Sunday, April 19, 2009
I enjoyed a visit to the new site of Episcopal Academy, now coming to the end of their first academic year in Newtown Square. We Preppers may be envious of all the green grass, the beautiful view from the center-piece chapel (the view extends over a valley and woods behind my right shoulder), the several academic and recreational buildings and the five or six playing fields, all of which were in use on Saturday afternoon.
The occasion for my visit: watching our lacrosse team beat them!
The differences between the mission of the Prep and the mission of Episcopal seem evident in the setting and architecture. But I do believe that it is possible for the Episcopal campus, too, to nurture men and women with and for others
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
We have very limited knowledge of the kingdom of God to come. We have an image of that kingdom taken perhaps from imaginative pictures of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. Or we craft an image taken from our favorite experiences. But Jesus provides us his leading image, with frequent mention in the gospels, the image of wedding feasts and other meals of celebration. And this evening we commemorate how Jesus put his own stamp on the meal above all others, the Passover meal that celebrates freedom, a memorial of the Exodus of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. For us who have not known slavery in any civil or political sense, the meal celebrates the power of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection to forgive our sins and free us for the works of love.
Adopting Jesus’ image of the meal as the experience of heaven might lead us to imagine ourselves sitting in luxury at an elaborately set table surrounded by our favorite foods and our best friends and family. And a gospel story or two confirm that God reserves some such places but for the poor Lazarus and for other poor and hungry. In our own images of God’s kingdom, however, it is useful for us to consider the whole picture. Maybe God would rather we wait on table or prepare the meal in the kitchen or be the rancher presenting the choicest meat or the farmer the choicest fruits or vegetables. Images of waiting on table or cooking can take the place of the usual ones we make up for ourselves: heaven’s champion tennis player or lead singer in the heavenly choir. What a pleasure to take some of these banquet positions without the danger of running out of joy and energy and with perfection of service and product always within reach.
In this evening’s ideal setting for a heavenly banquet, Jesus, as he celebrates Passover, provides us with the image of how he himself will always behave. It is so humbling to watch him. He takes the role of a trusted household servant and bathes the feet of his friends. This action appears at a moment in time but it is a gesture that informs all of human existence. It is the gesture that defines for Jesus his love for us and his deepest desire to be of service to us. It is the gesture that defines how we ourselves are to live.
Monday, April 06, 2009
My friends Maryann and Joe Farrell invited me to be part of the wedding party for their son Peter who married Stephanie Wong on April 4 in Newton, MA. Stephanie is pictured also here with her brother Michael after she had changed into her "goodluck red" dress, her one concession to Chinese wedding customs!