Archive for August, 2010

Deuteronomy 6:1 Now this is the commandment– the statutes and the ordinances– that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy,

2 Corinthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Way In

What has given you life this summer? filled you?

reflect on what ppl said earlier today

Worship at Tawawa Park today

time for

hobbies, travel, family

show my “shares”; map, book, music, etc. as examples of what I did this summer

ask cong. to tell about theirs

different pace of life. slower?

maybe because of the heat

little more laid back

As you know, all that’s about to change (signs that summer’s over)

school busses are rolling

pool is closed

temperature is falling (some days)

ac not running on “high” just to keep the car bearable inside

it’s worship in the park!

back to 10:30

Tell The Story


preparing to enter

how to thrive and live in the land

2 Corinthians

new creation

re-created — made new, renewed

So What?

Value of re-creation


spiritual renewal

a new creation in Jesus Christ

physical renewal

rested, ready for the next big thing

there’s something different about the way we feel

called as disciples

to do good

not just because it’s the right thing to do

or it makes us feel good about ourselves

but it’s our response to God’s call

“your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”

sharing what we have

living in community

Awareness of re-entry

in Deut. God is preparing the Israelites for entry into Canaan

“the land of promise”

place they have been travelling to for 40 years (wandering)

reminding them of the statues and ordinances (Law of Moses)

so they will live long in the land

Aware today of our location

in the beauty of God’s creation

this beautiful spot outdoors

not our usual Sunday meeting place

good to get away, something different

continue summer’s renewal, recreation

prepare for our re-entry into the church building next Sunday

back to our usual setting

but we have the opportunity to experience renewal

like reading a familiar Bible verse as if for the first time

i.e. The Lord’s Prayer

Notice our re-entry into the church next week as if the 1st time

what’s it like, what do we notice?

what do we appreciate about our heritage, our traditions?

Is there something different we want to do?

what does re-entry teach us about things we take for granted?

But that’s next week

something for us to think about

for today let us take a chance to appreciate

the beauty of God’s creation

the warmth of good fellowship

the deliciousness of good food

and how good it is to worship, sing and pray together

free-style here about re-creation, re-newal, new beginnings, etc.

So may it be, Amen


Read Full Post »

Matthew 6:9-13

Lord’s Prayer Series

  • Way In
    • Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
      • Been looking at the Lord’s Prayer together
        • each phrase of very familiar text
          • probably first thing from Bible you memorized
          • still say it from memory
        • important to look from time to time as if for the first time
      • What’s the most obvious thing we notice about this phrase?
        • when somebody says it different
          • debts/debtors, trespasses
            • every heard anybody say “sins?”
            • more accurate translation of ovfei,lhma
        • did you notice when I changed the text?
          • changed Elizabethan pronouns (1611 KJV)
            • “thy” “thine”
            • to “your” and “yours”
          • it feels odd to say it without “thy” and “thine”
            • even when I’m looking at the contemp. words, it seems awkward not to say “thy” and “thine”
          • does anybody here talk that way?
            • why do we do it in church?
            • do we think God talks that way?
          • but can you imagine saying “thy” or “thine” any other time?
    • What’s it like to pray this phrase as if for the 1st time?
      • forgetting what we expect from it
        • thinking about the words …
  • Tell The Story
    • forgive us as we forgive others
    • break it down
      • acknowledge that God is where forgiveness originates
        • God does promise forgiveness
        • and calls us to repent
          • which is not saying we sorry for something we got caught at
          • metanoia – to change
            • change our way of thinking
      • covenant
        • hold us accountable
        • God, forgive us as we forgive others
          • do we fully forgive?
          • God, if I half-forgive this person, then only half-forgive me
    • we know God promises forgiveness
      • all the way
      • all the way to the cross
      • how far do we go?
  • So What?
    • forgiveness
      • can we think of it as moving on?
        • I forgive you
        • yes, it hurt
        • yes, it changes how we relate to each other
        • but I am choosing not to let that rule me
          • … to stop trying to get people to take my side
          • … stop reliving it
      • there’s a point
        • even Jesus says
          • when you enter a town speaking my peace
          • and you don’t get it back
          • take some time with it
          • but there comes a time to
            • shake the dust off your sandals
            • and move on
    • don’t hold forgiveness over somebody’s head
      • as if we’re always on the lookout for a reason to unforgive
        • that’s about power, not changing
      • what’s happening?
        • Steven Covey story
          • man on the subway with unruly kids
          • “can’t you control those kids? you’re just sitting there”
          • my wife, their mother, hospice just called in
            • had to get away for a while
            • just don’t know what to do
        • NPR story (see below) link to original
    • When we stop with the smug, self-righteousness as if it’s all about us
      • we learn about how we have to change our thinking
      • forgiveness isn’t about our power to forgive or not
        • it’s about how we are willing to change
          • to follow the ways of Jesus
          • not be ruled by the behavior of others
            • as that gets in the way of who God is calling us to be
            • but to become more like Christ
    • “Free style” comments from here about …
      • acknowledge that there are hurts/injuries/abuse
        • from which recovery/healing is complex and difficult
        • I do not intend to diminish suffering of this kind
      • forgiveness as ‘moving on’
        • not living as if our hurt feelings were the most important thing
        • consider the previous stories as examples of changing …
          • … the way we consider others
          • … the way we choose to respond/react
        • consider how that frees is to live out the call to community
          • doing what we can to bring about
            • … your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

