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Showing posts from 2020

Climate Fires: Theology of Denial

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The following could be used in a sermon, homily, or apart of a call to confession:
If we speak of Jesus as a human being offering a divine gift, offering unrestricted love to the Father and to the world, we are speaking, necessarily, of someone who is going to be intensely and terribly unsafe in the world...Sin, the state of revolt against truth, has consequences; it exacts a cost from us. If we live in untruth, in self-deceit, we are automatically condemned to undermining and destroying the life that is in us. We can’t live against the grain of reality and expect to survive indefinitely (which is why our environmental crisis is such a powerful and poignant symbol of our corporate sinfulness). So when Jesus faces the final uncompromising violent rejection of the religious and political powers of his day, we can say that he ‘embodies’ not only the purposes and possibilities of God but the effects of the self-destructiveness of human beings. Jesus, hanging on the cross says to us: ‘This …

Meditative Thoughts on Forgiveness

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Meditative Thoughts on ForgivenessSuggestion: reflect on a thought each day of the week. Follow your meditation with the Lord’s Prayer.To forgive is to make a conscious choice to release the person who has wounded us from the sentence of our judgments, however justified that judgement may be. ~Marjorie J. ThompsonThe weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~ Mohandas GhandiThere is no future without forgiveness. ~Desmond TutuForgiveness is not excusing an unjust behavior or action. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting; the past remains with us. But forgiveness is how Christians live and act as we face the future. ~Andy Langford and Mark RallsGod, give me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me. ~ Serenity Prayer, Adult Children of AlcoholicsWe must fervently pray for strength to resist the temptation of getting even with those who have hurt us and for the grace…

Gospel Reflection: Matthew 18:25-30

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Gospel   Matthew 18:25-30  If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Reflection
In the classic Baptismal of  the UMC, the prayer for the young child included these words "...that,  by the renewing and restraining infl…

We are unfinished, loved

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To want to serve God in some conditions and not others is to serve Him in your own way…Open yourself to God without measure. Let His life flow through you like a torrent. Fear nothing on the road you are walking. God will lead you by the hand. Let your love for Him cast out the fear you feel for yourself.The Seeking Heart, F. Fenelon 
Epistle Romans 12:1-8 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have …

On Faith and Doubt

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Gospel Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him…

Gospel Reflection: Matthew 15: 21-28

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Then Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.
Reflection  The Gospel story is the only mention of “Canaanite” in the New Testament. The woman’s identity as a Canaanite reminds readers of ancient Israel’s role in displacing the Canaanites from their…

Feeding of the Crowds: Guided Meditation

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Reading During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children finally slept in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.” Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life,  Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn 
The Gospel Matthew 14: 13-21 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion…

Praying the Sunday Gospel: Joy in the Kingdom

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Opening Prayer Holy One, your kingdom and your glory take us by surprise- like a tiny mustard seed growing into a great tree where birds make their home; like a treasure hidden in a field, or a pearl of great price. Thank you for the greatest joy and abundance of your kingdom. Give us grace to surrender to you that which weighs too heavily on us today. We offer you these moments as we worship you in thanksgiving for all you have done for us in Jesus our Christ. Amen.
Psalm 105:1-11 O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He …

Gospel Reflection: Unfinished

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Gospel    Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the wee…

Praying the Sower's Story

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Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake.Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have 
much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.Let anyone with earslisten!’


‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for w…

Gospel Reflection: At the Core is Gentleness (Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30)

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But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.”For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’ At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from m…

Gospel Reflection:Matthew 10:40-42

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Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward. Matthew 10:40-42 NRSV



Earlier in Matthew 10, we see Jesus’ instructions on how to receive hospitality- we are to let our “peace come upon” the house. If there is inhospitality, “let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 10:12-13) I do not control another’s reaction or response. I can, however, control my own. I can redirect the interaction or leave it with my peace intact. Shaking off the dust (Matthew 10:140) means to let it end non-violently-without harmful words or actions. 
How to offer hospitality to others?  Jesus' words in Matthew 10:40-42 prob…

Gospel Reflection: Matthew 10:24-39

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A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household! So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will den…

Gospel Reflection: Sunday, May 24

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Gospel John 17: 1-11 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the wo…