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Showing posts from August, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16, Ordinary 21, Year C)

Readings for 14th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/25/13:


Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, Hebrews 12:18-20, Luke 13:10-17

Jeremiah 1:4-10:
I still always think of a song-version of this text I sang at area all-state choir in 1995 or so in high school. Wish I could remember the composer, I'd pass it along as a great number for choirs!Jeremiah says, "but I'm only a child." We can fill in the blank for our typical human response to God: "but I'm only a _______" What's your excuse?Why, believing God to have the powers we typically attribute to God, do we still doubt when God calls us and has plans for us? If God is as great as we say God is, don't we believe God is smart enough to know which humans are equipped and suited for which of God's plans? Apparently not!Note: God's words. Our mouths. Not our words, our mouths. God's words.There is both pulling down/destroying and building and planting. We like to think about the latter - but what does God …

Sermon, "Sermon on the Mount: Eye Test," Matthew 7:1-5

Sermon 8/18/31 Matthew 7:1-5
Sermon on the Mount: Eye Test

            Last week, as some of you know, I went with a group of folks down to Owego to help repair a home that was flooded in 2011 with Hurricane Irene floodwaters. Before we got to Owego, the site coordinator asked me to send him some information about what kind of skills the folks I was bringing down had. Would we be bringing a plumber? An electrician? Our team was eager, willing to work and help and learn. But for the most part, I had to tell the supervisor that our skills were: none. We weren’t really skilled labor. Cheap labor, yes. But skilled – maybe not. Somehow, our lack of skills resulted in us being assigned the task of hanging sheetrock. The house we worked on was very old, and there weren’t many right angles or level places in the house, and it made it even harder to do a job we hadn’t even ever done in ideal circumstances. Because the studs behind the sheetrock weren’t evenly spaced, or necessarily straight and s…

Lectionary Notes for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15, Ordinary 20, Year C)

Readings for 13th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/18/13:
Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19, Hebrews 11:29-12:2, Luke 12:49-56

Isaiah 5:1-7:
Better to start right away by reading this text alongside Psalm 80 this week - they go together.God has planted a vineyard, only instead of grapes, got wild grapes. So God plans to tear up the vineyard, destroy it totally, let it be overrun."God expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!" This is a big "God is disappointed in us" sort of theme. The people were not acting as God hoped/expected.What's so wrong with wild grapes? Chris Haslam says the Hebrew word wild means stinks! That sheds some light :)What kind of vineyard is your life? Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19:
Compare this to the Isaiah text - impossible to know, of course, but this psalm definitely reads as a response by the people to God's voice in Isaiah 5.This is a call to God for help - God had planted the vine=the people. But now God is destroying or at…

Sermon, "Sermon on the Mount: What Not to Wear," Matthew 6:24-35

Sermon 8/11/13 Matthew 6:24-35
Sermon on the Mount: What Not to Wear

            My mother will tell you that in some ways, I’ve been a worrier since I was a little girl. When I started kindergarten, I went through a stretch where I kept asking my mother “what if” questions about starting school. What if I couldn’t find my bus? What if I got locked in the bathroom and no one heard me calling for help getting out? What if no one was home when I got off the bus? What if the teacher didn’t show up? What if I wore a dress on a day I was supposed to wear pants for gym? What if I didn’t have my money for milk? These were apparently serious concerns on my 5 year old mind, and my mother did her best to help me relax, to know that I would be safe and that someone would be there who could help me no matter what I encountered. I don’t even remember having all these questions myself, so she must have done a good job in calming my anxieties. Everybody, it seems, worries about something sometime. Are …

Lectionary Notes for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 14, Ordinary 19, Year C)

Readings for 12th Sunday After Pentecost, 8/11/13:
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20, Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:32-40

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20:
I like this passage. The text makes a lot of sense to me. If you read through Leviticus, the first many chapters are filled with detailed codes for sacrifices to God for the community of faith. In this text from Isaiah, God doesn't say through the prophet that the sacrifices are meaningless or wrong per se, just that they're worthless because they obviously are meaningless to the ones offering them to God - and because of that have become meaningless to God.God says, literally here, "I have had enough!" Enough of your offerings that are not matched by your actions. Enough of your worship when you don't actually do what I say when it matters. Enough ritual and show of faith when you don't live your faith. You can't fool God - your words and rituals don't match your actions and your living.God says, back to the b…

Sermon, "Sermon on the Mount: God Talk," Matthew 6:5-15

Sermon 8/5/13 Matthew 6:5-15
Sermon on the Mount: God Talk
Of all of the challenges of being faithful Christians – and I think you and I could come up with quite a list – of all of those things, why is prayer – talking to God – so very hard? Even more than that, why is talking to God in front of other people – in other words, praying aloud, so very hard? Of all the spiritual sort of hang-ups we have, the one I seem to encounter most often is this fear or anxiety related to prayer. From the youth I work with, to the most seasoned Christians I encounter. Nothing quite helps me bring a room fully of chatty people to complete and utter silence like asking if someone offer prayer. Ask someone to lead a committee, start a new project, teach a course, go on a mission trip, give their money, and people will do it, if with a little encouragement. But ask someone to pray – especially out loud, in public, without a pre-written prayer? We’ve got some hang-ups.             Maybe our issues with God ta…