I Cor. 1: 18-25
Jn. 2: 13-22
Bittman is a renowned food journalist whose columns appeared in the New
York Times for a number of years. I have here a one of Bittman's recipes
for "The simplest Roast Chicken". At the bottom of the recipe
Mr. Bittman writes, "…roast chicken is almost infinitely
variable. But at its simplest, with only salt, pepper, and olive oil, it's
really really good. Add an herb sprig or a clove of garlic, or both, for
excitement." [Note 1]
key word here is "simplest". He shared recipes that contained a
few ingredients coupled with simple steps for preparation. Appropriately,
Mr. Bittman's NYT columns were titled "The Minimalist".
A minimalist is one who focuses on the basic and the essential in order to
create a meaningful experience. In this case, he shares a recipe for
simple roast chicken that is "very, very good". Perhaps you
remember the Disney production 'The Jungle Book". There, a
singing-dancing bear sings, " give me the bare necessities of life…"
is used in a technical way in art and architecture. One may
decorate a room, for example, from a minimalist perspective. Sparsely
furnished, with limited though perhaps contrasting colors, modest window
hangings, taken together accentuate the floor space and natural lighting
of a room in an engaging manner.
Story of Jesus "cleansing" the temple has always captivated me.
It is an important and virtually unique episode in the ministry of Jesus.
It's important because it is recorded in all four Gospels. The Gospels of
Mark, Matthew and Luke describe this event as taking place very late in
the ministry of Jesus. These three Gospel writers share the view that this
incident is a "trigger event" which puts in motion the
opposition to Jesus and seals the decision to have him arrested.
According to John, this charged event happens
much earlier. It sets a tone of tension and conflict in a way that will
inform the debates that Jesus has with his opponents throughout the
remainder of the Gospel. What is unique about this event is the way in
which it shows Jesus engaging in demonstrative action. We see a side of
Jesus here not so well seen in his parables, discourses, or even his
miracles. We see a passionate, prophetic, even irascible Jesus. His
confrontation in the temple highlights the level and intensity of the
conflict between him and his opponents. It is at the temple, a national
sacred site, during a pilgrim festival, with other devout Jews from all
over the known world, that Jesus shows his activist side. The temple was
to be a place where all Jews could participate in sacrificial worship as a
part of the Covenant relationship with God. Yet as pilgrims are confronted
with changing their various currencies into temple currency, and seeking
to purchase an animal for sacrifice, they find a religious institution
that is over burdened and perhaps marked by corruption. Jesus responds.
There is a cautionary note here for Christians, as well. The church often
creates barriers and impediments for people that hinder their relationship
story of Jesus confrontation in the temple is a story about political
minimalism. Here Jesus acts in a way consistent with his
preaching. He acts as a reformer who wants to cut through the over burden
and get to the essential aspects of The Covenant. Jesus
emphasizes the basic importance of a relationship between God and God's
People together with the core values of faith, righteousness, mercy, and
compassion. The story of Jesus confrontation in the temple, according to
John, holds up two very basic key components from a minimalist
importance of a faithful relationship with a God who is available to
central significance of Jesus as a location for the presence of God,
making God available to all people through the death and resurrection
of the Christ.
Paul has a similar minimalist perspective in today's second reading.
"We proclaim Christ crucified…" Paul writes.
This is a crucial minimalist proclamation not clouded by philosophical
sidebars or respectability issues.
minimalist approach can be compelling when looking at any number of
aspects of our faith tradition. The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures
this morning, for instance, is one of two accounts of the Decalogue or
"Ten Commandments." The Commandments are grounded in the
Law-the law that devout Jews understand as life giving. The Ten
Commandments have often not fared very well when they have been taken over
by Christians. We memorize them, put them on stone plaques in our
churches; but we have also taken them out of context, failed to heed them
as a call away from idolatry and toward justice. We have at times reduced
them to a bland harmless checklist of personal "does and
don'ts". It's the careful difference between being a minimalist
and losing something completely by taking it out of context.
at the commandments through minimalist eyes, we may see them as stark but
bold facets of our relationships with both God and Neighbor. They are a
call, not just to keep the rules but to, as Jesus pointed out, love God
with all our heart, and act towards our neighbors with a love for justice.
preparing for this morning, I came across an article on the Ten
Commandments by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. As I read this to you, see if
you can identify each of the Ten in turn [Note 2].
interesting that here Rabbi Shapiro draws on the Jewish tradition as well
as the Vietnamese Zen tradition. It's a minimalist perspective. I would
suggest it is also one that commends itself to faithful followers of
is a season that demands reflection upon a lean, stripped down, essential
Christian faith. The readings for
this morning confront us with a Christ who shows to us, and demands from
us, the essentials in our relationship with God, with Christ, with
neighbor, and with the society around us.
Rev. Canon Rod Gillis Lent III 2012
50 to 60 minutes
whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put a cast-iron skillet on a low rack in the oven and heat the oven to 500
degrees. Rub the chicken all over with the oil and sprinkle it generously
with salt and pepper.
2. When the oven and skillet are hot, carefully put the chicken in the
skillet, breast side up. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the oven
temperature down to 350 degrees. Continue to roast until the bird is
golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part
of the thigh reads 155 to 165 degrees.
3. Tip the pan to let the juices flow from the chicken’s cavity into the
pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for at least 5
minutes. Carve and serve.
Rami Shapiro Takes on The Ten Commandments
God is the source of liberation. Aware of the suffering caused by
enslavement to things and ideas, I vow to free myself form all additions
and compulsive behaviors, both material and spiritual.
2. God cannot be named. Aware of the suffering caused by gods created in
our own image for our own profit, I vow to recognize all ideas about God
as productions of human beings, bound by history and circumstance, and
forever incapable of defining the Reality Beyond Naming.
God cannot be owned. Aware of the
suffering caused by the misuse of God and religion in the quest of power,
I vow to liberate myself from all ideologies that demonize others, and to
honor only those teachings that uphold the freedom and dignity of woman,
man, and nature.
Remember the Sabbath. Aware of the
suffering caused by slavish attachment to work, consumption, and
technology, I vow to set aside the Sabbath as a day of personal freedom,
creativity, and play.
Honor your parents. Aware of the
suffering caused by old age, I vow to care for my parents to the best of
my ability and to promote the dignity and well-being of all elderly
Do not murder. Aware of the suffering
caused by the wanton destruction of life, I vow to cultivate respond and
gentleness toward all beings.
Avoid sexual misconduct. Aware of the
suffering caused by sexual irresponsibility, I vow to honor human
sexuality and never degrade it through violence, ignorance, selfishness,
Do not steal. Aware of the suffering
caused by exploitation, injustice, theft, and oppression, I vow to respect
the property of others, to work for the just sharing of resources, and to
cultivate generosity in myself and my community.
Do not lie. Aware of the suffering
caused by harmful speech, I vow to speak truthfully and with compassion,
to avoid gossip and slander, and to refrain from uttering words that cause
needless division or discord.
Do not covet. Aware of the suffering
caused by endless desire, I vow to live simply and avoid debt, to enjoy
what I have before seeking to have more, and to labor for what I desire,
honestly and justly.