Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Year C - 1 Corinthians 15:19-28

The day of resurrection is only five days away when the faithful will gather in the sanctuary in Arlington, TX to hear the word of life, “Play ball!” I don’t doubt there will be in attendance a good number whose hope has less to do with what happens on Sunday and more to do with the Ranger's season that begins Monday afternoon at The Ballpark. Perhaps they are most to be pitied, except for Cub fans, of course. Don’t get me wrong, the only opening day I’ve missed since 1994 was the year it fell on Good Friday which just goes to show how little Holy Week matters to MLB. But then we are living in the post-Christian era and not because we are in the end times but because in changing times the church forgot to remain the same. By that I mean to remember that the Good News was always simple and meant to be free of unnecessary encumbrances (like laws about food and festivals and circumcision?) lest the Gospel be held in bondage to human tradition. The Good news is Christ died and was raised from the dead so that the world should not be pitied for hoping in something less, something that cannot resolve the question of our opening day that leads inevitably to our closing day. Born into this world without being consulted, some will face it sooner than others but in the end as my seminary professor, Walter Bouman, liked to say, “The death rate is still one per person.” The Gospel begins and ends with what Jesus for the world did on a Friday afternoon, dying every death, for us, ahead of us so that death would not be the last thing to be said about anyone. If death is not the last thing to be said then life can be lived without the fear associated with one’s inevitable end and that is where we have a choice. Not a choice to turn Jesus being raised into a system of reward and punishment that depends on getting a ticket as hard to come by as box seats on Opening Day, but a choice to live this life for others as Jesus did, trusting that in the end God was and is and will be all in all. “Play ball!”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Year C - Psalm 118

On the morning of May 25th 2000 I was sitting in my brother’s backyard in Chicago drinking way too much coffee and nervously waiting for inspiration. Months before I promised my dad I’d write a song for my grandmother’s memorial service. At that point all I had was “I hope” which was how Grandma Heinze described faith in Jesus. Not “I hope” as in “I wish” but “I hope” as in “I know.” So with grandma’s faith in Jesus on my mind I waited impatiently for a song that was scheduled to be sung that afternoon. And then I remembered a funeral the week before where I spoke the words of Psalm 118. “There are shouts of exaltation in the tents of the righteous for the strong arm of the Lord has triumphed" and within ten minutes I had three verses and a chorus in the key of E and a few hours later “Our Hope” was sung as promised. Of all the parts of the funeral liturgy Psalm 118, appointed to be read at the graveside, seems to fly in the face of reason. When it is obvious that our loved one has fallen and is not getting up again we claim that “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.” But that is the way of faith where the stone the builders rejected becomes the cornerstone of “I hope.” Defeat is victory, loss is gain, and sorrow is prelude to joy. While it seems like the truth of “I hope” comes to us as suddenly as it did to me in my brother’s backyard the truth is the only thing sudden about it is that it is the end of waiting. It took Martha sometime to learn the song of Jesus but when she did she sang it with everything she had for her best friend, Jesus. And so like Timothy whose faith first lived in his grandmother Lois the faith of Martha is sung every Easter at Calvary Lutheran, Richland Hills, TX in three verses and a chorus in the key of E.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Year C - Isaiah 65:17-25

Isaiah 65 is the alternate reading for Easter or the pitch hitter for Acts 10. No offense to Luke but given the choice I think even Jesus would choose Isaiah. Granted he never read Acts but he did choose Isaiah 61 as the text for his first sermon in Nazareth, even if it did end badly (they tried to throw him off a cliff). His faithfulness brings forth the justice of Isaiah 42. He is light for the Gentiles as he gathers Israel in Isaiah 49. In Isaiah 50 he has been given the tongue of the teacher to sustain the weary. He is the servant described in Isaiah 53; a man familiar with suffering and aquatinted with grief by whose stripes we are healed. And so given the choice I’m going with Isaiah 65. That’s not only a liturgical decision but a choice of what future informs our present. Is that future a rerun of the old or is it something so new the old cannot even be recalled? All I know is that when I think of the alternate vision where few are taken and the vast majority is left behind, where a personal relationship with Jesus is a password to paradise and everyone else can go to hell it feels a lot like the world I live in today. I want God’s future to be more than that and when I read Isaiah I get a sense that we’ll all be surprised. But how can we say that given all the Biblical evidence to the contrary? We can’t, but we can hope. That’s all. A hope that even though it seemed to end badly for Jesus when God made a choice to do something different on a Friday we call Good it really was a brand new thing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Passion Sunday Year C - Conclusion

