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Showing posts from May, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Trinity Sunday, Year B

Readings for Trinity Sunday, 5/31/15: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17 Isaiah 6:1-8: Seraphs certainly are strange creatures! Note that even though Isaiah says he "sees the Lord", it is the other things that are described in detail, not what God is like in God's self. Isaiah expresses a deep sense of unworthiness, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips." He doesn't feel worthy to be seeing God. The imagery of the seraph taking the hot coal to Isaiah's lips is very powerful. We read nothing of pain for Isaiah, but it make sense that this cleansing and purifying would have burned him, been painful. That resonates with how we experience being made pure. It takes work and pain. I think of the image of Eustace Scrubb in  The Voyage of the Dawntreader  in the Chronicles of Narnia, when he is turned into a dragon. His skin must be painfully torn off by Aslan before he is made cl

Lectionary Notes for Pentecost Sunday

Readings for Pentecost Sunday, 5/24/15: Acts 2:2-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 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,

Sermon, "Dreaming: Another Joseph," Matthew 1:18-25

Sermon 5/17/15 Matthew 1:18-25 Dreaming: Another Joseph             It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Ok, maybe not. But today, we’re having a little bit of Christmas in May. We’ve been talking about dreams and dreamers in the Bible, and it just seemed wrong to skip over Joseph and his dreams about the birth of the Christ-child, even if it seems a little out of season. I have to admit, when we’re in the midst of the season of Advent, I get annoyed when we’re in the lectionary year that focuses mostly on the gospel of Matthew, because Matthew, unlike Luke, focuses on Joseph in the birth narrative, instead of Mary. The way I figure it, women are featured so rarely in the Bible, compared with men, and after all, Mary is the one who carries and gives birth to Jesus – you’d think it would be obvious that she should be center stage. But no, Matthew’s gospel manages to somehow make even the birth of Jesus about Joseph , not Mary.             Still, for today, talking

Lectionary Notes for Ascension Sunday, Year B

Readings for Ascension Sunday, 5/17/15:   Acts 1:1-11, Psalm 47, Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:44-53 Acts 1:1-11: Luke's account to Theophilus, Part II. The ascension is such an interesting part of what happens to Jesus, in that, for most, it is something we care about least. Where does it fit in our Christian faith? Is Jesus' ascension important? For me, the importance of the ascension is that we are now left without Jesus physically present - that means we have to do it now - we have to do the work that he has been teaching and teaching about. No excuses, no right-there Jesus to do it for us. Just the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate. Jesus' ascension means that Jesus really is asking  us  to get to work. Ah, those men in white robes again. They're almost like stage directions in a script - they let you know what's going on that is not, apparently, obvious in any other way. I think if I ran across them they would raise more questions for me than they would answe

Lectionary Notes for Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Readings for 6th Sunday of Easter, 5/10/15 : Acts 10:44-48, Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17 Acts  10:44-48: "even on the Gentiles" - this is the key phrase here. This is a second-Pentecost experience of sorts, and the focus is on the receiving of the spirit by those who are outside the Jewish faith. This had been a stumbling block for Peter - he had been mostly in mission to the Jews. God is always expanding our sense of who belongs, and who is our neighbor, and who is our brother and sister. "Can anyone withhold?" How often do we try to withhold others from receiving what God would give to them? We like to decide who gets grace and mercy and love and acceptance, and even membership into our communities of faith. We take dangerous steps in so doing, taking God's role instead of our own. Can we withhold what the Holy Spirit would give? Psalm 98: Oof - watch out - there's "[God's] holy arm!" I just don't get this image - it'

Sermon, "Dreaming: Daniel," Daniel 2:1-47

Sermon 5/10/15 Daniel 2:1-46 Dreaming: Daniel             Today we turn our attention to a book of the Bible we don’t often hear much about in worship: the book of Daniel, one of the books of prophecy in the Bible. Daniel is a book of the Bible that only appears once in the whole three year cycle of lectionary scripture readings, the suggested readings for the Christian church year. Even still, it is just one of four texts suggested for a particular Sunday, and I realize that in the 17 years I’ve been preaching, I have never preached a sermon on the book of Daniel before! Of course, there a couple stories from Daniel you might be familiar with: Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, which are usually great Sunday School stories. But the book of Daniel is much more than that – more complex and complicated, certainly.             The Book of Daniel is both a book categorized as prophecy, and a book categorized as apocalyptic liter

Sermon, "Dreaming: The Wisdom of Solomon," 1 Kings 3:1-15

Sermon 5/3/15 1 Kings 3:1-15 Dreaming: The Wisdom of Solomon             Many of us have probably heard scenarios or seen film clips or Disney movies or been asked some variation of a question like this: You find a magic lamp and a genie appears telling you you have three wishes. What do you wish for? Of course, I’ve always thought your first wish should be to ask for unlimited wishes! But sometimes in these stories we discover a bit of a morality tale – the wisher asks for something selfish, or foolish, or doesn’t realize that wishing always comes with a price, like in the short story “The Monkey’s Paw,” where the wish for 200 pounds is granted through the death of the wisher’s son, or the story where the man wishes for sausages, and then wishes the sausages attached to his wife’s nose, since she made fun of his wish, and then finally has to use his third wish to remove the sausages. But all of these stories share the basic question: if you could wish for anything what wo