Archive for September, 2009

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 9:38-50


1.  Way Insermon

More and more of us are eating less salt

Reducing sodium is healthy

reduced sodium salt?

salt substitutes

Face it, we miss it

but we get used to it

esp. those who have “medical wake-up calls”

Salt is also a preservative

found in canned and prepared foods

country ham, cured with salt

supposed to be a southern delicacy, but I hate it

Biblical context

uses for salt – important substance for them

taste was important

preservative qualities more essential

“salted with fire” (v.49) refers to preservative/purifying qual. of salt

significance of salt

Lev. 2:13, “include salt with all of your offerings”

covenant ritual – these uses show how precious

mixing salt in the hands of those making cov.

kingship of David sealed with a salt cov. [2Chro. 13:5]

oil for priestly anointing includes incense and seasoned with salt (Exo. 30:35)


This is background for why Jesus used salt in his lesson to Disc.

they were familiar with use of salt

like fishing and farming

2.  Tell the Story – recap gospel account

3.  So What?

have salt in yourselves

don’t be like salt that has lost its saltiness (salinity?)

no taste

like adding sand to mashed potatoes

no preservative

useless to keep food with, unhealthy

salt without saltiness is to lose the essence

salt-less salt is no good

has to be thrown out

take salt within yourselves

spice up your life

preservative – keeps alive

purifies, cleanses

traditional sign of covenant

And be at peace with one another

having salt within ourselves is not where it ends

with these new qualities of life

be changed in how we relate to others

peace not just limited to absence of war

wholeness, well-being, completeness

be filled with seasoning and preserving salt that Jesus provides, and be at peace

take in what Jesus offers

seasoning, purifying

power to spice up your life

and preserve it

precious – binding a covenant, seasoning an anointment


promise of permanence (God is the only really permanent One)

and let that “flavor” how you treat others

Paul says, When writing to the church at Colossus, Paul reminds the church of what Jesus said.  “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time,” he says that they must, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”  Paul reminds the church, including this one, about the saltiness we should be filled with…you remember, the salty seasoning that fills us so that we may be at peace with one another? (Col. 4:6)

be at peace: live beyond dispute and promotion of self-interest

look for ways that bring harmony

Remember how today’s reading started out?

the disciples came to Jesus with a “problem”

tattle tales: Jesus, we say somebody casting out demons in your name

we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us

Maybe they needed a lesson in how to deal with outsiders

Jesus had given the disciples the authority to cast out demons in his name

but he never told them there wouldn’t be anybody else doing it, too

yet the disciples went to tell

because this person wasn’t one of them, he wasn’t following them

The rest of what Jesus said was a lesson about being so concerned with who is in – and who is out – who belongs, and who doesn’t


.  “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Be filled with what I have been teaching you, and learn from me.

      Take within yourselves this sense of peace

                  that has qualities like salt to make things taste better,

                  and to preserve things.

This should remind them of the temple rituals

      marking God’s covenant with Israel with salt,

      that those who God has chosen would be for God’s forever.

Remember this covenant; remember also what you have been taught.

      Do this, he says, and be at peace with one another.

      Don’t quarrel and argue about who’s in and who’s out.


But Jesus,

      There are people coming around who don’t look like us or talk like us.


What gives you the right to decide how to look or talk?

      “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

But Jesus, they don’t do things like we do, and they don’t do like we tell them.

      Who died and made you God?

      “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”


Let us pray …


Lord, Jesus.  Teach us what it means every day to live as your faithful people in a world that changes right before our eyes.  We go shopping and hear languages from the tongues of our neighbors that we don’t understand.  Habits and customs that have always been around are being replaced by new ways of doing things by people who we didn’t used to know.   We see real-life horror and terror in the news everyday that used to scare us to death in the movies.  Yet we yearn to be filled with your teaching, to claim our part of the covenant God made with us in you.  Help us, we pray, to have salt in ourselves and be at peace with one another.  So may it be with us.  Amen.


