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Revisiting Easter Week

Passion WeekApril 2011
In This Issue
Easter Poem
Earth and Easter
Earth Day!
What Are You Looking For?
Seeing the Crucifixion as Related Liturgically to the Passover
Courage, Freedom and the Spring Holidays
Counter the Culture: Palm Sunday
What Happens to Us After We Die?
Leaping- An Easter Morning Reflection
May Events

Easter -  A Poem

If Darwin Prayed  

By: Bruce Sanguin

butterfly in cocoon


O Holy One,

from the beginning

gave Yourself so that life might prevail.

You hid yourself in chaos,

so that out of filaments of gas

the galaxies formed;

from death stars,

new and necessary elements are born;

out of the fire of the sun,

a crocus pushes up through thawing earth;

out of the chaos and violence of injustice,

a wall is broken down,

a curtain pulled back,

a scapegoated prisoner makes a long walk to freedom.


And on this day,

we gather to proclaim that

from the tomb of violence, crucifixion, and death,

Christ sheds his grave cloths,

like a butterfly sheds a cocoon.


He emerges, our winged hope,

an elegant embodiment

of a new vision for humanity,


For You

chaos and death,

are but a prelude to an Easter,

which we could never imagine,

yet which is ours to claim -

a gift from an Easter God,

and an invitation,

for us to spread our wings.




If Darwin Prayed 

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A Word to the Spiritual Seekers: Earth and Easter

By: Don Murray

emerging bud


It is interesting that both Christmas and Easter are related to the cycles of the earth rather than to the actual dates of Jesus' birth and death. We actually have no idea when in the year Jesus was born. We do know when he died. We tied his birth to the winter solstice and his death to the spring equinox, the latter being a "moveable feast" tied to the moon cycle as well as that of the earth. This tells us that Christianity is a late comer to the elemental rituals and celebrations of humanity. The earth, and our relationship to it, has always been primary. For eons it was the earth goddesses and gods who were worshipped and celebrated. The Christian celebrations are an add-on to the celebrations of the earth which are encoded in our genes.



A Joyful Path

Year Two!  


Mundorff- copyright


Click here for more info! 

Earth Day

Get Outside and Celebrate the Gift!

earth embrace


There are many ways you can celebrate and enjoy the earth this Earth Day!

Here are some ideas:


Plant a tree!


Organize a neighborhood clean-up


Celebrate the earth in art and music


Bring nature into your home- create an earth altar


Donate to a charity- like: The Environmental Defense Fund


Educate others


Get involved in a community event 



Click here for some more ideas! 


Progressive Christian Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds
Endorsements and Testimonials

child laughing


"We are using the new children's curriculum this fall and my teachers are thrilled. They love the affirmations, stories and activities but most of all the theology." ~Sue, Christian Ed Director in NE


Click here for more




Passion Week- brought to you by some of the most controversial and popular of the Biblical stories. As progressives, how do we make sense of the contradicting stories of Paul and the Gospel writers?


As Bishop Spong writes in his essay below, "the overwhelming probability is that the familiar details of the cross are not the result of historic memory at all, but are rather liturgical interpretations of who it was who died on the cross and what his death meant. A quick analysis of the details from this narrative reveals that they were drawn not from the memory of eye witnesses, but from the scriptures of the Jewish people, primarily from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. So even the central story of the final events in Jesus' life now looks more like the work of an interpretative imagination than it does the work of a historian."


We may never know what really happened during that week, but we can use this eye-opening opportunity to see clearly the writers of the Bible and their experience, expectations, and hopes. We can also use this opportunity to free ourselves from taking literally these stories and to see them as they truly are- a mix of history, mythology, and metaphor.

There is much going on this month! Have you signed up your community to participate in Pluralism Sunday? Also, May 1st is the deadline to sign up for the Who I Am, I Must Become seminar.  Get outside and enjoy Earth Day week- bike to work, plant in your garden, start some seedlings with the kids, be in awe of nature everyday. And however, you choose to celebrate Passion Week- we hope you do with open eyes.

What Are You Looking For?
By: Fred Plumer

loving kindness

I don't know why it is so important for some people to think that there is historical or even scientific proof that their religion is the only right one. Why do they need to think that their guy was really the only one true God and not a prophet or enlightened teacher?  Is it too much of a threat to accept that the message came from out of one's real experience of the Holy, the Sacred...God? Is their faith so weak, that it requires some perceived proof that 2000 years ago there was a one-time miracle of a physical resurrection that proves this? Of course this leaves out Lazarus and a whole lot of other resurrection stories. Let's face it, Greek, Egyptian and Middle Eastern mythologies all had some form of resurrection story. We just happen to call them mythology.



The Origins of the New Testament, Part XX: Seeing the Crucifixion as Related Liturgically to the Passover

By: Bishop John Shelby Spong


The first narrative of Jesus' crucifixion to Bishop Spongbe written achieved its shape and form in Mark's gospel, specifically in 14:17-15:47. Prior to this, all the Christians had in writing was one line from Paul: "Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." Not a single narrative detail was given by Paul. Perhaps there were no narrative details to be given since Mark's gospel is quite specific in 14:50 that, when Jesus was arrested, "They all took flight and fled." This would mean that Jesus died alone without any eye witnesses.


