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Showing posts from April, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B

Readings for 5th Sunday of Easter, 5/3/15:
Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

Acts 8:26-40:
Rarely mentioned in the gospels, here disciple Philip gets a whole scene, as he explains a text from Isaiah (sheep to the slaughter) to a eunuch. Philip interprets the passage as speaking about Christ, and the scene ends with the eunuch's baptism, and Philip continuing preaching the good news.Philip leads here a mini-Bible study. Do you feel comfortable helping others understand scriptures? Who best helped you understand what you were reading in the Bible? How did they teach you?"how can I, unless someone guides me?" The eunuch has no problem letting someone help him. I have a harder time asking for help, submitting to teaching. I like to think I can do it on my own. When/how can you be open to someone guiding you in your spiritual life?Psalm 22:25-31:
We saw this Psalm in its entirety on Good Friday, and in part with mostly this same selection earlier in Lent. T…

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday after Easter, Year B

Readings for 4th Sunday of Easter, 4/26/15:
Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

Acts 4:5-12:
Notice the content of Peter's preaching, and really, most of the preaching in Acts. Instead of preaching about the things Jesus talked about, the apostles preach instead about Jesus' identity. But they seem to share very little about his parables, etc."there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven . . . " How quickly the apostles make the gospel and exclusive message instead of an inclusive one, as Jesus did. How easy it is to change the whole tone of Jesus' work into something different!Still, Peter speaks up and speaks boldly in some very difficult situations. When have you been so bold?Psalm 23:
Ah, perhaps the one passage of scripture that most (English speaking) people, regardless of their usual preference of translation, prefer to hear in the poetry of the King James version, myself included. Just a part of our identity as p…

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday of Easter, Year B

Readings for 3rd Sunday of Easter, 4/19/15:
Acts 3:12-19, Psalm 4, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36b-48

Acts 3:12-19:
Anger - sometimes Peter sounds so accusatory to me, especially in his early preaching, as if still so fresh from losing Jesus as a daily physical presence in their midst, he's looking for someone to blame. He does make concession in verses 17-19.Peter's words are also interesting considering his own role in Jesus' trial and death. Do you think he's speaking to himself as much as to the crowd?This scene takes place just after Peter heals a crippled beggar. Healing was central to Jesus' ministry. How do Peter and Jesus differ in their style of healing?Psalm 4:
"how long" - the human cry against injustice, the human plea for God to intervene.A theme of this psalm: God hears us. Sometimes we doubt this - wonder if God is listening. The psalmist, with his own doubts, is still sure in his heart that God hears and listens. Are you?1 John 3:1-7:
We are God'…

Sermon "Dreaming: Jacob," Genesis 28:10-22

Sermon 4/19/15 Genesis 28:10-22
Dreaming: Jacob

            How does God communicate with you? How do you most often hear God’s voice? How can you tell the difference between God’s voice, and your own voice in your mind? One of the questions I’m asked regularly as a pastor is “why doesn’t God speak to us today like God spoke to people in the Bible?” After all, in the scriptures, we read about God speaking out from a burning bush, or God walking through the garden where Adam and Eve lived, or speaking from an overshadowing cloud – all these very dramatic ways of getting someone’s attention. And yet, I’ve encountered very few people who have said that they have heard God’s voice in this way. I don’t know, of course, why God chooses to speak to us in the ways God does, but here’s what I think: What if someone today told you that they heard a voice come to them from, say, a tree, and that they were going to listen to what the voice told them to do? Well, we’d probably suggest that person see…

Sermon, "After Easter," based on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus

Sermon 4/12/15 Multiple Texts
After Easter

            Last Sunday, during our sunrise service, I talked about how easy it can be sometimes, or at least has been in my own life, to “miss” Easter. After all the build-up, all the special Holy Week services, somehow Easter can seem less intense. Part of it is because we focus first on something that is empty: Jesus is not in the tomb. And that’s a bit harder things to get our heads around. And sometimes we can be like Peter and the other disciple who ran to see the empty tomb, only to quickly go back to our place of fear and darkness without understanding. It is Mary Magdalene, who stays at the tomb, weeping, grieving, who is still present to have the very first encounter with the resurrected Jesus.             But if we have a chance of sort of missing Easter on Easter Sunday, we really have a chance of missing Easter on the Sunday after, this, the second Sunday of Easter. In fact, it has a non-technical name: it’s typically known as “low …

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday of Easter, Year B

Readings for 2nd Sunday of Easter, 4/12/15: 
Acts 4:32-35, Psalm 133, 1 John 1:1-2:2, John 20:19-31

Acts 4:32-35: "one heart and soul" - Such a great vision of how we can wish for things to be in the Christian community, in the world. What are the obstacles that keep this from happening?a little bit communist, no? I think the theory is great - it is the greed that gets in the way, and our overwhelming need for individualism. What and how much and with whom are you willing to share?The benefit of such a plan is obvious here: "there was not a needy person among them." Isn't that a vision worth working toward?Psalm 133: Short and sweet?! Check out Chris Haslam's notes on this Psalm. The image of Aaron's beard dripping with oil signifies total consecration to God.Haslam also notes the connection between this Psalm and our Genesis text in that verse 1 here declares, "how very good and pleasant…

Sermon for Easter Sunday, "Buried Seeds," John 20:1-18

Sermon 4/5/2015 John 20:1-18
Easter: Buried Seeds

            This year I’ve been very carefully cultivating some seedlings so that if it every finally gets warm enough, I can transfer my little plants outside and have a garden that is ready to grow and produce good fruit. I’ve started seedlings many times before, but unlike my grandfather, who was such a natural with gardening, I’ve never seemed to have much of a green thumb. In elementary school, when the teacher would have us “plant” a bean in a Dixie cup with a wet paper towel, I was always that one kid with the dud seed that just didn’t do anything. As an adult, I’ve had a little bit better luck, but it seems that too often I start things too late, or animals eat all my promising plants, or I do something wrong in the transition from inside to outside. This year, though, I feel pretty good about my start: my plants are coming along nicely.             I’ve always hated the process of thinning plants – pulling out perfectly acceptabl…