Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pilgrimage of Lent: Session Four

Fourth and last session: washing of the feet:

I. Evening Prayer and reading of the Gospel:

John 12:20-33

Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

Jesus Speaks about His Death

‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Part II:
We also brought in the Gospel reading of John 13:1-20, in which Jesus gives the example of foot washing. The entire group discussed the lowly foot and foot washing, which was a first for many in the group. We discussed our travel with Jesus, our walks with the Christ, the process of thinking which is as fast as we walk.

Part III. Conclusion with the Lord's Prayer.

Buen Camino.


Pilgrimage of Lent: Session Three

The third session of Pilgrimage of Lent:

I. We started with the Evening Prayer and the following reading from John's Gospel:

John 3:14-21

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

II. The activity tonight was beautiful: candles. We brought candles from home and placed them around the cross, which still had the now-dried flowers from last week's session. This cross is on the table in front of us, the centerpiece of our discussion. There were large and small votive candles, all lit, near the nexus of the cross.

III. The discussion focused on light and the reading from the Gospel. We even discussed why Protestants use candles in worship. There was a lot of discussion about light and dark, shadows, and the beauty of walking in faith, even in the dark.

IV. Lord's Prayer.

Buen camino.


Pilgrimage of Lent: Session Two

This second session was based upon a reading from the Gospel:

I. We began with our Evening Prayer, with the following passage from John 2:13-22:

John 2:13-22

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

II. The opening activity was gathering flowers to decorate the cross. We discussed the practice of placing flowers on the cross on Easter morning, a practice done throughout Christendom. It can be a beautiful practice. Then we talked about the obverse of beauty, which led us into the discussion of what is not beautiful, which led us to talk about the Gospel passage above. The issue for our pilgrimage? What would we take or leave behind on our pilgrimage (actual and figurative)? I've been with people who've sent back lots when they were on pilgrimage.

III. Concluded with the Lord's Prayer.

Buen camino!


Pilgrimage of Lent: Session One

Over the last four weeks, I've led a series of lessons on pilgrimage during the season of Lent at United Church of Chapel Hill. I connected the Gospel reading for the upcoming Sunday with pilgrimage practices done on an actual pilgrimage, or the pilgrimage of ordinary lives.

The first session went something like this:
I. We opened with Evening Prayer, reading a litany that was "The Lord be with you," antiphon, followed by the Gospel Reading. This week the reading was Mark 8:31-38:

Mark 8:31-38

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

II. The opening activity for this session was building a cross. I explained that the cross of Christ was probably thrown away into the wilderness, or re-used again by someone else. People sell bits of the cross throughout the Holy Land. I like to say that the cross of Christ has been reclaimed by nature and is found in the simple wood of forested lands. With that, we went to the forested land around the Church and found bits of wood no longer than one's thigh and no thicker than a finger. We bound these bits of wood with natural twine and made a cross that was five feet long and 3 feet wide of gnarly brown wood.

III. The discussion was simple: What does it mean to follow the cross of Christ in our lives on our personal pilgrimage, based upon the Gospel reading. The discussion was incredibly rich, diverse, and deep.

IV. We concluded with praying the Lord's Prayer.

Now for the second session...

Buen Camino!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Selma to Montgomery: A Pilgrimage

There is currently a pilgrimage taking place between Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. 50 miles in 5 days, 10 miles a day. This is an historic pilgrimage, repeating a civil rights march in the 1960s, first led by civil rights leaders like Shuttlesworth and King. The words, "We shall over come, we shall overcome...we shall overcome some day..." And so they have, and so they are, as all of us are who are for civil rights for and among all.

Witness the power of people walking together in peace, silently, against the violence in this world.