Loosening the Roots of Compassion
Publication Date: 2006-02-25
During the roughly ten years when these meditations took shape, I was also, in my academic work, deeply engaged in research and teaching on the traditions of Jesus’ suffering and death in early Christianity. This work shed particular light on how some of the earliest ways of remembering Jesus’ death were shaped in and through the practices of communities gathered for worship. The practices of singing psalms and other familiar song texts from the Scriptures of Israel combined with the retelling of the central stories of the Exodus and journey through the wilderness into the Promised Land to provide the language and frameworks for speaking of Jesus’ Passion. Jesus’ death became for first-century Christian communities the lens through which these traditions were refracted. The rich range of these ritual practices—what we have come to call baptism and Eucharist—provided a set of prisms for refracting these scriptural traditions retold now as ways of remembering Jesus and as ways of constituting a community around the memory of Jesus. My study, meditation, and preaching on these same texts over the course of several Holy Weeks and Easters have thus emerged from the sense of a congregation’s practices of remembering, a remembering both ancient and modern—integral to the incorporation of Scripture into our lives….
I offer these meditations now to you—out of my study (or kitchen) into the garden of your heart and prayer. They belong to you now, with my prayer and hope that they will help you to send forth deep roots from your life into Scripture and into the contemplation of Jesus’ risen life. – From the preface