Progressive Christian Reflections on Advent

Betsy Shank, "Magnificat"

How should progressive Christians approach Advent in light of twenty-first century knowledge? The following are four meditations based on the Annunciation account in Luke 1:(1) "Magnificat! Learning to Sing Mary’s Song" - An excerpt: How are you being called to sing new lyrics to Mary’s Song — of hope and peace and joy and love — this Christmas and in the new year so that your soul may ever more fully magnify God?”(2) "A Performance of Those Things Which Were Told" - An excerpt: The … [Read more...]

#OccupyAdvent: “Let the Reader Understand” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on Mark 13)

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Backing up a few verses to look at the preceding context for this week's Gospel Lesson (Mark 13:24-37), in Mark 13:14 the Gospel writer makes a curious aside: "But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.” I am fascinated that Mark did not place his hopes in his audience reading between the lines. He, instead, explicitly inscribed a parenthetical reference “(let the reader understand)” into t … [Read more...]

Four Spiritual Practices for Preaching on Matthew 25 (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Nov 20, 2011)

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Spiritual Practice I: Visio Divina To begin to reflect on this scripture, I invite you first to slow down. Take three deep breaths. And gaze softly at this image: What resonates with you most strongly about this picture? What word, phrase, image, or emotion does this image trigger in you? What surprises, excites, or disturbs you about this representation? This stunning icon is by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. One name for this icon is "Christ in the Margins," echoing the call in Matthew 25 to see C … [Read more...]

From “A Thief in the Night” to Harold Camping (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Nov 13, 2011)

Before there was a New Testament, before the Gospels were written, before any of Paul’s other letters were composed, there was 1 Thessalonians. Many scholars date this epistle to 49 CE, making this book not only Paul’s oldest letter of which we are aware, but also the oldest extant piece of Christian literature. So, approximately two decades after the life of the historical Jesus and approximately two decades before the Gospel of Mark, we have Paul’s first letter to the church at Thess … [Read more...]

Response to Tony Jones’ Blog on “Picking and Choosing Your Bible Verses (or, Why To Abandon the Lectionary)”

(Note: At the end of last week, I posted a lectionary commentary for Sunday, October 23 on “Why Not Choose Love? Picking and Choosing Scripture as a Twenty-first Century Christian.” Tony Jones, a leader in the Emergent Church Movement, wrote a response titled, "Picking and Choosing Your Bible Verses (or, Why To Abandon the Lectionary)." I have been out of town all week at a conference, but when my flight home was delayed yesterday, I had some time to draft these thoughts related to Tony’s origi … [Read more...]

“Why Not Choose Love? Picking and Choosing Scripture as a Twenty-first Century Christian” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Oct 23, 2011)

Prop 8: The Musical Progressive Christians are sometimes accused of “picking and choosing” Bible verses for their own convenience. But I would invite you to consider that, upon close inspection, all Christians pick and choose when it comes to the Bible. The same Bible has been used throughout history to affirm both slavery and emancipation, sexism and equality, violence and nonviolence. The question, then, becomes what criteria should we use to pick and choose between various parts of scri … [Read more...]


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