Yesterday’s competition was fierce, but in the end Hilda of Whitby edged out Ignatius of Antioch, which means she’ll advance to take on either Martha of Bethany or Harriet of Tubman (sorry, couldn’t resist with all these “of’s”).
Well, I knew it would happen sooner rather than later — two saints I had both previously voted for are now up against each other in the Saintly Sixteen: Luke the Evangelist and John Donne the poet. Oh, and did I mention that University of Miami will be participating in that “other” Madness thing — the one that involves very tall people heaving round objects through suspended nets? They put to rest the foe from Clemson on Saturday and now it’s on to March Madness, go Canes!
But back to the Madness at hand, Luke and John D. This time, for me, the bell tolls for John as I’m sticking with Luke. As a reminder, during the Saintly Sixteen round I’m not focusing on biographical info, go to Lent Madness if you’d like a refresher, or scroll down to my earlier posts. I’m sticking with Luke because, as I said before, he is my favorite of the four evangelists. And speaking of Lent Madness, please keep one of their writers — the Rev’d Laurie Brock — in your prayers. She took a nasty spill off a horse a few days ago, but still went on to do the write-up on John Donne for today’s Madness. That doesn’t sway my vote, but I am praying for her. Also, the Supreme Executive Committee has asked everyone to “like” Lent Madness on Facebook — they hope to get 5,000 “likes” by week’s end and are in spitting distance of it now. Come on, you know you spend way too much time on fb any way — what’s one more “like” for the people who have brought us this wonderful Lenten alternative!
As you know we are in Year C, the year we focus on Luke’s Gospel. This past Sunday was the “Gospel in miniature” — the story of the Prodigal Son. I call it the “Gospel in miniature” because it encapsulates the Good News: God’s loving kindness is lavishly given to us all; no matter how far we’ve strayed God is always waiting to take us back, embrace us, and welcome us yet again to the feast. I had planned to write a bona fide sermon for Sunday– one of these years I’d like to wonder out loud how the parable might have affected the Pharisees to whom Jesus told it. We are never told, leaving it up to our imaginations or, as my Jewish friends call it, “midrash.”
But after I saw what Fr. Bill Walker did with this parable at the Diocesan Festival Eucharist on Friday (a day when the middle school kids of all the Episcopal schools in our diocese get together) I thought, hmm, let’s see our congregation can do what a fifth grader could (the kids were great, answering all his questions and fully participating). So, following Bill’s lead I engaged the St. Stephen’s congregation in a “conversation sermon” — usually a tricky thing to do, but TBTG, people did participate. First I asked “who are you in this story?” Some responded “the jealous, cranky older brother” (oh yes, aren’t we all so much of the time!), some the profligate younger brother who was then embraced upon his return, some said the father (anyone with kids can certainly relate!). One man said “the fatted calf,” because he sometimes finds himself in situations over which he has no control. That is the beauty of Jesus’ parables — especially this one — I believe we are meant to see ourselves in them and then be changed by the Good News.
Next I asked “how does this story end?” and blessedly right off the bat someone said “it doesn’t!” and someone else said “in the end there will be reconciliation for all. Amen to that!
To vote for Luke, uh, I mean to vote for either of them, go here and may the best writer win!