We walk the way that has no end (Good Friday Hymn)

Tune: Winchester (Ride on, ride on in majesty)

We walk in silence while the earth
Quivers and cracks beneath our feet
Swallows our dreams and shatters worth
Solemn, we trudge to hearts’ dull beat.

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Good Friday Reflection

We come here today to remember a man. A man…
who had dreams,
who had those dreams shattered,…

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The Stations of the Cross and the Beatitudes, Part 7

A Guide to Spiritual Practice for Lent

Beatitude Seven: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Beatitude Eight: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Station Twelve: Jesus dies on the cross.

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Dust and Ashes

The Gift of Mortality

Avowed atheist Susan Jacoby recently created a dust up with a recent article in the New York Times Sunday Review entitled, “The Blessings of Atheism.” She wrote in response to all the god-talk that appeared in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre; with all those unanswerable questions or inadequate answers to human suffering and death so often peddled in popular religious belief.

So too, not long ago author and “non-believer,” Christopher Hitchen’s posthumously published his little book Mortality; recounting his rambling thoughts on his own imminent demise; after a terminal diagnosis left him a sufficient number of days to find himself “deported from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.”

But what, or where to, after that? What if this really is all there is?

It seems there has always been the human hankering to imagine all kinds of fanciful notions, in our attempts to recapitulate our mortal existence into something more than it is. Many religious traditions, including centuries of “mainline” orthodox Christianity, employ great mythic stories to describe a life subsumed into something greater than we can either know, or grasp, except by “faith.” Heaven knows, some folks try to better themselves, merely in the hope of a remote possibility there something more, after our death, which is a certainty. But in the end, is it all dust and ashes? And is that OK?

This is the liturgical time of year when many in the Christian tradition undergo a seasonal pilgrimage in which the faithful are reminded at the onset we mortals are nothing more than dust. And so we will one day return to that from whence we came. Then the traditional forty days end with the perennial re-enactment of a passion play commemorating the mortal demise of the one whom Christians even these many centuries later would profess to follow.

Many do so in the hope of some kind of immortality for themselves in some indecipherable form or other; attributing to Jesus a “resurrection” that means the same thing to them as god-like immortality; while others of us may find such imaginings to be not only reasonably implausible, but of less importance than what we take to be of greater significance and meaning in this faith tradition.

Otherwise, the vainglorious hope of immortality can become so enshrouded in our mortal fears that we become – like Lazarus in his early grave – so wrapped up in death that we fail to truly acknowledge and appreciate the gift of our mortality for what it is; nothing more, nor less.

With the certain assurance then that we are but dust and ash, we can ask ourselves if the gift of our mortality is not only enough, but more than enough? And if so, as the psalmist says, how then shall we “number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom?” (Psalm 90:12)

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Stations of the Cross and the Beatitudes, Week 5

A Guide to Spiritual Practice for Lent

Beatitude Five: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Jesus was merciful, but didn’t receive mercy. He forgave the people who were about to kill him, but they killed him anyway. Yet we are still haunted by his assertion of the possibility of a world in which mercy works both ways.

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Palm Passion

Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday… a worship service from Soul Link Faith Community, a new church plant in Mansfield PA. The pastor’s story follows the order of worship.

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Lent As A Practice Rather Than A Perfection

Lent has not been going well for me. One of the downsides to home-churching is that every planned activity falls on my husband and my shoulders, and we didn’t even realize when Easter fell as we made …

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The Gift: A poem for Lent by Jim Burklo

(This poem, which I wrote during Lent in 1981, appears in my book, BIRDLIKE AND BARNLESS – it is based on Numbers 21: 4-9, John 3: 13-15) THE GIFT No one’s raised who did not fall No …

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A Eucharistic Prayer for Lent and the Via Negativa

The Great Thanksgiving

It is right and a good and joyful thing to give thanks to you always, Creator God, because you have made the world in all its complexity.

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The Stations of the Cross and the Beatitudes, Week 4

A Guide to Spiritual Practice for Lent

Beatitude Four: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”

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A Lenten Journey

When we look at the entire story of Jesus, including his teachings as well as his life, it seems clear his path always presumed a spiritual death before one could experience new life or rebirth. His hodos required a death to the old before there could be a birthto a new way of seeing, a new way of understanding and experiencing life.

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The Stations of the Cross and the Beatitudes, Week 3

A Guide to Spiritual Practice for Lent

Beatitude Three: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” The word “meek” might better be interpreted as “gentle” or “considerate”.

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