Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pentecost 15c - Psalm 1

Psalm 1
The law of the Lord, likened to water by which trees are planted and so thrive, is not to be understood as simply obeying the commandments. Even the wicked can do that. The law of the Lord is love of the Lord. Love of the Lord is mercy, not sacrifice. The advice of the wicked and the path that sinners tread scoffs at those whose delight is to live what the Lord desires; mercy, not sacrifice. Sacrifice is living the letter of the law and anyone with an ounce of self discipline can do that. Mercy is living the spirit of the law and cannot happen apart from the stream of living water that flows from the perfect law of love. That way cannot fail and will not disappoint. When living the law is loving the Lord then there are not enough hours in the day to meditate on the Lord who delights in us as much we delight in him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pentecost 15c - Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
If it were as simple as choosing between life and death, prosperity and adversity we’d all be “living large.” But to choose life and prosperity is to choose obedience and that is the deal breaker. The children of Israel about to enter the land will all voice their choice for life and promise to obey, (Joshua 1) but God knows better and has already predicted the inevitable. “…these people will soon prostitute themselves to foreign gods... they will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.” (Deut. 31:16) So why make the offer if you know the people won’t be able to afford the payments? I think there must be an eternal optimism in the heart of God, an undying hope; or maybe it is just the unconditional commitment of a tough love parent who is willing to suffer silently while waiting for the day when adversity brought about by disobedience will bring the rebellious child back to the bargaining table. “Come let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins be scarlet they shall be white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Of course even that turns out to be a temporary fix for fickle creatures who are not inclined to obey anyone save their own self interest. So when the options were exhausted God sat down at the table and chose death so that the calamity visited upon the Christ might be our prosperity. How can you say no to such a thing? Choose life this day for God has already taken death off the table.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pentecost 14c - conclusion

Proverbs 25:6-7; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13:1-16; Luke 14:1-14
In the world of culinary induced cardiac arrest not many gastronomic inventions can beat the Saucer Bratzel. The SB served without shame at the Flying Saucer, Fort Worth, TX is a large salted soft Pretzel toasted and then topped with slices of Bratwurst and smothered in melted Swiss cheese with a garnish of diced green onion and spicy mustard on the side. It should come with a warning label as no amount of cardio can save you from the calories in this puppy. The SB can’t come close to Kosher so Jesus never experienced heart attack on a plate, but if he had he might have turned it into an object lesson as he did when observing the seating of guests at the dinner party of the Pharisee. The texts for Pentecost 14c can all be found in the Gospel. No doubt the Pharisee and his guests recognized Jesus’ application of the proverb to the party. And the righteous are rewarded in the reordering of the guest list in the same way that the psalmist fears no evil tidings for distributing freely to the poor is its own reward. Whether angels are in attendance or not the hospitality of Hebrews is the praise that pleases in the same way that inviting the poor and lame and crippled and blind is a foretaste of the resurrection of the righteous. And if Jesus had said something about the SB he might have anticipated Paul's word to the Corinthians. “Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial.” Amen to that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pentecost 14c - Luke 14:1,7-14

Luke 14:1, 7-14
Jesus ate and drank with Pharisees as much as he did with tax collectors, and though they would not eat and drink with each other, by eating and drinking with Jesus they had one thing in common. Congregations that have recently left the ELCA will form the North American Lutheran Church next week in Columbus, Ohio and though they will no doubt not recognize the church they’ve left we will still have one thing in common. Now there are those, like my Missouri Synod brothers and sisters, who believe that “close” communion, which closes the communion rail to all but those who are in full doctrinal agreement, protects the meal from those who might otherwise eat and drink in an unworthy manner; but whether we eat and drink at the same table or only the ones we recognize, Christ communes with us all. We have one thing in common. I know denominational lines are important, otherwise why would we spend so much time and energy drawing them, but I am going to suggest that God is not glorified when we exclude each other from the place of grace when trying to protect the Gospel, albeit in the name of the Law. If there is one place Pharisees and Tax Collectors should meet it is at the table of mercy. But while we argue over who is more holy or who is more enlightened, and create more institutions to preserve the integrity of our respective tables, the poor have no home, the crippled can’t stand, the lame stumble and the blind cannot see. It may be too much to expect this side of the resurrection of the righteous but if we would humble ourselves perhaps the poor, crippled, lame and blind would want to eat at the table we are so keen on preserving for ourselves and those who think and behave as we do. You might think I prefer one side over the other but that would miss the point. The table belongs to the Lord and whether we recognize each other or not the Lord has one thing in common. Us. God help Him.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pentecost 14c - Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