              so may it be with us. Amen

              A Victim Treats His Mugger Right

              NPR: Morning Edition; March 28, 2008

              Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one

              stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.  But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

              He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

              “He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.

              As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

              The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”

              Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

              “You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says. Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

              “The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”

              “No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”

              Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?” “Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

              Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says. The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

              When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill

              ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

              The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

              Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.” Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”

              “I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”

              Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.

Read Full Post »

Sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer:

“Give us this day our daily bread”

Matthew 9:6-13

The chorus of the song, “Money-Back Guarantee,” by Jimmy Buffet has these lines, “My love is guaranteed. I’ve got all you need. You’re never going to see the end of me.” Isn’t that like God’s love? It’s guaranteed, God promised. Guaranteed love is the love so great that God so loved the world with that he sent his only son. Guaranteed love is the expectant, abounding, over-the-top love with which God, like the father of the prodigal, runs to us like the father of the returning son when he was coming down the road.

I don’t know if Jimmy Buffet had the everlasting, Almighty God in mind when he wrote “You’re never going to see the end of me,” but isn’t that God-talk? Isn’t that what God promises, in Christ, to be with us always…In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God, and the Word was with God…Is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.

But the part of the song I like best, is not the most poetic or the most profound. It’s the simple line, “I’ve got all you need.” That’s the part that hit me as I listened. He was writing, I think, about true love between a man and a woman; but can’t you hear the God talk, too. God does have all we need, and the good news is that God does not want to just hang on to it. God wants us to have it–all we need.

We can think about the kind of love Jimmy Buffet describes as God’s love. This guaranteed, unending, love that promises everything we need is like God’s love. It’s similar to God’s love; it’s like God’s love. Of course, the song is about human love that; even at it’s very best, pales before God’s love. But it’s similar, a simile, something that is like something else.

Jesus taught this way. We have looked before at how often Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” He uses something we can see to describe something we can’t see. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field.” “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.” “The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown in the sea and caught fish of every kind.” “The kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven ten times like this in Matthew’s gospel alone.

Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of heaven, that they couldn’t see, by telling about things they could see or know about. The are symbols for the kingdom of heaven: it’s like a farmer’s filed, a merchant’s trade, a fishing net, a household, bread.

Bread, now there’s something we all know about. We have all eaten it. Some of us have even made bread; we have mixed, kneaded, waited, and baked it. We have smelled it, held it, tasted it, and shared it with friends.

Do you know where the word companion comes from? It’s from Latin words, com – meaning with, and panis – which means bread. A companion is one with whom I break bread.

Most of us have bread with every meal, it’s the staff of life, it’s nutritious, and there’s nothing better for sopping up our plate, or putting jelly and honey on top of to make dessert.

In biblical times, bread was central to the meal. Freshly baked bread was prepared and served for every meal.

When the Israelites were hungry in the desert, God gave them food to eat. God gave them quails for meat, and in the morning a strange substance covered the ground. “What is it?” they asked. Manna, the word means, “what is it?” in Hebrew. Manna is the bread of heaven given by God to sustain the Israelites as they wandered through the desert to the Promised Land.

Manna is what God promised to give them every day, all they needed. God promised that there would be enough for everybody, so all they had to collect each day was enough for their family – for that day. God promised that on the day before the Sabbath there would be enough for two days, that way they would not have to labor and collect manna on the Sabbath.

God told them to gather enough for every day and there would be more tomorrow. God warned them not to hoard it; there was no need to save up the manna because it would come every day. God guaranteed it. This was an exercise in trust, and some didn’t trust very well.

There were some who doubted there would be more tomorrow, or maybe they wouldn’t get enough. What if something comes up tonight and God forgets about the manna tomorrow? What if old so-and-so wakes up early tomorrow and gets mine? Maybe I won’t feel like collecting manna tomorrow, and there might not be anybody to get it for me. Although God promised enough manna every day for every person, there were some who wanted to get a little more today so they would have some tomorrow. Just in case. Just to be sure.

