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Showing posts from June, 2013

Renunciation

Galatians 5:1,13-25; Luke 9:51-62
There is a moment in each baptism service when the voices become a little weaker and uncertain. Is it when the parents of the person to be baptized (or the person themselves) are asked the long list of promises? Is it when the congregation promises to offer support and guidance and is expected to follow through on that promise? Is it when we have to affirm our trust and hope in the truth of the words of the Apostles’ Creed? Is it when I pray for an infant to have a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord? 
It is not. 
It is when we come to the space where I say: I ask you to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, reject sin, and confess the faith of the church. 
And then we proceed: 
Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?  Response: I renounce them. 
Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God?  Response: I renounce them. 
Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God?  Response: I renounce them. 
When we come to…

Lord's Prayer: Fifth Petition

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
            The most frequent conversation I have around this petition is which word people prefer: some like trespasses, some like sins, and some like debts. Let’s think about them for a minute.
            Trespass… a trespass is occupying a space that one does not have the right to be. A person who abuses another person physically or emotionally is clearly trespassing… using and misusing space that is not theirs.
            Sin… a sin is an attempt at power, an effort to control a situation or another person. Sinning might happen through trying to manipulate with words or power or it might be a sneaky way of cutting corners or even gossiping. A shared conversation about a person who is not in the room, which is not positive or uplifting, is about feeling more powerful than them in the moment. That’s an example of sin.
            The language of debts and debtors is clearly about a gap in a relationship. One person owes the other…

Lord's Prayer: Fourth Petition

Give us this day our daily bread.
Hundreds of millions of people pray the Lord’s Prayer today. Tens of millions will pray it tomorrow. We all say it.
We all say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Millions of people say this and yet there are still hungry people. There are people who do not have enough. People who are unable to make ends meet. People who will go to bed tonight with growling stomachs. Children who will go without eating because they depend on the school lunch program for a meal each day and now it’s summer.
Most of us have enough. In fact, most of us have more than enough. And most of us are not hungry right now, unless we happened to skip breakfast today.
And yet we pray, Give us this day our daily bread.
We pray it and we pray in concert with all people around the world. It is not Give me or Give my family. It is Give us. We are praying with people who believe like us, who are living faithfully in God’s promises… we are praying with people who believe like us on beh…

Deck Chairs

Yesterday, I rearranged the chairs in the church sanctuary. Since the second Sunday in the Easter season (the 1st Sunday after Easter), we’d been sitting in a circle with the altar inside the circle. Many people loved this arrangement. An smaller number of people hated it and there were a minority with no [expressed] opinion.
In an effort to be more visitor-oriented for the summer (our biggest visitor season), we moved the chairs back into their neat little rows. I did not put out as many rows as we had previously because we just don’t need that many chairs. We have moveable chairs and fixed pews. I arranged five rows of six chairs each on two sides (60 chairs). We also have four pews on each side, which could easily accommodate 5-6 people each. Let’s say 5. Thus, we easily have seating for 40 people in the pews.
Sixty plus forty is one hundred (100). We have available seating this Sunday for 100 people.
Last Sunday, at our regular service, we had 37 people.

37.
I thought about each o…

Lord's Prayer: Second and Third Petitions

Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What is the Kingdom of God?
Jesus gives many descriptions of the kingdom, particularly through his parables. While some of his stories are metaphors beyond our understanding, some are very clear in their explanations. Whether or not we want to accept his message about the expansiveness of the kingdom or its openness is a different story.  In particular, the kingdom is a place of welcome, no tears, no dying, growth in mind and spirit, forgiveness, justice, and inclusion.
What is heaven like? Specifically, how is heaven different from earth?
In the most specific sense, given our knowns, unknowns, and unknown unknowns, heaven is the place [right now] where God’s kingdom, Christ’s reign, the Spirit’s effects, are all fully realized. It is the place of the healing of the nations, the river of life, where death and sin have no power.
However, since we are not yet there… more correctly, since we are here, we have purpose here. J…

Lord's Prayer: First Petition (+ Holy Trinity)

I wrote this to be read by our congregational president when I was out sick on Holy Trinity Sunday, which also marked the start of our Lord's Prayer sermon series. 
I am not with you because I am at home, sick. The illness is not a mystery. It is just something that I am waiting to finish. Being sick is a little like a puzzle. With enough information, we can solve the puzzle and, usually, things work out.
Of course, we know situations where people were sick and did not get well in the way we had hoped. Nevertheless, we almost always pursue the solution- the full solution, the answers to all our questions. No stones are left unturned. Questions are answered. Puzzles are solved.
We like solutions. There is hardly anything more aggravating than not being able to fix something or know an answer. In this room, right now, with the human knowledge plus the technological benefit of smart phones- there are many questions that could be answered, many problems that could be solved. Facts and …