  James, John and the others are in this moment a bit anxious, a bit excited, and more than a little rowdy.  They have no real notion of what lies ahead.  All they know is that they have some vague understanding that they are with someone who is the Christ and the Son of God, whatever that might mean, and they want to help, they want to participate, and they want to do something really nifty like calling down fire.
This Jesus understands.  And so, in a way that only his humanity can permit, responds in the most human of ways:
“Shush!  Settle down!  No, we’re not calling down fire.  Now be quiet, and don’t say another word until we get to Jerusalem.  And if you make me have to pull this procession over you’ll be sorry because I’m gonna make you *think* rain down fire, all right!”
A Christ cannot understand this and respond in this manner.
A Messiah cannot understand this and respond in this manner.
Only a compassionate, loving, human man named Jesus trying to get his disciples corralled and down the road can respond in this manner.  Except…
They are the same.
This Christ.  This Messiah.  This harried traveler named Jesus with unruly Boanerges boisterous boys in tow…
…are one and the same.
And so as we continue our journey through the Lenten season, on the road to Jerusalem, I ask of you what has really changed among the disciples of Christ, the followers of this man named Jesus with much on his mind?
Do we understand any better than did James and John what it truly means to be in the presence of the Son of God?  Do we truly understand what is about to unfold?  And in our own way, do we, in our zeal, want to be helpful, to participate, to do some nifty trick like calling down fire without really thinking through what we’re saying or understanding what we mean?
More importantly, when Jesus, in full humanity turns and rebukes us, then continues on his way to Jerusalem… will we sulk and feel a bit stung?  Or will we understand and accept that within that rebuke is the compassion of a deep humanity without which we would never have found ourselves here in the first place?
These are the questions placed before us in Lent.
So, now I leave you with these thoughts.  Go in peace and reflect.  Go in quiet and meditate.  Go in silence and contemplate.  Because…
…if you make me have to pull this blog over…