The close union between human and divine natures – a hypostatic union – coupled with confession of Jesus the Christ’s personal identity as ‘God from God’ has tended to allow the sex of the human being Jesus to be transferred to God’s own being. Interestingly enough, this has not happened with other historical particularities of the human Jesus, such as his ethnic heritage, his nationality, his age, his socioeconomic status, and so on….As visible image of the invisible God, the human man Jesus is used to tie the knot between maleness and divinity very tightly. — She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse by Elizabeth A. Johnson, p. 35 (via closerthanthetinythoughts)
Transformation occurs only in the liturgy and not in the world, there bread and wine remain hoarded, but not offered, concentrated and not broken, maldistributed and not shared. The Eucharist becomes a freak, a contradiction of social reality, instead of a pointer to how reality should be reshaped. If we then go back to read the early Christian Fathers we find how far we have come from their understanding. St. John Chrysostom draws the closest connection between the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and his real presence in the poor and oppressed. We need to recover this connection between the Sacraments and the structures of the world, and to take seriously the social and political consequences of being one body in Christ. — Kenneth Leech, Prayer and Prophecy, 238. (via letlovemeetlove)
In our American arena of privileges and endless possibilities, our reckless obsession with individual choice, we have made our own preferences the fullest measure of our spiritual obedience. Any impediment to pleasure is now an experience of suffering. We live in a candy store of options, all of them geared to satisfy our cravings for entertainment, inspiration, novelty, exhilaration; to deny us our cravings is inexcusable.
No wonder we can’t remain in a church. Who can ever please all the people all the time? And what about other Christian practices? We call them “disciplines” for a reason. Ancient Christian practices were never about pleasure; they were about transforming us, helping us make that long transition from being children tossed in the wind to being ammas and abbas trained in ways of holiness. God likes us to see us happy, indeed. But there is more. Even dutiful boredom has its place in the rhythms of a mature Christian life. Or it used to. — Neo-Christian Myth #4: The Sweet Tooth of American Christianity
The historical development of Lent corresponded to the construction of a Christian culture and thus the redemption of cultural life. It formed part of the message that upon entering the faith, the individual entered into an alternative way of existing in the world in which time was understood differently. The patterns of one’s existence now corresponded to a new narrative about the history of the world as one of creation and redemption in and through Jesus Christ. This is the link between the fasting and prayer that catechumens engaged in prior to undergoing baptism, confirmation, and first Eucharist and the incorporation of those practices into a Lenten season as part of the movement toward Easter.
As a cultural practice, then, Lent concerns the ongoing mission of the churches. Sometimes pastors or priests will talk about Lent as part of an individual’s ongoing conversion, because the person enters a prolonged period of heightened spiritual awareness in which acts of repentance and acts of mercy form the preparation for Easter celebration. While this may personalize Lent, the global culture that it communicates relates more to cosmic salvation and the mission to bring all of life under the authority of Christ. It may be that the importance of Lent resides in its reminder of the continuing mission to transform culture by the creation of new cultural forms of life that attest to the arrival of a new race of people. — Dale M. Coulter
friendly reminder that whatever your sacrifice or discipline for Lent, Sundays are feast days and exemptions to the fast
The oldest hymn to the Theotokos? -
So far, the earliest known prayer to the Virgin Mary is known as “Beneath thy compassion” (Greek: Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν). The earliest text of this hymn was found in a Christmas liturgy of the third century. It is written in Greek and dates to approximately 250 A.D.
In 1917, the John Rylands Library in Manchester acquired a large panel of Egyptian papyrus including the 18 cm by 9.4 cm fragment shown at left, containing the text of this prayer in Greek.
