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Showing posts from October, 2012

Lectionary Notes for 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, 11/4/12: Ruth 1:1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 12:28-34 Ruth 1:1-18 : Ruth tends to be a favorite book of the Bible for people. Why do you think that is? I suppose it has a bit of romance, a love story, of which there are actually few in the scriptures. But the real love story here is not between Ruth and Boaz, but Ruth and Naomi. Ruth goes beyond what law and duty demands for her mother-in-law. She isn't just following rules, but following a heart that tells her that though her legal ties to Naomi are over, she has a greater obligation to stay with Naomi. Verses 16 and 17 have become a favorite text of mine that some couples choose for their wedding, which is interesting given that the text is a conversation between a mother and daughter in law. But this is about Ruth committing to have her path in life be the path that Naomi takes. It is an intentional decision. It doesn't just happen to them, Ruth makes it happen by her

Sermon for October 28th, 2012, "Enough: When Dreams Become Nightmares," 1 Timothy 6

Sermon 10/28/2012 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (The “Enough” Sermon Series is based on Adam Hamilton’s book Enough:  Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity . I use Hamilton’s suggested structure and major themes,  adapted for use at Liverpool First UMC.) Enough: When Dreams Become Nightmares In a quiet Mexican fishing village, an American who was on vacation saw a local fisherman unloading his catch. He decided to approach him. The American asked the fisherman, “why are you finishing your day so early?” The Mexican replied “Oh Senor, I have caught enough to feed my family and a little extra to sell for today. It is now time to go for lunch with my family and have a siesta. In the afternoon, I can play with my kids. In the evening, I will go to the cantina, drink a little tequila and play the guitar.” The business professor was horrified at the fisherman’s lack of motivation to succeed. He answered, “If you stay out at sea until late afternoon, you will easily catch twice as

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, 10/28/12: Job 42:1-6, 10-17, Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22), Hebrews 7:23-28, Mark 10:46-52 Job 42:1-6, 10-17: Here is our conclusion to our four week look at Job. Job, having heard directly from God, seems extremely humbled and compliant. "I didn't mean what I said God!" I wonder if we'd feel similarly if God directly answered some of our whining/complaining! "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you." Just a great sentence, both for content and literary style. We hear about God often. But seeing God, experiencing God - a better treat. Job rightly appreciates it. v. 10 - "And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job . . . and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." I think this is an unfortunate ending to the book. Wouldn't it have been more powerful if Job hadn't gotten back all that he had before? What's the ultimate lesson here? Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22):

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 21st Sunday after Pentecost, 10/21/12: Job 38:1-7 (34-41), Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45 Job 38:1-7, (34-41): Would we be prepared for God to answer us in such a direct way like this? God telling us, "Get ready, I'm about to tell you how it is?" I don't think I would be! Still, God's answer, while vivid and beautiful in its poetic way, isn't one that would satisfy me if I were asking the questions Job had been asking. God's answer is basically "I'm God, and you aren't. How can you question me?" But my own experience of God finds God more sympathetic to my questioning - even if not providing any more answers. For me, not having answers is very frustrating. But I'm trying always to accept that God is beyond my understanding. Can you have faith without all the answers? I guess that's why it is faith! Biblical sarcasm - this part I enjoy. God is pretty sarcastic in his answer with Job. I'

Lectionary Notes for Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Oops - I've been late with my posts a lot lately - sorry! I will try to get back on task! Readings for 19th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/14/12: Job 23:1-9, 16-17, Psalm 22:1-15, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31 Job 23:1-9, 16-17: "Oh that I knew where I might find him, that I might even come to his dwelling." Where do you look for God? Where do you seek out God and how, when you want to give God a piece of your mind?  "Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; but he would give heed to me." I am always surprised by how many people feel like they can't be honest with God and bring their real emotions to God. I remember the manual for chaplaincy at the hospital in my first appointment, which encouraged clergy, "don't try to defend God. She can defend herself." I remembered being dazzled by feminine God imagery in a small town, and totally on board with the advice. God is God. God can take our anger and questioning. I suspect

Sermon for World Communion Sunday, "Room at the Table: The Table Is Set," 1 Corinthians 11:17-26

Sermon 10/7/12 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) Room at the Table: The Table Is Set             Since the beginning of September, we’ve been exploring this theme of Room at the Table. We’ve heard about the feeding of the 5000, and manna from heaven, the parable of the great banquet, and about Peter’s vision of food declared clean by God. And through our music and liturgy and visuals and anthems we’ve been hearing about God’s table. I’ve had some of you mention that you felt like we should be celebrating Holy Communion – that’s what everything has been pointing to. And I hope that you feel that way, that today, you find yourself ready, longing to celebrate this Holy Meal, like everything has been pointing us in this direction. If you had a chance to read my article in our newsletter this month, you read some of my personal reflections about Holy Communion, like about how my grandmother’s homemade bread was the communion bread at my childhood church, and how I

Lectionary Notes for Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 19th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/7/12: Job 1:1, 2:1-10, Psalm 26, Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16 Job 1:1, 2:1-10: Satan, in the book of Job, isn't a creature of hell, but part of the heavenly council, actually "the devil's advocate" in a way. How does this differ from our typical conception of Satan? "He will curse you to your face." Satan is trying to figure out what will push Job to curse God. What would make you curse God? How mad have you ever gotten at God? "In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Of course, we're only on chapter two. But, still, sometimes people can handle a remarkable amount of pain and still remain hopeful. Can you? How do you think people do this?   Psalm 26: "I have trusted in the Lord without wavering . . . test my heart and mind." Are you bold enough in your faith to ask God to test your heart in mind? Ties in well with our Job passage. "I walk in my integrity; redeem

Sermon for September 30th, 2012, "Room at the Table: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Acts 11:1-18

Sermon 9/30/12 Acts 11:1-18 Room at the Table: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?             My older brother Jim is six years older than me, and when I was little, I idolized him, and wanted to be around him constantly. I wanted to dress like him, play with the toys he played with, and do what he did. But naturally, a 12 year old boy does not always want his 6 year old sister following him around everywhere, and sometimes there would be a bit of conflict between me and Jim. Sometimes, I might do something, like follow Jim around when I was instructed to leave him alone for a while, that would result in Jim taking the dreaded action: he would tell on me. “I’m telling!” Powerful words between siblings, aren’t they? Apparently, I started trying my own version of a preemptive strike, by running to my parents and saying, “Jim is gonna tell on me!” I guess I figured Jim would get in trouble if I could somehow tell on him first. But I couldn’t foresee the logical conclusion of my a