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Call of community that closes gulfs

Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us. Luke 16: 26 Jesus speaks more about economics, riches, and the poor more than any other single topic; far more, in fact, hundreds of time throughout the four Gospels. He was seeing, as a man who grew up in meager circumstances himself how the powerful and wealthy held on to what they had at the expense of the poor and needy. Jesus says, very plainly, that our wealth and power can be a HUGE obstacle, a chasm, a gulf, between the understanding and reception of God’s grace and its application in our lives. But more than wea

Closing the chasm

Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us. Luke 16: 26 Jesus speaks more about economics, riches, and the poor more than any other single topic; far more, in fact, hundreds of time throughout the four Gospels. He was seeing, as a man who grew up in meager circumstances himself how the powerful and wealthy held on to what they had at the expense of the poor and needy. Jesus says, very plainly, that our wealth and power can be a HUGE obstacle, a chasm, a gulf, between the understanding and reception of God’s grace and its application in our lives. But more than wea

20th Sunday after Pentcost

Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18; Luke 18:9-14 Light of Baptism. Celebrate the light. It is not that the Pharisee is righteous but that he relies on His own righteousness, not on the light, the wisdom and the power of God. For with you is the fountain of life; and with your life we see light. Psalm 36.9 “I am the light of the world. Whoever walks with me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 What is the mantra of our Appeal for Stewardship this season? You are the light of the world. “All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” We get it, Lord. None of us has reason to boast or to toast ourselves too

Fighting the "good fight" of the Gospel

I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4: 6-7 Tradition has it that Paul, his execution imminent, penned/dictated the above words from his prison cell in Rome. He is reflecting on this life and ministry, really, throughout 1 and 2 Timothy, which is written in the form of a lengthy goodbye letter. The letters are also notes of instruction for the young disciple whose name the letter bears, and encouragement to the fledgling Christian community. What does the “good fight” and the “race” of the above verses refer to? I have always held that Paul means the mission

Patience and faith

…be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 2 Timothy 4: 2 Partisanship seems a sign of the times, right? Things can be downright bleak when we see how our politicians and the media, frankly, take positions that are so far from what we think is right, reasonable, and helpful. Our reaction to those “on the other side of the aisle,” as they say, is to either attack or throw up our hands and walk away. Don’t think I am immune to these feelings because, I can assure you, I am very familiar with them. In many ways we have, as Christians, lost our compass, relative to Paul’s words above. We are baptized into th

19th Sunday after Pentecost

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8 The late Fred Craddock, who wrote commentaries, but was a long-time preacher, wrote of prayer: The human experience is one of delay and honestly says as much, even while acknowledging the mystery of God's ways. Is the petitioner being hammered through long days and nights of prayer into a vessel that will be able to hold the answer when it comes? We do not know. All we know in the life of prayer is asking, seeking, knocking, and waiting, trust sometimes fainting, sometimes growing angry. Persons of such prayer life can only wonder at those who speak of prayer with the smiling facility of someone drawing answers from a hat. In a large gathering of persons conce

Persistence and discipleship

…be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 2 Timothy 4: 2 Partisanship seems a sign of the times, right? Things can be downright bleak when we see how our politicians and the media, frankly, take positions that are so far from what we think is right, reasonable, and helpful. Our reaction to those “on the other side of the aisle,” as they say, is to either attack or throw up our hands and walk away. Don’t think I am immune to these feelings because, I can assure you, I am very familiar with them. In many ways we have, as Christians, lost our compass, relative to Paul’s words above. We are baptized into th

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The one leper’s healing is a blessing, in Luke’s tale for today, but it is the man’s sense of gratitude at the grace he has experienced that must be the focus. He must give voice in thanksgiving. In this healed man the word of God is not chained. How can it be so when we are healed, and when we are not (in the way that we desire)? How can the unchained word of God be a source of healing in the world, across terrible and exhausting political and social divides? How can God’s unbound word, which is the Christ, give us the courage to dive back into some of the most challenging issues of our day, like racism? We make progress in our journey with God – if we do at all - because we hope, holding o

Miracles, great and small

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well." Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well. Matthew 9: 20-22 I am more partial to Luke or Mark’s telling of the story of the woman with a bleeding disorder (a “hemorrhage”) than of Matthew’s. Matthew seems almost in a hurry to get to the next story, which is one of Jesus bringing a little girl back from death to life. But Matthew pauses, just long enough, to tell us the remarkable tale of a woman who

Live as the Body & Blood of Christ

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10: 14-17 What might become of us if we were to live as the Body and Blood of Christ, not only as people taking the Eucharist into our bodies but living our lives as people that God’s blessing resides within? Going further, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that this is not an individual becoming or partaking, it is a

You want me to do what, God?!

2 Kings, of the Old Testament, isn’t the most exciting part of the Bible. Part of the story is that Israel (now the northern kingdom of what was once a united Israel under David and Solomon; Judah is the southern kingdom) has fallen to the Assyrians and, now, Judah and Jerusalem itself are under siege. The second book of Kings seems to imply that God is actually, in some way, working through the Assyrians -and the messengers they send to the king of Judah - to call the Israelites to faithfulness. The message is hard for Israel (Judah) to hear: make peace, pay tribute, become a vassal state to Assyria. God’s will really rubbed the royal house of Judah raw, for sure. Judah will ultimately fall