C.H. Roberts published this document in 1938. His colleague E. Lobel, with whom he collaborated in editing the Oxyrhynchus papyri, basing his arguments on paleographic analysis, argued that the text could not possibly be older than the third century, and most probably was written between 250 and 300. This hymn thus precedes the “Hail Mary“ in Christian prayer by several centuries.On the papyrus: .ΠΟ ΕΥCΠΑ ΚΑΤΑΦΕ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΕΤ ΙΚΕCΙΑCΜΗΠΑ ΕΙΔΗCΕΜΠΕΡΙCTAC AΛΛΕΚΚΙΝΔΥΝΟΥ …ΡΥCΑΙΗΜΑC MONH …HEΥΛΟΓFull text: Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν καταφεύγομεν Θεοτὸκε· τὰς ἡμῶν ἱκεσίας μὴ παρ- ίδῃς ἐν περιστάσει ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ κινδύνου λύτρωσαι ἡμᾶς μόνη ἁγνὴ μόνη εὐλογημένη.In English: Beneath your compassion we take refuge, Theotokos! Our prayers, do not despise in necessities, but from danger deliver us, only pure, only blessed one.
Interestingly, the hymn calls Mary Theotokos (“she who gave birth to God”) two centuries before the Nestorian heresy arose. By the fourth century, the term was already popular in the area of Alexandria (St. Alexander of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Serapion of Thmuis, Didymus the Blind), and also in Arabia (Titus of Bostra), in Palestine (Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Cyril of Jerusalem), Cappadocia (St. Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzen, Severian of Gabala.)
The term Theotokos may be encountered during the previous century as well in the work of the Alexandrian school. According to the testimony of the ecclesiastical historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl. VII, 32 – PG 67, 812 B), Origen used it in his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. This commentary is unfortunately now lost, but Origen’s disciple, Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, also used the term Theotokos around the year 250 in an extant epistle to Paul of Samosata. It is interesting to note that the term did not remain a mere theological concept, but was actively and popularly used in public services of prayer.
Of course this hymn is familiar to Orthodox Christians, who still sing it at the end of nearly every Vespers (evening prayer) service during the fasting season of Lent. It is also found prominently in the liturgies of the Oriental churches and in Roman Catholic worship.
Some readers may find it surprising to learn that a woman shortage blighted the ancient world, with about 130-140 men for every 100 women. This is so because many female infants were left to die of exposure and because of the mortal risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Yet both Christians and their critics observed a marked overrepresentation of women in the early churches, a fact the critics used to their advantage: “What respectable group caters to women?” Why, one wonders, did so many women find the churches appealing if women’s contributions were not valued? The answer is, simply, that the early churches did value women’s contributions. Not only did women show their strength in numbers, they did so in leadership positions as well. — The Power and Presence of Women In The Earliest Churches (via azspot)
Evangelical Piety Lingo Bingo.
This is how I entertain myself during “chapel” services at my fundie (S. Baptist) college.
My problem was that I owned a Bible. And that Bible talks a lot about “church.” Some might find it odd, though, that when the Bible talks about church, it doesn’t talk so much about hymnals, pews, and pulpits; the Apostle Paul’s favorite word when talking about what church is and does is “reconciliation.”
Paul says crazy things like “God reconciled us to himself, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” and “He (Jesus) is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”
In those fumbling, early days of the church the biggest issue in the church was the church. How are these Jews and Gentiles, people who are so fundamentally different from one another, going to get along?
Paul’s answer to the existential problems of race, religion, politics, and classism? Church!
The church is envisioned as the place — perhaps the only place — where those otherwise at odds find communion, common cause, and mutual love. It’s church where disparate interests, purposes, politics, and ideologies celebrate one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. — Sean Palmer
Henry Chadwick, distinguished church historian and veteran observer of the ecumenical scene, is fond of remarking that the chief reason for Christian division today is division itself. Whatever may have been the issues initially leading to division, a division once established very quickly takes on a life of its own, as each side tries to justify its own role in the division. Differences that would not in themselves have been church-dividing are invested with new meaning, to the point of becoming symbols of division rather than examples of legitimate diversity. Signs of particular divine favor are discovered on each side, whether in supernatural portents or in the steadfastness of new confessors and martyrs. Competing ecclesial structures are erected. Anathemas are hurled. And even if the issues that led to the division are eventually resolved, the division itself - buttressed in these many ways - remains. —
Beyond Dialogue: The Quest for Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Unity Today | St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (via pegobry)
This. I especially cringe when I see people point to practical differences as reasons for separation when they were never really universal to begin with (the calendar, for one example).