Do you remember what happened? Do you remember what they found the next day when these went to their stash of manna? It was ruined, it was spoiled, it was not fit to eat. People who could not trust in God for enough hedged their bets with extra in case God fell down on the job; and that which was more than they needed was spoiled. Mistrust upset the balance, and it was spoiled by greed. Worse yet, since God provided enough for everybody ever day, if somebody took more than their share then somebody didn’t get enough.

Manna, the bread of heaven. It will be enough by God’s guarantee. But can we trust God?

Jesus talked about bread, too. He said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. I am the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:35, 51)

Jesus fed the multitudes with a little bread and a few fish, and the bread of heaven was enough. Jesus sent his disciples out and told them to carry only a staff, a shepherd’s tool, but to carry no bread or money. They were sent out to spread the gospel, trusting in God for the things they needed.

We all know about how often Jesus gathered around the table, breaking bread with people, his companions. And we celebrate at this table the meal Jesus instituted with bread and wine, knowing him, as the disciples did, in the breaking of the bread.

The 6th chapter of John contains a beautiful description of Jesus the bread of life, the bread of God that came down from heaven to give life to the world. Bread, it’s something we can all relate to. That’s why God teaches us that way. When you read the Bible, you won’t find a lot of big, fancy theological words. You find words about people; farmers, shepherds, and fishers. You find words about fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. You find words about food, crops, roads, and houses.

These are the words that God uses to teach us about faith, trust, and love. These are the words that teach us to pray, live, and to be the people God created us to be. These are the words of life.

In the simple words of the Lord’s Prayer we claim our heritage as daughters and sons of our heavenly father. We pray that God’s holy name will be honored by the way we live our lives, and that God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When we so pray, we realize that this means something we have to do – to live as God teaches us in scripture and shows us in the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

And for the ones who accept this way of living, for the glory of God, there is nourishment. We have this nourishment in the bread of heaven, the physical bread as God provided the people of Israel. Just as the Hebrew people of old did, God provides enough, and it is guaranteed. When we trust in God there will be enough for us today and tomorrow, and tomorrow. When we don’t trust and gather in extra, just in case, God’s enough is spoiled by our greed.

We also have this nourishment in the spiritual bread, Jesus Christ the bread of heaven that came to give life to the world. He is the one who sends us, just as he sent the disciples, as people who have received this spiritual bread, out into the world to spread the good news. Those of us who have tasted of this bread for ourselves, and who know Jesus in the breaking of the bread, are sent out to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.

When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we acknowledge that it is God from whom this bread comes, God from whom all blessings flow. We aren’t the creators of this bread, we are the ones sustained by it. We can mix up the ingredients and bake it, but without God who created the wheat and flour and heat that cooks it we have nothing.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” is first of all an acknowledgement of our dependence on God. It is an appeal to God for the things that we need, and when we pray faithfully, it is a statement of trust in God for these things.

The manna, the “what is it” bread of heaven, was given so those in the desert would have life. And Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven, came to give life to the world. So when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” may we notice the inclusive pronouns “us” and “our” and know that we are called to be a community of faith, and share the good things that God is giving us, trusting that God will give us all we need so that there is no need to store it up and hoard it just in case.

What is God’s enough for you today?

Enough food

Enough faith

Enough trust

Enough patience

Enough sustenance

Enough love

Enough compassion

Enough mercy

Enough sharing

Enough kindness

Enough humility

These are some of the things that come from God. These are not things of our making. But when we rely on God, and acknowledge God as the author and creator of life, and we pray to God, asking for the things we need. We will receive what we need, and not only for ourselves, for the community of faith.

We may not bring in the kingdom come by doing this today, but we have glimpses of the kingdom as we share the good news and the good gifts of God with others. That is why we say, when we break bread together at this table, that this is a foretaste of God’s kingdom where people will come from north and south, and east and west to feast at God’s table in the kingdom.

God’s love is guaranteed.

God’s got all we need.

Thanks be to God!


Read Full Post »

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16


    You have heard me talk about Clarence Jordan. Spelled like Jordan River, pronounced “Jerdan,” he was from Georgia. Clarence was a Baptist minister and accomplished scholar of biblical Greek who, among other things, wrote the Cotton Patch Gospels. He was thrown out of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1950s for having the outrageous idea that black people and white people could worship together in the same church.

    Later he worked with sharecroppers in Georgia to help them build decent homes instead of the tarpaper, dirt floor shacks the farmers were providing. These homes became a community called Koinonia Farms, and Clarence continued the ministry of building decent homes in partnership that is now known as Habitat for Humanity.