Some of us remember when Passion Sunday was Palm Sunday and if you wanted to hear what happened between “Hosanna!” and He is Risen!” you had to go to church on Thursday and Friday. At some point the passion was added to the palms and on this Sunday most churches will read the entire narrative. My good friend Pr. John Foster is going to preach against the tide and stick with the palms and I might be inclined to join him were it not for two words the congregation speaks in the passion narrative. “Crucify him!” The texts for Passion Sunday all point to that moment when the one who has been given the tongue of a teacher is condemned by those he was sent to teach. He embodies the psalmist lament facing those who schemed to take his life but trusting the One whose will he prayed be done. Emptied of power, prestige, and privilege he is found in human likeness as one familiar with suffering and acquainted with grief. And in the Gospel we follow the crowd from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!” so that there can be no mistake in identifying the guilty party.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Passion Sunday Year C - Luke 22:14 - 23:56

"The Tortured Christ" by Guido Rocha
 If a picture is worth a thousand words then the sculpture "The Tortured Christ" by Brazilian artist Guido Rocha says it all. Its obscenity evokes revulsion in those, including myself, who prefer a crucifix to be more polite. But the incarnation cannot be fully grasped except when depicted as offensive. Granted, we generally associate incarnation with the babe of Bethlehem, angels singing, shepherds adoring, wise ones worshipping. But the incarnation, Jesus emptying himself of the power of God, is only fully and finally revealed in the offense of the cross for he empties himself not to be cuddled but to be crucified. In the end Jesus, the life of love, dies naked and alone, his humanity beaten out of him, screaming like a wounded animal with no one to offer comfort, no one to come to his rescue. When Luke recounts the story, Jesus remembers a thief who is dying next to him even as Jesus forgives the ones who crucify them both. That is the final offense of the crucifixion. Someone should pay. Someone should be held accountable. Someone did. Someone was. Jesus. Remember me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Passion Sunday Year C - Philippians 1:1-13

Philippians 1:1-13
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” How is it that the church has failed so miserably at mimicking the mind of God? As it is we are more often the object of God’s lament. "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Selfish ambition, vain conceit, thinking of oneself to be better than the other are more often the way we think and truth to be told we suffer not as Christ but as those who looking only to their own interests cannot escape the lonely consequences. Of course we dress up our differences in doctrinal arguments and clothed in self righteous piety are quick to claim conformity to Christ without giving an inch lest our brother or sister be tempted to take a mile. God is grieved when in claiming to defend the Gospel we fail to live it. Holding forth for whatever we hold as sacred or worth fighting over must be able to stand the litmus test of Christ. Though he was fully God He emptied himself to inhabit our flesh and die the death we deserve and therefore in the end He will be the judge. It’s not What Would Jesus Do but What Did Jesus Do that matters. If that is the mind we are to have then giving up is the only way to hold on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Passion Year C - Psalm 31

Psalm 31
The psalms don’t shy away from suffering and psalm 31 is no exception. Lamenting a life spent in sorrow and sighing, weakened by misery, an object of scorn and derision to friend and foe alike the psalmist is as useless as a broken bottle and as good as dead. But, and there is always a “but” in a lament, but I trust in you, despite my eyes wasting away from grief for I will see the light of your face. But I trust in you for my soul and body in distress is in your hands and will be delivered. But I trust in you, though terror is all around, for you are my God and in your steadfast love I am secure. As it is for the psalmist so it is in all our laments, sorrow and sighing turn on that three letter word, but.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Passion Sunday - Year C - Isaiah 50:4-9a