“Entertaining Angels Unaware” is one of my favorite songs by Erik Johansson, a Vermonter and part time Texan who restores pipe organs and through his music and prayer the human heart as well, including my own I might add. It’s always my first request when he unpacks his hand made harp, followed closely by my second favorite, a whimsical, sweet song about fishing with a child. They might be the same thing for when the human heart is healed by hospitality the angels are entertained and in our restoration they rejoice. The hospitable life of Hebrews is found in mutual love expressed by loving the stranger, which is the literal meaning of the Greek. It means we remember those in prison as if we were in their place. It is for one’s own being to be tortured by the thought of another’s body violated, as well as grieving for the spirit and soul and mind of the one who devises and inflicts pain upon another. Honoring marriage, resisting the lure of wealth, contentment within one’s self, being thankful for faithful leaders, doing good and sharing what you have are all expressions of the hospitable life in which the angels rejoice and God is pleased. So entertaining angels unaware is not a chance encounter with a cherub, but a life encountered and changed by Jesus, the same yesterday, today and always.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pentecost 14c - Psalm 112

Psalm 112
Evil tidings tend to strike the heart with fear, whether global as in warming or war, or closer to home as in loss of health or employment or relationship. Even the most optimistic must admit we live in an age of uncertainly, but then every age is in its own way insecure. The response of the righteous to uncertain times is not to circle the wagons, retreating behind walls of stricter laws and harsher penalties, nor do they long for an earlier less uncertain time, which is in truth a seeking after Shangri-La. The response of the righteous to evil tidings in every age of uncertain times is to be gracious and merciful. Hearts that are steady in unsteady times distribute freely to the poor, lend themselves and their resources generously and deal justly with all in every circumstance. The wicked see it and scoff, but will gnash their teeth and melt away the longer the righteous persist in being righteous. Whether wealth and riches follow remains to be seen, or perhaps the righteous know that wealth is fleeting and seeking after riches vain glory and like the desire of the wicked comes to nothing. Steady hearts that do not fear live today as if the “I make all things new” endless age was an already though a not yet present reality. And of course it is and will be whenever and wherever the righteous act righteously.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pentecost 14c - Proverbs 25:6-7

The first thing to say is that whatever we say about this proverb it was obviously written to those who had the ability to put themselves forward in the presence of the king. The closest I’ve come to royalty is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and since the royal standard wasn’t flying above the royal apartment the Queen was being royal somewhere else. Apparently no one told her I was coming. I don’t think I’ll be using Solomon’s sage advice anytime soon. So what is to be said about two verses which have little application to those who are not likely to stand or sit in the place of the great? “Don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought” is how the apostle Paul might have applied the text to his audience, the vast majority of whom would never get an audience with the king, unless of course they were being martyred in the coliseum. But it is to those white robed martyrs that the King of the universe says come up here while the kings of the earth, and queens for that matter, are put down from their thrones. I am sure that is not what Solomon meant to say in this proverb, but then my guess is that he might want to follow his own advice when ushered into the presence of the KING of KINGS.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pentecost 13c - Conclusion

Isaiah 58:9-14; Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17

Yesterday morning I went for a run before the sun came up to try to beat the heat, unfortunately the humidity got up an hour earlier and was waiting for me. The air was so sticky with moisture I felt like I was swimming laps. It was not a very fun run to begin with but once I hit my stride and connected to the rhythm of running I felt pretty good. The texts for Pentecost 13 c are about connecting to the rhythm of God’s heart which is what Sabbath is meant to be and do. In Isaiah we connect to the rhythm of God’s heart when we remove the yoke of pointing finger and treacherous talk and honor the Sabbath by offering our food to the hungry. Psalm 103 connects to the rhythm of God’s heart by souls that bless the Lord and forget not his benefits, which is another way of saying remember all God has done for you which is another way of saying, thank you. The rhythm of God’s heart in Hebrews is a consuming fire which would be a frightening thing but for the Holy Hill where the Christ of God was consumed by and for human sin. And the heart beat of mercy in the Gospel of Luke is God’s own Sabbath song so that all who are bent over by spirits of shame or sorrow or guilt or any other debilitating evil might stand up and praise the God who heals us from all our diseases. Connecting to the rhythm of God’s heart can and does happen in the hour we set aside on a Sunday, but it is more a way of life than a way of worship, which come to think of it is really the same thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pentecost 13c - Luke 13:10-17