That would be a shattering insight to many since we have literalized the details we have in Mark's gospel down to recording not just what Jesus said from the cross, but what Jesus and the high priest said to each other, and even what Jesus and the crowd said to each other. One might wonder who was present to record all of these words of conversation. The overwhelming probability is that the familiar details of the cross are not the result of historic memory at all, but are rather liturgical interpretations of who it was who died on the cross and what his death meant. A quick analysis of the details from this narrative reveals that they were drawn not from the memory of eye witnesses, but from the scriptures of the Jewish people, primarily from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. So even the central story of the final events in Jesus' life now looks more like the work of an interpretative imagination than it does the work of a historian.




Courage, Freedom and the Spring Holidays
By: Harry T. Cook


Jews have celebrated Passover, a freedom festival if ever there was one. For the more orthodox Jewish believers, Pesach commemorates a divine intervention in the lives of their 13th century B.C.E. forebears called The Exodus as former slaves against all odds were led to freedom by a messianic figure named Moses.

For other Jews who have thrown off the mythological outer garments of their tradition, Passover is a reminder that freedom of any kind at any time is bound to be hard won. Those who wish to be free must take charge of their lives and gain freedom on their own -- freedom being not a gift but an achievement. Constituencies of two distinct religious traditions joined in and by their pasts have been engaged this week in observances honoring their shared mythology.


Counter the Culture: Palm Sunday 2011

By Sea Raven


PalmsMatthew's retelling of Mark's story of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem offers nothing new.  The story was likely developed in order to actualize the prophecies in Zecharia 9:9 and Psalm 118:26.  That fact does not detract in any way from the integrity of the legend of Jesus' last week of life.  What does detract from its integrity - indeed the legitimacy of Jesus' life - is to transform Jesus into a mage who has somehow conquered death.  He didn't really die, so we really don't die either.  Somehow his physical body was transported into heaven, so now - somehow - even though we visit the cemetery or keep Dad's ashes on the mantle piece (as though "Dad" was still buried in the ground or still watching us from his urn) - we will also be transported into heaven.  We too will "go to be with the Lord," provided that we agree to believe the story.  Everyone who doesn't "believe," will of course "perish," but whoever does believe will "have eternal life."  This mistranslation has led to all manner of horror in the history of the world, and has done nothing to further the "kingdom" that Mark's Jesus proclaimed was already here.  



What Happens To Us After We Die?
By: Bruce Sanguin 


skyIn religious cultures that have evolved beyond the mythic worldview, and in secular society, belief in heaven and hell as literal places where God gathers in the faithful or punishes the unfaithful, is a relic of old time religion. But we're naive if we think that the underlying yearning that is captured by these metaphors simply vanishes at higher levels of consciousness. 


Heaven is a symbolic expression of two complementary yearnings: the longing for perfection in this world, and union with the divine.  We are drawn by the promise of perfection. On an interior level this is felt as the promise of perfect love, happiness, and the ideal relationship.  The Olympic Games, despite the dark political shadow they may cast, is really about fascination with the possibility of physical perfection.  Utopian dreams of a perfect society will always pop back up in the human imagination.  This is because the intuition of perfection is a reflection of the divine Heart and Mind that is within us and all of creation.



An Easter Morning Reflection
By: Rev. Cara Hochhalter

frog leaping

It seems to me that Jesus died because he refused to compromise a kind of love that came from his connection with the Holy.  He refused to compromise his deep love for God and for all life, especially those who were vulnerable to the powers of the day.  Although this way of living was seen as threatening to the authorities, it is this compassionate lifestyle that has inspired us across generations.


The resurrection story is an affirmation of life.  The Greek word that has been translated "resurrection" comes from the root,

to continue.  All versions of the story say that Jesus was not only not dead...but that he continued. He may continue in different ways for each of us.  Certainly he continues through his impact in the lives of people who have been following his

way of love, forgiveness and compassion for more than two thousand years. 



May Events
Buddha and Jesus

Who I Am, I Must Become  

A nine-day experiential seminar sponsored by St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill (DC), The Guild for Psychological Studies, The Jung Society, and the Center for Progressive Christianity that uses passages from the synoptic gospels coupled with Jungian concepts to guide participants into a personal understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus.  Meditation, silence, music, art, poetry, and body movement are used to deepen participants' experiences. Registration closes on May 1. If you would like further information, please call Susan Thompson at 703-329-9797. Click here for more information.


drum circlePluralism Sunday 2011 

On the first Sunday in May- this year, May 1, 2011 - (or other times during the year) churches around the world dedicate their worship to a celebration of our interfaith world. Progressive Christians thank God for religious diversity! We don't claim that our religion is superior to all others.  We recognize that other religions can be as good for others as ours is for us.  We can grow closer to God and deeper in compassion-and we can understand our own traditions better-through a more intimate awareness of the world's religions.  On PLURALISM SUNDAY, churches celebrate elements of other world faiths in their sermons, litanies, and music; many feature speakers and singers from other faith traditions. Click Here for more information. 

Practice Compassion - Narayan Krishnan, a companion to the forgotten 

Video of the Month

"Practice Compassion" Narayan Krishnan, a companion to the forgotten

Thank you for taking this journey with us! We appreciate your support, your interest, and your desire to bring about a new Christianity to the world- one that is inclusive, informed, and open to evolving. Happy Spring, Easter, and Earth Day!


Fred Plumer and team!   

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