Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

Matthew 1:18-24

Way In

Christmas spending

In America

National Retail Federation

Expects sales in November and December to rise 3.8% to a record $469.1 billion

Last year spending went up 5.2% during the holiday season, putting both years above the 2.6% average increase over the past 10 years.

And that’s just in the US

We’re probably the highest

But we’re not the only country spending money at Christmas

I guess there are folks out there working hard to “keep Christ in Christmas”

But somebody sure is spending a lot of money

After all, Christmas is …

Christmas is…December 25 is …what?

Matthew’s gospel says that King Herod the Great died right after the birth of Christ

Herod the Great died in 4BC, right after he ordered the “slaughter of the innocents.” That is to say, all of the 2-year-old boys, because he was after the King of the Jews

So we can say, in the context of historical reference that Jesus Christ was born between the 6th and 4th years BC.

But the church didn’t celebrate the Nativity of Christ for another 300 years

Hippolytus of Rome (170-235 AD)

Without going into all of his studies and theories

Known for producing a chronicle of the world

Set the birth of Christ on December 25


Ancient Roman festival honoring the god, Saturn

Agricultural god over the Golden Age

When people enjoyed and shared the earth’s bounty

Without labor, sort of an egalitarian utopia

Celebrations of the feast reflected that age

Well-established festival by C. 2nd AD

Festivities took place from December 17

As the days shortened, to the shortest day of the year (solstice) – there was great celebration after that, when the days began to get longer

This was the celebration of the victory of day over night

The festival:

great feasts, even masters provided feasts for their servants

Time off from work

Lots of candles to celebrate light

As the Roman Empire became increasingly Christian (official religion under Emperor Constantine in C. 4 a.d.) …

the chronicles of the church placing Jesus’ birth in December coincided with and were influenced by the festival of Saturnalia

and the celebrations of Christmastide – Advent, Nativity, Epiphany – emerged

fast-forward to the 20th century

time doesn’t permit a full exposition of the history of Santa Claus

But I will suggest to you a evolving image through the syncretism of

The benevolent St. Nicholas

The poetry of The Night Before Christmas

And commercial development of the persona in Coca Cola ads

Brings us the “jolly old elf” we see everywhere today

Even kneeling at the manger in many crèches

Don’t get me started on that…

So now is the season – a full realization of the syncretism of church and culture

The birth of Jesus, the visit of Santa Claus, and Americans spending over $400 bil.

Despite the commercial excess of spending and promotion

Messiah – God among us – changes everything

The God of all creation has come among us

Jesus Christ, the Light of the World has shown us how to live

Full of grace and truth

To bring about the Kingdom of God

Prophesied by Isaiah

Mary exalted in the Magnificat

Jesus preached, his first sermon at Nazareth

Tell The Story

Read gospel again

See for yourself how this challenges cultural norms, Mary and Joseph’s relationship – which is, in the end, strengthened

How the birth of Jesus changes everything

So What?

Moving from cynicism about the commercialization of Christmas

Remembering what is true about the coming of Messiah

Hear these words from Fr. Daniel Berrigan

Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

So let it be with us.  Amen.


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First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs

Rev. Joe Hinds

Matthew 18:21-35

  1. Way In

    Where were you at this moment a decade ago?

    Where were you? Who was with you?

    … when you first heard the news

    8:46am when AA11 crashed into the North Tower of the WTC in NYC

    9:03am when UA175 crashed into the South Tower

    9:37am when AA77 crashed into the Pentagon

    10:03am when UA93 crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania

    Where? (anybody share?)