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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 8:27-38



1..Way In

Today’s gospel reading is about identity

as Jesus prepares the disciples for their work, he gets them talking about who he (Jesus) is

Identity – who  you are – who you really are

I saved a copy of the obituary and an op/ed piece about Ann Richards, former Gov. of Texas who died in Sept., 2006 at age 73

I appreciate Ann Richards’ story

no matter where you are on her politics

and if you knew about her, I am sure you were never ambivalent about her

following her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic national convention in Atlanta,

she was said to have a sense of fun, irreverence, and general cussedness

Ann Richards was also an alcoholic

in 1980, close friends forced her into rehabilitation

Richards said later that their intervention saved her life

she refers to her recovery from alcoholism and 26 years of sobriety as “one of the great, great stories of her life.”

she didn’t try to hide the fact she was a recovering alcoholic

Ann R faced her recovery and took steps to take control of her disease one day at a time

a story in the NY Times tells how she…

wrote encouraging letters to others in recovery

another politician left rehab wondering how on earth he was going to avoid drinking on his own

when he got home well after midnight, he found Ann Richards at his home waiting for him

as governor of TX she started treatment programs in state prisons

when she visited, she always introduced herself to the inmates by telltag 1ing the truth about who she was; “My name’s Ann, and I’m an alcoholic.”

That’s who Ann Richards was – her identity – in truth

who are we?

2.  Tell The Story

Setting: following the feeding of 4,000 (8:1f.)

How can one feed these people with bread in the desert?

Jesus asked how many loaves the D. had

There were 7 loaves, and the people ate and were filled

7 baskets left over

followed by another feeding story (8:14f.)

out in the boat, nobody brought any bread

Jesus, “Do you still not understand?”

wasn’t there enough when we fed the 5,000; and the 4,000?

“DO you not yet understand?”

Journey continues through the villages of Caesarea Philippi

Conversation as they travel

Who do people say that I am?

John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets

Who do you say that I am?

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah

Jesus sternly ordered them not to tell anybody

Jesus went on to describe what would happen to him

he “the Son of Man” would undergo great suffering

be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes

be killed

after 3 days, to rise again

Peter rebuked Jesus for saying this

Jesus rebuked Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”

you are setting your mind on human things not divine things

Then Jesus addressed the crowd

if any of you want to follow me …

deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow

those who want to save their life will lose it

and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it

3.  So What?

Significance of Peter confessing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah

against religious and political establishments

Religious officials did not recognize Jesus as Messiah

Politically the Emperor was Lord of the world

Who do we say Jesus is?  Who do I say, who do you say?

Jesus is not interested in how we report on what others are doing

Just like the trooper who stopped me on I75-S going to Piqua last winter

a lot of other people were speeding

but I was the one she clocked, and pulled over

Kazy was away, and I was covering for her

I was to conduct a funeral, and I was running late

I got lucky, did not receive a ticket

I was wearing my clerical collar

the trooper said, “just slow down father.”

Jesus was probably not very proud of me that day

running late because of poor planning

I didn’t try to emphasize the collar I was wearing

maybe it gave me a little credibility, ok, well I can think so anyway

Jesus does not need to hear from us about who we think is or is not doing right – Jesus already knows about them

Jesus already knew what everybody else was saying about him, the good and the bad

He told Peter that he was the rock of the church because of his faith, not because he was the best tattle-tale

And I think he already knew the contents of Peter’s heart before he asked him the question

But Jesus wanted Peter to have the chance to say it out loud, to form the words himself

Peter’s confession of Jesus as Messiah and his role as a disciple gave him a rule from which to measure his life

Even when he denied Jesus later, after he was arrested, he was still Peter the Rock

Not one of his best days, but he was still the one, Jesus didn’t take the keys away from him

He was forgiven and reconciled, and he was still the Rock

And I think Jesus knows the contents of our hearts, too

But he asks the question anyway, to give us the chance to say it out loud, to establish a rule from which to measure our lives

The question he asks is, “Who do you say that I am?”

Like with Peter, he’s not looking for tattle-tales about what everybody else is doing….he already knows about them

Jesus wants to know who do I say he is?  He’s asking you, too.  Who do you say that he is?

Who do we say he is in the way we live our lives?

 … in the way we spend our time?

… in the way we spend our money?

… in the way we act, especially when we think nobody’s looking?

