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Showing posts from June, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 9, Ordinary 14)

Readings for Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 7/6/14: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67, Psalm 45:10-17, Romans 7:15-25a, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67: The Bible can't be said to have a lot of romance in it - Song of Songs, yes, but not much else. As far as romances go, I love the story of Rebekah and Isaac. Obviously, it is not a current-day model I'd want to use, but otherwise, it's a great love story, a match-making story. "He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." Words of love, even, are not often exchanged in the Bible.  Psalm 45:10-17 : This scene describes a royal wedding. As a piece of scripture, I don't find much inspiring, frankly, here. In this particular section, there isn't even a mention of God to inspire. What do you find here? Romans 7:15-25a: This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, because, to me, it sums up our human condition. We do exactly the thing it is we are trying so h

Laying Down My Burden

Laying Down My Burden As many of you know, my father died last month, after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident. I’ve shared that my relationship with him was estranged, and I know some of you have had similar tensions in relationships with your family members. I want to share with you about why my relationship with him was estranged. I have spent a long time debating with myself whether or not I should write this, and whether I should share with just a few or more publicly. There are people who love my father very much, who were close to him, and I regret the pain that this will cause them to read and live with knowing. I’m sorry for that. But I feel compelled to speak, not to cause harm, but to speak truth, and to let go of a heavy burden I’ve carried with me for a long time. I am writing this now because I’ve promised myself for years that I would and could. I promised myself that whenever my father died, whenever I no longer had to worry about or had the excuse

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 8A, Ordinary 13A)

Readings for 3rd Pentecost, 6/29/14: Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42 Genesis 22:1-14: OK - I'll be up front: I hate this story. I hate a story that has God granting this precious child and then asks for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, as a "test" of Abraham's faith. I hate that God would test him in that way, and I know how I would respond: No way God! I'm not willing to agree that this is exactly how such a story literally unfolded. But that's beside the point. The point is: the story is here, so what will we do with it? What's the hardest thing someone has asked you to do? What's the hardest thing God has asked you to do? How did you respond? "The Lord will provide." This statement can be a statement of faith, or a statement that sometimes leaves unexamined the ways people do  not  have their needs provided for in this world. Use with care! Psalm  13: "How long, O Lord?" It is ok to cry out to

Sermon for Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "The Next Step: You Look Just Like Him," Matthew 10:24-39

Sermon 6/22/14 Matthew 10:24-39 The Next Step: You Look Just Like Him Our gospel lesson this morning is a sort of hodge-podge of things, and at first, you might have a hard time threading them together, because they seem like separate sets of instructions. First, the part about disciples and teachers. Then, a section about fearing only those who can corrupt our souls, rather than those who can kill our bodies. Then finally, Jesus talks about coming to bring not peace, but a sword, resulting in family members being set against one another. But, Jesus concludes, “those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” These seemingly disconnected instructions are all part of a larger section of Matthew. Jesus is sending out the twelve during his years of ministry, giving them authority to heal and preach and teach as he has been. And before he sends them, he wants to give them instructions for their time away. These verses we read tod

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Readings for Second Sunday after Pentecost, 6/22/14: Genesis 21:8-21, Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17, Psalm 17, Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39 Genesis 21:8-21 : "But Sarah saw." This is a complicated story. Certainly, jealously comes into play in a number of biblical stories. I also think of the horrible rock/hard place role women have in this story. How would you feel if you were Sarah? Abraham? Hagar?  "For it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also." Although of course this is unfair in so many ways, God is also quite ahead of the times, as usual. A blessing, too, for the child of a slave woman? Making him into a nation, too, like Isaac? Ishmael has his own story that will unfold, which today we see in the Islamic faith tradition, which traces its roots to Ishmael.  "And sent her away." What do you think Abraham expected to happen to Hagar and Ishmael? How vulnerable they

A Sung Communion Liturgy for the Season after Pentecost: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

A Sung Communion Liturgy for the Season after Pentecost: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Tune: NETTLETON) Come, dear friends, now to the table Lift your hearts up to the Lord. Let us gather, kneel together Raise our voices! Praise God! Now we gather at the table Now we come to sing our praise At the table of forgiveness Oh, God’s goodness: see and taste. Come, thou Fount of every blessing, Tune our hearts to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach us some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! We’re fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love. Out of love we were created, From God’s breath we drew our life. But God’s goodness we rejected, Bound for pain and grief and strife So God sought us through the ages, Called to us to turn from sin. Yet we would not heed God’s pleading, Lost and suff’’ring, broken So God sent to us Christ Jesus, God-ma

