Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pentecost 6c - Galatians 6:1-18

Galatians 6:1-16
Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you what good is that to you? Even the pagans do that.” Which means to fully fulfill the law of Christ one must bear the burden of those who you are quite happy to see weighed down. In which case the law of Christ cannot be fulfilled unless you bear the burdens of “those who want to make a good showing in the flesh” in the same way you "do not grow weary in doing what is right” for those “who follow this rule.” Maybe the apostle Paul was too close to the conflict to apply his own instruction about gently restoring those who by their transgression troubled him so. Of course it is true of our time as well when well meaning people passionate about defending the faith as they understand it violate its first principle. Love is the law of Christ. Is it any wonder that those outside the faith grow weary of our witness? If we are to be the body of Christ then to be crucified “to the world” is to be crucified for the world. When we argue over doctrine and dogma and in defending the Gospel fail to live it we are no longer defending the Gospel but violating it. Does it mean that anything goes and there are no truths to be taught? No. But if the fullest expression of the truth is love then love determines how all lesser "truths" are taught, which means Paul might have to recant his wish that “those agitators go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12) Oy Vey!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pentecost 6c - Psalm 66:1-9

Nicolas Poussin, Crossing the Red Sea, 1634.
Psalm 66 praises the awesome works of God remembering the rescue through the sea when escaping from Egypt the children of Israel were trapped between an army and a wet place. It is the story told time and again down through the centuries. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord heard your cry and with a mighty arm rescued you from Pharaoh’s grasp bringing you to a land flowing with milk and honey. While it is remembered with shouts of joy and singing it is also the story told when the milk has gone sour and the honey runs out, when enemies are all around, when life hangs in the balance and feet are on unsteady ground. When all seems hopeless remembering in the present the providence of God in the past is how one gets through today and into tomorrow. It is remembering God’s faithfulness that preserves the life that is essential, the life of hope. It is remembering God’s mercy that places the feet of faith on the solid ground of trust. And so we remember the awesome work of God on our behalf, not a passing through the sea on dry land, but God in human flesh passing through the sea of sorrow and suffering and death. In the tomorrow that will be the day that never ends the enemy that will cringe before God is death which like the chariots of Pharaoh has been swallowed up in the sea of victory.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pentecost 6c - Isaiah 66:10-14

Isaiah might be enamored by Jerusalem’s anatomy but I’d rather be consoled in Paris. On the other hand no city in the world seems to attract as much attention as Jerusalem, which sadly has not been the source of much rejoicing. Jerusalem, which means the city of peace, has more often been a city of sorrow. Isaiah’s vision of the exile’s return to Jerusalem to be nursed and carried on her arm and dandled on her knees was not realized and even the rejoicing of Zionist exiles reclaiming the Promised Land was short lived because of the violence and bloodshed that greeted their return. In our time devout Jews gather at the Wailing Wall to pray for the restoration of the temple as Palestinian Christians weep at walls that surround and separate them from the part of the Promised Land that is their home and all the while God weeps over the plight of all people who love Jerusalem. But in the dream of God’s design those who rejoice in her and those who mourn because of her will both be comforted by her. In the dream of God’s design Jerusalem is for all people a place of peace where the feast that never ends will begin. It may be that we have to do more than pray for the peace of Jerusalem for the dream of God’s design to come true, but not by denying the right of Jewish people to live in safety or by denying the real plight of the Palestinian people imprisoned in their own land. The hatred that exists and is the cause of such suffering will only be overcome when each sees in the other the dream of God’s design. And when God’s dream comes true Paris, although full figured, will play second fiddle to Jerusalem, the real city of amour.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pentecost 5c - Conclusion

