The Thursday before Easter is a day rich in deep, often poignant events. These include Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, at which he instituted the sacrament and washed his disciples’ feet; his prayer and agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; his betrayal by Judas and abandonment by the other disciples; and his arrest, cynical examination, and abuse by the Jewish authorities of the time.
Known as Holy Thursday in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities, in many English-speaking countries this Thursday is sometimes called “Maundy Thursday.” The word “maundy” is an early English form of the Latin mandatum for “commandment” and recalls Jesus’ teaching “A new commandment I give you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye love one another” (John 13:34). [Read more...]
The Collect: Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he died, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in this holy ordinance gives us a pledge of eternal life. Holiness to the Lord. Amen.
On Palm Sunday our direction was turned to the Herodian temple and it is there where it must remain. Jesus’ first act in Jerusalem was to visit the temple. With the cursing of the fig tree, the parable of the wicked tenants, and the violent cleansing of its precincts, his rejection of the temple was total. By driving out the money changers he was certainly making a statement about financial corruption in holy places, but more to the point was that by doing so, the rituals of the temple were disrupted. This seems to be the central purpose of Holy Week — the apocalyptic rejection of the Jewish temple and its replacement in his own body. Here he goes beyond the Qumran community who had fled to the desert to await the new temple; Jesus destroys it himself. Note the tearing of the veil at his death. [Read more...]
In the Anglican tradition, a service called Tenebrae is often celebrated on Wednesday in Holy Week. According to the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services,
Apart from the chant of the Lamentations (in which each verse is introduced by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet), the most conspicuous feature of the service is the gradual extinguishing of candles and other lights in the church until only a single candle, considered a symbol of our Lord, remains. Toward the end of the service this candle is hidden, typifying the apparent victory of the forces of evil. At the very end, a loud noise is made, symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the resurrection (Matthew 28:2), the hidden candle is restored to its place, and by its light all depart in silence.
The texts for today are Mark 14:1–11; Matthew 26:1–16; Luke 22:1–6 and cover the plot to kill Jesus, the Marcan and Matthean anointing of Jesus prior to his Passion, and Judas’ decision to betray Jesus. The fact that the lovely story of the anointing is in an intercalation (or “sandwiched”) between two dark, deceitful scenes has given the day its traditional name “Spy Wednesday.”
One note on chronology: many LDS harmonies list “no events recorded” for Wednesday, and as far as I can tell this arose from J. Reuben Clark, and others, adopting the harmonization of some nineteenth century Victorian divines, who read “two days before Passover” inclusively. For my reasons for counting it exclusively, see the discussion in my working chronology. I think this also fits the pattern of relative time markers in Mark, and even if it did not, remembering these events on “Spy Wednesday” puts us in harmony with the majority of other Christians who are following traditional observances during Holy Week. [Read more...]
In 1999, Jimmie Duane Ross got $840,000 from his former employer, the result of an arbitration hearing. I don’t know what Ross did with that money; I do know, however, one thing he didn’t do: pay his taxes.[fn1]
Which is wrong, of course, but not by itself newsworthy. Lots of people don’t pay their taxes.[fn2] So why blog this? Two reasons: first, today is April 15th.[fn3] Second, in addition to standard tax protester arguments for why he didn’t need to pay his taxes, Ross made some expressly Mormon arguments. [Read more...]
The texts for Tuesday are Mark 11:20–13:37; Matt 21:23–25:46; Luke 20:1–21:38; John 12:37–50.
Mark begins by addressing the lessons learned from the withered fig tree, preparing readers to continue seeing the temple and Jerusalem authorities as unfruitful and ripe for destruction. But rather than obsessing about the failing of the biblical chief priests and Pharisees, it is probably best, as always, to see how they most frequently represent our own failings. As the prophet had declared, and as a chorus of Handel’s Messiah so vividly portrays, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord had laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). [Read more...]