The woman set free from her aliment praises God while the synagogue ruler standing up straight is actually quite bent over by the rules and regulations he is so keen on keeping. This daughter of Abraham knew her need and for eighteen years had endured the stares and whispers of those whose religious perspective placed the blame squarely on her shoulders. Bad things happen to bad people. This son of Abraham holding a position of prestige and power had no idea that the very things he held as holy prevented him from doing the one thing that would make him holy. God said it this way more than once, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” If the Sabbath is meant to return one to the place of rest modeled by the Creator on the seventh day, then the Sabbath is meant to reconnect one to the God who commanded that rest be observed. Jesus said it this way more than once, “The Sabbath was meant for you. Not you for the Sabbath.” So the Sabbath that reconnects us to the One who commanded it begins with an attitude and not an action, or in this case lack thereof. Reconnecting to God is an attitude of care and concern for all of creation, beasts of burdens and daughters and sons of Abraham, and everyone else for that matter, which leads one to actions that bring healing and peace and justice seven days a week. Or in other words: Sabbath sacrificed for mercy praises God while mercy sacrificed for Sabbath is no rest at all.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pentecost 13c - Hebrews 12:18-29

Hebrews 12:18-29

Accept the grace of God or else get burned. Not the best way to start a Wednesday afternoon, but then this text is not about nice. It’s about the living God, a consuming fire that shakes things up. I will admit I prefer the “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” image of God, so of course I will try to paint the “our God is a consuming fire” warning from heaven in a more friendly light. It may not be that hard if the mediator of the new covenant, whose blood speaks a better word than Abel, speaks for us. Then maybe a consuming fire and a warning from heaven, from which we cannot escape, is good news even if we don’t heed the warning. For we do not come to a mountain of fire and smoke that makes one tremble and faint for fear but to a holy hill where the God who is a consuming fire was himself consumed by the cross so those who do not heed warnings might become the righteous made perfect. So what’s the point of a warning word if everyone gets off scot-free? That misses the point. No one gets a pass on judgment for the truth is we are all guilty to one degree or another. But judgment is the penultimate word, which is just a fancy way of saying it is not the last word. The last word, the ultimate word, is that God will remove created things fatally flawed so that gifted with a new kingdom that cannot be shaken we might worship with reverence and awe the living God, a consuming fire forever connected by love to the creation.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pentecost 13c - Psalm 103:1-8

Psalm 103:1-8
My soul is blessing the Lord today as I remember a benefit that has graced my life for nineteen years. On the afternoon of August 17th, 1991 in the Trinity Lutheran Seminary Chapel within a full blown LBW setting two festival liturgy, complete with three pastors, Bible and torch bearers, brass ensemble, tympani and choir, Lisa and I promised each other that come what may we would live the rest of our lives by the vows we exchanged that day. While the married life remains romantic, it is mostly about not forgetting, and I don’t mean anniversaries. It’s about an every day not forgetting that the benefit that is a blessing is found in living the vows. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health I am yours and you are mine to have and to hold, to honor and to keep in a covenant of life long faithfulness. It is the ultimate act of surrender and trust and even when we don’t do it very well, when the worse obscures the better, when our own poverty forgets the richness of relationship, or sickness of soul the health that is found in warm embrace and tender touch, even then, especially then, the benefit not forgotten is remembering that “I love you” is as much an act of the will as it is the heart. We said it this way nineteen years ago, “in freedom and joy I bind my life to yours.” Of course sometimes we say it this way, “good thing I love you.” The blessing of the soul not forgetting the benefit is that after nineteen years you’d do it all again in a heart beat. Thank you, Lisa, for gracing my life with yours. In freedom and joy I’d do it all over again because it is a really good thing to love you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pentecost 13c - Isaiah 58:9-14

