Friday, April 21, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Semana Santa: ¡Felices Pascuas!

Happy Easter to you all. Here we celebrated with a breakfast of hot coffee and medialunas before a service of communion. On a crisp autumnal morning, we sang Christ has risen and gave thanks for Christ who brings life out of death.

I enjoyed reading a liturgy for Maundy Thursday from the St James' Uniting Church, Curtin, Australia, that reflects the different season in which the southern hemisphere encounters Easter.
God is the heart of life.
And we are the heartbeat.
May our hearts be filled
with thanks and praise and songs of joy.
We rejoice in the miracle of life
and delight in our participation...

In this season of transition
as the leaves begin their subtle change of colour
and our hearts cling to the warmth as the days shorten,
once again we are reminded,
that new possibilities can rise from our failures
or disappointments
or what has come to an end.

We give thanks for all the influences in our lives
that have helped us to see beyond the present:
that teach us to combine labour and rest,
that bring us the cycles of time and season,
that sustain us when we are in need.
God loves in us.
God cares through us.
God laughs in us.
God cries in us, as nowhere else.

Especially we give thanks for Jesus of Nazarath,
gatherer of folk,
teller of stories,
breaker of bread,
pourer of wine,
weaver of lives.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Semana Santa: Friday

The local churches of Flores organised a ecumenical gathering in the plaza for this afternoon. It was good to meet with people from the Catholic, Arminean, Pentecostal, Baptist, Anglican, and Methodist congregations in the area. An ecumenical choir sang and various people offered reflections as we stood in the sunshine.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Mark 15.21

As one speaker reminded us, Simon came in from the country to the city. People from the country, or campo, the campesinos, he said, were most likely poor people. Like Simon, many poor people have made the journey from the fields to the streets of the city in Latin America. While still dazed by the speed and noise of city, they are vulnerable to expolitation. Migrants, he said, are still forced to carry the burden of labour for the established residents. Migrants take on the work others do not want, for a wage few would consider. As in Jerusalem, so in Flores, Wolverhampton, and many cities around the world. Those arriving from fields or far countries, face exploitation and danger. But he said, it is they that Jesus walks alongside.

Two links about supporting immigrants, and also refugees and asylum seekers:

Immigration Advisory Service

Enabling Christians in Serving Refuguees

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Semana Santa: The Night of Love and Sorrow

Tonight is about remembering.

I remember other Maundy Thursdays and those I shared them with. We gathered to feast in love and sorrow, seeking to be faithful yet knowing we fail. In the warmth and light of the church tonight, while the rain poured down outside, I thought back over holy Thursdays and how we met in shared faith and love marked by anointing hands with fragrant oils, sharing chips and salt tears, singing songs and keeping silence, watching and praying through the night.

At San José's tonight we sang
We are the seeds of the new kingdom
We are peace amongst war
We are light in the shadows
God asks this of us.

Tonight is about remembering.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Semana Santa: Little Apocalypse

This time I know I'm out-of-step, but I tend to read Mark 13 (also called the Little Apocalypse) today.

I've just got back from my class at UBA - the University of Buenos Aires. Queuing for coffee outside of the Che Guevara Lecture Hall I reflected that UBA has a certain apocalyptic feel about it: the crumbling edifice, anti-imperial graffiti and gathering crowds. In class the theme continued as we studied utopian workers movements during the Industrial Revolution and their visions of new relationships and harmony between men and women, workers and owners. To return to the coffee queue, new ways of working together were summed up by those serving café o maté since they were part of one of many companies that had been reclaimed as co-operatives by former employees during the economic crisis of 2002.

In Mark 13, Jesus repeatedly urges the disciples to be alert. Latin American liberation theologians likewise encouraged us to read the signs of the times. Today I'm reminded to keep watch in all I do.

Lastly today I continued reading into Mark 14 and Jesus' anointing at Bethany, doing so
in remembrance of her.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Semana Santa: The Day of Questions

Dark. We cross the tracks. Workers stream onto the street as the train pulls out. The bus shakes as more people get on, their faces not yet formed for the day.

The hospital is a mezcla of faded victorian buildings, a cat colony, and a trauma zone; its workers' face-masks put us on edge. Queue like experts. We talk about times still too close, of miners' strikes and military ones.

The day arrives. Break-fast with icecream, coffee and medialunas.

