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Showing posts from August, 2014

Be a Boaz

Reading: Ruth 3 Commentary:  What’s happening in this passage? Ruth has pledged her support to Naomi, followed her back to Israel, and been responsible for taking care of them. Naomi has the connections in this place, her hometown. If she can find a righteous man to marry Ruth, Naomi will have the grandchildren for whom she has longed and she will know that Ruth will be taken care of as a wife. It will have to be just the right man for Ruth- because he will have to recognize the risks and efforts she has made with Naomi. He will also have to be willing to give Ruth children who will also be understood to be in the line of her dead husband. (Otherwise the grandchildren wouldn’t really be Naomi’s.)             Boaz is just such a man. He has seen Ruth’s care for Naomi. In the verses we just heard, Boaz acknowledges Ruth’s forethought and risk-taking. As a widow, Ruth could have chosen a different husband, possibly even a younger man. However, she honors Naomi and Naomi’s needs and

Binding and Loosing

Reading: Matthew 16:13-20 Commentary:   What does it mean to say that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The gospel writer, Matthew, is putting these words down for a very young Christian tradition, still mostly Jewish followers of Christ with some Gentile participation. The young ekklesia , as Matthew calls the assembly of the faithful, struggles with oppression from outside and wrestles with how to get along together on the inside.             Learning to live together faithfully in community was and is a large part of walking in the way of Jesus. Those who chose (and who choose) to do so are not embarking on an unmapped journey without assistance or guidance. They have scripture for their map, church community for their support, and the Holy Spirit as their GPS. Embracing all of these tools means seizing onto what heaven, what God, has offered to the church universal.             By u

To My Kindergartner

Twenty-eight years ago, my dad gave me a bath the night before I started kindergarten. I remember two baths from my dad really clearly from hundreds that he likely gave. The first bath I remember is one in which he tried to scrub off a mole cluster on my left arm thinking was dirt. It’s still there. The second bath was the pre-kindergarten bath. My dad told me that there might be kids in my class who looked different from me. He might have said more about that, but I don’t remember it. Then he said that there might be other people, other kids, who would say things to be mean about people who looked or seemed different. Not only was I not to join into that meanness, my father warned, but I was to stick up for kids who were singled out or picked on. If my dad heard about me doing otherwise, it would be big trouble for me. I remember this conversation clearly because part of my personality involves playing and re-playing shoulds and should nots over and over in my head. M

Cry, the Beloved Creation

Death stalks your beloved creation. How long, O Lord? Brown and black-skinned children are not valued, are afraid. How long, O Lord? Mothers and fathers wail in grief over fallen bodies.  How long, O Lord? False wars are declared, arming brothers and cousins against one another.  How long, O Lord? Lives trickle by, potential yet undreamed, never to be reached.  How long, O Lord? How long until we dare to dream something different?  How long until we say, “Enough”?  How long until we refuse to feed Death’s insatiable hunger, Fear’s unending drive?  How long until we stop the machinery that allows the bodies of black Americans to be the grist that feeds money machines? We pray for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness and peace are at home.  The tools, Your tools, for that are in our hands.  Let us recognize them. Let us employ them.  Let me join into the chorus, the drumbeat, the dance that answers, “How long?” with “No more

Do Not Test (Sermon)

Matthew 14:22-33             What was Peter’s mistake in this passage? There’s a tendency to think that it is he becomes afraid and doubts. People like to say that if Peter had kept his eyes on Jesus, if he had kept the faith, he wouldn’t have sunk. Let’s think for a second about how that sounds to people we know who feel like they’re drowning in their circumstances, “If you keep your eyes on Jesus… if you just believe… don’t worry or be scared…”             Those phrases make it sound like it is always your fault if you can’t keep your head above water. Sometimes our choices or other people’s choices cause us to falter, to sink, to become afraid. However, just because those things happen does not mean they are God’s will.             Peter’s mistake happened before he even got out of the boat. In the ancient world up through the time of Christ and even into more recent history, the sea represents chaos. In Judaism and Christianity, the sea is a realm of unknown dark, wh

Living for Love

1 John 4:7-21; John 15: 9-14 Where did you see love this week? Where did you experience it? John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this: that he will lay down his life for his friends. “No one has greater love than the one who is willing to lay down his or her life for a friend.” What does that mean? We generally assume that it means a willingness to die for another person or other people. When we interpret it in that manner, it becomes something a little removed from us. However, a life of love is not one of remove . What if Jesus doesn’t mean to “die for” a friend? What if the laying down of your life means to live for. After all, the end of the story of God’s love for creation in Jesus Christ does not end in death… it is about life. The way love is expressed is in what we are willing to live for… to demonstrate our life’s goals, values, and understanding. God’s love for us was and is demonstrated as God willing to live and die as one of us and then to b