    It’s likely that you will never forget where you were on 9/10/01

    Like the day MLK or JFK were shot

    Or the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon

    Today is a day for remembering, and honoring memories

    A day we remember how our hearts were broken

    We reach out in our own ways to those who lost family, friends, colleagues

    And in our shared humanity, each of us lost somebody that day

    We honor the heroes

    …the ones who were inside of burning and crashing buildings, and led others out

    …and the ones who ran into the burning and crashing buildings

    To rescue survivors, care for the injured, and tend to the dead

    There are so many stories of 9/11

    The airwaves and print media are full of them

    especially a decade later

    If I didn’t know better, I would think today’s gospel lection from Matthew was contrived

    To bring a gospel lesson of forgiveness on the 10th anniversary of 9/11?

    Really? That’s just too churchy.

    But it’s not contrived, I do know better

    The lectionary we follow (3-year cycle of Sunday scripture lessons)

    First set out in 1969, and revised in 1994.

    Hasn’t been changed since then

    So today’s gospel lesson may be ironic, but not contrived

  2. Tell the Story

    The disciple, Peter, asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a person

    As many as 7 times?

    Jesus answered, not 7, but 70

    And he told a parable

    Beginning as most parables do, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”

    A king wishing to settle his accounts with his slaves

    One owed him 10,000 talents

    This debtor didn’t have the money to repay the debt

    So the king sold the slave, his family, and their possessions

    To bring an amount that would pay the debt

    The slave pleaded for patience to give him time to repay

    The king released him and forgave the debt

    Then that same slave went to someone who owed him 100 denarii

    Seized him by the throat and demanded to be paid

    When this debtor pleaded for patience until he could repay

    The slave refused and threw him in prison

    When the king heard what happened he called for his slave

    Admonished him for not extending the same mercy he received

    The king handed over the slave to be tortured until he paid the full debt

    Let this be a lesson, Jesus said

    God will do the same to you

    If you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart

  3. So What?

    Jesus tells us to forgive

    Expanding on our most gracious offering of 7 times ten times

    Not 7 but 70

    Then he tells a parable comparing the kingdom of heaven to a king

    I wish I could ask Jesus about this

    About the king whose first response is to sell the slave away to get his money

    Then, after great pleading, releases the debtor

    But then, after the same slaves acts without mercy towards his own debtor

    The king is full of anger and hands his slave over to be tortured

    As a preacher in CO says, that’s about 76 forgivenesses short of what Jesus teaches

    Kazy and I have been talking about preaching on 9/11 – a Decade later

    Today’s reading begins with the phrase, “Then Peter came and said to him (Jesus).”

    Which begs the question, “what were they talking about before?”

    Before today’s reading Jesus was talking to the disciples about how to respond when someone sins against you

    “point out the fault when the two of you are alone,” he says

    If they listen to you, then you have the chance for reconciliation

    If they don’t listen to you, take 1 or 2 others along with you

    If they still don’t listen, bring it before the whole community

    If they still won’t listen, let that one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector

    In other words, let them be

    For whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven

    And whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven

    Let it go. Move on. Don’t let the transgression bind you up. Life is too short

    Then Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive

    Not 7 but 70

    Greek word we translate into English as “forgive” is

    avfi,hmi (aphiemi)

    Commonly translated in English as “forgive”

    Also has another nuance: leave, leave behind, release

    The same word appears …

    “Immediately they left their nets and followed him (Jesus)” MT 4:20

    “Leave your gift there before the altar” MT5:24

    When Jesus healed a woman, “he touched her hand and the fever left her.” MT8:15

    When Jesus stumped the religious officials, “they were amazed; and they left home and went away” MT22:22

    In the garden at Gethsemane, Jesus left the disciples to go away and pray MT26:44

    Today, a decade later, as I read Matthew

    I can’t tell you that I am at a place of forgiveness

    Not for the people that organized and carried out such unspeakable evil

    What about the nuance of release? What about that?

    In any case, to forgive, is not always the same as pretend it never happened

    There may be consequences

    There may be hurts that can’t be healed

    Can I choose to release, and not be bound?