I call home and read news online. There are questions about election results in Italy and a swan in Scotland, and siempre Iraq.

Another bus, this time to Palermo, lunch and conversation.

Classes begin. We discuss better ways of buying and selling across the world. We think about the unexpected success of fair trade. But how can we stop neo-liberalism and escape from its sacrifices, a student asks.

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"

Jesus answered, "The first is, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Then the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that "he is one, and besides him there is no other'; and "to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and "to love one's neighbor as oneself,' this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Mark 12.28-34

Monday, April 10, 2006

Semana Santa: Jesus in the Temple

I've just checked the lectionary and I think I may be a little out of step, but I'm sticking with Mark's order of events and reading today Mark 11.12-19, his account of Jesus in the Temple.

I've had a busy day today, spending the morning in a 'queuing loop' down at the national registration offices, and the afternoon finishing off a paper for my interpretation/ philosophy class this evening.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those where were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
It's the man on the subway this morning who comes to mind reading that last line. He carried himself along the floor, using his hands and part of one leg to move through the carriage asking for change. Jesus' anger was at the exploitation of the poor and the central place making money occupies in our lives. Instead of prayer, he found theft.
Give rest to the weary,
visit the sick,
support the poor:
for this also is prayer.
(Aphrahat, quoted in daily lent suggestions,

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Semana Santa: Domingo de Ramos

Lift up your palms
Lift up your voices

Today's Palm Sunday service in the Methodist Church was full of songs and flowers. But I wanted palms, so afterwards I skipped across the Plaza to the San Jose's RC church and stood in the crowds waving branches while the priest blessed with words and water the palms and the people. And we remembered how quickly the welcome turned to rejection.

There are pictures of Palm Sunday celebrations around the world on the BBC at:
(especially lovely is the catkins one at the end!)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

John: Prologue

I thought I'd share a little of the conversations and ideas from my weekly class with Nestor Miguez on John's gospel (and letters), particularly things that emerge from reading the gospel in a Latin American context. Maybe I'll put something on each week on this, we'll see how it goes.

This week we studied the first eighteen verses of John, otherwise known as the prologue. Fellow students come from Columbia, Uruguay, Korea via Paraguay, Switzerland, the States, and Argentina. That said, we didn't get to have much of a discussion about our various contexts. Translating from the New Testament Greek into Spanish, however, did reveal a few new insights. We wrestled with words that have female or male or both or neither gender, verbs that need one pronoun in Greek and another, with a slightly difference emphasis, in Spanish. And as for the verb, 'to be' well, in Spanish we have the option of imperfect or past simple, estar (state of being) or ser (more permanent).

Out of this emerged 'la palabra,' what we call 'the word.' In the Spanish translation we are using, 'logos' (the Greek for word) is translated as el Verbo which looks and feels very much like the NRSV Bible's translation of 'the Word.' But how about trying out 'la palabra'? In Spanish this means changing following pronouns to ella - she or it. So we have in verse 3, All things came into being through her, and without her, not one thing came into being. Of course, the Greek 'logos' is masculine, as is much of the tradition of interpretation. But la palabra reminds us of the wisdom tradition of Sophia - Wisdom, who is God's co-creator (Proverbs 8).

More on next week.

PS you will notice 2 links on the right panel to other weblogs. Following blogs can be addictive, so be warned. But these two I have enjoyed reading. They're both about food - no surprises there! Others people may be interested include various linked from the Greenbelt community site. And the New Testament Gateway also has an accompanying blog. Nick Robinson's blog on the BBC website is also up to the minute and challenging. Oh, and the 'fatmanwalking' blog that has been in the news recently (inspiring, although I couldn't agree with some of the military aspects.) Once you start looking, you'll be amazed what you find amongst the 60 million blogs out there.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bs As life

A brief post this week. I'm just back from my first Argentine football match, local team Argentinos Juniors (currently 17th in the table) v Racing. Argentinos won 2-0, although the crowd were generally more exciting than the match!

I've been having quite a 'typical' Buenos Aires few days: today football; yesterday I went shopping, (finally bought that futon); and on Friday I had my first horse-riding class at the very swish riding club of Buenos Aires. Not that many porteños (Buenos Aireans) can afford riding lessons, but horses and horsemanship are very much part of the national identity.

This evening I'm busy working on a paper for tomorrow. Keeping up with the reading for my classes is taking a long time, but it can only speed up with practise!

More next week.