Pentecost +2, Proper 7C

O my help, come quickly to my aid!

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Third Sunday After Pentecost (June 19, 2022) in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary.

If we follow the lectionary reading for this Sunday, we enter Psalm 22 right in the middle of an anguished scream.

The psalmist has begun the psalm with a desolate cry of abandonment (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and then has detailed his 5 Hear what the Spirit is saying Pentecost +2 Proper 7C Week of June 19, 2022 troubles, using vivid metaphors. He is a “worm, and not human” (verse 6). He is surrounded by “bulls,” “lions,” and “dogs” (verses 12-13, 16). He is “poured out like water” (verse 14). And he is not afraid to place blame where blame is due: “You [God] lay me in the dust of death” (verse 15).

And yet, the psalmist also knows where his help lies; strangely enough, from the same source he has just accused of foul play. As we enter the psalm, the psalmist cries, “But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!” (verse 19).

Kathryn M. Schifferdecker Professor and Elva B. Lovell Chair of Old Testament Luther Seminary Saint Paul, MN on Working Preacher June 20, 2010

In our Forum on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, we’ll explore Psalm 22 (the entire Psalm, though only verses 18-27 will be used in worship). Please view or download the handout we’ll use in our discussion as your own exploration continues.

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for Proper 7, Year C including short biographies for Adelaide Teague Case, James Weldon Johnson, and Alban—commemorated by the Church this week.

View or download Art for Proper 7, Year C. with commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

Trinity Sunday, Year C

We believe in one God … and are instantly at a loss for words.

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for Trinity Sunday (June 12, 2022) in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary.

The well-known hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” sings, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” Less well known, though, and even less understood is what this hymn truly means. How can God be three persons? Why is the Trinity blessed? Our hearts sing what our minds cannot grasp. We sing of things too wonderful for ourselves.

James McTyre, Pastor, Lake Hills Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tennessee in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2

In our Forum on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, we’ll explore Psalm 8 (appointed for Trinity Sunday) and wonder at the relationship we have with God and with each other. Please view or download the handout we’ll use in our discussion as your own exploration continues.

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for Trinity Sunday, Year C including short biographies for GK Chesterton, Evelyn Undersell, and Marina the Monk—commemorated by the Church this week.

View or download Art for Trinity Sunday, Year C. with commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

The Day of Pentecost, Year C

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… Act 2:3-4

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for Pentecost (June 5, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.

The text [Acts 2:1-21] startles us with a scene of almost unimaginable liveliness verging on chaos: sound like the rush of a mighty wind filled the whole house; tongues of fire appeared among the people; and as the crowd was filled with the Spirit of God, they spoke a cacophony of languages. Galileans, Parthians, Medes … a roll call of peoples all represented in the crush of humanity as the winds of God’s Spirit blew and the ecstatic fire spread.

Michael Jinkins in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for The Day of Pentecost, Year C including short biographies for Saint Barnabas and Melania the Elder. Also we will celebrate and explore our Book of Common Prayer that was first used on the Day of Pentecost in 1549. Over the centuries and throughout the world the Book of Common Prayer has been, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, revised, renewed, and revitalized to inspire our worship and faith.

View or download Art for Pentecost, Year C. with commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

Image: ChurchArt by Communication Resources

Seventh Sunday After Easter Year C

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Revelation 22:17

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Seventh Sunday After Easter (May 29, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.

We listen to this text [Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21], not as passive receivers, but as active participants asked to be prepared to enter into the community. This is a call to ministry, not a ticketed invitation to sit in a stadium and watch a spectacle. It is a reminder that being a Christian assumes an active disposition and an attitude of grace-filled practice within the community of faith.

Paul “Skip” Johnson in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2

“Skip” Johnson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. His commentary on the reading from the Book of Revelation is featured in our handout for study in the week beginning May 29, 2022 (see link below).

Rather than predict the time of Christ’s return, Professor Johnson suggests that we are invited to be active with grace-filled practices, right here, right now. What practices come to mind for you as you await Christ’s return?

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for The Seventh Sunday After Easter, Year C including short biographies for Blandina and her companions and the Martyrs of Uganda.

View or download Art for Easter +7C. with commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

Image: Communication Resources

Ascension Day Year C

May you be strengthened to proclaim Jesus Christ ….

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for Ascension Day (May 26, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.