    As I was experiencing a call to ministry, I read everything I could find on Clarence Jordan. I wanted to soak up all I could about what he calls incarnational theology, and faith as conviction translated into deeds…”It is the word become flesh. So long as the word remains a theory to us, and is not incarnated by our actions and translated by our deeds into a living experience, it is not faith. It may be theology, but it is not faith. Faith is a combination of both conviction and action.”

[Tell about the preacher in North Carolina, Jordan p. 43]

    That preacher in NC was full of faith. In those days, people were killed for acting on ideas like that….black people and white people worshipping together. They never killed Clarence; he died of natural causes in 1969. But his house was set on fire several times, and there were many bomb threats and other threats on his life for just such notions.

    That preacher in NC had the faith that turned thoughts into deeds…faith that wrapped flesh and bones around theological concepts like community and all people being made in God’s image and made them ways of living instead of just lofty ideas to talk about on Sunday.

    Clarence Jordan says that fear is what keeps us from walking by faith. I was afraid of doing the right thing once when I broke up a fight in a campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. At one point I thought the fighters would turn on me. Do you know that feeling? Knowing it’s the right thing to do, but fear or something like it wants to hold you back? The NC preacher I told you about in Clarence Jordan’s book didn’t let fear of reprisals from racist whites stop him.

    Fear has a function. It keeps us from danger. But self-preservation and comfort-seeking can keep us from putting ourselves in places where faith calls us to make a difference.

    I’m not standing here today to tell you to go risk your life for Jesus, but I do want to lift up the word of God that says faith is the conviction of things not seen, and faithful living is the incarnation of the word of God into the way we live our lives and the way we build community as the kingdom of God.

    This is what we pray for in the second sentence of the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” We know that our heavenly home is a place of eternal rest that awaits us, and we know that our place in that home is reserved and paid in full by God’s saving love for us in Jesus Christ – if we will only just believe.

    Yet our call as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ is not simply to await our arrival in heaven, but to live our lives in such a way that shows evidence of the kingdom of heaven and makes the world a better place. So while our prayer acknowledges our longing for God’s kingdom, we pray for God’s will to be done on earth – as it is in heaven.

    God’s will is forgiveness, love, peace, joy, reconciliation … And we know from the content of God’s word and the witness of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that we are called – in our own lives, to live as witnesses to and agents of God’s saving love in Jesus Christ.

    So stop yourself for a moment when you get to this sentence of the Lord’s Prayer. Don’t worry about your recitation of the prayer being a little choppy, God doesn’t care how you speak the prayer, God won’t think you forgot how it goes or be angry because he doesn’t think you can say it from memory any more. In fact, I would go so far as to say that God will be relieved when we take the time to think about that for which we pray.

    And that when we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we will recognize that for that to happen we have to get busy being the Body of Christ – committed not to keep the institution going, but to keep the ministry of Jesus Christ going, and that the way we live our lives will show evidence of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

    Now “as it is in heaven” is at it is on earth the way Jesus shows us how to live: feeding the poor, clothing the naked, welcoming strangers into our community, be friends to the friendless, and standing firm for the witness of the gospel – that Jesus is Lord, and believing in him and living transformed lives by his teachings are all that’s required of us to have a place in his kingdom. And in the meantime, before our arrival at the pearly gates, we should live in such a way as to bring about God’s kingdom on earth – as it is in heaven.


So, I couldn’t help myself bringing today’s lectionary reading from Hebrews into our discussion of the Lord’s Prayer. Because the first verse describes the very essence of faith: assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen. We have assurance in God’s promise of the kingdom of heaven which awaits us for our eternal rest and in that assurance we must be convicted of living changed lives.

    Paul’s letter to the Hebrews reminds them of Abraham’s conviction and commitment to God’s call, and how God fulfilled the covenant in him. Paul says the way Abraham lived his life “made it clear that he was seeking a homeland, a better place – prepared by God.

    Abraham’s response required stepping out in faith. Way out. God called Abraham to walk away from a comfortable home and dim outlook that he was too old and tired to make any difference. Unbound from fear of the unknown, Abraham stepped out in faith. So we are called to step out. Way out, beyond our fear into a walk of faith. Then once we believe that we are not bound by the way things were before, we can see with new eyes.

    But if we find new ways to be too unsettling, too much beyond our comfort zone, so that we just can’t stop living in the past – unable to go back in any discussion to try and remember how we did it last time, it’s like Paul says, “If they had been thinking if the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.”

    So may it be that we are so filled with God’s spirit to make a community like the kingdom of heaven that we claim the freedom in Christ that liberates us …acting as if we really believe that the kind of living and light he teaches cannot be extinguished, that the light still shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. May we spend some time reflecting on what living in faith means for us individually and as a church – the Body of Christ. So may it be with us. Amen.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: