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Showing posts from September, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22, Ordinary 27, Year C)

Readings for 20th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/6/13:
Lamentations 1:1-6, Psalm 137, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10

Lamentations 1:1-6:
Lamentations are written in a time of exile, chaos, unrest, confusion, etc., for the people of Judah and Jerusalem and communities in that region, as Babylon takes over and takes people away from their homes. These laments are written in this context.The imagery is sad and bittersweet. "How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!" A ghost-town. Have you ever lived an a community that has been through some horrible devastation? Think of some towns in Mississippi and Louisiana post-Katrina, or even towns that have had major industries shut down. My childhood town of Westernville, NY could match this description in some ways, just out of decline over the years, rather than any event, but it is still sad to drive through town and see the empty streets and crumbling houses. The city is feminine, of course, a princess that is now a pauper - a…

Sermon, "Reconnect: I Have Come So That..." John 10:1-18

Sermon 9/29/13 John 10:1-18
Reconnect: I Have Come So That…

            As most of you know, in my journey to be healthier, I’ve been attending Weight Watchers for a little over a year. I tried the online membership in the past, but I’ve found that unless I have to go and weigh in in front of a real live person, and unless I stay for the 30 minute meeting each week, I just don’t do as well. I find it easier to stray off course. The meetings – well, they aren’t always deep and profound. Sometimes members spend a lot of time talking about how many calories are in different alcoholic beverages, or we spend a meeting focused on meat-based recipes that this vegetarian doesn’t find particularly helpful. But I enjoy the sense of community, and occasionally, people share stories and comments that really stick with me. One week, a woman talked about joining Weight Watchers, years previously, with one of her friends. They both lost weight – but in very small amounts at a time. .2lbs one week. .4lb…

Lectionary Notes for Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 21, Ordinary 26, Year C)

Readings for 19th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/29/13:
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15, Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15:
I would have a hard time preaching on this text, without it being a part of a series on Jeremiah, personally. Chris Haslam points out that this text records a very detailed account of a business transaction from that period, with the deeds, sealed and opened, and the earthen vessel to store them in. But for preaching, I'm not sure where that leads us.Verse 15 - "Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land." This place has a future!"right of possession and right of redemption" - property - what can property and ownership and land signify? In the Old Testament, land, and possessing it, is integral to the story of God's people. Finding a home - literally and figuratively, home is an important concept to most people.Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16:
This psalm provides the verses for the popular hymn, &quo…

Lectionary Notes for Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 20, Ordinary 25, Year C)

Readings for 18th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/22/13:
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1, Psalm 79:1-9, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 16:1-13

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1:
Note the related words: grief, sick, cry, hurt, mourn, dismay - these words are related to physical illness, matching up with the "physician" and "health" imagery in verse 22. The parenthetical insertion in verse 19 reads like a Shakespearean aside from God!Jeremiah speaking on behalf of the people? For whom would you mourn like this, other than yourself? How do you react to the separation of other from God?We have answered Jeremiah's question - we don't sing, "Is there a balm in Gilead?" but "There is a balm in Gilead." Sometimes, we do have faith in God's faithfulness. Psalm 79:1-9:
Another psalm written in a very specific context, related to some very specific events. Still, I wish God didn't have to be portrayed as so - emotionally childish, throwing tantrums. I know I sound like a broken record on …

Lectionary Notes for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 19, Ordinary 24, Year C)

Readings for 17th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/15/13: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalm 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28:
"A hot wind" - We don't usually mean it as a compliment when we say that someone is full of hot air - but when God uses it as a self-label, perhaps we'd do well to listen!Judgment - God is not going to cleanse or winnow this time, but judge. The word judgment has so many negative connotations attached. And I admit, I usually prefer to think of God as loving rather than God as judging - but the descriptions are not mutually exclusive! It is good that God judges us. These days, when I think of how much we fail to follow Jesus, how we fail in discipleship, the more convinced I am that we need to be judged. The good news is that God's judgment never comes without God's grace and mercy. Thanks be to God!Even in this passage, in which God has some harsh words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, God already speaks mercy: "…

Sermon, "Reconnect: Who Do You Say I Am?" Mark 8:27-37

Sermon 9/8/13 Mark 8:27-37
Reconnect: Who Do You Say I Am?

Confession time: how many of you who are on our mailing list got to read my newsletter column yet? In case you didn’t get to it, let me give you a quick summary. I shared with you about a video I saw at a conference some years ago. People in white shirts and black shirts are tossing a ball while moving around in a circle. You’re supposed to count how many times the people in white catch the ball. You watch intently, and get an answer, right or wrong. But then, the narrator asks, “Did you notice the gorilla?” You watch the clip again, and sure enough, a man in a gorilla suit walks through the middle of the group. At least 50% of viewers, including me, don’t notice the gorilla. It’s called “selective attention,” meaning when we are focused on one thing, we can miss other things, even very obvious things, because our attention is elsewhere. It’s why you might walk by someone you know in the supermarket and not even notice them. It’…

Lectionary Notes for Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18, Ordinary 23, Year C)

Readings for 16th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/8/13:
Jeremiah 18:1-11, Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, Philemon 1-21, Luke 14:25-33

Jeremiah 18:1-11:
Potter imagery - God as the potter, remolding us, remaking our clay pots. This imagery of being remade, the flaws worked out of us can be so powerful and moving. The problem is that this passage actually speaks of God being quite upset with us humans! God wants to "pluck up and break down and destroy" because we've messed up so bad! Can we handle that? Are we willing to be remolded to that degree?What I do like about the image of potter and clay is that the same piece of clay is used - just remade. The clay is the same substance. We are not wiped out completely. Can we read this like we read being made new in Christ, casting of the old and putting on the new?I dislike that God seems so moody and temperamental here again, like a child throwing a tantrum - "one moment" wanting to destroy and "at another moment" building u…

Sermon, "Sermon on the Mount: Hearers and Doers," Matthew 7:21-29

Sermon 9/1/13 Matthew 7:21-29
Sermon on the Mount: Hearers and Doers

            Today we finish up our series on the Sermon on the Mount, as we examine Jesus’ largest chunk of teaching in the gospel of Matthew. Last week Pastor Aaron talked about fruit – good trees and good fruit, how we’re known by our fruit. Today’s passage continues directly on from there. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom, Jesus says. “Only the one who does will of God.” He continues, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’             Then Jesus tells a parable about two people who build houses. The wise man builds his house on rock, and the foolish man builds his house on the sand. Storms comes, rain and flood and wind beats on both houses. But the house built on rock stands, while the ho…