Easter Rising

Celtic Christianity, whose model was the beloved disciple whose head rested on Jesus’ breast during the Last Supper “listening for the heartbeat of God,” offered more equality between male and female leadership and less differentiation between clergy and laity, permitted married and unmarried clergy, innovated the use of soul friends/guides, believed redemption was possible through either sacraments or nature, recognized and valued the theophanies of the natural world, and recognized that everyone was a child of God, created in God’s image.

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Easter Litany (A progressive Exultet)

The pain of our Good Fridays
still lingers among us.
We still dwell inside the long waiting
of our Holy Saturdays.
Old wounds hold us in calloused hearts.
Ancient histories mold our souls in fear.
New worries drag us toward the abyss of dread.

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Good Friday Sermons

Holy Week marks a sharp uptick in visitors to this blog. From comments, messages, and emails I hear from fellow preachers who, like me, are daunted by the task of preparing the Good Friday sermon. That task is even more daunting for those of us who serve progressive communities. My fellow progressive-christian-preachers tell me of the dearth of progressive-christian Good Friday sermons to be found on the internet and encourage me to re-post my own attempts to rise to the occasion. So, here are the links to some of the Good Friday sermons I have preached over the years of my journey with the progressive community which I serve.

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Maundy Thursday – When you don’t believe that Jesus was a sacrifice for sin!

I was asked by a colleague, “So, if you do not believe that Jesus died for your sins, then why bother celebrating the events of Holy Week?” Behind this question lies the assumption that the only way to understand Jesus’ death is to frame it within the context of the theology of “penal sacrificial atonement” ie “we are judged to be sinful creatures, punishment is required, God sends Jesus to pay the price for our sin”. That Anslem’s theory of sacrificial atonement was formulated in the 11th century and continues to hold sway in the minds of so many followers of Christ is a testament to the power of our liturgies and hymns to form our theology. However, Anslem’s theory is not they only faithful way to understand Jesus’ death.

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Make the Week Holy

This coming week we have the opportunity to enact our faith with those fleeing violence and seeking sanctuary in our country. Doing so is how we can actually make Holy Week holy.

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Bring,O Morn, Thy Music

Written by William Channing Gannett

Bring, O morn, thy music!
Night, thy starlit silence!
Oceans, laugh in rapture to the storm-winds coursing free!
Suns and planets chorus,
praise to all found holy. ­
Life was, and is, and evermore shall be.

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Repent or Perish and The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Compassion over rules

sadly in a world dominated by might, money, and power, some people look upon compassion, mercy, gentleness of spirit, inclusiveness and unconditional love as weakness. In a world blighted by terrorism, war and indescribable brutality demonstrated day by day, for example in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; in a world where many have become indifferent, self righteous and just downright selfish; in a world where Bible passages are taken out of context to uphold racism, sexism, homophobia and unhealthy nationalism: these are the places in which compassion, mercy, gentleness of spirit, inclusiveness and unconditional love should work and speak.

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The Lament over Jerusalem

As Christian people we all too often pay lip service to the fact that the political and religious context in which Jesus lived, thought and died, was one of economic, political and military domination by the Roman Empire. We also often fail to realise that this was also both the context in which the Christian scriptures were written and the life and death of Jesus was interpreted. Failure to understand these Jewish contexts leads Christians and the Church to misinterpret the underlying message and meaning of the life and death of Jesus the Jew of Nazareth. Whether we like it or not, I am convinced that Jesus had a political agenda as well as an agenda of compassion.

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The Foolishness of God – a Sermon for Lent 4C – Parables of the Lost

These parables of the lost and found are outrageous. None of us would get very fare in life if we lived by these teachings. It is better to put the welfare of the many above the needs of one. It is pointless to cry over spilt milk. Sometimes its better to cut your losses and move on. The best accountants learn quickly to write off losses that would be too time consuming and costly to recoup. Children need to learn that they can’t always get what they want; that there are consequences to their actions, that dues must be paid, that we need to ask for forgiveness and make amends for our crimes, that rules need to be followed, and laws cannot be broken. That doing the right thing will be rewarded. And yet along comes Jesus, spouting such foolishness that even we who are predisposed to agree with him, even we can sympathize with the self-righteous and wonder how anyone could be expected to live like this.

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Progressive Christianity Lent Course 2016 Alternative Insights into the Lent Gospel Readings

As we prepare for Easter, this Season of Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect again upon how we experience Yahweh God and how we live our lives of servant hood – not as doormats to be trampled under foot but as true servants of Yahweh God who proclaim by our lives that Jesus is our Way, our Truth and our Life.

Lent offers us the opportunity NOT to give up but to give more of ourselves in the service of others and in the causes of justice and peace. May this Season of Lent have real meaning for each one of us.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 37: Palm Sunday

In the last lesson about living courageously, the emphasis was on discovering the courage that exists within our divine nature. The Easter story of Jesus shows how courage in the face of ignorance and fear is ultimately an expression of true selfless love. His appearance in Jerusalem despite the threats against him was not a grand gesture to show how brave he was but a selfless act of friendship and love. His life was an expression of love for all people, and he lived each day as a messenger of that light. Considering his personal safety would have been an ego affirmation, which he strongly rejected when Peter expressed fear for his teacher’s life.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 38: Easter

Like all spiritual and religious celebrations, Easter can be experienced and understood on many levels. In the cycles of nature, we see examples of renewed life: animals being born, trees sprouting leaves, and flowers bursting with color in the spring. Our hearts respond with deep yearning for inner renewal as well. Springtime rituals in the northern hemisphere have always been a way to welcome the awakening life energy of the earth and the return of light, but they are also symbolic of the inner awakening that all souls experience. In the southern hemisphere, Easter is celebrated in the fall and is a time to celebrate the fall harvest and the gathering of family and friends.
A Christian scholar, the Venerable Bede (672–735 AD), first asserted that Easter was named after Eostre, the great mother goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring, eastre. Pagan festivals associated with birth, the renewal of life, fertility, and sunrise date back to long before Christianity. Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area are recorded as having a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Many of the present-day customs of Easter have their origins in these festivals.

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Resuscitation or Resurrection?

If you look into a chrysalis, what you discover is an empty tomb. The caterpillar is gone; not resuscitated, but resurrected. Now lives a butterfly.

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Easter Virtue

Yes, we all will one day die; but not even death can bury the love and peace we have shared. Our acts of kindness, strivings for justice, and practices of compassion are the eternal verities that give our life meaning and purpose, and will put our death in the context of a life that cannot be denied.

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Easter Litany

Astonished, with the pain of Good Friday lingering in our consciousness, we awake to a new day of hopes and miracles.

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Easter: Our Yearly Reminder That We Really Are Trash

This Easter, progressives will once again preach sermons and write articles in order to do their best to re-frame the Jesus story in a positive light. This isn’t one of those articles.

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Easter Unison Prayer of Dedication

We are an Easter people! We believe that faith can move mountains, and that caterpillars can be transformed into butterflies.

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How Did Jesus Let Go of His Cross?

I would have been angry. And exhausted. And resentful, bitter, unforgiving. And not just of those who tortured me verbally and physically, spitting in my face, nailing me to that cross, but all those who looked away, pretending it wasn’t happening or worse, that it wasn’t important, and fearful of a similar fate if they defended me.

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