Tuesday in Holy Week
The Collect: O God, who by the suffering of thy Son madest us a refuge in our suffering, grant that we, in our own fateful hours, might trust in the foolishness of the cross; whose shame sealed the triumph of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen. [Read more...]
Monday in Holy Week
The Collect: Heavenly Father, who sent Thy Son as Thy chosen servant to bring justice to the nations, grant that we may both recognize and preach Thy Son, the Great High Priest, as the light of the world and purifier of the faith so that we may faithfully seek Thy righteousness in fruits meet for repentance, thus finding life and peace and an eternal inheritance in the New Covenant, following the example of Melchizedek in humbling ourselves so that we may exercise mighty faith in Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Read more...]
Welcome to Agreeable, a bimonthly advice column in which I will tell you, dear Reader, as to whether your planned course of action is “agreeable” or “hmph”. Direct your questions (max 200 words, please!) to the admin address (see ‘About’, above) with the subject line “Agreeable”.
Consider the following example: A young woman–someone who is not deeply committed to the church, though she was raised in it, but who nonetheless respects it and wants to be part of this faith community–has just arrived as a new member in a typical YSA ward. She has just arrived because she has spent most of the past year living abroad, where among many other challenging and enlightening experiences, she became a devout fan of tea. [Read more...]
Eric Huntsman discusses the neglected outcast of Holy Week.
As I note in my seasonal blog, the Monday of Holy Week is what I sometimes refer to as one of the “overlooked days” of Holy Week. Even churches, such as the Roman Catholic or Anglican, that are heavily liturgical do not tend to have specific services for Monday and Tuesday (or even Wednesday, as far as I know), though sometimes they have general Passion Week collects (or communal prayer) on the mornings of those days. [Read more...]
My wife, Kristine K. (disambiguation: not the same as Kristine) gave this sermon today in the Slate Canyon 13th Ward in Provo.
“[When] in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth . . . the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep . . . the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light” (Gen 1:1-3).  In this opening scene of creation, I picture “the Spirit of the Gods . . . brooding upon the face of the waters” (Abr. 4:2), in a way, as a feeling out or trying to get a sense of what is out there. Then realizing that they need a clearer view of the materials they have to work with, the Gods utter, “Let there be light.” What is revealed in that primordial light is primordial chaos—a watery wasteland. I’m sure the Gods realized—maybe in that moment, maybe before—that their work would be difficult, that it would be a long and arduous process. In his book Reflections of a Scientist, Henry Eyring informs us that it takes an average of 250 years to deposit one foot of sediment, or roughly 112 million years to deposit all known sediments.  In fact, the Book of Abraham says that after the Gods “prepar[ed] the earth to bring forth grass” (4:11) or “prepared[ed] the waters to bring forth . . . the moving creatures (4:20),” they “watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed” (4:18).  [Read more...]
My wife, Kristine K. (disambiguation: not the same as Kristine), and I both delivered sermons today in the Slate Canyon 13th Ward in Provo. I spoke first, on the War in Heaven, and then she spoke on the Creation. I’m posting my sermon now, with Kristine’s to follow shortly, as I believe that it will also resonate with readers of BCC.
For the vital part that the war in heaven plays in LDS theology, much about it remains unclear. The phrase itself derives from Revelation chapter 12, which depicts “a great red dragon” whose “tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (vv. 3-4, NRSV). Then, we read, “war broke out in heaven.” This seems to have been instigated by Michael and his angels, as the text mentions their aggression first, going on to say that “the dragon and his angels fought back, but were defeated” (vv. 7-8, NRSV). The effect of this defeat is that Satan “was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (v. 9, NRSV).
Alongside Eric Huntsman’s excellent Holy Week posts we will be continuing with the Mormon Lectionary Project, thus bringing adaptations of Cranmer’s Anglican collects to our worships, as well as the designated lectionary readings.
Palm Sunday, Year A
The Collect: Heavenly Father: In your love towards the human race you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his atonement; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On Palm Sunday the Messiah is finally revealed. No more preaching in the Galilean backwaters. No more Messianic Secret. On Palm Sunday, Jesus publicly enacts the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the Messiah:
“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” [Read more...]
