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Showing posts from February, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Readings for 8th Sunday After Epiphany, 3/2/14: Isaiah 49:8-16a, Psalm 131, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, Matthew 6:24-34
Isaiah 49:8-16a Compare these words of promise with the gospel lesson for today."I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." Do you have any tattoos? Any scars? What stories to these markings tell? I think there's something about permanency here. And intimacy. Made part of God's body forever, so to speak.How could God forget us, when we are like a child being nursed by God? I love the precious and sweet nature of that image.
Psalm 131: How high have you lifted your eyes? How high is too high? What is too great to even be looked at by you?What do you do to calm and quiet your soul?Do you hope in the Lord? What is your hope? What do you hope for?
1 Corinthians 4:1-5: "stewards of God's mysteries." What a fabulous phrase! How do you care for the mysteries of God?Paul, always confident, admits God may have reason to judge him, but can't really th…

Lectionary Notes for Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Readings for 7th Sunday After Epiphany, 2/19/14: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23, Matthew 5:38-48
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18: I love the repeated, "I am the Lord" refrain throughout this passage as an explanation for each command. Almost like when a child asks, "Why?" and a parent says, "Because I said so." Why do we have these commands? Because God is God. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great." Elsewhere in scripture, we certainly get the sense of God's partiality for the poor and oppressed. But I get the sense here that we're not to act unjustly in order to favor the poor in a situation unfairly. What do you think? "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people" - oops. How good are you at this? Any grudges you need to think about?  "but you shall love your neighbor as yourself" - Sometimes I think we forget and believe that talk about …

Sermon, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples: Service," Mark 10:35-45

Sermon 2/16/2014 Mark 10:35-45
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples: Service
“As members of the body of Christ and in this congregation of The United Methodist Church, we will faithfully participate in the ministries of the church by our service.” Today as we continue in our series on the seven habits of highly effective disciples, we’re looking at the vow we make to participate in the ministries of the church by our service. We started by looking at our purpose, our reason for being as ourselves and as a congregation. And then we moved to talking about each supporting area – prayers, presences, gifts, and now service. Service can be tricky – how is it different than gifts, exactly? Of course, as Laurel shared with us last week, gifts certainly connects to our financial giving in particular, our stewardship, our generosity, and Laurel helped us think about a life that we share freely with others, as we share everything that we have, remembering that what we have is just entrusted t…

Lectionary Notes for Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Readings for Sixth Sunday After Epiphany, 2/16/14: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37
Deuteronomy 30:15-20: All the readings for today are significant in that this liturgical Sunday - Sixth Epiphany - and the couple following - only show up occasionally depending on the date of Easter. Enjoy these texts - they may not appear in the lectionary again for a while!This is Moses speaking in this text, preparing the people to enter the Promised Land, where Moses himself cannot go. Moses sets up two clear paths: obey God, and you will be numerous and multiply and have blessings. Disobey, and you won't stay long in this land, and you will be cursed. The first verse of the reading lays it out: life and prosperity vs. death and adversity. Of course, things rarely work out in such a black and white cut and dry way, but Moses' point: your choices have consequences. 
Psalm 119:1-8:
These are the first verses of the longest Psalm in the Bible. Each stanza b…

Lectionary Notes for Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Readings for Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, 2/9/14: Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 112:1-10, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20
Isaiah 58:1-12: All the readings for today are significant in that this liturgical Sunday - Fifth Epiphany - and the few following - only show up occasionally depending on the date of Easter. Enjoy these texts - they may not appear in the lectionary again for a while!vs. 1 - "Shout out, do not hold back!" - What are you holding back? What needs to be shouted out boldly? What holds us back from saying what needs to be said? God responds to the people complaining that God doesn't see how devout they are by saying that God knows though they might fast, they still fight and oppress and act violently. Empty devotion doesn't impress God. vs. 6-7 - "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice . . . is it not to share your bread with the hungry?..." Our acts of devotion must be tied with a purpose of justice for all. vs. 11 - …

Sermon, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples: Presence," Hebrews 10:19-25

Sermon 2/2/14 Hebrews 10:19-25
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Disciples: Presence

“As members of the body of Christ and in this congregation of The United Methodist Church, we will faithfully participate in the ministries of the church by our presence.”             Many of you have heard me joke before that I consider a mildly overcast cloudy day with a low probability of precipitation to be my favorite weather for a Sunday. See, in my experience, you don’t want snowy weather, of course – slippery roads always impact worship attendance. You don’t want it to be too cold or too rainy either – hard to talk yourself out from under the covers on a day like that, when instead, you can worship at Church of the Divine Mattress. But you also don’t want it to be too nice out either. Sunny, gorgeous, warm days aren’t good for worship attendance either, when everyone decides they’d rather worship at the Church of the 18th Hole instead. No, for optimal worship attendance, a mildly overcast day – not…