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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent 4B Luke 1:39-56 The Magnificat

I once read, "What if God had sent  Gabriel  to many women before he came to Mary many times and they had all refused?"  Was he giving Mary a choice? She seems to voice consent. What if she had said no?

Mary said, "Let it be to me according to your word." Wow. What faith it took to say that. She had no idea what she was getting into. None of us who sign up for parenthood, or have it thrust upon us "surprisingly," really know what we are getting into until we experience it. But Mary has more ahead of her than just parenthood. She has the potential disgrace of being unmarried and pregnant. She has the prediction of Simeon, "A sword shall pierce your heart." She has the pain of watching her son leave for ministry; and then the unspeakable horror of watching him die a tortured death.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Confederates Hugging Yankees and Other Impossibilities our Church Promotes - Nazarene Grace and Peace Magazine

Confederates Hugging Yankees and Other Impossibilities our Church Promotes - Nazarene Grace and Peace Magazine

This is an article I wrote, just published in Grace and Peace Magazine.

advent week two 2B Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist seems to have a lot of humility. Sure, he is screaming in the wilderness that there is one coming. It seems that is not very humble, to call attention to one's self in such a way. But he is not yelling about his own fame, but he simply prepares the way for another.

Is humility something we think about just before Christmas? It doesn't seem that our culture speaks to humility in any way shape or form. Two days before the beginning of Advent, we see people knocking each other down to get a good deal on toys. I don't think that has anything to do with humility.

If you find yourself on the floor of Wal-mart sometime in December, think humility.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

advent week one 1B

"It all started with a mouse and a dream" Walt Disney
How big that dream became.

But what about God's dream for his son? What about God's dream for us? What is God dreaming for you this advent? Ask him. He will show you.

Where will that dream take you? God's imagination??? It is limitless...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Garden pictures of God's great creation John 1:9

Today I was overwhelmed by the beauty of my fall garden. This summer in Oklahoma was extremely hot and dry. I watered and watered, thinking I would lose many of my perennials. Thankfully, the loss was minimal. This mum was planted last year in the fall. It has bloomed beautifully. The one shiny yellow flower reminds me of Jesus, a lone light in the dark world. John 1:9, NIV, The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. 
These are my Oklahoma roses. They are a smaller rose, seem to grow wild. This bush has been whacked and cut and pruned and it still comes back every year. It has been covered in disease and dried. I have cut it down almost to the ground, but it still blooms. May our lives do the same. 
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reformation Day

Above is the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, where Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses on that day 494 years ago.

Oct 31, Reformation Day, celebrated by Protestants all over the world. October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 Thesis to the Wittenberg Door. This would be the equivalent of posting the Theses on a popular facebook page today. He protested certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church, thus, "PROTESTant." 

The work is not done. John Wesley (1703-1791) said in his sermon "On the Church" that differences must be allowed to exist in the church or continued reformation will not happen. Advancement of the church depends upon our toleration of each other's differences. 

We don't all have to have the same opinions. We know what we agree upon: The Trinity, The incarnation, the resurrection. Let us seek unity among all Christian churches, even in our diversity. We do not have to be one denomination to work together for the cause of the Gospel.

Jesus turns everything upside down, Proper 26A, Ordinary 31A, Pentecost +20, October 30 2011, Matthew 23:1-12

11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12 NRSV

Jesus criticizes the religious establishment in this passage. He points out those with privilege who show off their knowledge and even their clothing. Servants? Who wants to be called a servant? 

Our Example became a servant (Philippians 2:5-11). 

Matthew 22:34-46, Proper 25A, Pentecost +19, October 23, 2011,

34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:34-46 NRSV 

Just two commandments after the Sadducees had learned all 613 and could quote them all by number back to Jesus? 
Sure, love God, love neighbor. But who is my neighbor? That is answered in Luke 10 by the parable of the Good Samaritan.The one who shows mercy is the neighbor.
Perhaps the hardest commandment of all is loving the neighbor when the neighbor is not lovable, showing mercy to those who do not show mercy. Yet this is the benchmark of Christianity, the "hinge" upon which all hangs. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter evening for all years Luke 24

Every year the easter evening lectionary post is Luke 24:14-36. Two unnamed disciples seemingly accidentally stumble upon Jesus, but they do not recognize him. This passage is so easy to preach. How many preaching paths can you count? I have preached it many different ways, but tonight the act of hospitality by the disciples stood out to me.
I know it was the culture to invite someone in to stay. I know it is accepted, but Jesus dealt with some who did not even show him cultural civility. Remember the dude who did not offer him water to wash his feet nor oil for his head, so a woman came in and washed his feet with her tears?

So Jesus sits down at the table with them, breaks bread, and immediately they recognize him. He disappears. I can see them looking under the table, outside the house, on the roof, everywhere and puzzling. Then they realize they must tell everyone & they run back to Jerusalem. In the dark. Didn't anyone tell them it's not safe to travel the road to Jerusalem in the dark? The excitement of seeing the risen Christ cast out their fears.

And Jesus showed up in Jerusalem too. His way of transporting certainly beat foot travel.

Nanny McPhee & Nanny McPhee returns are movies in Mary Poppins style that tell the story of a Nanny who comes when a family needs her. Her rule is, "When you need me and don't want me, I have to stay. When you want me and don't need me, I have to go."

I was reminded of this while reading this passage tonight. The disciples certainly wanted Jesus to hang around after he was resurrected. But they did not need him. He had prepared them well, and he prepared them further when his physical absence allowed the holy spirit to be sent.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baptism of Christ Year A Acts 10

The lectionary passage focuses on a small portion portion of this chapter, but I will focus on the entire Cornelius story.

The chapter begins with Cornelius. He is a Roman centurion who loves God and gives alms. But he is not a Jew. It seems God has already begun to work on spreading the Gospel without the help of the Apostles in the case of Cornelius. But in a vision, God tells Cornelius to send for Peter. Unbeknownst to Cornelius, God has also given a vision to Peter. Peter is a good Jew who has probably never sat down at a table to eat with a Gentile.

I have to laugh at Peter's answers to God. Peter knows it is God speaking. God sends a sheet of unclean animals and he tells Peter to eat them. Peter replies that he has never eaten what is unclean. Why would God tell Peter to do something God commanded people not to do in the Torah? This passage speaks heavily about the importance of experience. The Wesleyan tradition of which I am a part emphasizes experience must go along with Scripture. If Peter had screamed "I only listen to the Torah, not God," then we Christians would be practicing Judaism.

This passage also teaches us that God has no favorites. Really? This is one of the hardest lessons to grasp. Nothing I can do can make God love me more or less.