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Showing posts from November, 2013

Reflections on a Black Friday

I remember how much fun my best friend in high school and I used to have taking my mom to work early on Black Friday, and then hitting the sales. We were more in the market for $10 deals, rather than big ticket electronics, but we always had a great time, and felt very adventurous. 

I know many folks are opting not to shop today (I'm too lazy to get up that early anymore!) and were very upset to see all the shopping deals yesterday. I get that. I delight in being able to spend the time surrounded by family on Thanksgiving, the chance to, for one precious day, cut away from the relentless pace of our world as a collective body, and say, "There are much more important things to do." I feel sad that we are eating away even at that small practice. 

But, I also think the issue is bigger than when we choose to shop, and so we need to think carefully about how we speak about what we see happening. I'm at a point in my life now where if I miss the sale price on Black Friday fo…

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Readings for First Sunday in Advent, 12/1/13:
Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

Isaiah 2:1-5:
"they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war any more." ah, I long for the day when this vision will be made plain on earth. It certainly retains timeliness, doesn't it? This is one of the verses (along with Micah 6:8) that graces the rotunda of the General Board of Church and Society's United Methodist building in Washington, D.C. ...also, about the above verse: notice that the image is not just of peace, but of turning weapons into tools, tools that help growth and creation and life. Non-war, Non-fighting is not enough. Proactive, pro-creative is where God calls us."The Lord's house . . . shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it." This is a unique visual - if you think of God as mountain-top and na…

A Sung Communion Liturgy for the Season of Advent

A Sung Communion Liturgy for the Season of Advent (Tune: VENI EMMANUEL)
The Lord be with you as we gather here Lift up your hearts unto the Lord your God. For it is right to give God our praise. Let us prepare our hearts for coming days: Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
You created all things and called them good, Made us like you, but we cast off your love. You set us free and claimed us as yours, Through sage and prophet spoke to us your word. Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O Holy God of power and might, Bless’d be the one who comes in your name, Hosanna in the highest, God! Hosanna in excelsis. Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Holy are you and blessed is your Son, Jesus, the Light, your presence here with us. You sent him in the fullness of time, He came to preach good news to all. Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
And on the night he was betrayed, Christ took the bread, and unto you gave thanks He broke the bread…

Lectionary Notes for Reign of Christ, Year C

Readings for Reign of Christ Sunday, 11/24/13:
Jeremiah 23:1-6, Luke 1:68-79, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43

Jeremiah 23:1-6:
Woe to shepherds who lead God's sheep astray! That's a warning to those of us who are clergy, but more generally to any of us who have power to lead and abuse it. Certainly, following November's elections, this can be a word of warning to our leaders, especially those who say they lead out of their religious beliefs.Out of David - a righteous branch is raised up - this is good language we'll see again in Advent.the name: "The Lord is our Righteousness." Our righteousness is not our own doing, our own making - God is our righteousness.Luke 1:68-79:
Instead of the usual Psalm, we have this ‘prophecy’ spoken by Zechariah at the event of John’s circumcision, when his mouth is opened, after his silence for doubting God’s promise of a child.Note again the reference to David - emphasis of the family line, the lineage of Christ's "king…

Sermon, "Immediately: Jesus on the Water," Mark 6:45-52

Sermon 11/18/13 Mark 6:45-52
Jesus on the Water

            This week I took a 56-hour trip to Indiana and back to see my brother Todd in his first grad school theatre production, Anna in the Tropics. Before seeing his show on Friday night, we sat down for dinner, and he told my mother and me about different exercises he has to do in his classes. For example, in his movement class, he and his classmates have been working on physical expressions of emotions. They spent one class session practicing different types of crying – sobbing, wailing, keening. In another, they had to jump into imaginary boxes that represented 9 different emotions and instantly embody that particular emotion – surprise, disgust, anger, joy, and so on. In another class, they’ve been studying an acting method that involves trying to make your acting as “honest” as possible. And so the actors have to practice being as honest with each other as possible in class. This resulted in a classmate of Todd’s weeping while tal…

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 28, Ordinary 33, Year C)

Readings for 26th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/17/13:
Isaiah 65:17-25, Isaiah 12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19

Isaiah 65:17-25:
This is a very Advent-sounding text, is it not? It makes me wait for the season of waiting! Reminds me of Isaiah 11, and the peaceable kingdom.However you look at it, what a beautiful, hopeful passage. Compare to Revelation 21 - another vision of a new heaven and new earth. Personally, I prefer this vision from Isaiah - there's a sense of justice being fulfilled: no infant mortality, no young death. But more than that, no building without dwelling in the home, no planting without harvesting. "My chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain."Not only a vision of justice, but also a vision of peace, as the typically dangerous becomes friend to the gentle: wolf and lamb together. We can all pray for this place to come quickly on our earth!Isaiah 12:
Blessed with a double reading from Isaiah today! I can’t read the…

Sermon, "Immediately: A Woman Healed, a Girl Resurrected," Mark 5:21-43

Sermon 11/10/13 Mark 5:21-43
Immediately: A Woman Healed, a Girl Resurrected (Damsel, I say unto thee, arise!)
            Have you ever been trying to accomplish something, some task, and found that you were nearly constantly interrupted? Sometimes we want to be interrupted – I can’t tell you how many other things I can find to do while I’m supposed to be writing my sermon! But sometimes, just when we’re getting productive, just when we feel like we might actually start checking things off our to-do list, just when we feel like we’re “in the zone,” that’s when a stream of people knock on the door, or call on the phone, or just need a few minutes of your time. Interruptions!             I think of learning, as a child, that interrupting is rude. This is an important lesson for children to learn, because children usually think of all of their concerns as demanding immediate attention. I want this and I want it now! My mother used to joke that my three brothers and I might not need anything …

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 27, Ordinary 32, Year C)

Readings for 25th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/10/13:
Haggai 1:15b-2:9, Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20:27-38


Haggai 1:15b-2:9:
I just have to say: Zerubbabel. What a name! It means 'the seed of Babylon.'"take courage . . . for I am with you." These are words of comfort from God. Take courage! God is with you, even when things look - terrible! There is hope. There is God.This scene of devastation and God's promising and rebuilding - I found it very reminiscent of the flood narrative, Noah, and God's promise through the rainbow.
Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21:
This psalm illustrates the characteristics of God - God saves those who cry out, God is "unsearchable," etc. Of course, there is also an obligatory verse about God destroying enemies..."one generation shall laud your works to another" - the passing down of the story of God. How have you learned your faith stories? Through Bible school? From your parents? How did you learn t…

Sermon, "Immediately: Man with a Mat," Mark 2:1-12

Sermon 11/3/13 Mark 2:1-12
Immediately: Man with a Mat

            Today we’re beginning a new worship series, focusing on the gospel of Mark and theme of Mark’s often repeated word, “Immediately.” Back in June we spent a little time looking at this concept in Mark, when we looked at the story of Jesus calling the disciples. In that story alone, the word immediately occurs a handful of times – Jesus sees and immediately calls some of his first disciples, and they, in turn, immediately stop what they are doing and start following Jesus. I told you that Mark is both the oldest gospel – it was the first written of the four that are in our Bibles – and it also the shortest – where Matthew and Luke fill their stories of Jesus with details and verses, Mark always seems to take as few verses as he can to get his point across. I shared with you that Mark’s hurried nature and his nearly 30 uses of the word immediately suggest to us that Mark wants us to feel the immediate nature of the gospel – t…