Friday, August 31, 2012

Pentecost 14b - conclusion

The Calvary Café opened in the fall of 1999 but it didn’t take off until the spring of 2000. It was Thyme marinated Pork Loin and Mashed Potatoes that brought out the senior citizens who are the reason the café went from a convenience for confirmation parents to “gourmet on paper plates” for Calvary members and more. Over the years the café has grown exponentially and the menus have become more elaborate but the idea of a weekly gathering around food that is “cheap but never common” remains the same. The statues and ordinances given to Israel were for the common good so that they could live together in such a way that God was glorified and the people of God were edified. Psalm 15 celebrates the relationship with friend and neighbor where the walk that is blameless means no harm done. James remembers that his half-brother Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” and so caring for widows and orphans is the way faith is made known. And in the Gospel Jesus speaks for himself about the meaning of all the regulations surrounding the act of eating. I suppose if Jesus were to comment on the café he might say that while Pastor Phil’s “even better than mom’s” Meatloaf doesn’t violate the commandment to honor the one who gave you birth I should come up with another name. To which I might be bold enough to quote the scripture, “speak the truth in love.” Sorry Mom. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pentecost 14b - Mark 7:1-23

Mark 7:1-23

Thank God we’re back to the Gospel of Mark. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not into gluten free Gospels but five weeks of bread, even from heaven, is more than I can stomach. Okay, that might be a little over the top for a lectionary based joke but I don’t think the lectionary needs five weeks to deal with John chapter six. Be that as it may it turns out the Gospel lesson for this week still has something to do with food and the rituals that surround it. I find it noteworthy that things necessary for survival, the very act of eating and drinking, take on additional layers of meaning. But maybe that is the point. Things basic but necessary are always more than ordinary. Many of us are far removed from the production of sustenance, let alone the lack of it, so that we can grab a burger from In and Out (after waiting in a long line of course) and think nothing of the sun and soil and rain and crops and cattle and rancher and farmer and slaughter house and silo and purchaser and packager and shipper and cook and wait staff that eventually put burger on bun with fries on the side. Being disconnected with what goes in (the ordinary act of eating) is not that different from being disconnected with what comes out. (LOL) I don’t mean to be crude, even though I think Jesus did. He was far more pointed than our piety allows us to be. That’s because all our piety tends to limit the mercy of God in the same way all our mercy tends to limit the piety of God.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pentecost 14b - James 1:17-27

Lisa and Josh and 100 bales of hay
James 1:17-27

Martin Luther called James “an epistle of straw” for its less than solid declaration of the Gospel but every time I read it I hear Jesus speaking. I bet that’s because James knew his half-brother better than Luther did even if Luther had the apostle Paul to tell him what he needed to know. (Luther was born again while reading Romans and practically gushes over Galatians) That might be why James reads more like Jesus in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount than Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Of course we Lutherans tend to read everything through the Pauline lens but that being said we’d be well served to apply the lesson of James to the way we live the Gospel. A person who participates in House for All Sinners and Saints suggested that the link to the tab “what we believe” should be “come see what we do” and if you look at it that way the epistle of straw is the brick and mortar of the Gospel house. “So be doers of the word and not merely hearers.” (James 1:22) sounds a lot like “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16-20) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pentecost 14b - Psalm 15

Psalm 15

So I guess verse 5a (do not lend money at interest) means all the bankers are out of luck when it comes to real estate on the holy hill. I’m not a Hebrew history scholar but I’m willing to bet very few people lent anything without expecting something in return so either the holy hill is a vacant lot or there must be another way to walk blamelessly. I think the key verse might be 4c (who stand by their oath even to their hurt) Walking blamelessly and doing what is right while speaking heartfelt truth and not slander is a way of living and being that considers the needs of friends and neighbors and the needy to be as great as one’s own. The reason those who do these things are never moved is because they embody the heart and soul and will of God. From the very beginning God refused to abandon those who were made in the image of God even though they chose to abandon God. That oath led God to the “hurt” of the cross and if there is interest owed on the loan of his life I certainly can’t pay it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pentecost 14b - Deuteronomy 4:1-9