Growing up in heavily Catholic Pittsburgh, I always had Palm Sunday in the back of my mind somewhere, but it was not really brought to the forefront until a bishop on our family ward in Philadelphia tried to plan a Palm Sunday procession one year. He actually flew in, at his own expense, palm fronds, and the primary children were making banners that said, among other things, “Welcome Jesus.” Needless to say, when the stake presidency got wind of it, all the plans were cancelled. I did not think about it again until Elaine and I were in Hawai’i one spring that it really impacted me. Visiting the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in Honolulu on a Saturday, I was struck by the volunteers who were there weaving little crosses out of palm fronds. When I inquired, they explained that they were going to be used for the Palm Sunday service the next day.
Eric Huntsman continues his series with us for Holy Week. Today: something a little more ‘orthodox’.
In the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Saturday before Holy Week begins is known as “Lazarus Saturday,” and that is the day in which our friends of that tradition commemorate the raising of Lazarus as commemorated in John 11. The reason for putting it before Palm Sunday is because in the Fourth Gospel the raising of Lazarus is the proximate cause of the crowds’ rapturous reception of Jesus at the triumphal entry and the plot against Jesus, which the chief priests begin to organize because they see that “the whole world is going after him.” (In the Synoptics it is the cleansing of the temple that leads to their hardening opposition to Jesus, but of course the Gospel according to John placed that event, or an earlier occurrence of it, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry). [Read more...]
This week, in honor of Easter and the resurrected Savior, the Church is launching new devotional media dedicated to focusing on Christ in our lives, and reminding us what we are truly celebrating at this and ever Easter.
The first site, “Because of Him” launches a brand new inspirational short reminding us of the grace and unlimited potential found through Christ. It’s a new format— current, relevant and contemporary. The Church is trying something new here, and it’s beautiful, quite moving and worth your time. This video will likely be shared through social media by members and non-members alike, with it’s focus deeply meaningful for all Christians.
Along with the video, which you are welcome to share, there is missionary information on Easter and on the ministry of Jesus.
The second campaign is “Starting Today” which challenges Christians of all denominations to dedicate themselves to making small, immediate changes in their lives to reflect their love of God and of the Savior.
Starting Today also is encouraging people of faith to use the hashtag #StartingToday to create and share memes and pinterest-style testimonies on social media. It’s Christ-focused and reminds us that through small and simple things, great things can come to pass. Really, we can all make small changes to bring us closer to God.
Eric Huntsman received his BA from BYU in Classical Greek and Latin in 1990 and then went on to receive an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Ancient History in 1992 and 1997. In 1994 he began teaching full-time at BYU in Classics. In 2003 he transferred to Ancient Scripture, where he is currently an associate professor specializing in New Testament. After a year teaching at the BYU-Jerusalem Center from 2011-2012, he returned to BYU and began serving as the coordinator for the Ancient Near Eastern Studies (ANES) program in the Kennedy Center for International Relations. The ANES major has two tracks, one in Hebrew Bible and one in Greek New Testament. A co-author of Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament with Richard Holzapfel and Thomas Wayment, Huntsman is the author of God So Loved the World, a study of and devotional reflection on the Passion Narratives, and Good Tidings of Great Joy, a similar treatment of the Infancy Narratives. This August his new book, The Miracles of Jesus, will be released by Deseret Book.
I was excited when John Fowles approached me about guest blogging for By Common Consent. I have checked on blogs here from time to time and been particularly interested in the Mormon Lectionary Project. As a self-confessed “high church Mormon” (when I am not veering towards a more evangelical style when speaking and teaching!), I love using holidays and elements of the traditional liturgical calendar to structure my personal study and our family worship. Scriptures that reflect pivotal moments of Jesus’ life and ministry, together with music that conveys the feelings of these events, have always spoken powerfully to me. [Read more...]