… in the life and ministry of our church?

… in how we direct the resources of our church?

… our time and our money?

We have the rest of our lives to answer the question,

In fact, the rest of our life is the answer to the question

For Peter’s answer, Jesus blessed him

Will he bless me for my answer?  Will he bless you?

So may it be with us …wordle who

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 7:31-37



1.  Way In

I would say that I am a pretty good cookOpened wooden gate decorated with green climbing plant..

Never mind about that, though.  I love to cook, and I love to eat.

I love trying new things

and I will try most anything

we have already talked about beets and mushrooms

maybe I didn’t mention that I hate liver, too

but I will eat Braunschweiger (go figure)

I learned to cook watching my parents

Daddy did most of the “fancy stuff”

still makes the 2nd best pecan pie I ever ate (Grandmother is 1st)

throws dinner parties all the time

his friends and neighbors in Colorado especially like his seafood gumbo (again 2nd best to Grandmother)

learned to make scrambled eggs and grits from Momma

learned to cook on the grill from Daddy

he’s switched to gas

I still love the flame-up when I light the starter-soaked charcoal

also lessons from watching Grandmothers

Me maw’s yeast rolls

literally melt in your mouth

never got the hang of it

loved my Grandmother’s kitchen in house on Davis Bayou, MS Gulf Coast

cooked fish and shrimp the day they were caught out of the bayou in the front yard

loved the way the kitchen filled with smells and flavors when she boiled shrimp

thick with smell of cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, Zatarain’s seasoning

you could taste the air

sisters and girl cousins would always squeal when Granddaddy “dropped” a live blue crab on the floor

he seemed to always “drop” one between the sink and the pot

then we marveled with disbelief when he picked the crab up off the floor

with his bare hands

special place to grip, by the paddle-ish rear legs

 he never got pinched

Never got these down like either grandmother

Me maw had written recipes

Grandmother didn’t

I never will be able to do it just like them

In fact, I guess I’ll never cook anything as good as any of my parents or grandmothers

but I learned a thing or two by watching

and I had the benefit of learning from my parents

who learned from their mothers – masters in the kitchen

the first thing I remember cooking by myself was breakfast

eggs, grits, and biscuits

not ready to fry bacon yet

I was about 12

I had a cookbook (Betty Crocker’s for Kids)

told how to scramble the eggs

how many minutes to cook, etc.

but I could tell when they were ready

I knew the consistency from watching Momma

same with the grits

recipe on the bag

but I knew how to tell when they were thickened up by looking at them

biscuits – the kind in the cardboard tube

label said to cook 7 minutes or 12, whatever they say

until tops were “golden brown”

I knew what golden brown looked like on a biscuit

from watching Momma

in the same way I know how to tell

when the shrimp turn the right shade of pink

when the charcoal is ready to cook

Learning to cook opened up a wonderful world for me

I love to create something delicious (or at least, good to eat)

especially for guests

there’s a certain confidence in being able to cook

can take care of yourself

know how things will turn out if you do it just right

confident you will satisfy your guests

I love to shop for ingredients that seem exotic

saffron, rice wine, won ton wrappers, kale, herbs de provence,

different cheeses, breads, and olives

Wegmans, Decatur/Dekalb Farmer’s Market, Vincent’s Market


went to see the movie Julie and Julia on Friday

wonderful story about Julia Child and a huge fan

mentioned how Julia Child opened up the art of French Cooking to Americans

I appreciate the idea of opening up

of taking the chance at trying something – something new

and how that can open up a new world

2.  Tell the Story

Jesus opened somebody’s world in today’s gospel lesson

some people brought a man to Jesus

when he was in the region of the Decapolis

region of 10 cities, east of Sea of Galilee

the man was deaf with a speech impediment

they asked, “they begged,” Jesus to lay his hand on the man

people knew about Jesus and his power to heal

Jesus took the man away from the crowd a bit

put his fingers in the man’s ears

then he spat and touched the man’s tongue

not exactly the way you might engage a stranger

but think about treating a sick child

what would you do to help?