Pentecost 5c – Conclusion
The sanctuary of San Gabriel is ready for the faithful. With a new wood patterned floor, freshly painted walls and ceiling, the pews and altar and pulpit have been put back in place and the transformation brought tears to my brother’s eyes. I said to Pr. Jesus, “I bet you’ll have a crowd on Sunday.” He said, “We will next week. This Sunday Mexico plays Argentina at 9 AM in the World Cup.” Sounds like the 11 AM at Calvary when the Cowboys play an early game. Some things are the same in every culture. The building team finished strong, a building rising from nothing in a week and ready for the next phase which will be done by members of San Gabriel and Sam, the next door neighbor who found the church he had been searching for. As we left the fiesta the day camp kids were singing to us the songs we taught them and waving called to us, “come back.” There is no doubt we will for this week made us familia. After packing and cleaning Advent’s family life center we headed for the hotel and the Grapevine Mills Mall for a celebration dinner – the youth at Chili’s and the adults Texas Love and War. The day ended with worship. “Circled up” as we call it, sitting with our feet in the pool, singing “He Is Able”, our muscles sore, our minds tired but our spirits rejoicing that God gave us the strength to serve, considering us to be faithful and appointing us to service. (1 Timothy 1:12 –2010 theme verse) It doesn’t get any better than that.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pentecost 5c - Luke 9:51-62

It’s eleven pm and my alarm will go off at four am tomorrow so I can have breakfast ready for the building crew by five. Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. I’m setting mine towards my cot in the corner of the kitchen. But before I do I have a few snapshots of another productive and spirit blessed day. It seemed to us a “God-incident” that on the day we were to put a metal roof on the fellowship hall the sky was overcast and the temperature ten degrees cooler than yesterday. When the slip and slide sprung a leak Pr. Kyle fixed with a single piece of duct tape (of course) but the day camp kids told him to use two and make it in a sign of a cross. Oh, and they want us to come back next week and do day camp again. After the Fajita fiesta with the people of San Gabriel both Pr. Jesus and one of his parishioners spoke emotionally of what the building and the day camp means to them and how grateful they are to God for us. I told him we were the ones who have been blessed by them and are grateful that God’s plan was to bind us together. Oh, and Frank wants to go with us on our next mission trip, anywhere, anytime. He was thinking next week. But it was Pr. Jesus’ son Brian who summed up what this means for them as he talked about the children singing and laughing and learning about Jesus. “You’ve given us hope,” he said. He went on to say that now church is not just a place you come and hear the word and be bored (sorry Pr. Jesus I think my son might say the same thing) but it’s a place to have fun while you hear the Word and grow together in love. We could see it and sense it in these faithful people who had a dream that before our very eyes God is making come true. And with that I’m setting my face on my pillow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pentecost 5c - Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Galatians 5:1, 13-25
It’s been a long but fruitful day. Everyone’s been fed dinner, we’ve showered and now have a little free time before worship followed by well earned rest. There was fruit of a spiritual kind envisioned by Paul as well. Our youth workers who were about to begin “taping and bedding” were blessed by a family from San Gabriel who have a working relationship with the task. As we were talking about something we’ve been thinking of doing back home, Frank said maybe San Gabriel should do a mission trip to Calvary. In the joining of our time and talents lines of us and them have been erased as seamlessly as the wall board in the fellowship hall. A man who lives down the road walked by to see what was happening and stayed to work. Turns out he’s been looking for a church home and since he said he’d be back tomorrow we think he may have found one. New children turned up at day camp as the word is spreading from one cousin to another. Pr. Jesus said there were some he’d never seen before and prays for the seeds of the Gospel to be planted in their homes. There is a spirit of excitement and anticipation of the fruit that will be produced through the finished sanctuary and new fellowship hall and a week’s worth of song and scripture and snow cones. We are living the list of spiritual gifts which makes work more worthwhile, play more enjoyable, sleep more peaceful and ultimately joy more complete.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pentecost 5c - Psalm 16

