Lent 36

Jesus: I would like to register a complaint,
because I do not know how to pray about money
and you have not helped; just consider the implications
of money lessons from your last days in Jerusalem:

I could get into the idea of overturning the table
on which I sort out my bills and balance the books,
and then pray in tranquility atop the paper piles;
but is this what you really meant in the temple?

Is money yours or is it Caesar’s (and why can’t it be mine)?
The church teaches that money is a “talent” belonging to you
but Washington’s face is on it…and Lincoln’s, and Jackson’s.
No one drew your face there, because you said “no false images.”

Dare I risk having you watch over my offerings and my spending
as you once watched people’s donations to the treasury?
Are two copper coins enough? Are large sums enough?
Shall I give everything that I have to live on? (Please say no.)

Help me discern, Jesus, why an expensive anointing of oil
is a better gift to you than three hundred denarii to the poor?!
When are we “allowed” to splurge (and on whom), and why
would you even suggest that it’s okay to take the poor for granted?

May I venture one more question, Jesus?

When a handful of silver coins is the nominal fee for a life
and the give-and-take of clothes is a gambling game for profit,
how can I possibly not “get it” that money has the capacity both
for brutality and for blessing . . . and so do I?

The good news that you preached was never about money
but I suspect that you talked $$ because that’s what people knew;
that’s what people know and that’s the language of our world.
Help me to speak and live your good news in the world’s language.

Tracing these stories through the Gospel of Mark: overturned tables (Mark 11:15-17), taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17); widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44); a woman anoints Jesus (Mark 14:3-9); casting lots for Jesus’ clothes (Mark 15:24).

Lent 35

I pray for the courage to live extravagantly
as Jesus did in his last days:

speaking the truth boldly
and calling out lies;

inviting wasteful giving
and giving wastefully;

discerning the ways of death
and pursing life at all cost;

daring to commit to a choice
and praying all the way.

Palm Sunday

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come with burnt offerings?
Will the LORD be pleased with rivers of oil?

God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

May I bring not only palm branches in praise this day,
but also the palms of my hands in service to you.
Let my offerings of “Hosanna!” be paired with
my commitment, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Micah 6:6-8, adapted