Monday, September 28, 2009

Where do you see God? Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12 Mark 10:2-16

God wants to be seen by us.
The God who made heaven and earth wants to be seen and to be known. In nature God wants to be seen. In the law and the words of believers God wants to be made known.

An old Scholastic Theologian I met (but never took a class from when I was at Saint Mary's)used to tell his students that if they looked at the Book of Nature they could see God at work. Look around, he advised, God wants to be found. When nature alone wasn't enough to show human beings God's will and God's presence the Creator called on prophets. God chose to send witness to tell the world about God's law, God's concern for the earth and humanity, and God's will. God wants to be known and to know us. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews understood God's desire to be known and to be revealed in our lives. He wrote about Jesus as a the culmination of God's desire to be known on earth,

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:1-3 NRSV

Jesus came as the clearest revelation that the world has known of God's love for all of us. He came not as people expected. He came teaching, as we hear in Mark 10, about a kingdom that would grow not through strength but through humulity. Jesus came welcoming all people recieve God's kingdom as children and warning them not to block any child or anyone with a childlike faith from coming into his presence. When we seek evidence of mature faith in people's lives Jesus invites us to see God like a child; with hope and wonder.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Can they do that? Mark 9:38-50

17th Sunday after Pentecost, September 27, 2009
Proper 21B or Ordinary Time 26B

In today's Gospel story a man, who was not one of the 12 apostles and who wasn't even “Following them” was seen casting out daemons in Jesus name. Jesus friends told him that they tried to stop him from doing it.

I think that Jesus friends were expecting a great reward for their efforts. I think they were expecting Jesus to pat them each on the back and say, “That a boy, way to go stopping someone from misusing my name.” Instead of praising them Jesus told them to leave the man alone.

This story about Jesus is a little tough to take if you are convinced your church and your church alone are the one right way straight to heaven. There's an old story about a man who arrived in heaven after dying. As he was being shown around by Saint Peter and some of the angels he noticed a huge hedge surrounding one part of heaven with a quiet please sign beside the hedge. The man turned to Peter and the Angels and asked, “What's with the big hedge?” Peter turned back to him and smiled, “That's where all the folks from the INSERT YOUR FAVORITE SEPERATIST CHURCH BODY NAME HERE go, they think that they are all alone up here.” I've heard that with so many other denominations in the punch line over the years and I think it really makes the point.

They're on God's side?

Jesus’ power is so big that it can't and won't be contained in the boundaries that we human make for it. Jesus love for God the father and for all of us is so total it won't exist just in the walls of this congregation or in congregations that think and believe exactly like us. Jesus was so passionate about the whole world that he couldn’t stand by and watch his friends try and limit the use of his name or the the power that it had to remake the whole world.

Jesus called them out for their actions saying,

Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

42“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

I don't think that John and the rest of Jesus friends got the pats on the back and the hardy handshakes that they were expecting. So what about us. Are we to busy telling God who he can and can't work with and who he can and can't save?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jesus, who's the best? Mark 9:30-37

From the earliest days, even before the cross, Jesus' followers have been trying to out do one another as super-disciples of their Lord. Jesus followers wanted to honor him and in turn the expect to find themselves in a place of greater honor than other believers.

The hard part is that following Jesus is (ultimately speaking) about dying to self and only then rising in Christ. We strive to serve more boldly. We believe we will become better people here and now and that we'll be honored here and now. What we don't realize is that all our striving leads not to immediate glory but to the cross and tomb first. Martin Luther king called it the Drum Major Instinct. We look for the glory here and now; but the glory we are waiting for is unlike any glory ever seen or heard of here on earth. Jesus was bound for the cross before rising and the cross is exactly where we're going to meet him.

In the Words of the 1970's classic Day by Day in the movie Godspell, Jesus friends always seek to be closer. " see thee more clearly, follow thee more nearly, and love thee more by day." The desire to be close to God is good, but the desire to be the very closest to God is off the mark. Jesus response is simple if you want to be great live like he was living. Love, serve, give, and you will know great joy. Forget being the top servent of God. If you want to be great in the kingdom of God welcome Jesus into your life by welcoming other. The mystery of welcoming Jesus into our lives is that we must receive everyone from the little children to the old, from the poor to the powerful, from the sick to the strong like you are recieving Christ.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

back from vacation no post

Good Evening,
Nancy from Belize just asked where I'd been.
I went fishing for 2 wonderful days.
I have no post for this week about the Lectionary.
If you want some interesting reading I encourage you to look at Rich Melheim's Faith 5. I'll be presenting it in the morning to the families at Grace. I pray that God's Spirit be at work.

thanks Nancy for asking.
Good Night.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beggars at the table Mark 7:24-37

There's a harsh tone in Jesus' words in Mark 7:24-37. These words are hard to ignore and shouldn't be brushed aside because we are uncomfortable with them. The real Jesus' revealed in scripture won't fit neatly into liberal or conservative conceptions of God and justice. Instead reading Mark 7 gives us a moment of real insight, if we listen to Jesus carefully, into the full breadth and depth of his humanity and divinity.

Reading Mark 7 reminds these past 2 weeks reminds us that human bias and human need are always present in our world. And one person in history had and has power to deal with both: Jesus. And here this very same Jesus says that what was meant for the children should not be given to the dogs. Here He is. He's the one with power to overcome both need and bias; but he wasn't disconnected from the world. Jesus' Incarnation means that He is true God with a full human identity. He was a Jewish man and a woman, foreigner met him begging for help for her child.

Jesus replied that he came to help his own. Jews and foreigners lived side by side, and she was hurting. But Jesus came with a mission. By faith this woman knew that Jesus could overcome both bias and suffering. By faith she knew that a crumb of God's mercy would set her little girl free from daemonic powers. The bias between native and foreigner would still be present all around them. Suffering would still be just as real in the lives of others in the world. But this woman knew that her child would be released because of him.

There was and still is intense bias among different people who live separately next to each other in our world. Jesus was sent first to his own; but by faith in Jesus many others have been set free. Thanks be to God.