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Showing posts from August, 2017

Communion

Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Wednesday, August 30, 2017
The center of Paul’s argument against social stratification in worship is the remembrance of Christ’s last meal with his disciples.  Paul begins with these words, “on the night when Jesus was betrayed.”  Now there was a LOT that happened on that night …yes?
On the night Jesus washed the feet of his disciples … On the night Jesus celebrated the Passover meal … On the night Jesus prayed in the Garden … On the night Jesus was arrested … On the night the disciples scattered … On the night Peter denied knowing Jesus …
But the oral tradition that had been passed down to Paul is grounded first and foremost in the broken relationship of Jesus and Judas. On the night Jesus was betrayed.
The oral tradition that had been handed down to Paul speaks of a new covenant; and this is important.  While we hear this language weekly in our celebration of Communion, it was not frequent language in their canon of scripture.  It comes from the prophet J…

Social hierarchy

Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Monday, August 28, 2017
One thing to keep in mind when reading Paul’s letters is that Greco-Roman culture had specific social levels.  Some scholars have defined it like a pyramid, with an elite few at the top, with sub sections going down the pyramid, until you get to the bottom that had the majority of the population.  In any given social situation, everyone always knew whether they were above, below or at the same level with others.  Knowing your place became second nature to the population.
A household in the Greco-Roman world consisted of both your biological family and your servants and slaves.  Heads of household often decided what the belief system of the house was to be, so naturally, churches had a variety of levels of high and low status members within them, due in part, because of entire households being part of a congregation and because of the message of the gospel reached all levels of society and brought in everyone.
What Paul comes to…

Sharing bread and cup

Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Sunday, August 27, 2017
Paul sought to create a place in God’s house where all are satisfied, where all are treated equally.  He was planting a seed that had the potential to radically change the church with shoots spreading out into the wider culture.
Paul, seeing the world through gospel tinted lenses saw that the radical message of the gospel needed to break open the community in Corinth and help them to live their lives differently.  Because when we boil it down, this faith that we hold in common, when we begin to live it and breathe it, has the power to touch every single aspect of our lives.  It begins in gathered community, where bread and cup are freely shared and it spreads from there.  

Prayer: God, help me to be mindful of your presence in my life: help me to see your presence in everyone I encounter today.  May my words and actions embody your radical welcome and love for Your creation.  Amen.

Freedom

Daily reading: Psalm 84 and Romans 6:1-11 Friday, August 25, 2017

For those familiar with recovery communities, we know how necessary it is to have daily group meetings.  For those I know that live on the boundary of recovered, they tell me time and time again, that recovery is a minute by minute choice for them.  We host one, if not the largest, NA meetings in this city.  On Tuesday nights they have up to 40 people in recovery here in this space.  The governing board of our congregation has made the commitment not to hold meetings here on Tuesday that would limit the amount of parking lot spaces so that those who are choosing recovery have a space to park.
Like those in recovery, choosing to be free from sin is a minute by minute choice for us.  Baptism doesn’t take away our free will to choose to turn from God.  It anchors us to God and to our community and is the starting point of living a life free to love unconditionally, to practice radical forgiveness, and bring life to this conce…

Grace poured out

Daily reading: Psalm 84 and Romans 6:1-11 Thursday, August 24, 2017
Why would you still live as a slave to sin if you have been freed, Paul asks.  Why live as if forgiveness isn’t offered to you?  Why do you continue to heap on the regret of misspoken words or actions?  Why do you allow each word and action to pile more weight and guilt upon you?
Why do you live as if you are not worthy to receive God’s unconditional love … feeling that you have to do something to earn God’s love, making you in turn a slave to everything you think you need to do in order to earn it, pilling unrealistic expectations upon yourself. Why do you allow absolutely anything on this earth, be it fear or anxiety, worry or hate to take away from the presence of God for you when you have been freed, even from the fear of death?
The beauty of the question and the grounding of it in baptism, is that we are called to remember our baptism, not just that one moment in time, but to remember who names us and claims us and th…

