March 27, 2022

Lent IV: “Laerte” – Ted Hackett

Today is the Fourth Sunday in Lent,
Since Lent has five Sundays then add Holy Week, and this is about half-way through the season of penitence.  

Today has a number of names…Mid-Lent, Refreshment Sunday, Mothering Sunday and Laerte Sunday…  

“Mothering Sunday” because Monastic Lenten austerity was given some relief and mothers would bring cakes to their monk sons. This developed into the custom of visiting the local Cathedral on this day…the cathedral clergy were “canons” under Monastic obedience.  

The name ‘Laerte” comes from the first words of the old Roman Mass “Entrance Song”: “Laerte Ierusalem”… “Rejoice Jerusalem and gather ‘round all you who love her…”  

And it led to the custom of “lightening up” the somber vestment colors of Lent…some parishes use Rose instead of purple today.  

O.K….that’s the Liturgical Factoid lesson for today!  

Let’s talk about the Gospel.  

I have been conversing with the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” for around 50 years…  

It was part of my Ph. D. Dissertation and I have been fascinated and confused by it ever since…  

I am still trying to make sense out of the realism and insight of the story on one hand…  

And the bizarre, jolting backbone of the thing on the other.  

I still am not sure what to do with it!  



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March 20, 2022

Lent 3C – George Yandell
I want to talk about changing hearts and community. It all starts in the passage from Exodus- God speaks to Moses from the burning bush. God recounts to Moses who God is in the lineage of those who preceded Moses. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all encountered God, but Moses’ encounter was personal, direct and terrifying. God gives Moses his marching orders, to rescue God’s people from Egypt. And Moses says, timidly, terrified, I think, “When I tell the Israelites you sent me, and they ask, ‘What is the name of the one who sent you, what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, in a voice like the Wizard of Oz in capital letters, “I AM WHO I AM. Tell them I AM has sent you to them.” The name I AM in Hebrew comes out as ‘Yahweh,’ a verb. That moment changed the course of Hebrew history, and one can argue, the course of salvation for humankind. The gospels tell us Jesus is descended from Moses, sent to rescue God’s people forever and for good.  

The gospel story of the fig tree follows grim pronouncements from Jesus. Galileans whose blood Pontius Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, the 18 killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them. “Unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did. Don’t think you’re any better– Repent or perish!” says Jesus. Luke has Jesus warning about a ruthless God, which is unlike Jesus in the other portions of the gospels.

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March 13, 2022

Lent 2 – George Yandell

In 1984, I ran a 10 K race with Jim Ryan. How many of you know who Jim Ryan is? First man to run a mile in under 4 minutes. He was the hero of my generation in distance running. Jim Ryan had come to Nashville to promote the Music City 10-K; the charity was one of his favorites. When I say I ran a race with him, what I really mean is I ran in the same race as Jim Ryan. Mine I ran in 56 minutes, not too bad for an overweight guy. He ran his race in under 28 minutes, and did not win; but when he finished, he ran back along the race route, giving encouragement to those of us struggling to finish under 1 hour.

Running has never been easy for me, but I kept at it almost all my adult life until about 9 years ago. I realized early on when training for my first marathon in 1990, that runners come in all sorts and conditions. The fleet ones who run near the head of the pack in every competition just amaze me. How can they go that fast for that long? And then there are those of us who run more slowly, who don’t have that naturally fluid style. They struggle, yet keep at it. An 80-year-old man ran in the Memphis marathon of 1990; he finished behind me, but not by much. A marine corps unit had run the entire race with him,

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March 6, 2022

Lent 1 C          George Yandell        

Did you hear the parallels? One trek in the wilderness is ending, another just beginning. In Deuteronomy, the Hebrew people are concluding their 40 years in the wilds, and Jesus is just beginning his wilderness sojourn. Moses is giving his final instructions to the people of God before they enter the promised land.  They have finally reached their destination.  Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil. He was just beginning his ministry.  

In his book The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality (Oxford University Press, 1998), Belden Laneoffers an understanding of wilderness I never heard before. He says, “Yahweh is a God who repeatedly leads the children of Israel into the desert, toward the mountain…. The God of Sinai is one who thrives on fierce landscapes, seemingly forcing God’s people into wild [places] where trust must be absolute.” (p. 43) 

Instead of leading the people of Israel out of Egypt along the easier, more direct coastal route to the land of the Philistines, they had been pointed toward a longer route, more deeply into the desert, toward Mt. Sinai.  God intentionally opted for the more difficult landscape, as if this was God’s usual preference. God’s people were deliberately forced into the desert, taking the harder, more hazardous route as an exercise in radical faith.  (ibid, adapted,

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