Isaiah 50:4-9a
The word that sustains the weary is that the teacher himself was wearied by beatings, insult and spitting. Wakened by the word, the Lord God will be my help at the break of the day, the student who is at the same time the teacher set his face like flint and gave his back to the whip, his head to thorns, his hands and feet to nail. The suffering and sorrow of God is the word for those who are wearied by life contending against them, confronted by inconsistency, struck by down by grief, insulted by trouble. The Lord will be my help at the break of day because the Lord was broken for all my days. To waken to this word despite all that would weary the soul and crush the spirit is to be opened to the distant song of vindication that is always near. It is not an easy answer, a simple solution, a wish fulfillment. It is a Word that inhabits flesh and blood, yours and mine, for when one is wearied by weeping and too tired to sing, when the difference between giving up and continuing on hangs in the balance, we become for each other in shared sorrow and suffering the Word that sustains until the day when all weariness will be a thing of the past.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lent 5c - Conclusion

Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4-14; John 12:1-8
I have a weather app on my pc. (app, short for application, is a word Apple applies to gotta have gadgets which nickel and dime you to death) My weather app has alerts which are never good news for my zip code which means never good news for me. The not good news for me is that winter, which is never welcome, is coming back for a weekend visit. Surprise! The lessons for Lent 5c are full of surprises where never good news becomes forever good news. Isaiah speaking for God proclaims a new thing for those who are living former things they cannot forget. The psalmist waking from a dream prays for the dream come true where seeds sown in sorrow will reap joy. Paul rejects a pedigree that would make a Pharisee proud to be joined to the suffering of Christ and know the power of his resurrection. And finally the Gospel of John recalls a dinner party for dead men; one recently raised who will live forever because the other soon to die won’t stay dead. The bad news / good news of Lent 5c is that former things are temporary and good things are eternal. So too, I hope and pray, a weekend of winter in Fort Worth, Texas.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lent 5c - John 12:1-8

John 12:1-8
What do you do when the man who raised your brother from the dead comes for a visit? If you are Martha you serve dinner. If you are Mary you spend more time at the feet of the teacher. It appears as if nothing has changed and yet everything is different. It is as it always was for Martha, table set, bread baked, food and fellowship with friends. A week before she could not have imagined it would ever be this way again. But now her brother, for a moment lost to life and here found again, sits at table with the One who weeping called him out of the tomb. And with laughter and much toasting “L'Chaim!” To Life! everything is as it was and she hopes always will be. And then Mary, perhaps weeping herself, does the unthinkable and brings death back to life. Nothing has changed but everything is different. Her act of extravagance, scoffed at by Judas, “What a waste” is prophetic. The one who raised my brother has a date with death himself but instead of the stench of four days the fragrance of perfume filled the house. You can’t think of death in the same way when Lazarus is sitting at the table with you. Like Lazarus Jesus will be lost for a time but when he is found again death itself will be defeated and everything will change and even what is the same will be different. The poor who you always have with you will be made rich to sit at the table as bread baked and wine poured ushers in food and fellowship and feasting like has never been before and will be forever and ever. Amen. L’Chami! To Life!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lent 5c - Philippians 3:4-14

Philippians 3:4-14
If anyone has reason to be confident in their Lutheran pedigree, I have more. Baptized as an infant, bearing a German surname, a Lutheran born of Lutherans, as to education Lutheran grade school, high school, college, and seminary, as to employment nine years a Lutheran school teacher & youth director, and Lutheran pastor for nineteen. Of course the same could be said of other things as well. Years spent in Bible Study Fellowship, giving more than a tithe, status as a deacon or elder, or even quiet and unassuming piety. It is a sign of our separation from the surpassing value of knowing Christ that even humility can be a source of pride. While we can consider all of that loss we cannot enter into this text as Paul or his first century readers as for American Christians to cry persecution is rubbish. Loss of status, if indeed we have even lost much of that, is not blood shed. So how do we share the sufferings of Christ without beatings, imprisonment, hardships and the like? Maybe it begins when we really do count our status as Christians in a culture shaped by Christianity as rubbish. Maybe it continues as we forsake labels of conservative or liberal, progressive or orthodox and churches stop competing for clients by claiming to be better at making disciples. When the surpassing value of knowing Christ means I skip a meal to provide food for someone who is starving, when the debate over health care remembers the children who suffer because parents are poor, when living a moral life is not an option or an obligation but a reflection of Christ. We share in his sufferings when we can no longer follow the crucified by taking up a cross that is comfortable.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lent 5c - Psalm 126