Entering the waters

Daily reading: Psalm 84 and Romans 6:1-11 Wednesday, August 23, 2017

If you have decided to go down in the water and symbolically participate in the death of Christ so that you can be brought back up to live in newness of life, that means something.  Putting on a white robe and walking into the baptismal waters is an act of faith – no one emerges looking like they did before they went under the water.  There is usually a look of surprise on the one emerging from the water, while taking a clean breath of air.  Their hair is all messed up, perhaps even with mascara running down their face, they are all sopping wet and weighed down by the weight of their robe and the clothes they are wearing underneath. 
As a pastor, I refuse to take short cuts like some of my colleagues do, who put on fishing waders so that they only get their arms wet when performing the baptism.  Their justification is that they don’t have to change their clothes after and can get back to worship faster.  Not me.  I fin…

Having a place to return to

Daily reading: Psalm 84 and Romans 6:1-11 Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Paul brings it home, literally, by saying you who have responded to God’s gracious invitation to be baptized, need to be mindful of how you have responded to God’s claim on you … and that means something not just to God, but also to those in your faith community and to all of God’s creation.
We need moments of encountering God in our collective memory; anchors if you will, that will ground us when life becomes chaotic.  For Paul, one of these anchors is our baptism.  It is the moment when ordinary water becomes holy, and takes on a new meaning that then colors the lens for how we are to see ourselves as named, claimed and marked by Christ Jesus.

Prayer:  Today may I be ever mindful of my baptism, in every drop of water that I encounter.  May it remind me of Your deep and abiding love, Christ’s call to repent and practice forgiveness and for the Spirit’s abiding presence with me.  Amen.

Grounding ourselves

Daily reading: Psalm 84 Monday, August 21, 2017

Psalm 84 specifically is a psalm of the pilgrim, it speaks of God’s dwelling place as a place that is set apart and is holy.  The pilgrim seeks the living God “who is not static or trapped in endless cycles of death and rebirth as some of the Canaanite deities” were thought to be.
So it is not so much the physical place that is the destination, as much as it is, the one who dwells there.  The pilgrim seeks to be in the presence of God.  Along the way there, they travel through the Baca Valley, a place unknown.   If we were to imagine it to be a desert landscape, then the mention of springs water and rain bring about a much desired blessing, as we know.  Much like those in the exodus found springs of water and sustenance from God in the desert, so do those on pilgrimages. 
While the faithful knew that God was not solely in the temple, the psalm reminds us that there are certain places and moments that we define as holy and set apart.  These …

Is grace cheap?

Daily readings: Psalm 84 and Romans 6:1-11 Sunday, September 20, 2017

Romans is thought to be one of Paul’s final letters that he wrote that  had been compiled along with other letters that are part of the canon of our scriptures.  As you may know these letters give us a glimpse into a conversation that Paul was having with a variety of faith communities, many of which he had a hand in starting, so they act like text messages or emails that you might send to a mentor that you have worked with after they have left town and are working somewhere else.  However, in this case we only have Paul’s letters, we do not have the letters that Paul received.
The letter to the community in Rome was unique in that Paul had yet to visit the community, so he did not have a hand in starting it.  In chapter 1, verse 10 we read, “I’m always asking that somehow, by God’s will, I might succeed in visiting you at last.”  And then in verse 13, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I planned to visit …

Grace as promise

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Friday, August 18, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Grace is both abrasive and amazing because it fundamentally is grounded in release and turning toward God. …

Release

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Thursday, August 17, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Grace allows for a continual breaking open and peeling back of the areas of our lives where we are resist…

Grace infused life

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Wednesday, August 16, 2017 Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Do you understand baptism, receiving forgiveness and the Holy Spirit as linear action, making baptism a …

Turn Around

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
As a sacrament, baptism is both a sign and a source of God’s grace in our lives. Our lives are lived as a …

Water

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Monday, August 14, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Water is so very necessary for our lives.  Without it we die.  It nourishes us, it cleans us, it sustains u…

Living Baptism

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Sunday, August 13, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
For Martin Luther, one of the great Protestant reformers, baptism is to be embodied daily, it is a cleansin…