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Showing posts from July, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 13, Ordinary 18, Year C)

Readings for 11th Sunday After Pentecost, 8/4/13:  Hosea 11:1-11, Psalm 107:1-9, 43, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21 also: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23, Psalm 49:1-12 Hosea 11:1-11: This is in some ways a very pretty passage, filled with metaphors of God's love for Israel as a parent for a child. Unfortunately, it seems only after strong impulses to destroy the naughty children that God's compassion finally wins out! Israel has been a wayward child: "The more I called them, the more they went from me." Do we react to God's call this way? Insisting on going the opposite direction as soon as we realize what God wants from us? I know my nephew, Sam, is more likely to get in some last bits of "naughtiness" as soon as he realizes his parents want him to do something else. Are we like that?  "How can I hand you over, O Israel? . . . My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender." This inner dialogue of God's, while

My First Sermon - Luke 12:13-21, "All That You Have is Your Soul"

This week is the 15th anniversary of the first time I ever preached. The lectionary texts are up this week. Here it is, my first ever sermon (back when I tried to combine all the lectionary texts into one sermon. What was I thinking?!) Sermon  8/2/98 All that you have is your soul             This year at school, I was fortunate enough to become involved with an exciting and fulfilling group on campus, the United Methodist Student Movement.  We met once a week to plan, fellowship, work, or worship.  One particular evening we were joined by the university chaplain, and he led us in a worship service to help us center and focus for the exams and papers that were coming in the week ahead.  With the lights out and candles lit, we sat in a circle on the floor, and the chaplain shared with us an early Methodist tradition.  John Wesley , in the first years of the Methodist Movement, developed many instructions and disciplines for spiritual growth among his followers. One of these

Lectionary Notes for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 12, Ordinary 17, Year C)

Readings for 10th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/28/13: Hosea 1:2-10, Psalm 85, Colossians 2:6-15, (16-20), Luke 11:1-13 Hosea 1:2-10: God tells Hosea to take a whore for a wife, to symbolize that Israel has become like a whore, forsaking God. Its very difficult for me to not get caught up in the extremely offensive/patriarchal nature of this whole text, in order to hear the message behind. A wife - a woman - a piece of property - one forced to sell her body - the lowest of lows to Hosea's audience. This is what Israel becomes without God. A breaker of covenants, as a woman would break a marriage covenant with a man. God says: there will be no more pity, no forgiveness, no saving. None of that. You won't be my people, and I am not your God. This is huge - Israel's relationship with God is based on Israel  being  God's - God's people. Yet . The importance of that word! In verse 10, we read, "Yet . . . in the place where it was said to them, 'you are not my

Lectionary Notes for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 11, Ordinary 16, Year C)

Readings for 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/21/13: Amos 8:1-12, Psalm 52, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42 Amos 8:1-12: Please read  Chris Haslam's explanation of this passage  for details that I, frankly, can't give you. But my own thoughts: "a basket of summer fruit" - imagery rises of harvest, life, creation, end of season, gathering up Note the death/destruction/wailing/bodies imagery in this passage Amos describes those who follow the law up to and only to the letter. "When will Sabbath be over so we can get on with our lives?" they ask. Their concern is for self and self only. "selling the sweepings of wheat" - instead of leaving them for the poor. An early picture of capitalism at work?! "Shall not the land tremble on this account?" Indeed - even the earth - the creation, revolts at our behavior. Trembles in agony! Famine - not of bread and water, but of God's word! "They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of

Sermon, "Sermon on the Mount: Blessed," Matthew 5:1-12

Sermon 7/14/13 Matthew 5:1-12 Sermon on the Mount: Blessed             If you’ve ever received an email from me, or a letter, or seen my default signature on my newsletter articles, you’ll notice I usually sign things, “Blessings, Beth.” I can’t remember exactly when I started doing that. I don’t think I gave it any great thought at the time, other than wanting a way to sign things that I could use consistently, that seemed to work for all people in all situations, no matter who I was talking to, and blessings seemed to fit. My grandmother used it almost as a nickname for me. “Beth, you are a blessing” was something she said to me often, something special to me. What I mean by it is, “I hope you find your day, your life, to be full of blessings.” But what are blessings? What do we mean when we bless someone, or we ask God to bless someone?             I’ve been thinking a lot about the word blessings this week, and the practice of blessing one another. We have lots of th

Lectionary Notes for Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 10, Ordinary 15, Year C)

Readings for 8th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/14/13: Amos 7:7-17, Psalm 82, Colossians 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-37 Amos 7:7-17: Ah, the image of the plumb line, the leveling-object used in construction and building, to tell is something is straight, right, level. God declares the playing field will be made level. How will this happen? God says Israel, God's people, will never be passed by again. But God seems to indicate that this will happen by destruction/desolation/being laid to waste. Is God going to start from scratch? The worst punishment for Amaziah? His wife will be made a prostitute. Why is this bad? His property - his possession - will be given to other men to have and possess. What could be worse than that!? Sigh.  "I am no prophet . . . but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees." Labels - it's funny how we react to them. We call Amos a prophet whether he likes it or not, because we can recognize that in him which is the prophetic gift of truth-tel