Deuteronomy 4:1-9

It sounds fairly straightforward. Obey and live or don’t and die. For a while it was as simple as that. But then the wise and discerning people figured out that going through the motions worked just as well so that much later God speaking through the prophet Isaiah will lament, “these people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” (29:13) Maybe it was the do or die that confused them. That’s not the best basis for a relationship. Oh, of course there are consequences and rewards in any relationship but what God earnestly desired were people whose hearts were close because they wanted to be close; because they remembered they were slaves in Egypt and God heard their cry; because they remembered God led them through the waste land and did not abandon them though they continually complained; because they remembered the first sight of the land flowing with milk and honey. It turns out the burden God bears is the not so wise and discerning forgetful people God loves. And so God continually reworks what the relationship is supposed to look like – dumbing it down if you will. Like the prophet Micah speaking for God - how about if all you do is act justly; love mercy, and walk humbly with me. Would that work for you?  (6:8) Jesus reduces the whole of scripture and the 613 mosaic laws to two - love God and love neighbor. Now if we could do that we’d really be wise and discerning and I bet folks would notice. So take care and watch yourselves in such a way that you remember to love the God you cannot see as best you can and maybe the neighbor you can see, even a little better.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pentecost 13b - conclusion

I’m blogging from a Starbucks on 55th and University in Chicago, Illinois. Later this afternoon I’ll have the privilege of preaching at former Calvary intern and soon to be pastor Paul Moody’s ordination. Earlier this morning I ran for an hour along Lake Michigan and as is my habit did a little preaching in my mind (and to be honest out loud when I got a little Spirit filled!) It didn’t seem to bother anyone as there a lot of people in Chicago who talk out loud to no one in particular. There’s a lot you want to say in an ordination sermon but I think the most important thing is to remind us all that the one set apart for the sake of the church is set apart for the sake of the Gospel. We are keepers of the flame, so to speak so that people of God are fully equipped through the proclaiming of the Good News and the Spirit’s fire to BE the people of God in the world. Which is to say it is a call to be a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1) to care for God’s people by proclaiming the hope that is neither false nor illusory. Twenty one years ago today a wise man preached at my ordination and reminded me of these very things. So here’s hoping that the message proclaimed to Paul and the gathered congregation will serve them as well as my father’s words have served me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pentecost 13b - John 6:56-69

John 6:56-69

By the end of chapter six the five thousand fed on loaves and fishes have gone home and “many of his disciples” desert him. Only the Twelve are left and as usual Peter gives voice to what they’re thinking. They have come to accept what the crowds cannot and because they believe Jesus is the Holy One of God they aren’t turned off by his “eat my flesh and drink my blood” talk. I don’t think they understand what he is saying any better than those who declare it to be “a hard teaching”, but then accepting doesn’t require understanding. Not that they don’t have limits to what they will accept as in Peter’s “God forbid it!” when Jesus says he will suffer and die and rise again. And when the mob comes to the garden to grab Jesus the Twelve (minus one) find another “to whom shall we go” place to hide until the risen Jesus breaks in on their pity party to prove with nail scarred hands that death itself has died. But for now they are the ones enabled by the Father to believe. We too have been enabled by Spirit filled words to believe what we cannot fully understand and only dimly perceive, that all our best hopes and dreams for the here and now and the forever future are found in the Holy One of God. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pentecost 13b - Ephesians 6:10-20