    In terms of 9/11, to be bound is to fall into

    Jingoism, isolationism, hate, exceptionalism, closing down

    To be released is to carry on, to choose life

    To be released is to be free to love

    Yesterday may family participated in Cameron’s Smile 5K

    Started last year by a family from Kazy’s church

    Their 17-year old son died after a long illness at age 17

    Cameron had a big smile and a big heart

    Cameron had a wish to go to Disney World with his family

    His wish was granted by the Make a Wish Foundation

    Now the Cameron’s Smile 5K raises money for M.A.W.

    My son, Paul, and I were talking after the race

    “Daddy, I’m sad that Cameron died”

    “Me, too, son”

    As we talked we decided that it was good …

    …to be able to remember Cameron

    …and do something to help somebody else

    Maybe help another sick child’s wish happen

    I think we were talking about being released

    Pauly has been thinking a lot today – later he asked me what happened on 9/11

    We talked about that, too

    And it made him sad

    Then I remembered what Mr. Rogers said about when children saw scary things in the news

    “‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

    As we talked more about the mean and scary things people did on 9/11 …

    …it was good to remember the heroes

    Firefighters, police officers, EMTs

    And many others who rescued people

    And think about what we could do to make the world better

    Alan Jackson, a singer from Georgia wrote a song about 9/11

    Asks “Where were you when the world stopped turning?”

    Sings about dealing with the tragedy

    Moving from shock, anger, sorrow, and fear

    To pride in the heroes

    Looking up to heaven and at yourself for what really matters

    Doing intentional acts of love

    The singer says he remembers a story from Sunday School

    Faith, hope, and love are good gifts from God

    And the greatest is love.

    May we remain convinced that love matters, that peace can prevail

    May we be released from bondage to the things that lock out love

    and freed to love

    It may sound simple – simplistic

    But love makes all the difference

    Call someone to tell them you love them

    Notice the sunset

    Speak to a stranger

    Reject violence – real and in movies and games

    Hold hands, give blood, cling to family and friends

    Share your food, open your home, make music

    Plant a garden, get to know a stranger

    Work for justice, volunteer

    Turn off the TV, cellphone, computer

    Sit on the porch, visit someone who’s sick

    Listen more

    Remember that everything is not about you

    We are freed – to remember – and to live, as if love makes all the difference

So let it be with us. Amen

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2011

First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs

Rev. Joe Hinds

Matthew 14:22-33



  1. Way In

    My Experience

    Lifeguard Lessons: Alpine Camp, ca. 1972

    Had to find a big rock (ca. 20 lbs.) and bring it to the surface

    Very tired in the water, was afraid of drowning

    Drowning as a universal expression of helplessness

    we can all relate to fear of drowning

    going down for the last time

    “breathing” in lung-fulls of water

    Surprised to learn that many of the avid fishermen I met on Long Island, even the commercial fishermen; the ones who make their living from the heart of the sea

    were not swimmers

    some simply did not enjoy it after working all day on the water, there were others who never learned

    heard stories of falling overboard wearing heavy gear, waders filling with water

    Horrifying and touching story in the paper last week

    2 women caught in the undertow while swimming in Lake Ontario

    Literally did not believe they would make it out alive

    my own experience of Gardiner’s Bay in the boat in rough water

    You know what I mean. Open water, rough water, it’s a scary place to be


    Keep those in mind while we think about today’s lesson

  2. Tell the Story


    After Jesus heard of John the Baptist’s execution at the hands of Herod, he went away by boat to a quiet place.

    Sea of Galilee, Lake Gennesaret

    The crowds found Jesus

    he responded to their needs

    had compassion for them and cured their sick

    evening came, disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away so they could buy themselves some food

    Jesus said to let them stay and give them something to eat

    A miraculous feeding

    Disciples could only find 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish

    Jesus blessed this much food, and told the disciples to start feeding the crowd

    By the time they were done everybody had enough to eat

    There were 5,000 men there, plus women and children who were not counted

    Today’s reading begins that same evening

    Dismissals after supper

    Jesus sent the disciples across the lake in the boat

    He stayed behind and dismissed the crowds

    Jesus went up the mountain (again) to pray

    Meanwhile that evening out on the boat

    Evening = not as late as night, prob. before 9 p.m.