The psalmist laughs out loud anticipating the new thing God promised through the prophet Isaiah. Like a dream come true freedom is the fortune restored and the captives shout and laugh as the nations offer commentary. But as with all dreams there comes a time when one wakes up and even if pleasant memories remain the demand of the day is that you get out of bed and get on with it. Waking from the dream of the promise the psalmist prays for the dream come true. Be for us water in the wilderness that the seeds of sorrow sown in captivity will be a joyful harvest of home. Held captive by circumstance, in bondage to desire, controlled and controlling we weep what we sow. But longing for the dream come true the harvest of hope is for us water in the wilderness and like a pleasant dream recalled might even make us laugh out loud.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lent 5c - Isaiah 43:16-21

“Do not remember former things…” is written to a people who taunted by their captors, “Sing us songs of Zion” sit by the waters of Babylon and weep. Forgetting former things is not easily done and so Isaiah calls to mind a time before the former things. Remember the time when the Lord called his people out of Egypt and made a way through the sea and wilderness to the land of promise. Forgetting the former and remembering something before when the threat of chariot and horse, army and warrior was extinguished leads to the perception of something at once the same and new. Like those of the time before you will be led out of captivity and weeping songs will be turned into songs of praise and even the jackals and ostriches will get it. The something new that springs forth is the hope of the promise that what you can’t forget will one day not be remembered. It is a new thing for us as well when weighed down by former things of shame and pain we live into the promise that one day we will not remember what we cannot forget.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lent 4c - Conclusion

Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:11-32

The Flying Fish Restaurant, on the corner of Montgomery & Lovell, has declared itself to be Lent Central. So it has come to this has it? I can understand marketing Christmas because of the gift giving and Easter because of Lisa’s favorite candy, the marshmallow Peep®, but Lent? Lent is a season of sacrifice and fasting and even if fish takes the place of meat for many, the Flying Fish - Catfish, Oysters, Crab, Gumbo, Po’Boys, Grilled Fish and more! - is hardly a Lent like atmosphere. But then the lessons for Lent 4c are a mixture of contrition and celebration. Forty years of wilderness wandering end as the children of the exiles make it to the land of milk and honey where manna is forever taken off the menu. The Lord’s heavy hand keeps the groaning psalmist awake and wasting away until confessing transgressions and not hiding sins makes the psalmist happy are those…” For Paul the old becomes new because Jesus who knew no sin was made to be sin and we who have been reconciled are called to respond in kind. And in the Gospel the Father happens to the son who stayed as much as to the one who returned. “Everything I have is yours” means ring and robe and fatted calf and although we don’t know if the son who stayd ever came to his senses “everything I have is yours” means your brother who came home is yours as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lent 4c - Luke 15:11-32

ROMARE BEARDEN (American, 1914-1988)
Return of the Prodigal Son, 1967
Mixed media and collage on canvas, 50 1/4 x 60"
Like a joke you’ve heard once too often the fate of parables is to become familiar and like the parable of the prodigal lose their punch. So desperate preachers tell the story from the perspective of an imaginary sister or ask “what did the fatted calf think about all this?” or use the father to talk about codependency and enabling destructive behavior. But the parable has lost its punch as we all know the younger son will come to his senses so the father can forgive and his brother object and at the end of the sermon the congregation will sing “amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” even if most sympathize fully with the older son in the story. And so the surprise that should come as no surprise is that every three years we spend time and energy trying to put the zing back into a parable we will largely ignore. If, on the other hand, we dare to live into the parable then like my good friend and soon to be Pastor Tara, the older sister/brother in the story, the parable can be so upsetting you are tempted to preach the epistle. But you don’t because even though you’ve done everything right and worked like a slave all these years you’ve been invited to the party. And even if you think your brother is a “that son of yours” the sound of the music and the smell of BBQ break down your righteous indignation at the extravagant waste of grace so that peaking in the door the Father happens to you as well. That’s the surprise the parable can still muster, when the Father happens to hardworking and hedonist alike, and the fatted calf and ring and robe are as much for children who stay as children who leave only to come home. Surprise!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lent 4c - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
The theology of atonement or “Just as I am without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me” simply stated is we are guilty but Jesus is punished. He is the Lamb of God without blemish that takes away the sin of the world. His is the sacred head now wounded whose grief and bitter passion are for our gain. Jesus takes our place and in dying suffers the consequence of sin. All that is true but in some ways it doesn’t fully balance the equation. Sin is not so much forgiven as paid for and something paid for, even if we don’t write the check is not free. The books are balanced, the accounts settled because innocent Jesus pays for guilty you and me. But what if in the making him who knew no sin to BE sin Jesus deserves to die because he really is guilty? In being made to be sin he becomes lust and greed and pride. He embodies every act of murder and rape and abuse. He is forsaken because he deserves to be forsaken and hell is not enough of a punishment for the crimes Christ commits. The dying and the descent are deserved but God forgives and sets Jesus free from suffering eternal forsakenness. In the person of Christ who is sin all the sin of all the world of every time and space is forgiven all at once so that God can be reconciled with a world that given a choice would rather not be. The good news is that we are new creations because the one who was made to be sin was forgiven; therefore God’s being reconciled to us does not depend on our being reconciled to God. But what follows good news is always about us and the choice is simple. Will you live what is true about you or continue to live what was?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lent 4c - Psalm 32

