Monday, January 29, 2007

God's pick: the fishermen: Epiphany 5C Luke 5

Looking at the way Jesus chose his first followers gives us a glimpse of the mind of God at work. Luke says that Jesus was walking along the lake shore. There he met some frustrated fishermen with nothing in their nets. He told them to go out again. They did as he asked and the catch stunned them. They knew they were meeting someone with great authority. And he asked them to come with him and catch people.

God's choices often stun and even offend us.

Jesus could have chosen richer or wiser men. Instead he chose the surprisingly ordinary people who he met out working along the shores of Lake Galilee. None of them had perfect faith, but they believed. None of them was always ready to do exactly as the Master asked them, but they were surprisingly bold despite their fears and doubts.

He ignored the religious establishment. Instead he went with the best and worst choices of all, the ones that we wouldn't have chosen because they were too imperfect or too unpolished.

Jesus unapproved choices for followers didn't stop on the shores of the lake. Look at the 12 and you can see the sinners. Look at the women who followed along side and you can see people with tough histories who chose to walk with the one who set them free from daemons or who remembered their dignity even if they were sinners.

Now look at the church today. Look at the sinners who are following him today. Look at the people who struggle with all kinds of challenges but who follow God through it all. It is clear that we are all called by the same God who called his first followers from the shore of Lake Galilee. God to bring the Good News to this real world. Look hard enough and you can see that the same God who could work through fishermen is still doing it today by working through all of us.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Love: the More Excellent Way Epiphany 4C

The wonderful and awful thing about consumerism are the mountains of stuff that we can buy, sell, trade, swap and throwaway. But all of our stuff, even the most prized and valuable physical treasures, can in the flash of a fire or whoosh of a tornado be swept away.

Ask anyone who has been through a disaster just how fragile our material existence really is. Ask anyone who's lost everything if they've yet to find any easy way of getting it all back. Even the things we prize the most can and do simply disappear.

But there is something priceless that can survive disasters.


Love is fragile and easily damaged by human actions but love can endure even in the worst that this world and the Devil can throw at it. Paul's word's about Faith, Hope, and Love in First Corinthians 13 have been quoted for centuries in weddings. Even Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn's characters in Wedding Crashersknew to expect that Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians would be part of the day.

Couples in love with one another love these words. But Paul wasn't talking about only one romantic dimension of love. He was inviting us into a discussion about every dimension of love. This kind of love starts in the smallest unit of community, the relationship of two people in marriage, but it doesn't stop there. Love between spouses is the starting point but not the ending point. Love only begins there bringing into the world beyond ourselves.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Want to see some fire works? Epiphany 4C Luke 4

If you really want to see some fireworks claim that you're the Son of God.

Or Maybe,
live like you believe the promises that the Son of God made, especially all the one's about the arrival of the Kingdom of God right now in our time.

Humans have limits both in their communication with God and for God (some of us don't want to admit this, but we do), but just read Luke 4 and you'll see Jesus in action and the limit between the sacred and the human blur rapidly out of existence. Jesus the preacher was the one sent with the message of hope for the world. Everybody likes hope. But it really upsets the order of this world when hope is fulfilled and the hungry are full and the rich sent away empty. He was the one bold enough to even say,

"Today this word has been fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21
That one statement demanded a form a credibility that no human but Jesus could produce. God's Spirit was upon him. He was moved and guided like none other. Who would dare say such a thing but the man who could slip through the mob that would kill him for such audacious words. Who would dare but the one who didn't fear the mob or the cross.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Real hope: Advent 1C Hope in Jeremiah 33

One sad thing these days is a pervasive pessimism and apathy about our world. I hear it from preachers and politicians with various persuasions.
Maybe it's the war and the unspoken fears that grip too many families. That's the part that really bothers me as a pastor.
The talking heads in church and politics can talk a good game about our anxieties, but to hear the real fears of families with loved ones in Iraq makes it all the more clear.

There's a real
hunger in our time to see something better happen. We aren't the first generation in the United States to realize that fear and uncertainty exist. Fear and uncertainty have always been part of human life. Our mortality demands it. But there's some hope if you look outside yourself. God told the prophet Jeremiah, who saw all that could go wrong for the nation of Judah actually go wrong that something better was going to come.

Jeremiah, you say that this land is a desert without people or animals, and for now, you are right. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem are deserted, and people and animals are nowhere to be seen. But someday you will hear 11happy voices and the sounds of parties and wedding celebrations. And when people come to my temple to offer sacrifices to thank me, you will hear them say:

"We praise you, LORD All-Powerful!

You are good to us, and your love never fails."

Jeremiah 33:10-11 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

That's a good reason to have hope today.

Friday, January 19, 2007

No comfortable Jesus here...Epiphany 3C Luke 4

In the early 20th century Finley Peter Dunn, a newspaper man from Chicago said it was a papers job to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

In this era when Time says you can supposedly choose to hear the news that we want to hear and ignore the rest it gets increasingly important that somebody tell us things that we don't want to hear. The trouble is that we can get so comfortable in our limited conversations.

Even churches can fall into the trap of telling people what they want to hear. Instead of the challenging Word of truth they get the comfortable word of complacency.
Jesus first preaching gig worked out really badly in no small part because he spoke a word that many people didn't want him to say. He was in his home congregation and he read words of promise straight out of Isaiah that pleased everyone, at first.

God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly Isaiah 58:6
and to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness.” Isaiah 61:2 Holy Bible: New Century Version
But then his words got more particular and everyone got excited. He told them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21

The people who knew Jesus, and his family, demanded to know who he thought he was. The charge was blasphemy, the same one that would end his ministry on a cross. But this time he escaped just like he would again.