    Boat was far from land

    Many stadia (stadi,ouj pollou.j)

    Stadium, Greek unit of measure

    about 200 meters, 650 ft.

    standard for a foot race in ancient Olympic event (stadium, name for arena)

    So the boat was far out, many stadia from land, “many” x 200 meters, and the wind was against the boat

    Boat was battered by the waves

    the storm lasted all night

    Jesus walks on the water

    Early the next morning, Jesus came walking up. On the water!

    Disciples’ reaction; terrified, thought he was a ghost, cried out in fear

    Jesus, “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.”

    Peter tries it

    “Lord if it’s you, get me out there on the water, too.”

    And Jesus said, “Come on out.”

    Peter started walking, but became afraid when the wind picked up

    Peter started to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.”

    Jesus responds

    Immediately reached out his hand and caught Peter

    “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

    Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, then the wind stopped

    Everybody in the boat worshipped Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the son of God.”

  3. So What?

    The Big Idea

    The disciples recognized Jesus

    One who does miraculous things, like God does.

    As in walking on water

    When he said “It is I,” that is reminiscent of how God identified himself to Moses at the burning bush; “I am.”

    Peter speaks/acts on behalf of the others: represents their strengths and weaknesses

    Jesus said that Peter had “little faith.” This is not to say he had no faith, just not as much as he could have

    Yet this is Peter, the one upon whom Christ will build his church

    Jesus Christ, the one who gives us the assurance, even in times of great fear, that we are able to follow his ways as long as we rely on him.



    Peter had enough faith to step out of the boat in the first place

    His fear of the dangerous water overcame him, his calling out to Jesus saved him

    We need life preservers for the water

    Life jackets

    Lift us up, keep us from drowning


    Channel markers that show the way


    Mark dangerous waters, rocks

    For us

    We have the faith to step out of the boat in the first place

    Yet, like Peter, our faith is still little

    And, like Peter, it is still enough to get us by for a moment

    But we need the help of Christ

    Who always reaches out to save us

    Faith is what we need for the long haul

    It took only the regular amount of faith for Peter to step out of the boat in the first place

    Yet he needed to reach out to Jesus for the journey the rest of the way

    When we decide to follow Jesus, to live as he teaches, to see him in others, and to be a living reminder of his ways of peace, community, and justice…

    We need to know his presence: seen/known in the church – the Body of Christ

    Charge: Let us be Christ for each other, supporting one another in his name along our journey of faith.

    We had enough to get us to step out of the boat in the first place

Let us look to him, finding him in others, being as Christ for others in our own journey.

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First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs

Rev. Joe Hinds

Matthew 14:13-21

  1. Way In

    Do you have a summer reading list? For the beach, the camp, maybe just at home?

    I do, or I did.

    We did a lot of reading the last couple of weeks

    I carried a whole suitcase of books.

    How about you?

    So imagine settling down to start your book

    Make yourself comfortable

    Open up your book, start to read …

    Chapter 1, page 1, 1st paragraph, 1st sentence, reads like this …

    “Now when she heard this, she left in a boat …”

    Is that a great opening sentence, or what?

    Really gets your attention

    Makes you want to read more

    I don’t know about you, but I would want to know that the “this” is

    That’s the way today’s gospel reading begins

    1st sentence really draws you in

    “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.”

    What Jesus heard is in the verses, at the end of chapter 13, right before today’s reading

  2. Tell the Story

    (Context) Recent past

    Death/execution of John the Baptist

    (start with this phrase) Jesus had just received the news that Herod had executed his cousin John t. B.