Taylor G. Petrey is the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of Religion, and Director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program at Kalamazoo College. He holds a ThD and MTS from Harvard Divinity School in New Testament and Early Christianity.
As a scholar who writes about gender in early Christianity, I was initially happy to discover that Alonzo Gaskill, an associate professor in BYU Religious Education’s Church History and Doctrine department has recently published a book on supposedly ancient apocryphal teachings of Jesus related to women, titled The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women (Ceder Fort, 2014). I was quite disappointed to discover that the text Gaskill’s commentary is based on is a well-known forgery. Readers deserve to be warned against this problematic book in the strongest terms. [Read more...]
People who report their religion as ‘none’ are rising in the US. Between 1990 and 2010 the size of this group rose 10% points. Concurrent with this decline is the rise of the internet. Are these phenomena related?
The Word of Wisdom is often interpreted as a code for healthy living motivated by the ‘evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days’. Alcohol is major risk factor for many non-communicable diseases, which account for two-thirds of all deaths globally. Alcohol-attributable mortality is 2.5 million (4% of all deaths) every year, more than the number attributed to HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis. Despite increased awareness of the health consequences of excessive alcohol, there has been little recent interest among Mormons in using public policy to control alcohol consumption. [Read more...]
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Darren Aronofsky’s movie Noah. If you don’t want any major plot points revealed before you see it, don’t continue reading. If spoilers don’t bother you, go ahead. If you don’t intend to see the movie and nothing anyone says could possibly persuade you otherwise, you’re probably safe too, but whether or not you’re interested is another story. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet read the Bible story; nothing could possibly spoil that.
Last Thursday Brother J and I went to see Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. My husband and I both very much enjoyed The Fountain, so we were eager to see what Aronofsky would do with a big Hollywood budget. I didn’t realize there was any controversy over the movie until right around opening weekend, when I started seeing indignant posts on Facebook about how much the movie gets “wrong,” i.e. deviates from the Biblical account. [Read more...]
From the comments section at KSL:
“I went to Tai Pan Trading for the bi-annual Ladies Night they have every conference weekend. The store was full to the rafters with women acting like…well acting like women who rapsodized over plates, wreaths, vases and easter decorations. Many were with at least 3 if not 4 generations of women. Grandmas, Mothers, daughters and granddaughters. They laughed together, asked each other for opinions on home decor ideas, and had a great time. It was a sisterhood of women shoppers, doing only what other women can understand. Any man would have felt like a total fish out of water at Ladies Night, just as I would feel at Priesthood Meeting.
I know a night of shopping for home decor seems trivial, and it is, but what lies behind it has a greater meaning. For most of us, home is where the heart is. We receive our greatest rewards and power within our homes and families.
I’m all for women who want to go for the board room. Do it, if that is what you want, but don’t drag me into by assuming that is surely what I want. It isn’t. I was proud to be a part of the sisterhood at Tai Pan tonight. After getting through the long checkout line, I had to hurry home so I could hang my new spring wreath on the front door. It looks beautiful.”
Here at BCC in the wake of conference we tend to have a flurry of post-conference commentary. In the Priesthood session Saturday night President Monson quoted Jabari Parker (who in turn was quoting his father, Sonny) as saying: “Just be the same person you are in the dark that you are in the light.” So for my contribution to the post-conference commentary, I would like to explore the question of what Brother Jabari should do now. The choices are: (a) serve a mission, (b) enter the NBA draft, or (c) return to Duke for his sophomore year. [Read more...]
Welcome BCC fans to the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference.
Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A
The Collect: Almighty God, who weepest with us in the depths of our extremity: console us, we pray, but also breathe life into our dry bones, that we, encircled in the robe of thy righteousness, may put our trust in thee and live in the Holy Spirit, through the mercy of thy gracious Son. Amen.
Welcome back fellow watchers. Time to get supernal.
President Eyring conducting. Is the opposite of conducting a meeting, insulating a meeting?