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Showing posts from September, 2012

God's Plan, Our Choices (Sermon 9/23)

Genesis 15:1-6

What is God’s plan? Many times, in some of the darkest moments of our lives, people (well-meaning people) tell us that God has a plan for our pain, that what has happened to us makes sense in a grand scheme, that we are not hurting in vain. Yet think about what that says about God: that God uses pain as a means to an end, to bring us where God wants us to be? That there is a long-range plan, full of illnesses and pains, which is how God is bringing the kin-dom into fruition? That the forces that oppose God, including cancer, chaos, and criminal actions, do not really have any power- though we go through the motions of renouncing them at baptism.
If God’s plan for the world is down to the tiny details, what’s our part in it? Do we play a role? Are the encouragements in the creation story, the relationship that we see there between God, humans, and the rest of creation, is that a real relationship or just a backdrop while God moves us around according to a plan?
If we tak…

Not Safe for Children (Sermon, 9/16)

Text: Genesis 6-9
In all the things I do for our children’s service, Heavenly Sunshine, one thing I never do is read the flood story. I do a lot of wild and crazy things, but I never read that story. I do not like presenting it as a story for children. It’s not a story about cute animals- it’s a story of the idea that the world went so wrong that God decided to undo creation. That’s not Vacation Bible School-friendly, that’s apocalypse. No number of cute songs or rainbows can make me okay with this story.
This is an interesting perspective because most of us never hear about the flood again after our VBS or day camp days are finished. A few of us may have discussed Genesis as adults or once or twice heard a sermon on the flood, but so rarely. Who wants to talk about it? Who wants to consider that God, who was merciful to Adam and Eve and to Cain (after he killed his brother), decided a few generations later that things were so bad, they had to end.
Things were so bad (how bad were they…

Tension

I have been re-reading parts of Victoria Sweet's God's Hotel for two months now. I've maxed the renewal time of my local library and finally decided to buy my own copy. Though the book is about the last almshouse in the United States, located in San Francisco, it is about more than healthcare. I strongly recommend this book.

Sweet writes about the spiritual and emotional dimensions of caring for the chronically ill. She studies the work of Hildegard of Bingen and considers how the tools of ancient medicine apply to practice today. In a sermon here, I talked about Sweet's understanding of the difference between anima and spiritus.

She also details the tension between different factions in the hospital, between doctors and nurses, administration and city government, willing patients and resistant patients. Though many of the decisions for the future of the hospital are necessary, but lamentable- Sweet reflects on the writing of Florence Nightingale regarding the necessit…

A Prayer for Suicide Prevention

On World Suicide Prevention Day: 


God of all space and time, There is darkness that exists which feels impenetrable. Darkness that seems to overcome all light. Darkness which swallows the will to live, The desire to go on, The possibility of grace, The existence of hope. There is darkness in this world, in some hearts, in some minds... Darkness which makes a person feel separated from You and from Love.
You have created a light which no darkness can overcome,

But sometimes the darkness seems too great.

On this day, be with those who feel surrounded by darkness... Who are afraid to speak of their plans, Who are pondering in their hearts what seems the only end to their pain.
Be with those who have reached out, but not been believed.
Be with people who are left behind, who have questions, who blame themselves.
Send your Spirit of consolation and hope into the world on this day,
Turn up the Light of Love- burnish and banish the darkness,
Strengthen all to speak, to listen, to hold, and t…