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Showing posts from March, 2014

Met By the Great "I Am"

John 18:12-27

The writer of the Fourth Gospel loves a dramatic scene. There are some serious contrasts here. If we were writing a script for this, we would flash back and forth between Peter in the courtyard and Jesus in the garden and then in front of the high priests.
In the garden, at the betrayal, there are 600 soldiers. A detachment is an enormous number of soldiers, greatly outsized compared to the threat that Jesus might pose. Of course, if they think there is a possibility that he is God… then the more soldiers, the better. Jesus knows what they are about. When they say they are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus says, “I am.” It sounds better to our ears to finish the sentence as “I am he.” However, the Jewish ears that first heard this gospel pricked up at the “I am.” Where else do we hear that phrase?
It is how God speaks to Moses through the burning bush, when Moses asks for God’s name. God replies, “I am.” Now Jesus uses the same phrase and is carried away. Every set of …

The Intimacy Conspiracy

John 13:1-17

In Lutheran understanding, a sacrament is 1) an event associated with the life of Christ that we are commanded/commended to repeat, 2) an event that has an earthly element or elements (tangible parts or acts), and 3) has a promise of God attached to it.
What makes foot washing not a sacrament?
When Jesus tells his disciples to serve one another in this humble way, what’s happening? - He’s wearing nothing, but a towel (exposure). - He’s physically close to them (proximity). - They have to respond by receiving (communion).
It’s a terribly, terribly intimate scene. Intimacy is a word we don’t use a lot in church. We talk about sex occasionally. (Okay, I do and you listen horrified.) We talk about service. But we rarely discuss intimacy.
Here we have a semi-naked Jesus, clothed like a slave, performing the task of a slave, for other free men. He is on his knees. His hands are on their feet. He is cleaning them, drying them, touching them. Peter can literally feel the breath of…

Purple

Since it's still pretty gray here, I searched through some old photos for inspiration for the Lenten photo a day word: purple.

This is from a walk I took by myself around the outskirts of Bath, England. It was late September, very warm, and sunny. I skirted a cow pasture on an old path, on a hill above the town. I found an old graveyard, a blackberry patch, and a canal.

This picture of flowers blooming out of a wall is the essence of purple- a regal growth of life in the midst of stones.

There's something to that.


Reflection

Water in a stainless steel cup
Lent Photo a Day word: reflection
In many minds, Lent is associated with austerity- a kind of uber-asceticism.
It might actually be more about simplicity, about coming to understand and trust in only what is essential. 
Returning the ground of our being isn't about pain. It's about the best, most life-giving homecoming.

Eucharist

Thanksgiving at the Table.  At the table.  At the bedside.  In the car.  On the hike. 
Where two or more are gathered...

Faith

Photo word of the day: faith.
She walked ahead and didn't look back. She's not worried about falling, about being cold, about getting lost.  Someone has always come with what she needed.  Why would that change now?

Test

Today's Lenten photo word is "test".
We had a great Ash Wednesday service here, with different stations. This prayer station is going to stay up durin the season. 
The sign to the right says, "Maximum Occupancy 240". We're required to posted that. Normally we have about 1/6 of that in the sanctuary. 
When we think about our smallness, it can feel like a test we're failing. 
Maybe that's just me. 
Lead me away from temptation.  The temptation to blame.  The temptation to make it about me. The temptation to go quietly into that good night. 
Save us from the time of trial. 
Maximum occupancy: One God

Virtue

The Lent photo-a-day word is virtue.

Thinking of the seven virtues, (chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility), brings to mind this quote from Wuthering Heights:

Catherine says to Nellie: "...My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary…"

Virtues, like Catherine's love for Heathcliff, do not bring joy in themselves. It is by having them that we bring joy to others. We do not pursue them for their own sake, but because having the Spirit bring them to bear within us brings us closer to a glimpse of God's kingdom at hand. 

They are a foundation, but should never be mistaken for architecture in their own right. 


Dust

This is probably one of the least attractive pictures of my bitten nails and dry skin. However, the word of the day is dust- for the Lenten photo a day prompt. This finger ashed foreheads in the snow and in buildings, heads in the single digits and in their upper 80s. The ash dust is ground into the crease of my finger. The humanity, the mortality, the grace. It all marks me and I cannot help but be changed. 
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Every day in between is grace. 

Transfigure Our Faith

Our hope is in God, our holy Parent, who makes all things and from whom all blessings flow. God’s faithfulness is the anchor of our hope.
Our trust is in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. More than a teacher, His life, death, and resurrection giving meaning to our existence. Christ’s faithfulness tethers us to holy mystery.
Our trust is in the Holy Spirit. Blowing over and through creation, unexpected and untamed, The Spirit stirs forgiveness, fruitfulness, and creates families. The Spirit’s faithfulness ties together past, present, and future.

Holy Trinity, One God, we believe you transfigure our faith. Amen.

Unseen Transfiguration

Transfiguration Sunday  John 9:1-41        
         After he tells the blind man to go wash, Jesus disappears from the story until verse 35. Nowhere else in this gospel do we get 28 verses without Jesus speaking and acting. Instead, we have a man who has been touched and affected by Jesus, but who has never seen him.
Is there anyone here who can relate to that- having been affected by Jesus’ words or presence or actions, but never having seen Him? The blind man is seeking Jesus, working toward understanding his transfiguration, rejoicing in the change in his life.
Remember that in this gospel, in John, sin is not about actions. Sin is not what you do- it is what you believe or fail to believe. So the man’s blindness is not in this story so that we (or anyone else) might reflect on sin, what causes sin, and what happens after sin. The blindness just is.
In this circumstance, it is an opportunity for God’s work. God’s work in Jesus is revealing the divine nature and desires. The Spirit’s…