Saturday, August 8, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Blacknall Presbyterian Church
Since 2008, Centurions Guild has ministered with men and women in the military as well as their dependents, learning together what it means to have been called by Christ but touched by war. What we have learned is that war is too often thought of and taught in abstractions, overlooking the very soldiers and veterans whose lives make war possible. The result is that the people and ideas produced by war often become dismembered bodies left in its wake. Combat, on the other hand, is personal, specific, and impossible to ultimately define. Rather than abstract speculative theologies about war, the Church needs radically engaged theologies of combat and its effects on people we care for.
In this introductory Combat Theology workshop, Iraq veteran and Executive Officer Logan Isaac will provide attendees with resources for meaningfully engaging military personnel in congregations and classrooms alike. Whether you are a pastor, a seminary professor, or a layperson with connections to the military, you will walk away with a better understanding of the complicated intersection of Christian faith and military service. Ticket includes all the materials provided and light break-time beverages & refreshments. Suggested donation to cover costs is $10 – $15.
Join us before the workshop at 8am for “First Formation” (AKA Morning Prayer, from the Book of Common Worship) led by Rev. Karen Barfield in the sanctuary of St Joseph’s Episcopal Church. Blacknall is located right across the street from St. Joseph’s at 1902 Perry Street.
Space is limited; attendees are asked to register in advance.
In lieu of a sermon this week I wrote a poem — or, rather, a story in the form of a poem. The story of the loaves and fishes is, after Christmas and Easter, perhaps the most-told story from the Gospels. But it admits too readily of easy answers I’m not comfortable offering, and the various Gospel accounts give us only sketches. What story, I wondered, might one of the five thousand have told?
We walked for miles to see him, this brand-new prophet,
packed a picnic in the dark before dawn:
bread, a little stale; some cheese, a skin of wine,
more than we needed. My wife overpacks.
On my back I bore this feast, beyond
the town, the stubbly fields, into the desert—
the wilderness, she driving me before her
like a damned goat to die. We lived, of course,
but that was later. Meantime the sun shone hot
and hotter as it climbed, as we climbed
one hill after another, to see another valley
void of life and full of rocks, the few
bare bushes brown, and worse than none.
The sky became a vast and cloudless fire
that washed the world to white. We kept our eyes
down on the ground. A lonesome vulture fed
on carrion—though what could have lived here
long enough to die, I could not guess. Perhaps
another prophet, less successful. This one—
This one they all talk about, the one
the fishmonger says is Lord. I’ve heard it before.
My wife, my neighbor, the fishmonger say to me:
You have to hear him preach! But all I could think,
trudging over hill and sun-baked vale:
If this guy is Lord, someone forgot
to prepare his way. Continue reading
I did not want to preach about racism this week. That probably sounds bad. I’m not trying to dodge the issue, and I try hard not to live in denial of all the insidious ways racism has been encoded into our society. It’s not that I don’t care about racism. It’s that I’m so tired of all of the think pieces about it, all the people on Facebook saying “if your preacher doesn’t preach about racism this week, you should leave,” all the things that keep me oscillating between outrage and a ridiculous sense of righteous frustration. It’s exhausting. I’m diagnosing myself with think piece fatigue. Huffington Post syndrome.
A terrible event these days launches a million commentaries, and commentaries on the commentaries. I like Facebook, so I end up immersed in think pieces shared by my wonderful friends. All well intentioned, many brilliant, but after a few news cycles, they sort of sound like a swarm of bees to me. It has a paralyzing effect on me, and my brain kind of just refuses to engage anymore. Instead of more meta-commentary, I start to yearn for something that will ground me, something that runs deeper than outrage without asking me not to feel outraged. Today’s Gospel kind of gets there, and I find that tremendously helpful, because I do believe I need to preach about racism. Continue reading