Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Last Supper Parable by Peter Rollins

book

I am so excited!  I have ordered Peter Rollins’ new book The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales and should be receiving it in a few days.  I ordered the book from Paraclete Press here.

This book is a series of parables that Rollins has written.  In Pete’s own words, this collection of original parables, “represents my own attempt to explore and testify to the impossible Event housed in faith. In that sense they are deeply personal and relative to my own life.”

These parables ask questions that often seem impossible to answer. But the questions themselves are worth living in and exploring, and offer a faith that is alive, fluid, and authentic.

Here is one of the parables from The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales

THE LAST SUPPER

It is evening, and you are gathered together with the other disciples in a small room for Passover. All the time you are watching Jesus, while he sits quietly in the shadows listening to the idle chatter, watching over those who sit around him, and, from time to time, telling stories about the kingdom of God.

As night descends, a meal of bread and wine  is brought into the room. It is only at this moment that Jesus sits forward so that the shadows no longer cover his face. He quietly brings the conversation to an end by capturing each one with his intense gaze. Then he begins to speak:

“My friends, take this bread, for it is my very body, broken for you.”

Every eye is fixed on the bread that is laid on the table. While these words seem obscure and unintelligible, everyone picks up on their gravity.

Then Jesus carefully pours wine into the cup of each disciple until it overflows onto the table.

“Take this wine and drink of it, for it is my very blood, shed for you.”

With these words an ominous shadow seems to descend upon the room – a chilling darkness that makes everyone shudder uneasily. Jesus continues:

“As you do this, remember me.”

Most of the gathered disciples begin to slowly eat the bread and drink the wine, lost in their thoughts. You, however, cannot bring yourself to lift your hand at all, for his words have cut into your soul like a knife.

Jesus does not fail to notice your hesitation and approaches, lifting up your head with his hand so that your eyes are level with his. Your eyes meet for only a moment, but before you are able to turn away, you are caught up in a terrifying revelation. At that instant you experience the loneliness, the pain, and sorrow that Jesus is carrying. You see nails being driven through skin and bone; you hear the crowds jeering and the cries of pain as iron cuts against flesh. At that moment you see the sweat that flows from Jesus like blood, and experience the suffocation, madness, and pain that will soon envelop him. More than all of this, however, you feel a trace of the separation he will soon feel in his own being.

In that little room, which occupies no significant space in the universe, you have caught a glimpse of a divine vision that should never have been disclosed. Yet it is indelibly etched into the eyes of Christ for anyone brave enough to look.

You turn to leave – to run from that place. You long for death to wrap around you. But Jesus grips you with his gaze and smiles compassionately. Then he holds you tight in his arms like no one has held you before. He understands that the weight you now carry is so great that it would have been better had you never been born. After a few moments, he releases his embrace and lifts the wine that sits before you, whispering,

“Take this wine, my dear friend, and drink it up, for it is my very blood, and it is shed for you.”

All this makes you feel painfully uncomfortable, and so you shift in your chair and fumble in your pocket, all the time distracted by the silver that weighs heavy in your pouch.

Commentary from Peter Rollins:

This reflection was an outworking of my first interaction with the enigmatic figure of Judas. Here I wanted to play with our tendency to identify with the favorable characters in the Bible. For instance, when reading about the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble tax collector, we find it all too easy to condemn the first and praise the second without asking whether our own actions are closer to the one we have rejected than the one we praise.

Judas here is a symbol of all our failures, and Christ’s action to demonstrate his unconditional acceptance. Judas helps to remind us of Christ’s message that he came for the sick rather than the healthy, and that he loves and accepts us as we are.

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Praying Dangerous Prayers

pray

You may have heard someone warn against praying for patience because God will create a situation that will require a lot of patience.  I heard someone say once that we should be praying God-sized prayers – prayers that we can’t fulfill on our own – prayers that only God can answer.   I want to share two prayers with you that are dangerous, God-sized prayers.

The first is a Franciscan Benediction that Philip Yancey quoted in his book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference.  It was also used at Brian McLaren’s Everything Must Change tour.   This beautiful prayer is a dangerous, God-sized prayer because it asks God to mold us into people who are broken by the things that God is passionate about.

The second prayer is actually a poem by Amy Carmichael called Make Me Thy Fuel.  Amy Carmichael was a Christian missionary who devoted her life to helping poor kids in India.  This poem is a dangerous prayer to pray because it asks God for the opportunity to die to ourselves and live for Him and others.

A Fransican Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort,
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger,
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

My God bless you with tears,
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their
pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness,
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen.

 

Make Me Thy Fuel  

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from wind that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
The soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified),
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire.
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

What dangerous prayer have you prayed?  What happened?

Lifeway Knows Best (?)

I can’t believe that Lifeway Christian Stores have decided to put a warning label on certain books that cautions “read with discernment”. I didn’t know there were any books that were to be read without discernment! I guess as long as we agree with a particular opinion we can just go wild and read with pure abandon. I hear that Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and Don Miller are among some of the targeted authors.

It cracks me up:>) It’s so silly I can’t even get mad.

It was almost enough to make me stop believing.

In 44 communities across the U.S., teenagers are competing for a spot on their regional teams in order to compete in Washington DC at the National Slam Poetry championship called Brave New Voices. Russell Simmons’ Brave New Voices is a new seven-part HBO series documenting the stories of six competing teams.

Last night I saw some of the HBO special “Brave New Voices” and I was inspired to give slam poetry a try.

Slam poetry is typically intended to be heard instead of read so I have recorded an audio version of my poem in addition to including the written version.

It was almost enough to make me stop believing

Defacto segregations

Emotional manipulations

Personal salvations

ALL the proclamations

I had taken the bait

Walked through the narrow gate

Learned what to hate

Was certain of my eternal fate

I could spew the roman road, so proud so bold, part of the fold, believed what I was told

 I’m in – you’re out – no doubt what I’m talking about

I know – I’m right – I’m the one walking in the light

You lose – I win – come on I’ll point out your sin

Prostituting every opportunity

Wanting to be the supermajority

Working to oppress homosexuality

Don’t forget about being offended by profanity

Let’s hang out in our Christian bubble

Let’s try to stay out of trouble

Don’t wander away from the holy huddle

Forget about conversation – debate for domination – practice your presentation – and talk about eternal damnation

Pick a verse to justify being chauvinistic,

Deny it when they say you are legalistic,

Preach a gospel that is individualistic,

Forget that it seems a little imperialistic.

Don’t question the authority, know what’s a priority, don’t worry about the minority, that’s our expository

The Christianization – the dehumanization.

The demonstration – the incorporation.

Made me start to question

What about the brotherly love – the justice that was spoken of –

the one we were in awe of – the mercy they talked of

Didn’t they get the memoranda that we were supposed to love with no agenda

Didn’t they notice the lack of transformation – the absence of civil conversation

Weren’t we supposed to be known by our fruits instead of our refutes

Weren’t we supposed to make the world a better place full of love and hope and grace

Where was the creativity – the spirit of generosity – the chance for serendipity –

Thank God I broke free

Cause it was almost enough to make me stop believing.