Ephesians 6:10-20

Being strong in the Lord is not the same thing as being strong. In fact the only way to be strong in the strength of the Lord is to let go of whatever strength you think you might have. Even the self discipline of daily devotionals or spending time in the word and worship can get in the way of surrendering self-sufficiency in order to pick up what God would have us put on. Don’t get me wrong. Acts of piety are helpful but they are not the source of strength that allows one to stand against all that is against us. So the first piece of armor to put on is the belt of truth because everything else attaches to it. We admit the truth about ourselves (that we are our own worst enemies) while confessing the truth about God, who dies so that enemies might be called friends. The breastplate of righteousness cannot be attached to dishonesty therefore our admission and confession makes a place for being right with ourselves and God. The mission of the church is often mired in mud and would have the world worship at its altar but the truth of the Gospel compels feet to go to proclaim peace to those who would never darken the door of our sanctuaries. The shield of faith allows us to live with all that threatens without being threatened by those very same things. And heads fitted firmly with salvation means the “here and now” is fully fitted with the “there and then” which is to say we live the forever future in the present whenever we think of ourselves as eternal creatures.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pentecost 13b - Psalm 34:15-22

Psalm 34:15-22

Psalm 34 declares that even the name of those who do evil will be blotted out from the face of the earth while the Lord will remember the brokenhearted and save those whose spirits are crushed. Of course broken hearts are often brought about by those who do evil and as the prophet Habakkuk points out the wicked prosper long enough for the righteous to wonder why. (Habakkuk 1:1ff) But the psalm declares it is the very act of evil that slays the wicked while those who patiently endure troubles (albeit while crying out for help) will be rescued from whatever condemnation is reserved for those who oppose the way of righteousness. While we might interpret this psalm as being willing to wait for the scales of justice to ultimately and finally balance the equation between good and evil the psalmist sings of justice in the present tense and will not stand idly by while the wicked prosper. That means Psalm 34 might respond to Habakkuk’s question, “How long, O Lord, will the wicked prosper?” with a defiant, “no longer.” And so we live the future, which is the present tense of Psalm 34, whenever we tip the scales of justice in the favor of the troubled while setting our face (and our energy and resources) against those who do evil. The petition, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” has as much to do with our will as God’s.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pentecost 13b - Joshua 24:1-18

Joshua 24:1-18

“Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other god’s” turns out to not be too far from them at all. In the future the prophets speaking for God will lament, “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13) I suppose after forty years in the wilderness you’ll say anything to get some relief in the Promised Land. I’ve read the Old Testament more times than I can count and far be it from me to find times these people pledging faithfulness made good on the promise. Oh there are times they listen to what the Lord is saying (as for me and my house we will serve the Lord) and experience blessing, but the land promised (albeit taken violently from others) is ultimately divided between two kingdoms who hate each other more than they fear their enemies. I think the truth of the scriptures is that it doesn’t sugar coat the story of the people of God who turn out to be just as unfaithful as everyone else. But in the same way that the scripture speaks the truth about us it reveals the unique nature of our God.  Every other god would visit vengeance on promises made but not kept.  This God declares through the crucified and risen Christ, “far be it from me” to forsake you. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pentecost 12b - conclusion

Twenty-one years ago Lisa and I bound our lives together “in freedom and joy” in the Trinity Lutheran Seminary Chapel. The Reverend Dr. Walter Bouman preached the sermon during which he encouraged those in attendance to be “cheerleaders” for our marriage. The Reverend Dr. Leland Elhard presided over the marriage while The Reverend Valerie Elhard presided over the meal. There was a procession with cross and torches and my brother carried the Bible and we had a choir and a brass ensemble that blew us away. Good friends stood with us in the wedding party and family traveled from far and near to celebrate and there were even a few folks from Calvary Lutheran, Fort Worth who made the trip north to witness the event. The reception was downstairs in the Koinonia Center where we ate good food and cut a great cake and Lisa and I danced to Travis Tritt singing “Let’s Hold Hands on the Porch Swing.” Twenty one years later we’re washing horses tonight because they’re dirty which seems to us a good way to celebrate life together even if it doesn’t sound all that romantic. Truth is the freedom and joy with which you bind your lives together has to be stronger than all the other things that bind you and might make loving the other the last thing you are able to do. When all is said and done every day calls us to decide to bind our life to the other. Twenty one years ago we didn’t plan on it but the great gift of our life together are named Joshua and Mary Ruth who are kind and generous and the sort of people you just like because they make you laugh out loud and you know if you ever needed something they’d do their best to help you. They believe in Jesus, which as a preacher I know is important, but more than that they embody the spirit of Jesus which is what the faith is all about. So here’s to twenty-one years of deciding to be bound together as husband and wife and if we get our chickens to stop roosting on the porch swing we might hold hands there again. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pentecost 12b - John 6:51-58