    Herod had arrested and imprisoned him

    Over some remarks John had made about the legitimacy of his marriage

    Then, just a few days before, at a great banquet honoring Herod’s birthday party …

    Herod made a promise to his wife’s daughter after her dance which pleased Herod’s court immensely

    Herod promised her anything she wished

    Her birthday wish, prompted by her mother, was to have the head of the prisoner – John the Baptist brought to her on a platter

    So she could give it is a gift to her mother

    (pause) King Herod kept his promise

    And the scriptures say, in the verse just before today’s reading, that John’s followers “went and took his body and buried it, then they went to tell Jesus.”

    This is what Jesus heard when he withdrew from the crowds to go off to a deserted place by himself

    No doubt, Jesus was weary from the long spell of preaching and teaching among the people

    He had been on the road constantly since appointing the 12 disciples

    Teaching them and preparing them for ministry

    And, as Jesus himself described it, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” (11:5 f.)

    Besides that, he told the crowds that were following him “no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist

    Now he learns that his cousin, the prophet was executed by a brutal and lascivious King, on the careless whim of a spiteful queen, making nothing more of John’s life than a horrifying game

    Jesus needed to get away, but this was not to be the day for that

    Today’s reading

    The crowds found where he went by boat, and they followed him on foot

    Seeing them, Jesus went ashore,

    Despite his own grief and need for rest, he was full of compassion for the people

    he cured the ones among them who were sick

    The disciples noticed that it was getting closer to suppertime, said to Jesus

    It’s getting late, Lord, and we’re in the middle of nowhere

    How about you send the crowds away

    so they can go into town to buy something to eat

    Jesus may have thrown his hands up or rolled his eyes when he said,

    They don’t need to go anywhere

    YOU give them something to eat

    “But we don’t have anything to give them”

    Only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish

    Remember there are 5,000 men here “not counting women and children”

    So if there was 1 woman and 1 child for every man there were 15,000

    Safe to say there were 10,000 – 15,000

    Jesus said, bring me what you have

    He had the crowd sit down

    He took the loaves and fish

    gave thanks to God and blessed them

    Jesus gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disc. gave them to the crowds

    Everybody ate and were filled

    And there were 12 baskets filled with what was left over

  3. So What?

    Everybody knows the story of the feeding the 5,000

    And that was sure enough a miracle

    But did you notice how the disciples responded at first?

    When they realized it was getting close to supper time?

    “We don’t have enough food, Jesus better send all these people home”

    But Jesus, already having compassion for the crowds as he did his healing …

    He told the disciples, “You give them something to eat.”

    They said, “But look Lord, all we have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish”

    But Jesus said, “Bring me what you have.”

    Have you ever felt like the disciples?

    We don’t have enough, we might use it all up here

    Could this be like the church? Are we ‘enough?’

    We only have a few members, Lord

    We don’t have as many as we used to

    It may not be enough

    I only have $5 for the offering this week

    I just started reading the Bible, I’m a “new” Christian

    I love to sing, but I can’t carry a tune in a bucket

    Do we feel there are things holding us back?

    Are we afraid that there won’t’ be enough if we use it all up today

    To all of these, Jesus answers “Bring me what you have”

    In the hands of the disciples 2 fish and 5 loaves were a meager meal

    Not even enough to feed the 12 of them, let alone the huge crowd before them

    In Jesus’ hands this was a gift

    “Bring me what you have”

    He took it and gave thanks to God for it

    Then, in Jesus’ hands the gift expanded

    The disciples saw the scarcity and it scared them

    “send them home”

    Jesus saw the bounty in God’s possibility

    And the disciples’ humble gift was all he needed

    It’s the same with us

    When we feel inadequate, afraid there isn’t enough

    When we forget about God providing everything we need

    Jesus says, “Bring me what you have”

    It’s enough, we’re enough

    In his hands, the humble gift we bring of ourselves is enough

    As long as we offer all we have

    Not holding anything back, ‘just in case’