The sad truth about ourselves is that we don’t get to “happy are those” until our bodies have done some wasting away. It comes from being so good at hiding iniquity or living “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” even though we’ve never left home. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, we come to our senses and realize that acknowledging our deceit has a direct effect on whether we live as “happy are those” or as those who are “dried up as the heat of summer.” That is the gift of groaning all day long for if we were not made uncomfortable by a hand heavy upon us our ignorance would grow content with the bit and be curbed only when caught by torment or trouble. “Happy are those” who both hear and tell the truth about themselves and determine to be less stubborn next time so that groaning would more quickly give way to glad cries of deliverance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lent 4c - Joshua 5:9-12

Joshua 5:9-12
Forty years of “what is it?” manna and now finally something new! Time and again in their wilderness wanderings the children of Israel lamented of their meager fare. “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"” Complaining of their present they forgot the pain of their past as the memory of fish and fruit failed to recall the disgrace of Egypt. In reality the no cost meal was the manna God provided. The fish and fruit, the no cost meal in Egypt, was paid for by slavery and harsh treatment. Of course those who complained never did get off the manna diet and dying in the desert their only comfort must have been that their children would see the land they had lost. That hope did not disappoint as Joshua and the children of disgrace are set free and manna is forever off the menu in the land of milk and honey. When in our wilderness wandering we lose our appetite and misremembering the past long for something that never was God calls us back to faith through a no cost to us meal that cost God’s life. Sustaining us in our weakness God provides for the journey until manna is taken off the menu and we sit down to dine at the forever feast.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lent 3c - Conclusion

Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9

Big Red, aka Evelyn Wilkerson, her body thirsting as in a dry and weary land, looked upon the Lord in the sanctuary yesterday and beholding God’s power and glory sat down to dine at the forever feast. As one temporarily left behind, I am grateful that her familiar face is now joined to the vast crowd of witnesses as I am encouraged and strengthened by remembering her faithful witness even as I anticipate what she now knows. Living into that future is like waiting for a fig tree to produce as the work we do here, digging around the roots, watering and fertilizing only fully bears fruit when the tree dies. And so I think of the meal of bread and wine we shared last week now multiplied in the presence of the Holy, a proper feast. I think of the body worn and weary now new and whole, the mortal clothed in immortality, the temporal with the eternal. I think of patient endurance and faithful service rewarded as promises hoped for are realized. So as those who are temporarily left behind we bid our sister Godspeed until we too hear the heavenward call of Christ and sit down with those who are saving a seat for us at the feast that never ends.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lent 3c - Luke 13:1-9