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” (Ps. 16:6) I can’t say that the boundary lines of San Gabriel fall in a pleasant place, though I’m sure the native Texans will disagree. But if pleasant means comfortable today was not. The wind was blowing hot and dry and dusty and a twig of a Mesquite tree provides the only spot of shade. But with a couple shade shelters, Calvary’s faithful and fun day camper counselors and a group of children and youth and suddenly you’ve got singing and laughing and a pastor in shorts and a black cleric on a slip n slide ®. The lesson for today was Peter walking on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. When I finished the story and said when we keep our eyes on Jesus we can do amazing things a small voice from the back of the group asked, “Where can I see Jesus?” I knew what he meant and I suppose we all would like to see Jesus as Peter did. But Jesus can be seen even in a boy’s question which speaks of longing and desire and need. And Jesus is in strangers becoming friends and silly songs about Creation (aka the Hippo Song) Jesus is community gathered, meal shared, Word spoken and lived by people young and old(er) serving their Lord by serving others. So I guess hot and dry can be a pleasant place. Therefore my heart is glad and my body rejoices, although I need to be a little more careful with the slip portion of the slide.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pentecost 5c - 1 Kings 19:15-21

1 Kings 19:15-21
I’m blogging this week while on a mission trip with 62 Calvary members to San Gabriel Lutheran Church in Alvarado, TX  where we are completing the sanctuary, holding a Day Camp and building a fellowship hall. I do the cooking and day camp openings and closings and lead evening worship. With a day that begins at 4:45 AM and doesn’t end till after ten I’m not sure how timely or coherent these posts will be, but I trust the Spirit will provide. One of the challenges of this trip is that while we’re staying at Advent Lutheran in Arlington we’re cooking lunch and dinner outside on a grill at San Gabriel, so I appreciate Elisha’s resourcefulness to make boiled BBQ. Of course it’s not about using the yoke to cook rather than contain the ox. It’s about moving forward and there’s no going back to the plow once the oxen have been eaten. San Gabriel is led by Jesus Escamilla, a parish lay minister authorized by the synod to word and sacrament ministry who like Elisha heard the call to follow. It is a church that started when Jesus, a plumber by trade, began leading Bible studies in homes. We had a moment to sit and rest in a little bit of shade today and watch the fellowship hall being built by Calvary’s youth and adult mentors. Jesus said when he sees what has happened in such a short time, how San Gabriel grew from a vision and a prayer he knows that he is blessed and that with God all things are possible. I agreed but thought to myself yes, all things are possible with God, but it helps if you have Jesus to work with, and I don’t mean the second person of the Trinity.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pentecost 4c - Conclusion

Isaiah 65:1-9; Psalm 22: 19-28; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-29

I’ve started and deleted this morning’s blog a dozen times and all I can think of is what my colleague and friend Pr. Kerstin, now Captain Hedlund, used to say, “I got nothing.” The other thing that came to mind was cartoon character Bullwinkle J. Moose (The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show 1961 – 1973) “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” So I’m going with the theme of something out of nothing for Pentecost 4c. New wine will be found within the cluster of the people that provoke God on purpose and from those who are a stench in God’s nostrils a remnant will remain and be a blessing to God. When all appears lost and even God seems absent the cry of the psalmist is heard and the sound of future rejoicing can be heard in the suffering of the present. The divisions of race and creed and gender which seem fixed in stone are erased in the water of baptism as God pulls the present into the future where definitions that divide do not exist. And the man who could not be contained by chains is calmed by Christ and in his right mind changes the minds of the people of Gerasene. I don’t know if that’s pulling a rabbit out of my hat but as I said at the outset, I got nothing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pentecost 4c - Luke 8:26-39