Jerusha Matsen Neal an Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School writes, “Jesus’ ascension in Acts is no text of glory. It is a text that stands with those in countries far from home, those whose witness has been costly, and those who do not see “convincing proofs” (verse 3) of resurrection. It is, in fact, a passage about a community of faith that relinquishes the “proof” of Christ’s risen body for the “promise” of a Spirit (verses 4-5) coming.”

Ascension Day, for Acts’s disciples, looks more like trust in the face of uncertainty. It looks more like prayerful commitment and costly witness. It looks a lot like today. 

Jerusha Matsen Neal

Called to trust in the face of uncertainty, how do you move to that place of trust? What is called forth in your heart? in your mind? in your will to do something?

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for Ascension Day, Year C. The full commentary by Jerusha Matsen Neal is included.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

Sixth Sunday After Easter Year C

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” –Acts 16:9

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Sixth Sunday After Easter (May 22, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.

São Paulo batizando Lídia e sua família – Batistério de Santa Lídia, Cavala (Grécia) – Foto: Reprodução

Lydia is prominent in the reading from Acts (Acts 16:9-15) shared on the Sixth Sunday after Easter in Year C (May 22, 2022). One commentary on this reading notes an important aspect of “biblical faith” …

In the biblical witness, visions from God are not the exception but the norm. Beginning with Adam and Eve and moving throughout the Scriptures to the Apocalypse at the end, God is demonstratively engaged with human affairs to catch our attention and transform us.

David C. Forney, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Clarksville, Tennessee in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C, vol. 2 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009)

Paul trusted his vision. Do you trust that God is still gracing us with visions? Can you trust your visions? How have you come to trust the God who wants to “catch our attention and transform us”? What do you make of Paul’s experience since the vision and the conclusion seem to be different?

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for The Sixth Sunday After Easter, Year C including short biographies for Lydia, Helena of Constantinople, and Mechthild of Magdeburg.

View or download Art for Easter +6C. “The Heavenly Jerusalem” a fresco (1090-1100) by an unknown artist with commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

Image source: St. Lydia of Thyatira – Unpretentiousness and Generosity by Lorena Mellow in Catholic Magazine, May 2021

Epiphany +7 Year C

Put your trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on its riches. –Psalm 37:3

Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany (Feb. 20 in 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.

Forgiveness is a prominent theme of the Gospel passage this week. I invite you to explore The Work of Forgiveness a Lectionary Essay by Debie Thomas on the Journey with Jesus webzine.

If forgiveness isn’t denial or a detour, if forgiveness isn’t quick — then what is it?  What is Jesus asking of us when he invites us to love, bless, pray, give, lend, do good, withhold judgment, extend mercy, and turn the other cheek?

The Work of Forgiveness by Debie Thomas

Check out, too, what our Church remembers about Saint Matthias The Apostle and Photini, The Samaritan Woman (at the Well). She is widely honored in the Orthodox traditions and our Episcopal Church joins them in commemorating her. Through this week, read the stories of others who studied, prayed and worked for God’s glory. Let their stories invite you to do the same.

Pay attention. Keep learning.

View or download the Handout for Epiphany +7C including short biographies for Saint Matthias The Apostle and Photini, The Samaritan Woman (at the Well).

View or download an exploration of classicism and romanticism in art by Hovak Najarian.

View or download Art for Epiphany +7C. “Joseph recognized by brothers” by Francois Gerard with commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Please come back to this site throughout the week in order to keep learning.

Epiphany +6 Year C

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. Jer 17:7

Glad you have come here to find the readings for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (Feb. 13 in 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.

Trust in the Lord, trust in those who testify to God’s love and purposes, trust in those who have gone before you—these are among the themes this Sunday (and this week).

Check out, too, what our Church remembers about Absalom Jones and, through this week, others who trusted in the Lord and worked tirelessly for God’s glory in the name of Jesus.

Finally, check out what Frederick Buechner has to say about the Biblical revelation about resurrection and the notion of immortality. See that he accepts the Biblical revelation and trusts God. What about you?

View or Download today’s handout

The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves | Art for Proper 29

Luke 23:33 “When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.”

The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves
1522-24
Red chalk, 394 x 281 mm
British Museum, London
Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves, c. 1522-24, Red Chalk, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564

When early Christian artists began creating visual images of their faith they were faced with questions such as what did Jesus look like? Could or should God be portrayed – if so, how? How would the crucifixion be depicted and what would be the shape of the cross?