John 6:51-58

This is the Gospel of John’s take on what Jesus meant the meal to be. More than a ritualized remembrance, the living bread from heaven is the life of God in bread baked and grape fermented that at the same time is the real flesh and blood of Jesus.  When she was young and her brother younger still, Michaelann told Austin, “I know it tastes like bread but it’s really Jesus’ body” to which he replied, “Ewwwww.” (and rightly so) That’s the trouble with texts that want to be taken literally and figuratively at the very same time. It is bread but it is really Jesus body. It is wine but it is really Jesus’ blood. Or we might just as easily say it is Jesus’ body but it is really bread. Or it is Jesus’ blood but it is really wine. The Lutheran take on what Jesus meant the meal to be proclaims the paradox and accepts both statements to be true at the very same time. And in the very same way, the simple meal of bread and body, wine and blood, transcends time and space so that joined with Christ we are united with those who are and those who were and those who will be. That is how the forever future feast is fully found in our present even as we remember the past, “in the night in which he was betrayed Jesus took bread…”  It tastes familiar, like the things of the earth we eat at home but as the bread we will eat in heaven it declares what no eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind conceived…. (1 Corinthians 2:9) 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pentecost 12b - Ephesians 5:15-20

Ephesians 5:15-20
If the days were evil when the apostle Paul wrote these words to the Ephesians what are they now?  Truth is every age competes in the evil age idol contest and seems to believe their days are more evil than the ones that came before. There was at least one moment in history when a good number of Christian people thought the world was getting better and better, but that dream died in the trenches of World War One and the church has never fully recovered its optimism for the kingdom come on earth. So should we occupy the street corners and the air waves with doom and gloom and prepare for the worst, declaring our age to be the evil age idol contest winner? I think that would be unwise. If anything is evil it is living comfortable lives singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among ourselves while others suffer and we do nothing about it. If we understand what the will of God is we will sing the song sung among ourselves as loudly as we are able outside the confines of the church. We sill sing the song of suffering that declares evil cannot overpower it; the song of hope that dares evil to defy it; the song of redemption that challenges evil to limit it. The “making melody to the Lord in our hearts” is the song the world needs to hear and if we sing it clearly and with compassion we might, by God’s grace, lose the evil age idol contest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pentecost 12b - Psalm 34:9-14

Psalm 34:9-14
Pleasure and prosperity comes from pursuing peace. We tend to equate pleasure and prosperity with possessions, or at least the resources to live free from want. But it seems no matter how much one has there is always room in our wanting for just a little more. Those who seek the Lord and live in reverent fear – which simply means acknowledging that God is God and we are not – lack nothing that is good. That is not to say life is free of difficulties but rather one’s perspective changes about the transitory nature of the pleasure the world pursues when one is seeking the peace that passes human understanding. To turn from evil and do good is to be at peace with God and self and neighbor which is as good as good gets. L'chaim! To life!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pentecost 12b - Proverbs 9:1-6