Sermon for Trinity Sunday, "The Next Step: Commissioned," Matthew 28:16-20

Sermon 6/15/14 Matthew 28:16-20 The Next Step: Commissioned             Today is a Sunday in the liturgical calendar we don’t often give much attention to: Trinity Sunday. It is the day when we celebrate one of the most unique and most misunderstood doctrines of the church: the doctrine of the Trinity, that we worship at God who is “one God, three persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The word “trinity” to describe God never appears in the Bible. It is a word we have used to describe what we see in the scriptures. Today’s gospel lesson from Matthew is often a text used on Trinity Sunday because it is one of few places where this Trinitarian formula, “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” is used in the Bible. You might recognize this phrase as one we still use today – they are the words that we use at baptism. We baptize with recognition of our Triune God – one God, three persons. The doctrine of the Trinity is pretty complex, because our God is pretty dy

Lectionary Notes for Trinity Sunday, Year A

Readings for Trinity Sunday, 6/15/14: Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20 Genesis 1:1-2:4a : This is the creation story - an interesting selection for Trinity Sunday! This is the  first  creation story - not the one with Adam and Eve and the serpent from later in Chapter 2. I love the creation story. I also believe in evolution. I don't find them to be contradictory. I asked my sixth grade Sunday School teacher how the world could be made in 7 days if dinosaurs were extinct so long before people were around. He said, "God's time isn't the same as our time, and a day in Genesis 1 isn't necessarily supposed to be a day like our days." I found that pretty satisfying. Why do we have to make it one or the other? Is our faith not strong enough to believe in evolution? Notice the  goodness  of creation in God's view. Everything God creates is good. EVERYTHING. One of my colleagues who was a probationary elder in the  UMC  as

Sermon for Pentecost, "The Next Step: Confirmation," Acts 2:1-21 (Preached at 9:30am service)

Sermon 6/8/14 Acts 2:1-21 Confirmation Sermon              Today, we celebrate Pentecost, known as the birthday of the church, a beginning, a new start, where we read of the disciples seemingly literally on fire with the new energy they have found in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples had been on quite the roller-coaster ride with Jesus. For three years they’d followed him, worked with him, ministered with him. They’d been through an ordeal, watching Jesus be put to death, and then they’d received the joy – Jesus resurrected. But now Jesus had returned to God, and no longer walked the earth in human form with them. And then, Pentecost comes, as our text from Acts begins. In the Christian faith, we know Pentecost as the day of the coming of the Holy Spirit, but in the Jewish religious life, Pentecost was an already existing festival – a harvest festival. And so people were coming to Jerusalem, making a pilgrimage to the city to be there for the religious festival, l

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday, "The Next Step: Pentecost," Acts 2:1-21 (Preached at 8am and 11am)

Sermon 6/8/14 Acts 2:1-12 The Next Step: Pentecost Since Easter Sunday morning, we’ve been talking about Resurrection Stories – stories of new life, celebrations of resurrection that take place because of God’s amazing power drawing life out of death, as we saw demonstrated in Jesus’ own death and resurrection. We’ve seen how this story – life instead of death – is woven all throughout the scriptures. Life, where death was expected. Today, we’re shifting gears. Today we begin a sermon focus called, “The Next Step.” When Pastor Aaron and I picked this sermon focus, we didn’t know exactly the nature of the transition we’d be going through as a congregation, but we knew we’d probably be experiencing some changes, and that the changes we’d be going through would fit right in with the experience we encounter in the disciples on the day of Pentecost.             Today, we celebrate the day of Pentecost. It is the day we call the birthday of the Christian Church. Today, we read

Lectionary Notes for Pentecost Sunday, Year A

Readings for Pentecost, 6/8/14: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 7:37-39 Acts 2:1-21 I have to admit - speaking in tongues is something that I don't connect to, don't understand, and frankly, usually don't take seriously. My only witnessing of speaking in tongues has left me more than a little skeptical. But I can't deny its frequent presence in the scriptures - so where does that leave me? Last year, a girl of approximately 9 year of age read this passage in church on Pentecost, and she whipped through Phrygia and Pamphylia like they were her hometowns. It was amazing. If I think about her reading this passage so flawlessly, I think I can get my head a little bit around the idea of speaking in tongues. When an unlikely vessel communicates an even more unlikely message, with unlikely abilities? Pentecost. In some ways, these scene is one of the most exciting in the Bible. This is the moment of truth - Jesus is dead, risen, and ascend