Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lent 5 B - John 12:20-33

John 12:20-33
“We wish to see Jesus.” My grandmother, Lillian Smith, saw Jesus at the foot of her bed a few nights before she died. Her dog Julie was there too. If that mean little Schnauzer can get into heaven there’s hope for everyone. I’m just saying.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lent 5 B - Hebrews 5:5-10

Hebrews 5:5-10
I’ve started and restarted this post a dozen times trying to say something about Melchizedek but truth is he’s just a bit player in the Bible and most of what is said about him is speculation. It may be that I just don’t want to talk about learning obedience from suffering, but that is really the point of this passage. During the days of our lives we experience suffering, both our own and the pain and sorrow of those connected to us. But submission to suffering does not mean grin and bear it since fervent cries and tears are anything but silent. Jesus' obedience is not about being stoic but about being steadfast. He did not cease in crying out and it was obedience unto death that made him perfect. Hebrews is the letter that contains descriptions of Jesus like “since the children have flesh and blood he shared their humanity” (2:14) and “he was tempted as we are in every way, yet without sin” (4:15) and “he suffered death…so he might taste death for everyone.” (2:9) The point of all this is that we who are flesh and blood, tempted in every way, with our days numbered, can hope our fervent cries and tears will be heard from the one who can save us from our death. Not because Jesus is like Melchizedek but because Jesus was like us and one day we will be like him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lent 5 B - Psalm 51:1-12

All sin is “against you only” which means the careless ways we think and talk about our neighbor are careless thoughts and words directed towards God. It means neglecting the needs of others neglects the needs of God. Injustice tolerated or promoted denies God justice. Love withheld from one another is love withheld from God. The trouble is God’s ways are absolute and we live in shades of grey. "Bones crushed" might question whether God is justified when judging given that we did not choose to be born to mothers who without choosing were also conceived in sin. But God’s judgments are right since even the best among us appear to be unable to overcome the sin that comes naturally and therefore no one lives the joy of salvation without assistance from the Almighty. So by grace God’s face is turned away from sin while God’s countenance gazes on contrite hearts with tender mercy. Grace recreates hearts, purifies minds and grants willing spirits so that kind thoughts, words and deeds directed towards others are kind, thoughts and deeds directed towards God.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Lent 5 B - Jeremiah 31:31-34

Jeremiah 31:31-34
The days “that are surely coming” have been coming for a long time unless you believe they have already come, in which case “know the Lord” might mean a good number of us already do, even if it appears we don’t. By that I mean some believe as if they know the Lord but behave as if they don’t and others who behave as if they know the Lord believe in ways that indicate they don’t. We can’t seem to agree on what “know the Lord” means and even the cross becomes a subject for debate. Does the cross only dot the i but we still need to cross the t? Or is the free gift of grace truly free? I don’t know for sure but I can tell you this in all honesty. I need “the day is surely coming” to be true for me right now because I remember my sins everyday and I am sure to believe I am damned if God does as well.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Lent 4 B - John 3:14-21

Hezekiah broke the bronze serpent into pieces (2 Kings 18:3-4) because the people were burning incense to it which you might have done as well if as a child you were told the boogie man story of deadly vipers in the desert. But in the Gospel of John God repeats the feat in a time when the poison of complaining was the contagion of religious ritual where hearts were far from God while lips piously offered praise. Our worship is idolatrous when it fails to understand God prefers real relationships to mindlessly repeated rituals or when our professed love of God does not translate into a life lived for the neighbor which is the way we love the world God so loved. Anything less turns the cross into just another snake on a pole where darkness masquerades as light. But whereas the image Moses fashioned became something that needed to be broken into pieces it is the Son of God “high and lifted up” that breaks us so that we might be refashioned to love the light and live the life that is eternal in our everyday.