1 Kings 19:19-21
I think that the last three verses of today's Epistle is one of the great passages in the Bible. I love the listing of the wonderful fruits of the Spirit; I would love to just luxuriate in them for a while and call it a sermon. But as I look at today's combination of lectionary passages, I don't think we can fully appreciate the Epistle without first looking at the Gospel passage and thinking about its implications for Paul's letter to the Galatians.
June 23, 2019
Isaiah 65: 1-9
Good morning 8th Day!
I have to admit that I actually chose this Sunday because the story for today’s lectionary seemed challenging to me and I welcomed the opportunity to wrestle with it. There were moments, however, when I wondered what I had gotten into.
Jesus was a very busy person. I mean, we think we’re busy! In chapter 8 of Luke, in addition to healing the demoniac (as he is called in the story for today), Jesus tells a story of the sower of seeds in various circumstances, talks about not hiding your lamp under a bed, tells the disciples they are his family (rather than his biological mother and siblings), calms a storm, and heals a woman with a long standing hemorrhage on his way to Jarius’s house to bring his twelve-year-old daughter back to life. I’m glad I don’t have to preach on the whole chapter. Jesus did more in one chapter than I’ve even thought about doing in my whole life, and he had maybe about fifteen years at most to complete his ministry!
God Speaking with People, and People Speaking with God
God Speaking with People, and People Speaking with God
I begin my sharing by telling you how I approach scripture. I see it on several levels: First, is the obvious description. I try to imagine myself in that place. What was the roadway like, the vegetation, the weather- just the general context. If I can, I find the cultural context. What period of time is this?
Or, take the phrase in The Revelation: Heaven has “great streets paved with gold and transparent as glass.”
Is gold transparent? Look at gold—what are the qualities of gold? To me, gold is a symbol of the nature of heaven. Remember gold is an earthly element…shouldn’t heaven be much, much more glorious than any earthly element? We must remember that heaven is not confined to our literal, earthly reality. We are given hints, “for now we see through a glass darkly”…as Paul says.
Then, digging deeper in Scripture, what is the message to me? To us? And even deeper than that, are there underlying eternal principles which might be there? If I only grasp the surface facts, I know I may end way off what the true message is.
May 19, 2019
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.
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.
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.
April 28, 2019
Text: John 12: 3, 8
3 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.
April 21, 2019 Easter
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.