    The difference was, Jesus gave thanks to God for what they had

    Then it was more than enough

    Jesus said, “Bring me what you have.” The other thing is that he made the disciples part of the miracle

    Now Jesus, being Jesus, could have made the miracle happen any kind of way

    He could have had the crowds sit down

    And make a KFC 2 piece meal plop down in everybody’s lap

    The miracle could have taken any form

    And he didn’t need the disciples’ help

    Jesus chose to teach the disciples something through the miracle

    Took what they had and expanded the gift

    And he made the disciples a part of it

    Jesus did the miracle

    He’s the one with the power to produce bounty from scarcity

    But the miracle came through the hands of the disciples

    The disciples weren’t just observers of, but participants in the miracle

    And so we are called

    Not as just observers or readers of the Word, but doers of the word

    The miracles of God’s provision in Jesus call us to be participants

    As the 16th century nun, Teresa of Avila wrote:

    Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, yours are the eyes through which he looks he looks with compassion on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless the world now.

    Bring what you have. In the service of Jesus Christ and his church, it is enough.

    Be part of the miracle.

So let it be with us. Amen

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Love Your Enemies, Matthew 5:38-45a (off-lectionary)

I created today’s sermon notes in a format which is more loose than usual to faciliate my delivery and the accompanying images.  I hope the reader is able to get the gist of what I had to say.  If anything isn’t clear, please contact me.  Peace, Joe 

1. Way In

Somebody said, “Pastor Joe, I would love to hear a sermon on the Christian response to the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

Well, I got right to work on that

First, I gave myself some time. A few weeks

Then I got my tools together

I wanted to hear what people were saying

Talked to some people


editorials, magazines, radio

Don’t watch TV news

Asked provocative questions on the www

Responses ran the gamut

So what should you feel? What should we feel? What should we do?

Jesus says, “Love your enemies.”

Jesus did it

Didn’t he ask God to forgive the ones who crucified him?

“Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing”

Don’t his followers give us their example?

Stephen, as he was being stoned to death …

Where are my Acts Bible scholars? Come on, Bible Study group …

“God forgive them this sin.”

But what about when we don’t? … when we can’t?

What do we do then?

2. Tell The Story

Jesus went throughout Galilee


Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God

And great crowds followed him

From Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain

Then he began to speak, and taught them

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

And so begins the Sermon on the Mount

Where today’s reading comes from

Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew (Chapt. 5)

Love Your Enemies

…and he continued to teach

You have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

But I say to you

Do not resist an evildoer

If anyone strikes you on the right cheek,

turn the other one also

If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat

Give them your cloak as well

If anyone forces you to go one mile

Go also the second mile

Give to everyone who begs of you

Do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you

You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy

But I say to you

Love your enemies

Pray for those who persecute you

So that you may be children of God

3. So What?

In these lessons, Jesus gives the people a new paradigm

Culturally and theologically, primarily a Jewish crowd

A new paradigm with 2 different examples

“You have heard it said” this way

But I am telling you that it is this way

This is the way for you to live

So that you may be children of God

An eye for an eye

Lists in Exodus and Leviticus of offenses and their punishments

There are capital offenses

i.e. murder and blasphemy

That are punishable by death

Others are guided by “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”

These are actually to measure the retaliation

i.e. if someone pokes out your eye, poke out their eye

But don’t poke out their eye and break their arm

Or kill them

The Babylonians practiced the same measure of restraint

Hammurabi Code states, “an eye for an eye”

And a similar code was part of Roman law

Directing retribution over retaliation

Vengeance ratchets up the retaliation

And God knows that we will tend to wipe each other out for the wrongs we have suffered

