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Showing posts from February, 2017

Choosing Wisely (Lent 2017)

It's that time of year again! (Whoo-hoo!) It is time to choose a Lenten discipline. (Oh.) May I suggest that you don't wait until Ash Wednesday (March 1) and decide in a hurry? Or decide now and binge on an activity to go cold turkey in a week. Lent, the forty days of fasting, prayer, and penitence before Easter (not counting Sundays), is a season of slowing down, thinking deeply, praying, and spiritual pruning and growth. We are in the imitation of Christ's time in the wilderness, praying, fasting, and resisting temptation between his baptism and the noted beginning of his public ministry in some of the gospel accounts. When pondering Lenten disciplines, here are some good questions to ask yourself. 1) What does God think about me? How do I know that? 2) What gets in the way of me understanding or perceiving God's love in my life? 3) What gets in the way of me understanding or perceiving God's love in the world? 4) What is a habit that disturbs me

Eat My Words (Respect #2)

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.  How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! ...    With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.    From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.    Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?  - James 3:5, 9-11 It burned... the thing I wanted to say. I could feel the words in my mouth and in my throat. They were explosive. I wanted to say them sharply so they would hurt, wound. I felt hurt and wounded and I wanted to do it back.  I screwed up my lips, grimacing.  How could I not say these words? It was actually fairly important in this small, intimate meeting to control what I was saying, to be attentive to my emotions, and to let kindness and honesty reign over my impulsive reptilian brain.  In a move that I have never done before, I scribbled th

Jesus Ethics (Sermon)

Matthew 5:21-37 The Sermon on the Mount continued- - We are now into the ethical dimension of what it means to be salt of the earth and a light to the world - What does the meekness that inherits the earth look like? What shape does hungering and thirsting for righteousness take in one’s own life? - When Matthew is writing, after the fall of the temple, after Paul’s letters, after there is now a full generation of believers after Christ… what are the ethics of discipleship? - In particular, Matthew wants to be sure that his readers (then and now) understand that following Christ has a rootedness in the law of Moses. - The context of that root is not supersession (as in Jesus fulfills and, thereby, transforms the law), but cuts it open so that the heart of the law and God’s desire for its use is exposed. Framework What would Jesus do? Matthew will go on to illustrate that, but he’s foreshadowing the kind of behavior that Jesus embody, which will seem transgressi

Praying with Beads: Political Edition

  Some people need tangible items to help them focusing while they pray. This is NOT a flaw in one's prayer skill. Coloring, writing, yarn or needlework, wood work, gardening, fishing, or other tasks may also help to clear the mind of distractions and allow one to focus on communication (sending AND receiving) with the Divine. If you are able, I would suggest a set of beads. Most Roman Catholic rosaries are set up in decades (sets of 10 beads). Most Anglican rosaries are set up in weeks (sets of seven beads). You can have a set of beads in one of the combinations or in another combination. Whatever you have is sufficient. I am not calling this series "Praying the Rosary" because for many, many people that term refers to a very specific type of religious prayer. I do not want to invite confusion or create division. The hope of this series of posts to create some wording for people who are looking for specific prayers to say and to give a jumping off platform within

Great Thanksgiving for Black History Month (Liturgy)

God of hope and grief, God of power and strength, God of the widow and the orphan, God of the imprisoned and impoverished, God of the poor in spirit, the merciful, the mourning… God who sees the proud and arrogant, God who does not forget those who turn away from the one in need, God who waits to be greeted in prison, in hunger, in hospital, on the corner, God who grieves the word spoken in hate and the action that excludes… You are the one true God and it is our gift and right and duty to call upon you here. We praise you for your faithfulness in history. We praise you for your prophets who have shouted the truth. We praise you for your saving action in leaders, in the church, in the community And for what You have done sometimes in spite of them. With all faithful people of Christ, with all your children across the world, with all the saints we name now [ insert names appropriate to your congregation regarding Black History Month and local observanc

Because God Loves You (I Can't Lie to You)

Beloved- I have been praying deeply about us for the past few days. We are in a tight spot in our relationship. I Pastor Julia in her 2016 Xmas Sermon costume (a star) see you shift a little when it seems like the sermon is "political" or when you are uncomfortable with how a Bible story is interpreted in a way that pinches you. I hate it when you are uncomfortable. While I am familiar with the phrase, "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable", frankly, I try not to be in the business of afflicting. Nevertheless, I have come to an impasse. Here's the thing. I love you, my parishioner, my friend, my sibling in Christ. I love you, my neighbor, my fellow citizen, my co-creator in the Spirit. I love you, fellow created being, depender on grace, seeker of mercy. More importantly, God loves you. It is my deep, convicting, passionate, overwhelming, brooding awareness of God's love for you that will not let me lie to you about Jesus. Jesus expe