Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Feast of All Saints - 1 John 3:1-3

1 John 3:1-3
The hope that purifies is that we are what God says we are, beloved children. I know the analogy to human parenthood falls short of the glory of God but when I consider that God loves me in the way that I love my children, Joshua and Mary Ruth, I am purified from all that would make be believe I am less than I am; a beloved child of the Creator of the universe. The love God has for us cannot be eliminated by all the things said and left unsaid, done and left undone that limit our response to that love in the same way that not a day goes by when I don’t marvel in the miracle and give thanks for the gift of my children. This is the hope that purifies; God giving thanks for the miracle and gift of the child that is you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Feast of All Saints - Psalm 34:1-0,22

Psalm 34:1-10, 22
“Taste and see” is an odd turn of the phrase. How is tasting seeing? On the other hand see and taste is not uncommon for someone who is familiar with the culinary arts. I can taste a recipe before I open the pantry and put a pan on the stove. In the same way we are able to bless the Lord at all times even when times are less than blessed when we anticipate that one day we will be delivered from all trouble. That is not to say the troubles of the day are not difficult only that we believe deliverance will be the last word for us which is to say trouble is temporary and delivery is eternal. Even so we do endure the present in such a way that we don’t look for relief from the here and now terrors that truly terrify. We would like to taste and see today even if we have a reserved seat at the promised future feast. More to the point when we are blessed to experience the angel of the Lord encamped around us we are called to increase the size of the circle by making every effort to be a refuge and relief for those who taste only bitter tears and see nothing but suffering. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Feast of All Saints - Revelation 7:9-17

Revelation 7:9-17
These words were written to encourage and comfort people who were suffering terribly for the sake of the faith. Let’s put aside the thought that Revelation is a road map through Divine destruction with promises of paradise for a select few and consider that the God who wipes away the tears of a multitude too great to count might not want to eternally poke everyone left behind in the eye. So maybe within the narrative of a persecuted people there is a word that speaks to all of humanity created in the image of the holy. There are innocents who suffer all of life as a great ordeal starving for food or shelter or affection. Will God wipe away their tears? There are those less innocent who scarred by neglect or abuse suffer the great ordeal of lives doomed to misfortune and out of their pain visit it others. Will God wipe away their tears? There are those not innocent at all but acting out of selfish interest suffer the great ordeal that looks like prosperity but lacks love and mercy and kindness and if they knew how impoverished they were perhaps would weep as well. Will God wipe away their tears? Can God wipe away the tears from every eye and still be a God of justice? I don’t know but I hope so and not because I need a happy ending to the sad human story but because I believe and hope God does.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reformation Sunday - John 8:31-36

John 8:31-36
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose; Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free” (Janis Joplin – Me & Bobby McGee) is a great line until she sings “I’d trade all my tomorrow’s for a single yesterday” which is to say a freedom of nothing left to lose that is inextricably bound to the past is no freedom at all. “We are descendants of Abraham” depends on the past in a way that the God of Abraham never intended for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a God of the living and not the dead (Matthew 22:32) So these words spoken to those “who believed in Jesus” were meant to move them from the single yesterday into the tomorrow that Jesus came to establish. “If the Son has set you free you are free indeed.” We might be tempted this Sunday to claim we are descendants of grace and have never been slaves to the law but that would not be the truth. We justify ourselves by our piety and heritage and interpretation of the scriptures in the same way other traditions justify themselves by claiming to be more faithful and true than we are. I’m not saying we should stop singing “A Mighty Fortress” or embossing our bulletins with Luther’s seal or wearing red on Reformation Sunday. But continuing in the word for us means we allow the Word to shape us so that reliance on the past is not as important as living into the future in such a way so as living Christ means we trade yesterday for living tomorrow today. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Reformation Sunday - Romans 3:19-28

Romans 3:19-28
God is the one who is just and the one who justifies; period, end of sentence. So why do we work so hard for what is none of our business? I don’t mean sin, we don’t have to work at disobedience or doubt or self-centeredness or disregard for the needs of others or neglect of the planet or any of the ways we are guilty of being less than human. No, sin is all about us, which is why the just one who justifies the creation gone its own way enters the fray to contend with the inevitable consequence of human rebellion, death. Faith does not activate or complete what God has already done in entering the human story. Faith means we enter God’s story in the Christ and stop working for what is already ours because we no longer doubt what is beyond our comprehension. We are already justified, made right with God, because God won’t have it any other way which means we are free to be fully human.