There is no cause and effect between sin and a tragic death, but if you don’t repent you’ll suffer a tragic death. It seems as if Jesus’ answer to why bad things happen to people raises more questions, but maybe that is the point. Jesus challenges the need for a reason for why bad things happen because for us even a bad reason is more comforting than no reason at all. But then we have been curious from creation and like the first humans not willing to live with God knowing something we don’t, even if it means getting kicked out of the garden. And so we keep trying to put the puzzle together, though a good number of the pieces are missing. Jesus would have us live into God’s answer to Job’s why? “I’m not telling, but trust me anyway.” The answer that wants us to live with the question is like a fig tree that has had enough time to get busy doing what fig trees are meant to do but has not. Cutting it down to make room for another is the correct answer to three years of wasted waiting. But the gardener wants the owner to live with the question, “will it produce?” another year and while we would rush to the yes or no end of the parable I think as with most parables we are supposed to live with the question, which, of course, is God’s answer.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lent 3c - 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, or in other words, “you better not shout, you better not pout, you better not cry, I’m telling you why…” What do we do with Paul’s warning or veiled threat, depending on which side of the line you are standing? I suppose the first thing we have to ask ourselves is do we believe what Paul is saying? That 23,000 fell in a day for getting up from the table to play and others putting Christ to the test had good reason to fear snakes, while still others should have kept their mouths shut and their complaints to themselves. And further that this is a Divine object lesson to keep the Corinthians, and us I suppose, from making the same mistake and suffering a similar fate? From the perspective of God’s grace these verses carry less weight than the “still more excellent way” of the thirteenth chapter of this same letter but they cannot and I might add, dare not be dismissed so easily. The reason being, as Paul will tell the Romans, is that God has determined to be both just and the one who justifies. There will be a reckoning and a pardon will be necessary for whether we think we are standing or not we have all fallen into temptation and are without exception guilty. To think or claim otherwise is to engage in theological immorality by testing the grace of God without accepting the consequence of sin or acknowledging the cost to Christ. In spite of our weakness God is faithful and the strength to be tested is not our will power but whether we endure our falling by trusting the way out God has provided.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lent 3c - Psalm 63:1-8

I can’t remember what a dry and weary land looks like since we’ve had a swamp in our backyard for over a month making life more difficult on the Tiny Acre Ranch. Although the chickens don’t seem to mind, Panda the miniature horse has stable fever and even bad Mr. Spud, the dirty dog, finds less joy rolling in the mud and tracking it through the house. Of course I know come June, July & August we’ll be looking at clouds and longing for even a drop of rain. We go through times of spiritual dryness when like the psalmist longing for God is a soul thirsting, flesh fainting desire. In seeking after God you are my God, our thirsty soul and longing flesh, clinging to the hand that holds us, hungers to be satisfied by the feast of God’s help. It is the remembering of steadfast love in the watches of the night or hours of the day that opens joyful lips and prompts praise for the One who is as close as our own breath. The good news for us, living through spiritual feast or famine, drought or flood is that the God we seek remains constant and though our grip might weaken the hand that holds us never will. And the good news for Tiny Acre Ranch is that the backyard will dry out and Panda will be released from her stable to kick up her hooves and whinny with joy, but I’m afraid even when he’s clean bad Mr. Spud will always be a dirty dog.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lent 3c - Isaiah 55:1-13

Isaiah 55:1-13
When I do the math God’s economy appears too good to be true, for we know that nothing worth having is free because if something is free it’s got no resale value. The first hearers of this no money market, the exiles returning from captivity in Babylon, spent everything they had to come home to bitter wine and sour milk. Their homes were occupied by strangers, the temple remained in ruins, and the trees of the field, overgrown by thorns and briers, had stopped clapping a long time ago. Hopes and dreams of returning unto Zion with everlasting joy had all been spent on the reality of a land that was less than welcoming and in many cases downright hostile. The home again exiles, hungry, thirsty and broke had forgotten what got them home in the first place and that even in its sorry state home was better than Babylon. So God speaks up calling the exiles to the table for a prix fix menu of rich food, fine wine and fresh milk. But if we think God’s new economy is free we haven’t read the fine print. No money will be exchanged but getting to the table will take some effort. Forsaking wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts the Lord calls all who would come and eat to listen, look and seek and in so doing return to the hope of the promise. So we too, overwhelmed and under funded, discouraged and downhearted, are called to remember God’s higher thoughts and ways inform ours and not vice versa. In the no money market of God’s economy we hold on to the hope that holds us as we trust God is too good not to be true.