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Love One Another and Do Not Be Afraid

Maria Barker

May 19, 2019

Texts:      
     Gospel of John: 13:31-38[i] 
     Acts of the Apostles 18[ii]

I have always had a soft spot for Peter and today we see him twice.

I don’t know how you guys were raised to think of Peter, but I, as a Roman Catholic, was raised, to know him as the first pope and the rock upon which the Christian church was built. Which has always made it interesting to me that Peter is so profoundly human that he is kind of a mess. And I think that’s exactly the point—he’s a loveable mess who learns and grows as his story unfolds.   

In the reading from John, we can see at once that Peter sincerely loves Jesus and yet Jesus predicts that he won’t be brave enough when the time comes to claim his association with Jesus in the face of danger.

And in Acts, Peter is challenged by some others in his community – How come you went and shared a meal with these gentiles? Well, Peter reports what it took to get him there: it took a trance with an intense celestial vision that had to be repeated three times, and then three big dudes who were sent for him plus six other brothers to escort him to this family’s home. Never mind the facts that Jesus had already modeled this behavior for Peter and the others throughout this ministry.

Offering Resurrection

Jay Forth

May 12, 2019

 Text: Acts 9:36-43 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.  She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.  At that time she became ill and died.  When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs.  Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, 'Please come to us without delay.' So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs.  All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.  Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed.  He turned to the body and said, 'Tabitha, get up.' Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.  He gave her his hand and helped her up.  Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive.  This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

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Last month, a friend of mine passed away.  His name was Bernard Williams, a regular at the Potter's House and a wandering philosopher.  Bernard and I met years ago, probably around 2012, at a cafe on 18th street.  He overheard me and a friend talking about philosophy and theology and he interjected, "You like Gilles Deleuze, too?  He's a great thinker… yada yada yada." And on he went.  Bernard was brilliant beyond comparison.  He could talk circles around anyone on topics such as art and film, contemporary philosophy, race theory, jazz, and much more.  Thereafter, I would run into Bernard around Adams-Morgan--at Potter's House, at Tryst, outside of McDonalds, near a bus stop--with books in hand and ready to talk about his latest interests and thoughts.  After a while, he would stop by The Festival Center from time to time and we'd chat for as long as time allowed.  Our conversations would meander from philosophy to personal reflection to politics and back again.  Bernard was not wealthy or famous.  He experienced homelessness, alienation from his family, and had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia since his early 20s.

You Think You Know What I Need

Tony Johnson

April 28, 2019
Text: John 12: 3, 8

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hsir. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 8 “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

As I reflect on these verses of John's Gospel, I see that Mary made a profound action of love and generosity. Not only did she use a pint of the most expensive perfume, she also poured it on the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair. In the midst of an important dinner when everyone was being served by Martha, Mary stepped away from the table and went over where Jesus was reclining and met his needs.

Re-Membering Resurrection

Marcia Harrington

April 21, 2019 Easter

Texts:
     Luke: 24:1-12
     Isaiah 65; 17-25
     Psalm 118:1-2; 14-24
     Luke 24: 1-12   1 Corinthians: 15:19-26

On this Easter morning, I think it appropriate to start with verse 24 of this day’s psalm. 

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  (Psalm 118: 24)

It is both a privilege and a challenge to give a teaching on Easter, likely the most important and significant celebration in our liturgical year.  It is a celebration that for me claims the incredible courage of Jesus in living out how he understood, how he taught and how he lived out the Shema (shuh-mah), the Jewish declaration of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9: 

Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.

Suffering and Hope

Ann Barnet

April 7, 2019    

Texts:  
Psalm 126
Isaiah 43:16-21
John 12: 1-8
Philippians 3: 4b - 14

 I would not attempt this teaching if we were not in reach of Easter and its promise of resurrection; I ‘m planning to talk about suffering, not a subject most of us want to dwell on.

  Each of us is unavoidably confronted with both personal suffering and a world of suffering. How can we deal with it? We are sorely tempted to turn away – it’s too much. We act cheerful even if it means putting on a false front. Some of us use painkillers like alcohol or the opioids that end up killing 47,000 Americans each year. Some people latch on to cults or religions that soothe– as you know religion has been called “the opiate of the people.”  And the real purpose of much of the bloated consumerism of our times is to deaden feelings of pain and suffering. It’s only natural to avoid as much pain and suffering as we can - to eat, drink, and be merry, and buy stuff.

Hope in the Darkness

David Hilfiker

March 31, 2019

Texts:
     Jer 25:3-11
     Ps 137:1-6
     Luke 13:1-9

     Marja and I recently received a fund-raising letter from an environmental organization we support.  On the front of the envelope they had printed: “Join us today to put an end to global climate change.”  Well, they are good organization but I have some news for them I have some news for them.  Whether we joined your organization or not, whatever we do, whatever you do, whatever anyone else does, we’re not going to put an end to climate change.

Beloved Beloved Beloved

Patty Wudel

March 24, 2019

Over the years, some of you might have heard me say that I have little faith of my own—what faith I do have is mostly borrowed—from David Hilfiker and Fred Taylor, from Harold Vines and Mike Hopkins, Stephanie Harding, and from the residents and staff at Joseph’s House for so many years.  I also borrow faith from African American writers and activists: Sweet Honey’s Bernice Reagon, a young womanist theologian and anti-racism activist, Christena Cleveland, Reverend William Barber; and I borrow faith from the people I know and have known at L’Arche.

Then, not long ago I came across a reflection by Rabbi Abraham Heschel that got my heart’s attention.  Here it is:

Faith is an endless pilgrimage of the heart.  Audacious longing, burning songs, daring thoughts, an impulse overwhelming the heart, usurping the mind - these are all a drive towards serving the Divine who rings our hearts like a bell. 

My understanding of faith has been too narrow because surely the Divine has rung my heart like a bell!   Surely my heart has been overwhelmed again and again, all these years at Joseph’s House.

Belonging, Risk-Taking and Freedom

Alfonso Sasieta

March 10, 2019

Texts:

Good morning friends and family, I’m so grateful for this opportunity to be surrounded by you on the day of Santiago’s baptism. I’d like to begin with a prayer.

——————

Holy Spirit, comforting Spirit,
happy are they who turn to you
over and over again!

And when we entrust to you,
even without words,
our lives and those of others,
our longings find a Gospel response.[1]
 

Amen.

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