Luke 8:26-39
The man set free from demons is the hope of every parent, sister, brother or friend of a loved one shackled by insanity, tormented by self abuse or consumed by addiction. The story is recorded in Mathew, Mark & Luke and it would seem from the narrative, especially the details of self mutilation in the Gospel of Mark, that the man was chained as much for his own protection as he was to protect others from his violent behavior. No doubt the man of Gerasene had family and friends who like their counterparts in our time prayed desperate prayers and hoped and wept and blamed and despaired and prayed again. And so when the shackles of insanity are finally broken and the Legion possessed pigs take the demons to the deep it seems odd that the people are afraid and tell Jesus, as politely as possible, to get out of Dodge. On the other hand it makes perfect sense that the man now in his right mind pleads to go with Jesus and if permitted I imagine would have died rather than desert or deny him when the time came to choose. But Jesus sends him home and because he does the next time Jesus steps out of a boat in Gerasene people recognize him immediately and run “throughout that whole region bringing the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was… begging him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak...”(Mark 6:55, 56) The possessed man now in his right mind has changed the minds of the people of Gerasene by the telling of his story and the witness of his life. There is healing in hope that springs from touching Jesus through the love and care and support and encouragement of people in their “right minds” concerning the promise of God to deliver us, as Luther put it, from sin, death and the devil. It may be that healing happens as it did in Gerasene. It may be that healing is the strength to endue another day. It may be that healing is the courage to make difficult decisions born of love for the possessed. But however it happens the only way minds and lives are changed is when we who have been set free share our story and the witness of our lives so that those still bound might experience the blessing of a right mind.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lectionary 4c - Galatians 3:23-29

Galatians 3:23-29
Clothed in Christ the divisions of race and religion, social status and gender are washed away in the waters of baptism. This is the vision that captures the imagination but like a dream fades from memory in the harsh light of day. It works in theory, but in practice? Not so much. It might be because we are more comfortable when we are subjects of a disciplinarian. Rules and regulations define our everyday, putting people in their proper place, maintaining the social order for the sake of order (or profit?) Now I’m not advocating anarchy and neither is Paul. What he is advocating is a real time reflection of the future where all things are made new and people of every tribe and nation, language and tongue dine together in perfect unity at the final feast that never ends. If in the future of God’s design definitions that divide do not exist then we who are joined to the preview, who are justified in the here and now by faith, ought to live what we trust and hope will one day be. Maybe the reason it only works in theory is because we don’t practice it enough.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pentecost 4c - Psalm 22:19-28

Psalm 22 begins with the absence of God but ends with assurance as the one who cries “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” is confident that the Lord not hidden has listened to the cry for help. It is the absolute honesty of the psalms of lament that allows them to end on a note of praise. In a way they are liturgical venting, the psalmist’s heart poured out in questioning and complaint. It does not mean the condition that prompts the cry of dereliction is resolved but that voicing the complaint, an act of faith, restores the strength that is sapped and renews the confidence that is shaken. That is true for the laments of our lives which is why the psalms are the place we go when trouble surrounds us and deliverance seems far off. It is why this psalm sprung forth from the mouth of Jesus as he hung on the cross and while the witnesses of the crucifixion only heard the first verse, “My God, my God…” Jesus knew the psalm ends with rejoicing even as the cross was prelude to resurrection. So too with us, for Jesus overcame pain and sorrow and suffering and the darkness of death so that all our laments would end in praise.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pentecost 4c - Isaiah 65:1-9

Isaiah 65:1-9
Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the Bible but as it is with favorite books there are chapters I favor over others. Isaiah 25 and the feast of fat things for all people, the return to Zion with singing in Isaiah 35, the tender speaking of Isaiah 40, “comfort, comfort my people” are all to be preferred over “I will not keep silent, but I will repay.” But in the same way that the Gospel is meaningless without the Law and the Law is hopeless without the Gospel so God is not wholly God without being just and the one who justifies. (Romans 3:26) Which is to say while God is merciful there is a cost associated with continually grieving God and even though sin is not counted against us there are consequences that cannot be avoided. Isaiah 65 reveals a dimension of the incarnation, God in the flesh, which is not as comforting as the babe of Bethlehem. No. This is God as grieving parent, God as jilted lover; God provoked on purpose continually by those God seeks to save. It is also an image of God who has been pushed to the point of breaking, whose fierce anger has been aroused by continual mocking and disregard. But while it is true that we are a rebellious people who walk in a way that is not good, following our own devices I don’t think fear motivates one to love the God who calls to us, “Here I am, here I am.” However if I am the parent of a rebellious child who provokes continually I might sympathize with God’s patience being exhausted. If I have loved another with my whole heart only to be lied to, cheated on, made to be a fool of, then I might sympathize with God’s righteous anger. And when I sympathize with God’s anger and pain and profound sadness by confessing that I am the rebellious child and the unfaithful spouse then I might just be the wine within the cluster and a blessing to the God that by my sin I provoke. I hope so. And believe me, so does God.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pentecost 3c - Conclusion

