Monday, August 3, 2015

Pentecost 11 B - 1 Kings 19:4-8

1 Kings 19:4-8
Elijah is despairing under the solitary broom tree because Queen Jezebel is determined to kill him which makes sense because Elijah killed all her prophets and burned up the altar of Baal with fire from on high. (1 Kings 18) Of course Elijah despairing means he doesn’t believe God is able to repeat the feat and his fear of Jezebel is more present than his faith in God. I’ve not called down fire from heaven to consume a wet sacrifice or slain any prophets of Baal but I will admit to failing faith in the face of circumstances that make me forget God’s faithfulness. What is forgotten in those circumstances is that faith is not about our ability to believe. While Elijah is ready to lie down and die God is not and so God provides what is necessary for the journey. So it is with us on this journey of life that would be too much for us were it not for God who gifts us with companions, like a cake cooked on hot stones, who warm our way and give us courage to face each new day with confidence that we will have the strength to meet whatever challenge lies ahead of us. In the end faith trusts that God’s faithfulness is all that is necessary for the forty days and nights of however long our life lasts until we will reach the promised mount of God. (Isaiah 25:6)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pentecost 10 B - John 6:24-35

John 6:24-35
John is the only Gospel that details the aftermath of the multiplying feast. The people (well fed) are apparently not satisfied with leftovers (2 baskets of barley loaves) and so chase after Jesus to see what is on the breakfast menu. Jesus rightly calls them out when they say, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” which means, “Have you baked the bagels and cured the lox?” But Jesus should not be surprised at their desire to be fed on the cheap as we all enjoy a happy hour now and then. That is to say we’d all like to be taken care of, provided for, live in the lap of luxury, etc. etc. etc. But Jesus would have us look beyond what is to what will be so that the work of God, that is believing Jesus was sent as the sign of what will be and already is, means we no longer lust after that which cannot satisfy. “You wanted breakfast?” Jesus asks. “How about a feast that never ends?”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pentecost 10 B - Ephesians 4:1-16

Ephesians 4:1-16
Living “a life worthy of the calling” is often understood in terms of personal piety reflected in a disciplined life especially as it relates to resisting behaviors identified as the ways of the world. But the apostle Paul defines a “life worthy of the calling” in ways that relate to living in relationship with others. Living in “humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” cannot be accomplished unless one bears with those whose life is less than one’s own “holier than thou” or on the flip side bearing with those whose life is “holier” than you are or perhaps care to be. The point is patience is not necessary when others are as you are and there is no need for humility or gentleness or making any effort at all when the bond of peace does not require negotiation. But then we tend to “speak the truth in love” loudly without first quietly growing up in every way into Christ so the truth spoken has little to do with love and everything to do with pride or prejudice or one’s own particular point of view. But when “each part is working properly” those who are patient assist those who require patience (and vice versa) to grow and in doing so all are built up in love. Easier said than done and that is why one must make “every effort.”


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pentecost 10 B - Psalm 78:23-29

Psalm 78:23-29
Not satisfied with water from the rock the children of Israel wondered aloud about the ability of God to provide meat and make bread. (78:20) God was furious (78:21) and yet responded to the people’s complaint with quail and manna. They ate and were filled for God gave them what they craved. Of course at the time what they craved was anything that would satisfy their hunger. It would not be long before they tired of quail and complained about the detestable manna. I remember a night at our ministry to the homeless - Room in the Inn - where one of our guests offered a prayer before dinner and gave thanks for the goodness of the Lord with whom all things are possible and without whom nothing can be accomplished. It was a profound and yet simple prayer of faith and thanksgiving for the everyday miracle of God with us and the warmth of friendship. Our guests continually tell us how much they appreciate Calvary and that our Room in the Inn has serious street cred. I don’t think it’s the food or the accommodations as good as they are. I think it’s the hospitality and the genuine love expressed through smiles and conversations and generosity of spirit. When it comes right down to it that is what we crave and that is what God provides whenever God’s heart is expressed through human hands. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pentecost 10 B - Exodus 16:2-15

Exodus 16:2-15
Those who complain in the wilderness, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt” forget the family members who never made it out of Egypt alive and that the Egyptians didn’t need the Lord’s hand to help kill them. But then we tend to reconstruct the difficult days of the past in the light of present troubles thinking that what was was not as bad as what is even though what is and what was are often the same thing. Dying at the hands of the Egyptians or of starvation in the wilderness is still dead. It is to God’s credit that this constant complaining does not lead God to “walk like an Egyptian” (The Bangles) and be done with the whole assembly. It is a preview of God’s struggle with a people whose “love is like the morning mist.” (Hosea 6:4) The God who provides manna and quail to ungrateful people will continue to give them bread to eat, even if it is the bread of tears, in the hope that they will recognize that freedom in the wilderness is better than slavery in Egypt. God’s hope for us is that in following the way of the Lord we would prefer to live in radical freedom, no matter how difficult it is, than to dwell in the comfortable prisons of our own design.