especially your own child or one you’re very close to

I won’t go into detail,

some procedures I have performed on my children

that I never would have imagined doing to anybody

this is how compassionate Jesus was for this man

the same passion he has for all of God’s people

looking up to heaven

he sighed

sense of the Greek word is more like a complaint or a groan

seems a deep sense of compassion and care for the man

said to the man evffaqa,

“be opened”

Immediately, the man’s …

ears were opened

tongue was released

spoke plainly

Jesus ordered the people not to tell what they had seen

but the more he told them, the more zealously they proclaimed it

they were astounded

“He has done everything well

he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak

3.  So What?

With compassion, Jesus opened this man’s world

powerful moment of healing, compassion

the sensitive/sensual care for this man – child of God

Jesus brought what it tool to help this man be opened

Jesus was “out there”

interesting observation at Heritage Festival in Piqua

first, an awesome event – you should check it out

lots to do, and see

local history, heritage, culture

re-enactments, pre-1870s encampments of

French soldiers

native American tribes

trappers, traders

food, lots of food tents

Cajun food tent, sponsored by a fishing club

food from a new restaurant opening soon

I made several visits

red beans and rice, jambalaya, catfish

lots of questions about the food

is it hot – spicy

people seemed very concerned, reluctant to try

cooks were making it mild, on purpose

plenty of Tabasco, Crystal, or Frank’s hot sauce to add

but it was prepared “entry level” Cajun

even so, didn’t see many people eating Cajun

on the other hand, a Lutheran or Reformed Church tent

selling bowls of chicken noodles

looked like fettuccini noodle

with chicken, creamy sauce

seemed like every third person was eating that

very popular

very bland-looking

I sat at a table in one of the community dining tents

with my bowl of red beans and rice

people asking me questions like I was eating Martian food

aware of a real sense of fear about the spices

I wanted to say evffaqa, be opened

maybe medical reasons, etc.

but really …

don’t be afraid of the Cajun food

step out, try it

imaghine missing out on this food

or any other sense-filled and sensual food

difference in eating to live – and living to eat

What does it take to get us to step out of our comfort/familiar

maybe it feels good, reliable, safe

but what do we miss when we don’t open up

who do we miss when we don’t open up

Jesus went to the disabled man with compassion and intimacy

he was a stranger

but Jesus held nothing back

he looked to God for what he needed to open this man’s ears, and loosen his tongue

evffaqa, be opened

evffaqa, be opened

can we allow Jesus to open us up?

to brazen and bold ways of loving and inviting others to be a part of us

to not worrying about what they might think

or who might come

but boldly and brazenly fling the doors wide open

we do not follow a meekly polite God

one preacher points out, Jesus uses spit to heal!


we worship a God that spits

not trying to turn us into tobacco-chewing baseball players

but doesn’t this give us room to loosen up a little

later, when we serve communion

I’m going to get some bread crumbs on the floor

might even spill a little juice

stain the table cloth

do you think Jesus cares about that?

I’m not trying to turn us into slobs

but Sarah said a visitor at the Art Fair last week said they didn’t think we were snobs anymore

Not saying we’re “Slobs for God”

but God does call us, through Jesus,  evffaqa, be opened

because if we are not opened

it doesn’t matter if we tear the hinges off the doors

if we’re not opened

why should anybody else care?

These are the words for worship today

be opened, speak plainly, do all things wellOpened wooden gate decorated with green climbing plant..

let us strive for

open arms and hearts

plain, real talk

excellence in all we do

so let it be with us.  Amen


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Dear readers, I am grateful that you take time to read my sermon notes.  I appreciate your comments and am always interested to hear your personal reflections.

In the preparation and delivery of last Sunday’s sermon, “Word,” I experienced God’s powerful urging to never forget the power of Word and words.  After I described my own misuse of word power, many of you responded openly of your similar experience.  I give thanks to God for the connection with the ones who were present in worship in the sanctuary and for those who read my sermon notes on this blog.  I pray for a renewed commitment to follow the light of God that has the power to illuminate the dark corners of the soul and guide us toward the Kingdom in the way of peace and love.

Couldn’t help but notice:
Attending worship last Sunday:  47
To-date views of sermon on this blog:  101

Peace and love,

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