Dining with Divine Mercy

Community United Church of Christ (St. Paul Park, Minnesota)

Scripture: Mark 14: 17-42

“Was ever another command so obeyed?”, Dom Gregory Dix asks about “Do this in remembrance of me”. He goes on, “For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, from every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refuge of the fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth.  [People] have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church…while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; …tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp…; gorgeously, for the canonization of S. Joan of Arc – one could fill many pages with the reasons why [people] have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them.”[1] The universality of communion—it’s one of the things I love most about this tradition.

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Judges 17-19

Good morning! Today’s passage (Judges 17-19) is the first of a terrible two-day set of stories that close out the book of Judges. This era started out with more righteous judges like Deborah, who were succeeded by half-decent folks like Gideon, and then the amoral power of Abimelech and Jephthah. At least all of these folks sought to defeat non-Israelite threats. Now though, we see utter chaos in the tribes of Israel against one another. Strength unhinged from righteousness has led to anarchy, as a repeated refrain emphasizes: “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” In the narrative arc of the Bible, these terrible times help justify the later urge to have a king. The stories today also smear residents of northern tribes, suggesting that they were written at a time when southern Judah and northern Israel were at war with one another.

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Judges 9-11

Good morning! In the ongoing saga of Israel’s tribal conflicts over the hundreds of years between conquest and established monarchy, we have two more episodes today in Judges 9-11. Both the stories emphasize the limits of raw power in defense of Israel when it is decoupled with righteousness. The first episode suggests that destructive means leads to destructive ends, while the second shows how a rash vow leads to heartbreak even in victory.

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Jerusalem Journey

Community United Church of Christ (St. Paul Park, Minnesota)

Scripture: Mark 11:1-11 and 14:3-9

Yesterday Javen and I went to the Twin Cities Auto Show. We saw the latest in top-of-the-line automotive gadgetry: electric engines, pre-collision braking systems, fancy interiors, wireless technology, everything except driverless cars. Marvelous examples of human ingenuity are coming soon to a highway near you. But you know one piece of technology that’s still limited in reach? Headlights. I wondered about this, so I asked some vendors how well their headlights worked. To my disappointment, it didn’t sound like there were any car headlights that could do what I was hoping. Even though we now have halogen and LED bulbs that are so bright they blind drivers coming from the other direction, none of them make it possible to see the whole way home in an instant.

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