Proverbs 9:1-6
Wisdom called to me and invited me in for a body works plus abs class at the West 7th Street LA Fitness (where the pretty people work out). I was the only man in the class and as far as I could tell a good deal older than everyone else as well. Now I’m blogging from Bar Louie where the Calvary Flash Mob will be meeting for an evening of “ask the pastor”. So it’s an afternoon and evening of working out the body and the mind and hopefully walking in the way of insight.  Wisdom is a feminine noun in Hebrew and what she offers, along with wine and bread and roasted meat, is order. The book of Proverbs is dedicated to the premise that the world is ordered along predictable paths and Wisdom knows the rules for living that will make life follow the rules. The book of Ecclesiastes begs to differ and calls that sort of wisdom "vanities of vanities" (btw if you ask this pastor I prefer Qoheleth over Wisdom) but that is a pericope for a different day. So let’s just say that laying aside immaturity, even when the world is not orderly and predictable, is a good thing and leads one to live through less than predicable times in a more orderly fashion. Which is to say a more faithful way – and on that I believe Qoheleth and Wisdom would agree.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pentecost 11b - conclusion

I delivered a load of Pastor Phil's Holy S##t to the Southside Community Garden this morning. The garden provides produce for the Tarrant Area Community Food Bank. (that is when it rains enough to produce produce) There are plans to put in irrigation and with the addition of what Seraphina, Desperado and Panda have to offer there will be good things growing for the hungry in Tarrant County. The Food Bank is a far cry from last night's dinner at Nick and Sam's where we feasted with friends on Chateaubriand and Diver Scallops with Sweet Potato Hash along with champagne and a bottle of red wine well beyond my price range complements of Chef Samir (along with numerous other offerings). It's been over ten years since I spent my sabbatical working in Samir's kitchen (contrary to popular opinion I did not go to culinary school) but he greeted me in a way that blessed me even more than the beautiful dessert plate he sent to the table to celebrate my recent birthday. The bread of life from heaven is like that. I know community gardens that feed the hungry and high dollar Dallas destinations provide sustenance (each in their own way) but the real meal is the relationship around the table that connects us to each other and gifts us with grace that warms the heart and feeds the soul. Elijah is strengthened by bread and water but it is the knowledge that he is not alone that enables him to go on. Delivered from all his troubles David declares, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” The Ephesian text describes the way we “follow God’s example” and live in love which is fine feasting indeed. And Jesus wants us to understand that the only way we can be satisfied is if we eat of the bread of life from heaven which is to believe that Jesus' way of being is what God is about and while imitation is the highest form of flattery, in this case it is the only way to be faithful, which is to say, well fed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pentecost 11b - John 35:41-51

John 35:41-51

“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” It is a legitimate question for those in the crowd “who knew Jesus when” even if they have followed him across the lake expecting to see something more. Of course they didn’t ask any questions when the meager meal was multiplied into a feast for five thousand plus (and twelve doggie bags besides). Everyone likes a magic trick and even if you ask to see it again (but more slowly) you can suspend disbelief for the thrill of the illusion or in this case your fill of fish sandwiches. But when the magician claims a higher status than “watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat – presto - oops wrong hat!”” (Bullwinkle Moose) objections soon follow. After all a good trick accomplished with mirrors is one thing; claiming to be the trick is quite another. “I am the bread of life come down from heaven” is a bigger trick than the crowd can believe or even understand. But then are we any different? We live comfortably within the confines of our religious systems that determine WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) on the basis of personal preference or denominational bias or desire to demonize whoever is not like us. Is it any wonder the world has wearied of the Christian trick and has determined we follow Jesus to feed our belly or ease our conscience or maintain the status quo? But there are moments when we are so captured by the mystery of the bread of life from heaven that we change the way we distribute that bread in the world. Since Jesus claims to reflect the will of the One he calls the Father then God the Father is no different from God the Son and “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do (even though they seemed to know exactly what they were doing) is a bigger deal than feeding five thousand with a few loaves and a couple fish.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pentecost 11b - Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Falsehood is a hard thing to put away since it is so deceptive and evil speech often comes out of our mouths masquerading as truth spoken to neighbor. (The proverbial log in our own eye that is blind to everything except the speck of sawdust in the eye of the other – Matthew 7:3) So we need to make an effort to “put away” what comes naturally and “imitate” what does not. Maybe if we were painfully aware that in grieving others we grieve the Holy Spirit of God we would make every effort to imitate God for God’s sake. (That is if we love God.) So being angry without sinning means we do not nurse resentment or wrap ourselves in indignation as if it were a comforter but seek to resolve whatever grievances we have against each other for the sake of God. And if as beloved children we are truly members of one another then we cannot be whole without forgiving one another as we have been forgiven. So loving the other for God’s sake turns out to be a very good thing for us as well and since we are most often motivated by self interest... forgiving others may be the best way of being selfish.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pentecost 11b - Psalm 34:1-8

