Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Mary Magdalene by Ed Taylor

Contrary to the custom of the period, Jesus accepted women among his followers. Although none of the women are ever identified as “disciples,” certain gospels passages indicate that some of them may have been equal to the disciples, particularly Mary Magdalene. Mark writes that women followed Jesus in Galilee and ministered to him (Mark 15:40-41). Like Mark, Matthew 17:55 refers to women who “followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.” Luke 8:1-3 mentions that Jesus and the disciples were accompanied by women and he specifically mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others, “who provided for them out of their own resources” (meaning that they must have had considerable wealth). Jesus’ death and the events accompanying it mention the presence of women and some of those women witnessed the crucifixion, Jesus’ burial and the discovery of the empty tomb. Pope Benedict XVI considered it an obvious fact that “many women were also chosen to number among the disciples.”

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Affirmations and Confessions by a Progressive Christian Layman – Jesus’ Miracles by Ed Taylor

Most people assume that the Bible is filled with stories of supernatural happenings and miraculous interventions. The accounts of miracles in the Bible are generally limited to three cycles of stories: the Moses-Joshua cycle in the Torah, the Elijah-Elisha stories that are recorded between I Kings 17 and II Kings 13, and the Jesus-Disciples of Jesus stories that are found in the four gospels. There is an occasional supernatural tale in other parts of the Bible, but these are the only areas where they are concentrated. Our concentration is primarily on the miracles that are attributed to Jesus in the gospels.
The reported supernatural deeds performed by Jesus during his ministry can be categorized into four groups: cures, exorcisms, raising the dead, and nature control. Interestingly, each type of miracle that is attributed to Jesus in the gospels also occurred in the Moses-Joshua and Elijah-Elisha stories.

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Should Progressive Christians Share their Faith? When Is it Appropriate?

When it comes to faith sharing there are two poles. At one end of the spectrum is the witness who is absolutely sure of himself. He is anchored in certitudes and has the truth nailed down. You want answers, he has them. He is bold and brass, if not arrogant and obtrusive. Most people who would read this article are embarrassed by this kind of Christian witness.

At the other end is the Christian who is very hesitant to saying anything at all about her faith. “It is the life I live that matters,” she says, which, of course, is true, but shouldn’t disciples of Jesus want to say something about Jesus, in whom and through whom they have found a transformative path?

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An Exhalation on Ministry

It’s always ourselves we find in the sea. We find that Self, quite often, by unfinding. By recognizing what is not who we really are. When you go to the beach, you have to leave a lot behind. Half the fun of it is reducing your belongings to what fits in a wicker basket, and wearing as little clothing as possible. And when you get into the water, there’s no carrying the wicker basket. Or even the flip-flops. Is this not the work of ministry – the work of pastoring? To teach people to swim – to move freely and joyfully in the waters of the soul, unburdened by all the baggage of habit and culture. To help people shed their assumptions, drop their dead dogma on the sand, and soak up the sun of love and peace and total acceptance?

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The Holy Nativity of a Human Jesus

On the First Sunday of the Advent season this year – for those Christian faith communities that observe a liturgical calendar — the traditional four weeks of waiting on the tiptoe of expectation only lasted until 1:37 PM that afternoon for our family; when my own daughter gave birth to her first-born child.

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Admissions and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Jesus’ Followers

The four gospels divide Jesus’ followers into three groups. The Greek word “ochloi” refers to the crowds who gathered when Jesus preached; “Mathetes” refers to the followers who stuck around for more teaching; and “Apostolos” refers to the disciples, those chosen by Jesus as his inner circle.

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Litany Based on John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word …
It all started with an act of divine self-expression.
and the Word was with God …
It all comes from the center of God.

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Unalienable Rights, and the Question of a “Christian” Conscience

A Commentary for the Annual Observance of Independence Day, 2013

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These grand words are etched in the American consciousness, and serve as a preamble of sorts to the Constitution’s subsequent ideal goal of “a more perfect union.” With the recent split Supreme Court decisions over voting rights and marriage equality, along with and passage of an immigration reform bill in the Senate that naysayers declare is DOA in the House of Representatives, it would appear that while progress has been made, we clearly remain a work in progress, as well.

As we prepare to celebrate our Independence Day holiday this year the fireworks have been set off a little early with the debate over the intelligence surveillance practices of the so-called Patriot Act by a government that was established of, by and for the people. Call them heroes or traitors, whistleblowers or hack-tivists, there are also a growing number of anti-authoritarian tech geeks who claim to be motivated less by notoriety than a certain principled conscience to which they claim to have pledged a higher allegiance.

So, what is the nature of “natural” or “divinely-bestowed” rights? What of human conscience, earthly authority, and more? And – for those of us who might consider ourselves both a red-blooded American and Christian of one sort or other — what might constitute a “Christian” conscience, based on a Jesus life-ethic?

You can find the latest commentary Here.

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Realism vs. Man of Steelism

Once upon a time, political conservatives in America were stereotyped as hard-headed realists, and liberals were described as ungrounded dreamers. How times have changed!

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Credo: God Is…

God is all without being any thing, while being the all in every thing.

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When the Rules are Wrong- sermon video

Community Christian Church of Springfield

The miracles in the New Testament are called “signs.” They are metaphors for the Kingdom. In John 5, Jesus heals a man who has been looking at his source of healing, a pool that this sermon titles “the hospital” but the rules are such that he cannot get in to be healed. Jesus breaks through that injustice to bring healing to the one who needs it the most, without an insurance card, without proof of employment or citizenship. And that is what the faith community is called to do: to break the rules that bar the sick from health care, that favors banks over homeowners and corporate profits over the interests of those who need air and water that has not been polluted.

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Litany Based on John 1:1-4

In the beginning was the Word …
It all started with an act of divine self-expression.
and the Word was with God …
It all comes from the center of God.

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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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The Gift: A poem for Lent

No one’s raised who did not fall
No one saves whom God did not send
No one stands whose knees won’t bend
No helper’s not been helped at all

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The Resolutions of Jesus

Traditionally this is a time to learn from our mistakes and commit ourselves to do differently in the new year. I wonder what resolutions Jesus would have made? For some, it may seem shocking to suggest that …

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Understanding “The Gospel”: Why Authorship Claims Matter Dramatically – Part 2 B

But the loss of their key center and probably the main leadership and overall strength of the movement opened the way for Pauline Christian influence which is clear particularly in Luke (both his Gospel and Acts).

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Hope Unseen

(based on John 5: 37-47, Romans 8: 18-25)

When one comes in a never-uttered name
God wins the glory for all that is done:
It’s in hoping for what cannot be claimed
That every inch of justice is won.

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Understanding “The Gospel”: Why Authorship Claims Matter Dramatically – Part 2

The great dividing line for two religions and the relationship between them is the period of 66-70 CE, which ended in the destruction of both Jerusalem and the great “Second Temple”. For Jews of the time this destroyed the political, economic and religious organization of Israel….

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