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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

100th post Lent 3C Luke 13:1-9

I have made it full circle. I am now posting comments on passages that I commented on 3 years ago in the lectionary cycle.

This is my 100th post.

I am proud. In a humble, Christian way, of course. ;-)

Luke 13:1-9 finds Jesus answering a question that well ask sooner or later. Why do some suffer more than others? Do the consequences people face match the in they commit.

Jesus answers with a story like he usually does. He answers with stories that leave us to interpret. And we have a much more difficult job interpreting than his hearers as we are separated by 2000 plus years from them.

His answer seems to be filled with grace. The gardener shows grace to the tree. He wants to give it just one more chance to produce fruit.

The answer could not be more simple. Give one more chance. That seems to be what God does with his people over and over. Give them another chance.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lent 3 C Isaiah 55:1-13 If you are thirsty

These words from Isaiah are often quoted.

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

Usually when we don't understand something, a person will quote this to make us feel better. 

It  does not make me feel better.

If they were used in the context they were meant they probably would have encouraged me. 

Seek the Lord while you while he may be found. 
He was found. 

He was found by the Exiles in Babylon. Even when they thought he had stayed behind in Israel. He was found. 

It was in the pain that they found that God could be found. 

And when they found him, they burst into song.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent 2 C Genesis 15:1-18 When God speaks in dreams

Shane Claiborne in his book Irresistible Revolution , tells of a dream that  John Dominic Crossan had of Jesus. Crossan had already written multiple books about Jesus, after all he is a New Testament scholar. Jesus said, "You write well. Now are you ready to join me in my vision?" This greatly disturbed Crossan.

Has God spoken to you in dreams? Abraham dreams of God in this passage. The passage is pregnant with symbolism which I will  not go into now. You can find that at other places. I think Abraham was greatly disturbed by the dream. I would have been.

Here you will find a reflection on dreams and how God uses them.

When I was a child God called me to preach. I had visions of greatness. After all I had heard preachers preach to hundreds upon hundreds of people. I had seen altars lined with sinners. I dreamed that one day I would preach to thousands and I would see weeping people at altars. I would be the best. I had seen women preach, but never seen or heard a woman preach to hundreds as I had men. I would be the best woman preacher ever. I would be the best preacher ever.

After I preached to a bunch of kids in my apartment complex, screaming at them to repent, they started throwing stones at me. I was 10. I was proud of myself for getting 'stoned' although my mom dragged me in the house before any of the rocks hit me. She told me to go to my room and think about "better ways of doing things." I went to my room and preached to my stuffed animals. They didn't throw stones at me.

But that night I dreamed. I dreamed that I walked outside of my apartment to the hill behind the building. On the top of the hill, I saw Jesus on the cross. It was close, yet far away because I couldn't reach it. I kept walking but I couldn't get any closer. I woke up as I heard God say, "Would you do this for me?"

In my child's mind I figured out that God was showing me the way of the cross. The visions of preaching to huge crowds were mine, they were not God's. They were stuffed up and arrogant.

The way of the cross, the via delarosa, was the way of suffering. Jesus preached to huge crowds, but where did it get him? Certainly not a high paying job as a mega church pastor like I sought.

I attended an inner city school. I think my brother and I were the only practicing Christians, at least that is how it seemed to me. When my PE teacher found out that I was a Christian, she said horrible things to me in front of other students. This was not the Bible belt, folks.

My dreams of God got me through. I have had many people tell me that it was only a dream. But it was not. That is one of the advantages of Christian experience. No one can take an experience away from you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent 1 C The Temptation of Jesus Star Wars Style

spoiler alert Star Wars series

The Truce at Bakura is the  1993 Star Wars novel by Kathy Tyers that details events that take place immediately following the 'Return of the Jedi' (1983 Lucasfilms).

In this novel, Luke Skywalker continues to fight the temptation to descend to the Dark Side of the Force. He is surprised the the temptations do not get weaker, they get stronger. The more powerful he becomes in the Force, the more powerful the temptations become to submit to the Dark Side. But unlike his father, Anakin Skywalker, Luke refused to cave. He doggedly continues the practices that Master Yoda taught him, disciplining himself to resist the temptations.

Luke has just experienced the most majestic victory of his peripatetic adult years and even his entire life. He has seen the destruction of the Empire's Death Star. He has convinced Darth Vader to remove his mask. He has witnessed his dead father's apparition in the Force along with his mentor Obi Wan Kenobi.

It is often after the greatest victories that we experience the driest deserts and the strongest temptations.

Jesus has just been baptized. He has seen the Holy Spirit descend upon himself in the form of a dove, and heard his Father say that he is well pleased.
 He had experienced the
of his life.  
Then he encounters the
of his life.
Veggie Tales puts it this way
We didn’t have a lot of fun in the desert
We didn’t have a lot of fun in the sand.
Now of course Veggies refers to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

But there is a reason why Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness.
There is a reason why he is in the wilderness
There is a reason why he is in the desert.
It is no accident that there are parallels to the trials of his ancestors.
Like Luke, Jesus practices the disciplines taught him.
Like Luke, Jesus refused to give in to the Dark Side.

Jesus emerges from the desert as Luke emerged from the swamp in the Empire Strikes Back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday Joel 2 Psalm 51 2 Cor 5:20-6:10 Matt 6:1-6, 16-21

Ash Wednesday

Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust

Reminders we are mortal.

We remember today that we will turn to dust.

Yet at the end of this Lenten season is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Because Jesus has conquered dust, death, sin,

and everything that goes with it.

Resurrection will come.

But today we are dust.

Today we will repent in dust and ashes

Today we will commit to self denial

Today we will remember that Jesus lived this human life

Today we will receive the imposition of ashes

Monday, February 11, 2013

What is the Christian Year?

This is how I teach the Christian Year. Feel free to use it in your church settings. All of the images are from microsoft office.