So God said, “Revenge is mine” (Dt. 32:35), Y’all can’t handle it

God’s right

I know how I feel about my sons

About how I would visit harsh retaliation on someone who harms them

… the level to which I would take it

Give them your cloak as well

In that day, the coat was an under garment

The cloak was worn over everything else

And often used overnight for sleeping to keep warm

These were among a person’s most valuable possessions

And often used as collateral for loans

Another law in Exodus about the cloak

If you do take someone’s cloak as collateral

Return it before the sun goes down

For it maybe their only means of keeping warm overnight

Then it’s OK to hold it again during the day

Not only that, but giving your cloak as well leaves you naked

And in that culture, nakedness bring shame on the viewer

Then in this case, a person being sued would be in court

So the defendant’s nakedness brings shame upon the court

Turn the other check

A back-handed slap was delivered by a person to someone they deemed to be of a lower class

An back-handed blow to the right check comes from your attackers right hand

Offering the other cheek as well makes them decide

The left hand was used for unclean personal sanitary purposes and was not used

So your attacker would have to use an open-handed blow with the palm or use their fist

Problem is, this is how you fight with an equal

Now the attacker has a decision to make

Would retaliation bring their victim “up to their status?”

Go the extra mile

In the Roman Empire a solder on the road could stop any citizen and make them carry his armor and equipment

But only for one mile

So Jesus tells the ones living under occupation to still act with generosity

If they “force” you to go one mile

Go the second mile

Your generosity may humble them

And teach them to carry their own load

Jesus said, “Love your enemies”

Even though they have done grievous things to you

You may feel such contempt for them

Truly they may be wicked people

And you would revel in getting them back

Then get them back some more

Don’t be consumed with your contempt

Or reduced to vengeance with your retaliation

Love your enemy. Dr King spoke of this many times

When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person … That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

Dr. King was able to get past the hateful, even murderous, Jim Crow segregationist

submitting himself, and encouraging his followers to civil disobedience

That in standing up for civil rights

And standing before unjust laws

They force the hand of the courts

To enforce a law that would bar a person from riding a bus, or going to school, or eat in a restaurant because of the color of their skin

And isn’t that a more powerful response than just hating them back?

Love your enemies

I believe that Dr King is the greatest contemporary teacher of this love

And he reminds us of the personality of this love

Greek, the language of the NT, and of that day has 3 words for “love”

Eros: romantic love, the love you have for the object of your affections

Philia: intimate and reciprocal love for the ones whose company you enjoy, and whose relationships you cherish

Agape: the deep and abiding love that Dr King describes as:

(the) understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men (humanity). It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men (people). And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men (people), not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man (one), and you love him (them) because you know God loves him (them). And he (they) might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.

So we are able to love someone in God’s love for humankind

For the ones God has created for good

Even for the ones who obviously have become something other than good

… with the redemptive power of agape love

Trusting in God’s power to redeem and in God’s power to punish

Human culture has established a system of laws and mores to keep order

We submit to those with whom we have entrusted

The keeping of law and order

These are elected or appointed to make and keep policies and law

Tasks are described and defined by

Constitutional rights and privileges

And, in many cases by wanting us to re-elect them

Our government often seeks and covets guidance from the religious community

Calling on leaders and the faithful for prayer and reflection

And the same constitution prohibits this nation from becoming a theocracy

What is our response when, for example

What do we do when actions taken on our behalf

Grieves us

Causes us questions from a faith perspective

I say we are the voice of the prophet

Not a “tell the future prophet”

But to carry and speak the prophetic voice of the scriptures

In voices that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says

May be shrill and unwelcome in some quarters

When the exercise of law and order on our behalf grieves us

Let us be the voice of justice

Not the retaliatory justice

You get what’s coming to you

But the justice of the scriptures

Mishpat in the OT

That all will be well

That actions taken by the faithful will result in

Hungry being fed

Houses for the homeless

Peace among God’s people

And when the justice meted out seems more like revenge

Let us hold fast to the law of love/agape

Before we become the hate that we deplore

I don’t know whether I’m totally there yet

Regarding the killing of OBL

Part of me was in the streets when I heard the news

And I thank God for the part of me – the part of us –

That hears the still small voice

The voice of peace

That is sometimes called naïve

I believe that above everything else,

We are called to work for peace and mishpat justice

the voice for peace

Is carried by the breath of love

Which has the power to overcome

The shrieks of hate

So that we do not become the hatred we deplore

Rooted in love – which is God’s other name

The greatest of these is love

So may it be with us

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Tonight we remember the final supper Jesus shared with his disciples