Isaiah 58:9-14
We should not miss the connection between satisfying the needs of the hungry and afflicted and calling the Sabbath a delightful holy day. But then we’ve reduced the Sabbath to an hour obligation on a Sunday and even then often can’t wait until released by “Go in peace. Serve the Lord” we go off to serve ourselves. But keeping the Sabbath has less to do with worship or resting from labor and more to do with restoring relationships which, of course, is what worship and rest are designed to accomplish. But we trample the Sabbath when our gatherings are yoked to the pointing of the finger and evil talk over slights and offenses real or imagined without making any attempt to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We trample the Lord’s day when our Sabbaths wrapped in respectability and self righteousness don’t call into question our relentless pursuit of our own way, our own interests; our own affairs and our neglect to care for the “least of these.” If calling the Sabbath a delight is delighting in the Lord then it follows that the day must be about whatever delights the Lord. I think what delights the Lord most is when the lines between you and me or us and them are erased and we see that we are in this thing together. When in our Sabbath gatherings we care more about what difference we make in this parched and dry land than any of the things churches argue about the Lord is delighted. Then living the love of Christ like a well watered garden and a never ending spring we refresh this weary world with acts of kindness and mercy to make every moment of every day Sabbath. And in that the delighted Lord skips for the sheer joy of it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mary the Mother of our Lord - conclusion

The Annuciation
Isaiah 61:7-11’ Psalm 34:1-9; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 1:46-55
“Mary is the highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ. She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures.” (Martin Luther - Christmas sermon 1531) Teachings on Mary’s perpetual virginity, her immaculate conception, (that she was conceived in the normal way yet without sin) or her assumption into heaven have little or no basis in scripture. On the other hand Lutherans have historically not given Mary her due, relegating her to a once a year supporting role in the parish Christmas pageant. Luther wrote in 1521 “One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God's grace.” The lessons for the Sunday when we rightly honor Mary, the Mother of our Lord, direct us to the least and the lowly, which is what Mary was before being elevated to “the highest woman and noblest gem in Christianity.” Isaiah imagines those once clothed in shame and disgrace wrapped in robes of righteousness wearing garments of salvation. David, a poor man calling on the Lord saved from all his troubles, remembers a day of deliverance so that the afflicted will taste the goodness of God and rejoice. When the time had fully come Mary gave birth and God entered the closed circle of death so that the Galatians weighed down by the Law might be set free by the Gospel along with the rest of the world. And Mary, the blessed lowly servant sings the song of the future, rejoicing in God her Savior despite the danger the Lord’s favor might bring her, because she believes what she has been told. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mary the Mother of our Lord - Luke 1:46-55

Luke 1:44-55
After three days of blogging on the texts for Mary the Mother of our Lord we finally get around to saying something about Mary, although I think this text is mostly about letting Mary speak for herself. “My soul magnifies the Lord…” is how she begins, even though the great thing that has been done to her is hardly a favor for a young bride to be. Seeing beyond the trouble coming her way she sings the promise of the future in her less than promising present. She sings God’s remembrance of the forgotten, those of little consequence, in a world dominated by the powerful. She sings the mercy of God, who lifts up the lowly and satisfies the hungry with good things while the proud are left to live their illusions. Mary blessed by every generation, not because she was worthy but because she was willing, sings of hope with humility which is why she is the highly favored one. The church, with good intention and out of devotion, has put her on a pedestal and maybe that is where the Queen of Heaven belongs. But I can’t help but think that the young girl who bore and birthed the Word made flesh would prefer it if our souls magnified the Lord by filling the hungry with the good things we take for granted. When we, like Mary, sing the hope of the future and work to make it come true in whatever less than promising present in which we live, God is glorified and Mary the Mother of our Lord is blessed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mary the Mother of our Lord - Galatians 4:4-7

