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Showing posts from April, 2013

The Boundaries of Grace

5 Easter Narrative Lectionary, Year C
Acts 15:1-17
            The disciples are determining the purpose of their congregation. Is it to make Gentiles (Greek, Roman, any non-Jewish believer) into Jews? Or is it to take people of all stripes who are prepared to act in the name of Jesus and to move forward and out in faith? The purpose might seem clear to us, but it was as fraught a discussion as we occasionally find in congregations and in denominations today. This is the first synod assembly (so to speak) recorded in the early church and they have real issues on their hands.
            They have to determine the boundaries of God’s grace and the marks of the recipients of that grace. They are trying to respect the traditions and history of those gathered, history that is part of how God’s work and presence in the world has been revealed.  The disciples are also trying to understand the exponential pace at which the Spirit is bringing people into faith.            
            In this c…

Washed and Fed for the World

Easter 4 (Narrative Lectionary, Year C) 21 April 2013

Acts 8:26-39
The Holy Spirit does not hold to geographic boundaries. The Spirit does not hold to racial lines or ethnic markers. The Spirit does not detour to avoid the people we’d prefer not to see, not to hear, not to sit beside, or have included in our gathering. In the passage from Acts 8, that person is the Ethiopian eunuch. A eunuch is a man who does not have functioning testicles- either because they did not develop or because he has been maimed. A eunuch’s ability to reproduce has either withered on the vine or been pruned.
A eunuch is still a Jew, but may have been excluded from the assembly. Thus, for the purposes of temple life and worship, a eunuch is a man who is essentially a woman. And women don’t get to offer sacrifices. They don’t have standing. One’s blessings come through one’s husband and one’s ability to be receptive to his offerings, so to speak. (This is just awkward for everyone, but this eunuch is important.…

Dying For and Dying To (Sermon, Easter 3)

Acts 6:1-14, 7:44-60
Once there was a church full of people who loved Jesus and who tried to love one another. They had the best of intentions in all they did, in worship and in serving others. They even hosted a food pantry of sorts with fresh food that was passed out so that all could eat and be satisfied.
            Of course, behind the scenes, things were less rosy. There were some who wished that church could be the way it always was. Too many changes made them upset. They felt that the congregation needed to slow down, heed what had always worked, and focus on their community.
            There were others who felt that innovation was needed, that the church needed to be more open and outward-focused. These people were interested in different styles of worship and new areas of service. They struggled with how slowly things seemed to change and were frustrated by their inability to change everything all at once.
            Then the leaders wanted to help, but were stretched …

Miracles, Not Magic

Easter 1: Luke 24:1-12

            Who is missing in the gospel reading?
            Jesus…
            Where is he?
            How do you know?
            Where are the disciples? Not at the tomb.  (Despite Jesus having told them.)
            The women go to the tomb and there are two men there, messengers, who tell them that Jesus is risen. That he is living- no longer entombed, but alive and out and about…
            They go back to tell the disciples what happened and the disciples shout, “Hallelujah” and build a church.  The disciples immediately fall to their knees and thank God. The disciples immediately get out a scroll and begin to put together the Apostles’ Creed.
            Or… instead… the disciples… the people who knew Jesus best, who knew best what he’d said, who’d loved him and had been praying for the events of the last three days to NOT be true. They said the women were full of … baloney. The English translators protect us from the weight of the Greek. It’s not tha…