Pentecost 3c - 2 Samuel 11:26- 12:15; Psalm 32; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3
I spent Wednesday night on the Short North in Columbus, Ohio with Captain Hedlund, aka Calvary’s own hometown hero Pastor Kerstin. We hit eight restaurant/bars in as many hours. From a selection of Thai Tapas to Lamb Lollipops with artichoke relish, Blackened Scallops paired with minty Mojitos, a cheese plate with Gorgonzola, walnuts, strawberries and honey, pulled pork tacos, a Surly Girl® Pizza (crumbled gorgonzola, 6 cheese blend, dried cranberries, red onions and pecans drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette) and gourmet ice cream cones to finish you could say it was a foretaste (and then some) of the feast of fat things. (Isaiah 25) The menu for Pentecost 3c includes a poor man’s lamb served to a rich man’s guest which convicts a king of breaking God’s heart. The Psalmist awake all night wastes away famished until confession ends the fast and joy follows the feast of forgiveness. In Galatians Paul challenges Peter who was enjoying shellfish with Gentiles until certain people from James made him go back on the Law diet. And the woman who crashes Simon’s party to be with Jesus is the guest of honor, remembered to this day, while Simon is the sinner who should be weeping. All in all a surprising and satisfying menu of Law / Gospel as always flavored by grace. That being said my middle region will still have to pay for the Short North on the treadmill. Sins are indeed forgiven free once and for all but avoiding the consequences will cost you extra.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pentecost 3c - Luke 7:36 - 8:3

Luke 7:36 - 8:3
I caught a 5:20 AM flight from Columbus, OH to Charlotte, NC to get to Dallas by 9 AM but feel like I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern all day. Maybe the woman felt the same way. Stuck in “sin” so named by the Pharisee, storing up tears, accumulating guilt there comes a moment when courage born of desperation makes her crash the party to which she never would have been invited anyway. The Pharisee is stuck in a different sort of pattern. Smug in self righteousness, not recognizing the shallow nature of religion by the rules, Simon appears more amused than offended by the turn of events. Jesus is a joke to him and the opportunity to see the preacher from Galilee make a fool of himself is what the party is all about. But the joke is on Simon because Jesus turns the table and the host becomes the object and the gate crasher the subject. “Do you see this woman…?” is an invitation for Simon to look at himself and if he has enough courage to admit the truth he might end up next to the woman at Jesus’ feet.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pentecost 3c - Galatians 2:15-21