Galatians 4:4-7
After rejoicing in the freedom of the Gospel the Galatians have been bewitched back into the familiar. Like the older son in the parable of the prodigal, they work hard for everything even when in Christ everything is free. For the Galatians the Gospel might work in theory, but it is not nearly as helpful for holy living as a healthy dose of the law. And more to the point the law is a checklist clearly defined and therefore trustworthy. Blessings flow from obedience. Disobedience leads to death. It is this closed system that God enters when at the right time the Son is born into the world of the law with its rules and regulations and requirements to redeem those who lived under the law. One might assume that redeeming those under the law would require the One born of a woman, born under the law to obey the law, but apparently that was not part of the plan. In fact, it would appear the opposite is what God had in mind. Even a quick comparison of Torah law and the stories surrounding Jesus lead to a multiple count indictment of the Nazarene. The demands of the law require that Jesus be cut off from the land of the living forever. Instead this law breaker is resurrected, which must mean disobeying the law is not as damning as the Galatians have been led to believe. So how can Jesus be the example of one tempted in every way, yet without sin, if he so clearly disobeyed the rules required by the covenant? It is because Jesus lived the Gospel the Law was always meant to embody. “I desire mercy not sacrifice” is how God says it on more than one occasion. The Spirit sent into hearts reveals the truth of the redeemed relationship. In Christ law lovers are those who live the law of love.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mary the Mother of our Lord - Psalm 34:1-9

Psalm 34:1-9
The preface of the Eucharistic liturgy begins with the words, “It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you…” It is a right and dutiful joy to give thanks without regard for current context, even though from our perspective some times and places prompt more praise than others. David wrote this psalm remembering a less than praiseworthy time when fleeing from Saul he had to feign insanity to escape Achish, (aka Abimelech) the king of Gath. (1 Samuel 21:10-15) David’s deliverance, albeit by deception, puts praise on his lips which presumably the afflicted hear and rejoice. It is not rejoicing for David’s sake, but for the sake of his witness to the LORD who delivered him from fear and saved “this poor man” out of all his troubles. The dutiful joy of giving thanks at all times and in all places is only possible for us when we believe (or maybe merely hope?) that “taste and see that the Lord is good” is true. We do this, not from the perspective of our current contexts, but because the meal both remembers Jesus who for us was stricken, smitten and afflicted, whose face shamed by agony bore our grief and our pain, and at the same time anticipates the day when with upturned faces we will reflect the glory of his resurrected radiance. The past and future meet in our present time and place when duty and joy is expressed in thanksgiving for the place of refuge, this meal, this Eucharist, this Jesus who is the Christ.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mary the Mother of our Lord - Isaiah 61:7-11

Isaiah 61:7-11
It seems to me the prophet Isaiah always talks about the future as if “the garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness” have already come back from the cleaners and are hanging in the closet. Isaiah is the prophet who casts the vision of the forever feast on the holy mountain where the vast multitude eats rich food and sips fine wine while God dines on death. He imagines the lion lying down with the lamb without licking its lips. Isaiah proclaims the way in the wilderness by which the ransomed return, where the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb shout for joy. These words of promise were written to those whose lot was dishonor, who sold into slavery suffered shame as they sat by the waters of Babylon and wept. But somehow in the speaking of what must have seemed beyond believing the dream came true and the ransomed returned to Zion singing the very songs their captors had used to torment them. Granted, the return was not as neat and tidy as the words on the page. The dream does come true, it is experienced, but only in part, a present reality and a not yet. It can be true for us as well, when robed in righteousness and clothed in garments of salvation by the grace of God, we return from exiles of our own design or those designed for us. When we join God in loving justice and working against the ways of robbery and wrong doing in all its various forms, including those dressed in respectability and protected by power. When shame and dishonor, whether real or imagined, is replaced with something resembling everlasting joy by an act of kindness or a word of encouragement, the future breaks into the present, and we live the dream, if only for a moment, as if already awakened into the future forever feast.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pentcost 11c - conclusion

Genesis 15:1-6; Psalm 33:12-22; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:32-40
I stated flirting with a cold on Tuesday morning and now we’re dating. Don’t tell Lisa! It is one of those colds that are not bad enough to keep you in bed all day but just bad enough that you seriously consider it. So I’m loaded up on daytime cold meds and drinking plenty of fluids and doing what has to be done. The texts for Pentecost 11c are about doing what has to be done despite the difficulty of the day. Abraham lives as one who believes even though the Lord has not yet delivered on the promise. The psalmist’s heart rejoices in times of famine and trouble because of hope in unfailing love. The Hebrews 11 list hoping against hope lived as if the promise not realized had already been delivered and the things not seen were fully visible. And the little flock lives without fear because the big M “trust me” is fully trustworthy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pentecost 11c - Luke 12:32-40

