Shuck and Jive

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Worship Themes On-Line

Once per quarter, I plan the worship themes for the coming season. It is Spring. You can find our Spring worship guide in pdf on our website under the worship link.

Spring is the
via transformativa (the way of justice-making). We look at the lectionary texts through the lens of this path.

March 28th through June 20th
Via Transformativa—The Way of Transformation
  1. Summer via positiva (the way of awe and wonder)
  2. Fall via negativa (the way of letting go and letting be)
  3. Winter via creativa (the way of creativity and imagination)
  4. Spring via transformativa (the way of justice-making)
During Spring we honor the path of justice-making and compassionate action. In his book, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas, Matthew Fox describes this path in this way:
The heart that is compassion: moral outrage at injustice that leads to the passionate work of justice making and healing and the heart-work that celebration entails and demands. P. 29.
The Via Transformativa takes the creativity that comes out of the interaction of the and the positiva and the negativa and shapes it toward wholeness, healing, and distributive justice. In Buddha’s eightfold path, these are paths three, four, and five (right speech, right action, right livelihood). This is also the karma yoga we find in the Bhagavad Gita:
Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. Renounce attachment to the fruits….Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman….To unite the heart with Brahman and then to act: that is the secret of non-attached work. P. 13 Isherwood/Prabhavananda
Traditional Christianity stumbles over itself with its obsession over faith vs. works that reinforces a self-perpetuating cycle of guilt and narcissism. Creation Spirituality offers the via transformativa as one path of four not isolated from, not superior, not inferior to the other three paths.

The Via Transformativa or the Way of Compassion provides discernment, direction, and focus for our work as human beings. We are about justice making. As Matt Fox says in Original Blessing:
The creation tradition cannot imagine a spirituality without justice or one that consigns justice to a weekend outing. Justice lies as the fulfillment of the need to birth oneself—all are to be birthed into justice-making instruments for the work of the spirit. P. 248
Right wing talk show host, Glenn Beck, recently told his Christian listeners to run away from congregations that had ministries of “social justice.” He claimed “social justice” and “economic justice” were code words for communism! Beck is typical of a Christianity that has sold itself to the interests of the powerful, the greedy, and the paranoid. Empire Christianity has held dominant sway throughout history, executing heretics, engaging in land grabs, and fomenting wars for the sake of its own pious blasphemy.

This fourth path reclaims the often forgotten or watered-down passages of scripture from Genesis to Revelation that speak of the Divine preference for the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed. Creation centered folk have also been a part of our history even as their voices have been muted and distorted. We will allow these voices to speak to us, convict us, convince us, and transform us so that we may find the courage and the compassion to turn “swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.”

Here is a fun game. I send this guide out widely and worshipers can participate if they have a poem, song, dance, whatever to add on a particular Sunday.

Since most of my readers here don't live in my neighborhood, I still would love to include you as well. Check over the themes, and if you have found something cool to go with worship that day I will try my best to include it!

Here is the theme for this Sunday:

Luke 19:28-40
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Luke 23:1-49

Theme: Living Was His Reason for Dying

Orthodox Christianity has claimed that the death of Jesus was or is salvific. You have heard people say that Jesus died for us or died for our sins or died to save us. I have even heard people say that dying was his reason for living. Progressive Christians are not quite so sure. Surely there are more important things about his life than his death? Nevertheless, Jesus is the only figure of any religion who was executed by established authority. He wasn’t simply run over by a horse. He didn’t die of old age. He was tortured and executed as a criminal by the government. That should tell us something about what he stood for and who was threatened by his stand. It tells us about his life. He lived for compassion and justice for the “least of these.” Dying wasn’t his reason for living. Living was his reason for dying.


  1. Check out my series on Kenosis at

    Click on either "Liberal Christian Commentary" or go to the Archive for 2010 and scroll down to the Introduction to the Meaning of Kenosis and Palm Sunday. I will be posting daily on this theme during Holy Week.

  2. Being an "orthodox" type Christian (I think) I would suggest that attributing atonement only to Jesus' death is to misunderstand the breadth of the Gospel. Jesus' life is salvific from the annunciation to the resurrection. Part of salvation comes from Jesus living a perfect life. Part of it comes from God becoming human through the annunciation. Part of salvation comes from the death of Jesus, yes, but also the resurrection.

    And for that matter using only one of the various images that describe how Jesus atoned for our sin is to totally misunderstand forgiveness. Just like baptism the forgiveness of God is much too big to fit into one metaphor