I’m blogging from the Bexley Monk in Columbus, Ohio having just finished a three day intern supervisor training event at Trinity Seminary. The Monk, formerly the Blind Monk, was the hangout of choice in my seminary days. A few of us considered the Monk an extension of the classroom and at a corner table would preside over animated conversations on all things theological. Of course I couldn’t afford the Monk in those days and and so moderation was the only option. The other hangout of choice was the Leipzig House, which was well within my budget and then some. Unlike the Monk the “Zig” was the local “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” (Garth Brooks) sort of place. While I didn’t “pastor up” back then I bet I wouldn’t look so out of place at the Monk, while I might raise some eyebrows at the Zig. Paul has the same problem with Peter who formerly went where no Jew had gone before but now under pressure has changed his behavior, if not his mind. At the heart of Paul’s accusation of hypocrisy, against the Rock upon which Christ promised to build his church no less, is the question of what makes one right with God. Jews sought justification by religiously obeying the 613 laws in the Torah. Paul sees justification in the invitation to die with Christ which is an invitation to die to any attempt to justify oneself. It is the invitation to be crucified with Christ that calls us to speak the Gospel where people might raise their eyebrows so that one day the rest of their bodies might follow suit. I suppose that means I have to leave my comfy chair at the Monk and go play pool at the Zig, even if I’m “Texas-ed up” (wearing burnt orange) and could be crucified for real in Columbus Ohio. Hook em Horns!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pentecost 3c - Psalm 32

Silence is golden, unless you have something you need to say. The psalmist, which in the way of the psalms is always meant to be whoever happens to be reading the psalm, is wasting away one night at a time. You’ve been there, or maybe still are. You toss and turn waking every hour on the hour as things said or left unsaid replay in your head on a continuous loop. A sleepless night is followed by an endless day until back in bed it starts all over again. Maybe you’ve also been in that place where sick and tired of being sick and tired you come clean and tell the truth and determine to do what you always knew you had to do but didn’t have the will or the courage or the desire or the help to begin. Of course that makes it sound so simple when it is often only by bit and bridle and living “many are the torments of the wicked” that one tells the truth and acknowledges sin to oneself, to the Lord, and here’s the hard part, to someone else who loving us will not abandon us to more of the same. It is why we are called to be in community and if we weren’t always putting on a happy face and pretending as if everything is fine and I’m okay, really I am, we might take advantage of what the church was always meant to be; a hiding place where no one hides.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pentecost 3c - 2nd Samuel 11:26 - 12:15

2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:15
“Each one is tempted when, by one’s own evil desire, one is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15) David is not bewitched by Bathsheba’s beauty but consumed by his own evil desire and when his desire conceives he compounds it by killing Uriah. The story that leads up to Nathan’s “you are the man” details David’s desperation to hide his deceit. If Uriah had been more like David and slept with Bathsheba the plan would have succeeded. Of course sooner or later someone would have noticed that Uriah’s boy looked a lot like the King. But when the righteous will not cooperate with evil schemes the only solution is to kill the righteous one. Nathan sent by the Lord is given the unenviable task of speaking truth to power which is why he comes through the back door and tells a story of injustice before identifying David as the villain. That David can become so incensed at Nathan’s story of a rich man taking a poor man’s only lamb and not connect the dots speaks of sin’s power of self deception. David, a man after God’s own heart has broken God’s heart and in continuing to live as if nothing happened David is as dead as Uriah. That power to deceive self is why the accusation “you are the man” which sounds like judgment is actually good news for David for though the he suffers the penalty of sin he is restored to life. It is so for us when Nathans sent by the Lord tell the truth about our infidelity, for all sin is unfaithfulness towards God. In the naming of our sin the Word that forgives is found for the One who was more righteous than Uriah, whose heart melted like wax within him as he hung upon the cross, recreates in us a clean heart and renews within us a right spirit.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pentecost 2c - Conclusion

1 Kings 17:17-24; Psalm 30; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17
All the lessons for Pentecost 2c have happy endings. God hears Elijah’s “Let this child live” and brings the boy back. The psalmist weeping through the night wearing sackcloth is clothed with joy come the morning. Paul the persecutor of the church is chosen by God to proclaim the faith. The young man of Nain hears Jesus’ command to rise and sits up surprising everyone, including himself no doubt. While happy endings are never arrived at easily or quickly the life of faith anticipates the ending on every page of the story. That’s the gift Mil and Lillian and Phyllis give to those of us who have more pages left to turn. It’s always been that way. Joined with the cloud of witnesses who by lived by faith, sure of what they hoped for and confident in what they did not see, they now know fully and see face to face. Each of them in their own way and with the gifts God gave them make our stories more faith-filled by the way they lived theirs. There is no greater tribute than that. Well done, good and faithful servants.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pentecost 2c - Luke 7:11-17

