3 Lent 2017 – John 4:5-26

In Nomine Iesu

The story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well is a story with many interesting levels of meaning. Unfortunately, most of this time, and in the past even from this pulpit, we get distracted by the Samaritan woman. She’s an easy target, low-hanging fruit for the moralistic fruit pickers. Five marriages and now living with number six, probably because the rabbis and the rest of the community have more or less given up on her. We’re quick to judge, to make assumptions, to condemn. Because that’s what religious people do best. Continue reading

2 Lent 2017 – John 3:1-17

In Nomine Iesu

Abram was 75 years old when he was uprooted by the call of God, taken from his comfortable home in Ur of the Chaldees and given to wander as an alien in the land of Canaan for the rest of his life. God made a three-fold promise, as covenant, with Abram. The Lord would make him a great nation, the father of many, even though at the time, Abram and his wife Sarai had no children. His descendants would inherit the land one day, the land that Abram lived in as a foreigner. And through the Seed of Abraham, his singular offspring, all nations of the earth would be blessed. Abram was blessed to be a blessing. Continue reading

1 Lent 2017 – Matthew 4:1-11

In Nomine Iesu

Sin begins almost imperceptibly. The little lie. The half-truth. It’s that little tiny error when you release the bow and let the arrow fly that causes you to miss the mark. Perhaps that’s why the word for sin, “harmatia,” means literally missing the mark. The miss looks huge at the end when the arrow flies way off target. But the error in the beginning was almost imperceptible. You golfers know this. A slight twitch. A breath at the wrong moment. Just a tiny hair off on the angle of the club can be the difference between birdy and bogey. It’s that little wayward glance that leads to adultery. That little petty theft that leads to grand larceny. In the Greek tragedies, “hamartia,” sin, is that tiny little misstep that sets into motion a chain of events that ends in tragedy. Like the innocent little snowball that triggers the avalanche that buries the town. Continue reading

Magnificat! (Bach Chorale Vespers – 20 November 2016)

Magnificat anima mea Dominum. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” pregnant Virgin sings. “My life makes the Lord very great, enlarges, amplifies Him. Don’t look at me, look at Him. He is mighty and merciful and holy. He puts down the proud, He lifts up the humble. He fills the hungry, He empties the full. He keeps His promises. My soul magnifies the Lord.” Magnificat anima mea Dominum.

The life of faith not a selfie.
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1 Timothy 1:12-17 /11 September 2016

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

When it comes to the lost, the Lord never gives up. The lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, you, lost in Sin and Death. He never gives up. He came to seek and to save the lost. He came into the world to save sinners. Not His friends but His enemies. Not saints but sinners. It’s called “grace,” kindness undeserved and unmerited. “Love to the loveless shown.”
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Luke 16:19-31

This morning’s parable from Jesus sounds like more on money, the evils of riches, and concern for the poor, but it actually isn’t. It’s actually about faith and the Word. Rich and poor are incidentals. Important incidentals but incidentals nonetheless.

There was a rich man and there was a poor man. It doesn’t get more binary than that, does it? The poor man was named Lazarus, the same as Jesus’ good friend from Bethany, the brother of Mary and Martha. Jesus’ friend was not a poor beggar. He owned a home and lived with his sisters. The Lazarus in this story was poor and begged in the streets. We don’t know the name of the rich man, which is kind of strange. The Lord who knows and calls us by name doesn’t give the rich man a name. He’s a kind of generic, faceless stand-in. One who would knock on the Lord’s banquet door only to hear, “I don’t know you. Name’s not on the list. What’s the name again?” In the town, everyone knew the rich man’s name and probably very few knew Lazarus’ name. Not so with the Lord.
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1 Timothy 1:12-17 / 11 September 2016

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

When it comes to the lost, the Lord never gives up. The lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, you, lost in Sin and Death. He never gives up. He came to seek and to save the lost. He came into the world to save sinners. Not His friends but His enemies. Not saints but sinners. It’s called “grace,” kindness undeserved and unmerited. “Love to the loveless shown.”
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Luke 8:26-39 / 19 June 2016

Jesus arrived by boat in the region of the Gerasenes, opposite Galilee. Gentile country. Outsiders to Israel. He came to seek and to save the lost, even if the lost were not the lost of Israel. His greeting party was a naked man who was possessed by a literal “legion” of demons. He was homeless. He lived in the caves where the tombs were. The townspeople had seized him and put him in shackles, but he broke them and fled to the wilderness. He came to greet Jesus.
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Luke 7:36-50 / 12 June 2016

Forgiveness and love go together. The one who is forgiven much, loves much. The one who is forgiven little, loves little. So it stands to reason that it would be to our advantage to be in the maximum forgiveness receiving place so that we might love much. It also stands to reason that the reason we may not love as much as we could or should is that we don’t realize how forgiven we are. Of course, that would require a good hard look at our Sin, and we all know that it’s easier to look at the sin of others than it is our own.
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Luke 7:11-17 / 5 June 2016

The younger the person, the greater the crowd at the funeral. It’s almost a hard and fast rule. When the young die, there is a heightened sense of outrage and grief. There is no “life well lived,” no litany of life achievements, no triumphal obituaries, no sense of “mission accomplished” at the end of a long life or “I did it my way” swagger. There is only a sense of tragedy, hopelessness, despair, unfairness. Where was God to help? Why did God let this happen? When the young person is the only son of a widowed mother, the tragedy is squared. He was her only son, the joy of her life, all that she had left, her only source of support. And now he was dead and she had to do what no mother wants to do. Bury her child. The grief was as great as the crowd that had gathered.
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