Luke 12:32-40
This is where God’s “trust me” rubber hits the road. It is all well and good when “trust me” means the capital M me does the heavy lifting. It is a different story when gifted with the kingdom, have no fear little flocks are expected to carry their own weight. Trust me means follow me and follow me means trust me. You can’t have one without the other. Faith is passionate not passive. But if this is the measure of a trust that follows – sell your possessions and give to the poor – then most of us must admit our trust falls short of worthy. But then being continually dressed for service is not about carrying our own weight, otherwise Jesus is just another version of a do this don’t do that debit credit system. No. Being continually dressed for service means being clothed in the cross where Jesus did the heavy lifting once and for all. The kingdom is gifted, not earned. The purse that will not wear out was purchased for us and Jesus is the treasure that will not be exhausted and the heart’s true home. And the capital M master is already dressed to serve returning in the here and now when have no fear little flocks gather at table to dine on bread and wine. Our waiting and watching with lamps lit takes on a different meaning when instead of an end time event the unexpected hour is continually coming in the here and now. We are Christ present for each other so that strength to endure another day is found despite our faltering courage. Every act of random kindness, every generous gift of grace, every word of mercy that mends broken relationships is a kingdom come moment. And the good news is that God proves trustworthy even when we are not. Which means even trust me is a gift.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pentecost 11c - Hebrews 11:1-16

The trust in me theme of Pentecost 11c continues with what must be acknowledged as the trust poof text. :) Faith “the assurance of things hoped for and the confidence in things not seen” is the version I memorized and the meaning, no matter how it is translated, has served me well. That being said I must confess that I am not a confident Christian, but I do have confidence in Christ. By that I mean I have all kinds of doubts about myself and my life of faith but no doubts about the one in whom I trust. But that shouldn’t surprise you or me, nor should we lament the truth about ourselves. I believe confident Christians are not all they are cracked up to be and a healthy dose of doubt means the life of faith is no walk in the park, which may be what the life of faith is all about. I hope in things that have been promised but not delivered. I have confidence in what I cannot see, the better country for which I long, and believe it is more real than the one in which I presently live. The Hebrews 11 list of those who lived by faith is not a list of faith super stars, but those who hoping against hope lived as if the promise not realized had already been delivered and the things not seen were fully visible. Put your name in the Hebrews 11 list, you less than confident Christian, for the word to them is the word to us. Believe in what you cannot see. Trust me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pentecost 11c - Psalm 33:12-22

Psalm 33 continues the “trust me” theme of Genesis 15. Though kings trust in the size of their army and warriors the size of their biceps the one who trusts in the Lord hopes in unfailing love. It means like Abraham we look to the mystery of the unlimited heavens and beyond counting stars, look up to the One who looks down, opening our hearts and minds in holy waiting to abiding hope until unfailing love rests gently upon us. It is unfailing love that satisfies our spiritual hunger, unfailing love that brings us back from the brink of death dealing despair, unfailing love that is our help and our shield in times of trouble. This would be a vain hope for deliverance if the Holy One had only looked down from heaven and in this we rejoice, that when the time had fully come and the waiting world could wait no longer God’s unfailing love left heaven and inhabited flesh and blood so that we could know as we are known and see as we are seen. God’s word through the psalmist is the word to us. Trust me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pentecost 11c - Genesis 15:1-6

Landscape with Stars (Henri-Edmond Delacroix 1856–1910)
Confirming the covenant by looking at stars too numerous to count is hardly proof of the promise. But that is the way it has been with Abraham and God. In the same way God’s “trust me” was enough for Abraham to leave his people and his father’s household for a promised land he had never seen, so too God’s “trust me” is enough for Abraham to believe what appears less likely with each passing year. Abraham’s believing “trust me” despite the delay in God making good on the promise is reckoned as righteousness, which is a way of saying the Lord and Abraham are BFF because friendship is a relationship of trust. So too for we who have not seen and yet believe; who following the Lord anticipate the promise of eternal life in a land beyond without having been there; who trust that despite the difficulties of each day prayers offered are heard and God’s grace and mercy and love is as boundless as the stars that cannot be counted. The word to Abraham is the word to us. Trust me.