July 29, 2018

First Reading            2 Kings 4:42-44

Psalm                        Psalm 145:10-19

Second Reading      Ephesians 3:14-21

Gospel                       John 6:1-21

“You open wide your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature.” In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

There are rules we follow in polite society. Though it might be a stretch to call today’s society “polite”, we all expect certain behaviors to guide our interactions. Please and may I, thank you and you’re welcome. Holding open a door, after you, and how may I help you? All of these are intended to keep our interactions civil, maintain proper order, and prevent causing offense. But manners and etiquette can also...

July 22, 2018

Today, scripture lays before us a matter of life and death. The prophet Jeremiah begins with “woes” to those who scatter God’s sheep. In the Old Testament, whenever a passage begins with “woe unto you ...” it is describing a path that leads to death. Through Jeremiah, God is warning the faithless leaders of Israel to be mindful of how they lead the chosen people. God is working to bring the exiled people home, and will judge those who work against these efforts. We often hope to soften God’s character by ignoring the judgment part, preferring to focus on love. But judgement is part of God’s nature. We are in covenant with God and willful disobedience is frowned upon.

Yet Jeremiah’s prophecy is not an oracle of death, but an invitation to life. God’s judgement is not a threat. The focus of God’s call to us all is not the “or else”, coercing us into obedience with suffering, violence, and death. The popular sermon theme of “turn before you burn” is an incomplete message. God desires unity...

July 15, 2018

Amos is in a pickle. Amos has some hard words to deliver to Israel. God has given the prophet Amos visions of locusts and fire to judge Israel, and in today’s passage, a plumb line to hold God’s people accountable for their faithlessness and wrong actions. A conflict between prophet and priest ensues. In an attempt to squelch unfavorable prophesy, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, complains to the king that Amos has nothing but bad news. Amaziah does not challenge the right of Amos to prophesy, only his authority to speak at royal sanctuary, and by extension, in the kingdom of Israel. Amos proclaims his authority in the face of the religious establishment, even the king. He does not profess to be a great prophet, only a humble farmer, a herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees. But his authority comes from the ultimate source ... the Lord God commanded Amos to prophesy to Israel. Don’t shoot the messenger.

            John the Baptist was in even more of a pickle. Sandwiched between the miss...

Brothers and sisters, what have we gotten ourselves into? What has God gotten us into? In our collect we prayed that we may be devoted to God with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection. But if we look around our lives and our world, this does not seem to be happening. We often seem more devoted to ourselves in the pursuit of influence, power, and wealth. Even in relationships, the ever present “what’s in it for me” often rears its head. And do we really strive to be united, when many examples in the world are to divide ourselves into us and them, those who believe what I believe, and the others, who are of course wrong? We divide and label based on origin, family, occupation, age, class, race, political party, nationality, gender and sexuality.

            At least one day a week we come together to celebrate our unity. We gather as unique individuals in community, and participate in the faith that unites us. And this day each week prepares us for the other six....

Our gospel this morning offers us a two-for-one special on miracles. One healing story is sandwiched in between another healing story. More than a healing really, as a girl is raised from the dead. Jesus has returned from the stormy trip across the sea in last week's gospel reading, where he expelled demons in Gentile lands. Now Jesus is back in Jewish territory, and as is often the case, a crowd has gathered.

            A leader of the synagogue named Jairus makes a request of Jesus. We should not automatically connect this man to the scribes and Pharisees, the usual opponents of Jesus. We should realize, however, that Jairus represents religious leadership, and probably enjoys wealth, power, and influence in the community. He risks ridicule from his peers as he makes a humbling and public appeal of faith on behalf of his daughter ... "Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well." Imagine his joy when Jesus agrees and heads toward Jairus' house, crowd in tow. Based on...

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