Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lent 3 B - 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Theyre Lee-Elliott 1903–88, Crucified Tree Form – the Agony, 1959

1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The message about the cross has become so familiar it has lost much of its foolishness to those who are perishing.  And even we who are being saved prefer a sanitized version of the real thing. The cross is decorated with gold and jewels and made to be an object of art rather than the brutal instrument of death the Romans used to control civil unrest and punish common criminals. The foolishness of the cross is that God would chose to die stripped naked and nailed to wood when twelve legions of angels were chomping at the bit to do some damage to whoever dared lay a finger on the blessed Son. But then our way would be to save ourselves at the expense of everyone else. God chooses to bear the expense of our blood lust and cruelty in the body of Jesus to save a world with suicidal tendencies, hell bent on destruction.  If God finds power in weakness and wisdom in foolishness, maybe we who claim the cross as the power and wisdom of God should live the sort of sacrificial life that shames the strong and makes foolish the wise rather than pursuing  power and prestige. But that would be foolish, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lent 3 B - Psalm 19

Psalm 19
“Above all keep me from presumptuous sins “is how the NRSV translates “keep back your servant from the insolent” that gains dominion over us. We usually think of sin in terms of weakness but these sins are acts of avarice and pride. These presumptuous, “hidden faults” left undetected grow into the great transgressions from which the psalmist prays to be spared. It is when we live in ignorance of our complicity in the patterns of thought, word and deed that deaden the heart and whither the soul that our lives grow increasingly disconnected to the source of light and life. The trouble is we can become accustomed to life in the shadows and think that all is well when those around us can see it isn’t. As difficult as it is to hear the truth told about ourselves it is a means of grace whereby God returns us to the place of peace where the words of our mouths and meditation of our hearts are acceptable to our Rock and Redeemer.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lent 3 B - Exodus 20:1-17

Exodus 20:1-17
I know that well-meaning people believe posting the Ten Commandments in public spaces will help society adhere to them but if clearly posting laws at regular intervals meant compliance there would be fewer speeding tickets.The Ten Commandments were given to the people of Israel after their cries for freedom were answered. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the house of slavery.” Relationship with God is the foundation upon which the commandments stand and the only way to begin to live them is to remember that God acted first. Which means every “thou shall” or “thou shall not” needs to be prefaced with a “therefore” as in “I am the Lord your God” therefore… When we understand the commandments from the standpoint of a loving relationship with the God who rescued people for no other reason than their desperate cries prompted merciful action the commandments can be understood as a gift to be lived and not a rigid rule to regulate life or a burden we must bear to be accepted. We love God above all else and honor the name that is holy setting aside a day of rest because God loved us first. All the rules for living with each other depend on how well we live with God as in “You are my people that I love, therefore… love each other.” Jesus said it best. Love God. Love neighbor. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lent 2 B - Romans 4:13-25

Romans 4:13-25
Abraham “is the father of us all” is how Paul puts it. Three faiths claim what Paul proclaims. Father Abraham and Mother Sarah birthed Judaism through Isaac. Islam’s claim came through Ishmael, the son of Sarah’s slave. And Christianity got in through adoption. I wonder if God intended us to consider the children of the father of many nations as extended family. I don’t mean all branches of the family tree are able to hope against hope as the adopted children do. The legitimate children depend on what they do to be acceptable in the God of Abraham’s sight while we who didn’t have a prayer to be included recognize (I hope) our fortunate son and daughter status is due to what has been done for us. Therefore we hope against hope because truth is we were as good as dead before the mercy and grace of God appeared in the Christ who was handed over to death for our rebellion and raised for our justification.  Given the grace extended to us there may be room within our faith tradition to embrace the entire human family as brothers and sisters and work towards the good of all so that the faith of the adopted child becomes the way the other children of Abraham and Sarah and Hagar can also hope against hope and be reconciled by the only legitimate Son who is Abraham’s Lord. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lent 2 B - Mark 8:27-38

Mark 8:27-38
The divine thing Peter’s mind could not comprehend was how his idea of a butt kicking, conquering hero Messiah could undergo great suffering, rejection and death. That was not the Messiah program that Peter signed on to when he left his nets to follow. And more to the point, his earthly idea was to be the rock upon which the Jesus church would be founded even if the two blowhard brothers, James and John, were lining up to sit at Jesus right and left. In the end he is the only disciple brave enough to follow the bound and gagged Jesus into the courtyard even though when push comes to shove his courage fails him and Jesus. Perhaps his bitter tears have as much to do with being ashamed of Jesus as hearing the cock crow. We’re not so different and much of what passes as priestly piety is really about power. Earthly boundaries erected around font and table and pulpit and pew can be ways we save our life instead of losing it for those God came to save.  Even claims of “Love wins!” might miss the point of what God is about when you consider that winning only happens when someone else loses. So if love does win, which I believe it does, it’s only because Jesus was willing to be the biggest loser.