Although there were fervent associations with the crucifixion, it was not depicted in art for several hundred years after the event. Then, when it began to be shown, artists did not attempt to give a realistic interpretation. Instead, the crucifixion was used as a symbol. It was in the sixth century that scenes familiar to us today began to appear; in the years that followed, details of the event were reconstructed as artists followed biblical descriptions and used their imaginations. Jesus and the thieves were shown on crosses; Jesus in the center and the thieves on each side. At first, only a few people were present but as compositions became more complex, figures were added; among them were disciples, the three Marys, bystanders, and soldiers (one with a spear and others throwing dice for Christ’s cloak). Some artists placed angels above the cross of Jesus and often a skull was placed at the foot of his cross to indicate this was “the place of the skull.”

Michelangelo’s chalk drawing, “Crucifixion with Two Thieves,” was sketched possibly as a study for a painting and was not intended to be a complete or permanent work. Because chalk does not have within it a binding agent such as egg yolk or linseed oil, it can be rubbed off a surface easily. Some details in this drawing are not clear and almost lost.

Michelangelo depicts the crucifixion as it is taking place. A man on the top of the central cross is making an adjustment to Jesus’ arm while a figure is on a ladder at his feet. Another person is on a ladder at the feet of the thief on the right and an additional ladder is being brought to the site; it is presumed this is to reach the feet of the thief on the left whose unsupported legs are dangling loosely. [It also may be interpreted that this ladder is being removed from the scene] Under the cross on the left are two horses (their images are very light and barely distinguishable). Below the central cross, Mary has fainted and is being assisted. Others are consumed with grief.

The familiar Latin cross has a horizontal section approximately one third down from the top but many other forms have been made. In this drawing the thieves are attached to crossbeams at the very top of the vertical posts, whereas the cross on which Christ is placed is “Y” shaped. This was not a Michelangelo innovation; the “Y” shaped cross was among the earliest depicted in scenes of the crucifixion.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

Fall into Ruin of the House of God | Art for Proper 28

Luke21:6 Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Fall into Ruin of the House of God
Fall into Ruin of the House of God
Click image for more information.

Click to find Haggai among the Amiens Cathedral 44 Prophet Quatrefoils
The Lord shows Haggai his vision of the ruined Temple
Quatrefoils on the western exterior, depicting the Temple which the people have allowed to fall into ruin
1220-1240
Cathédrale d’Amiens
Relief sculpture
Amiens, France
Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

The Fall into Ruin of the House of God and The Lord Shows Haggai the Ruined Temple, Stone, c. 1220-1240, Western exterior, Cathedral of Amiens, France

In the year AD 1220 when the construction of the Cathedral of Amiens began, the invention of the printing press was still more than two centuries away. Books were handmade and not available usually to the general public; a majority of people were unable to read. For them, subjects in the Bible were learned through the spoken word and the visual arts. Illustrations in mosaics, stained glass, paintings, and sculptures, re-enforced visually the biblical stories they heard. These arts were an integral part of their churches.

The three recessed arched entrances of the Cathedral of Amiens are covered completely with relief sculpture. The walls are flanked by biblical figures carved in high relief and the space above the central doors – the tympanum – depicts the Last Judgment. From eye level to ground level, a base with two rows of relief sculpture framed in quatrefoils continues around the interior of all the buttresses of the façade. The figures in the base of the central portal depict virtues with their corresponding vices. From there, the rows continue with scenes of the Major and Minor Prophets. The images depicted in the top row show significant events in a prophet’s life; other important events associated with him are placed directly below it.

The prophet Haggai (HAG-eye) is represented by four scenes but he is not pictured on the upper row and he appears in only one of the quatrefoils. The Temple in ruins shown above is in the upper row and God is standing in the quatrefoil directly beneath it; Haggai is seated to his left. God is pointing to the Temple above him and calling Haggai’s attention to the fact that it has been left in ruins by the people. The scenes representing most of the prophets are self-contained; the subjects are complete in themselves. The ruined Temple differs, however, in that it is linked to the scene of God and Haggai below it. The two images support each other to complete a visual message.

In ancient times, people and animals in distant lands tended to be a mystery; often the descriptions of them were a result of the imagination. A host of animals and creatures – sometimes with frightening powers – were imagined and became part of the lore that was passed down through the ages. Bestiaries compiled during the Middle Ages included special attributes and symbolic associations with creatures such as unicorns, basilisks, and griffins. These and other imagined animals often appeared in medieval art. At Amiens, the ruined Temple of God is being inhabited by reptile-like creatures crawling among the fallen stones and rubble.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

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