Miracle at Nain by Mario Minniti (1577-1640)
Luke 7:11-17
Two parades meet in the city of Nain. One led by Jesus. The other by a weeping widow. The Jesus parade, having just witnessed the healing of the Centurion’s servant, is following with anticipation expecting something from the prophet from Nazareth who never disappoints. The widow’s parade loudly wailing anticipates nothing as the widow’s only hope is borne lifeless on a bier. The parades meet in the gate where one will have to give way to the other. One might expect the Jesus parade to step aside and show some respect but the prophet from Nazareth filled with compassion will have none of that. “Do not weep” means the widow’s parade is the one that will step aside and when the son sits up the two parades become one because the prophet from Nazareth never disappoints.

My father called yesterday with news that a dear family friend, Phyllis Lucht, died suddenly. She was one who walked her whole life in Jesus’ parade, a kind, generous, compassionate and faithful Christian woman who I remember as always smiling or laughing, filled with the joy of the Lord. While the Lucht family and we who loved Phyllis will walk for a time in the widow’s parade, Jesus met Phyllis in the gate and as she anticipated her whole life the prophet from Nazareth, Jesus her Lord, her Savior, did not disappoint. As it is now true for Phyllis may it be so for us when one day we meet Jesus in the gate of death and he tells us to rise to eternal light and love and life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pentecost 2c - Galatians 1:11-24

I’ve been writing Living the Lectionary from Roots Coffeehouse in North Richland Hills since December 2009 because it’s close to my son Joshua’s school, they’re not a chain so the coffee is more interesting and the Wi-Fi is free. But now Starbucks offers two hours of free internet access if you purchase and register a SB card. Yes, I know that means it’s not technically free, but with school out for summer and an SB on every corner of the planet who cares if their coffee is only a step or two above McDonalds? So with apologies to the folks at Roots, I’m afraid I’ll be blogging this summer from a comfy chair in a satellite of the corporate coffee empire. You don’t have to like the apostle Paul to appreciate what the Lord accomplished through him. Truth is he seems to be rather full of himself for one who will admit elsewhere to being the least of the apostles. That being said it was God who did the choosing and scripture would seem to support the idea that God chooses those who otherwise would be less than acceptable or dare I say left behind. Moses, reluctant and slow of speech, is chosen to speak for I AM. David the youngest brother from the smallest tribe is chosen to be king and although an adulterer and murderer is a man after God’s own heart. Mary of Magdalene, once possessed by seven demons is set free to become the apostle to the apostles, "I have seen the Lord." And Paul, the persecutor of a charismatic but insignificant Jewish sect, is the one whose work and writings birth the church into the Gentile world to change it forever.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pentecost 2c - Psalm 30

Mil Anderson, a now gone to glory member of Calvary, was working in a field hospital on the beaches of Normandy six days after the allied landings. Six months later she was evacuated from Bastogne as the Battle of the Bugle began. Once the tide began to turn she followed the allied advance caring for the wounded and dying often within hearing of the front. A slight but feisty woman she reminded me of my grandmother Lillian Smith who was cut from the same cloth. Coping with adversity, hardship and loss, they did their praying silently and endured patiently whatever was their lot. At the same time, living within the constraints of their era, they pushed back against the boundaries imposed upon them and made it possible for the daughters of our time to achieve more than the women of the greatest generation could have hoped for or even imagined. The psalmist crying out for help to God is clothed in healing with answered prayer. The joy of the morning is known by living through the weeping of the night. Life is brought forth from the experience of going down to the Pit. Dancing springs forth from sackcloth, rejoicing follows grief. Mil and Lillian, and so many like them, lived the movement of this psalm and made strong as a mountain by faith in the Lord, inspire us all to do the same.