Psalm 34:1-8

I've been delivered more than once from “all my terrors” and saved from more “all my troubles” than I care to count so that this fifty-sixth anniversary of the end of my mother’s pregnancy is a cause for proclaiming the greatness of Lord, or more to the point, the incredible mercy and grace that has encamped around me all these years through no effort of my own. Indeed, maybe my parents are more thankful this day than I am for however it happened my life was spared because on more than one occasion they called to God in their affliction and God saved them from all the trouble Phillip caused. The really good news of the day is that I’m not very good at math or memory and so I’ve been thinking that this is the fifty-seventh anniversary of my birth but since I was born in 1956 and not 55 I’m suddenly a year younger than I thought I was. Woo-hoo! So I’m going to celebrate the gift of my mother’s labor (and my father’s time in the waiting room – it was 1956 after all) by making a slow roasted pork with chilies and oranges served over cilantro lime rice along with Olatha sweet corn roasted in the husk and jalapeno honey corn bread. I’ll be eating with our homeless friends who come to Calvary’s Room in the Inn to find relief from the heat and be delivered, if only for one night, from all their troubles. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the gift my parents gave me for even if my mom did most of the work that day the person I am took more than a moment of blood, sweat and tears and the lessons of loving God and caring for others and contending for the poor were the lessons that I learned from parents who believe God gifts us to be a gift to others. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pentecost 11b - 1 Kings 19:4-8

1 Kings 19:4-8

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

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pentecost 10b - conclusion

I've been wearing a green wrist band for the last three weeks as a reminder to pray every day for the staff at Ebert Ranch Camp. Today was their last day with campers which means they can get on with the kind of things we do in the outside world and I can take this band off and stick it on my office door as a reminder to let the memory of the staff and campfires and trail rides and sunsets and silly songs be a prayer for me. I was fortunate – blessed – privileged – gifted – to spend two weeks at Ebert this summer and I’m still living the “joy of the Lord” that I experienced at camp. “I could sing unending songs of how you saved my soul…” Not that the staff doesn’t experience stressful weeks filled with difficult days where making a joyful noise is the last thing they are able to do. They have their own troubles and live into uncertain futures even if they have plans for continuing ministry or school or professions or relationships. But for a summer they step outside the every-day rest of their lives to do some extraordinary things that bless young people and (older) pastors alike. And for that I will sing unending songs… 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pentecost 10b - John 6:24-35

John 6:24-35
John is the only Gospel that details the aftermath of the multiplying feast. The people (well fed) are apparently not satisfied with leftovers (12 baskets of barley loaves) and so chase after Jesus to see what is on the breakfast menu. Jesus rightly calls them out when they ask, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” which means, “Have you baked the bagels and cured the lox?” But Jesus should not be surprised at their desire to be fed on the cheap as we all enjoy a happy hour now and then. That is to say we’d all like to be taken care of, provided for, live in the lap of luxury, etc. etc. etc. But Jesus would have us look beyond what is to what will be so that the work of God, believing Jesus was sent as the sign of what will be and already is, means we no longer lust after that which cannot satisfy. “You wanted breakfast?” Jesus asks. “How about a feast that never ends?”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pentecost 10b - Ephesians 4:1-16

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