simple and contemplative

scripture reading (OT, Epistle, Gospel) and prayer

name for this service comes from John’s gospel

“I give you a new commandment,

love one another as I have loved you” John 13:34

Latin: mandatum novum

communion tonight will be by intinction

come forward as you are able

if you are not able, I will come and serve you

our table is arranged to remind us of three sides – triclenium

how people ate in the time of Christ

reclined around tables

with space in the middle for serving

at the end of tonight’s service,

I will extinguish the candles, as …

we hear the passion story from the gospels

listen as the shadows fall over our Lord Jesus’ journey …

to the cross

Note: after the benediction,

please depart in contemplative silence

reminder about Good Friday services

12-3pm: Sanctuary open for meditation and prayer

7pm: Shadows of the Passion

reminder about Easter Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Call to Worship

    + The Lord be with you

    And also with you

    + We gather to remember …

The night that Jesus shared his last supper

        with the disciples.

What shall we give to the Lord for all goodness to us?

    We will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the Lord

Opening Prayer (unison)

Gracious and merciful God, in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper you give us a memorial of the passion of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that the ones who receive these sacred mysteries may grow into him in all things until we come to your eternal joy through Jesus Christ our Lord and our Savior. Amen

Scripture Readings

Exodus 12: 1-4, 11, 14; God’s instructions to Moses for the preparations for the Passover meal, which is the same meal Jesus and his disciples gathered for on this night in the Upper Room

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Paul reminds the emerging church that the Lord’s Supper is the practice and proclamation of the living Lord Jesus Christ.

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

John 13: 1-17, 31-35. Jesus serves his disciples and gives them a new commandment.

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord– and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper


This is not the table of the church, but of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It has been prepared for those who love him

This table is open to anyone and

everyone who wishes to come

There are no barriers to this table

So come, you who feel your faith is strong today,

and the ones who feel you are struggling;

The ones who have come to this table often,

and those who have been away for a while

or the ones here for the first time.

The ones who have tried to follow,

and the ones who feel you have lost your way.

Come, each one of you, not because I invite you,

for it is our Lord Jesus who calls, saying

“I am the bread of life.

Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,

and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…

anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away.”

Prayer Before Communion

Lord Jesus Christ,
you draw us in and welcome us,
you invite us to be empty of pride and hungry for your grace,
to this your kingdom’s feast.
Nowhere can we find the food

for which our souls cry out, but here, Lord,

at your table.

Invigorate and nourish us, good Lord.
As we break this bread and take this cup

your love meets us
and your life completes us

in the power and glory of your kingdom.

Words of Institution



Prayer after Communion

Gracious and loving God, we are grateful for this meal that nourishes our soul. May we go forth, strengthened with compassion, to work together for the coming of your kingdom of justice, love and peace, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Extinguishing the Candles

“Listen prayerfully to the reading of the scriptures for the passion of our Lord, and may the extinguishing of the lights be a reminder of his suffering, even when our hope for the resurrection may seem like a dim memory.”

The Shadow of Betrayal; Matthew 26:20-25

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

The Shadow of Agony; Luke 22:40-44

When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.

The Shadow of Loneliness; Matthew 26:40-45

Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is ˃ weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

The Shadow of Desertion; Matthew 26:47-50, 55, 56

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

The Shadow of Accusation; Matthew 26:59-67

Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'” The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him…

The Shadow of Mockery; Mark 15:12-20

Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.

After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Shadow of Death; Luke 23:33-46

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying,” If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Only the Christ candle remains lit

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Then slowly and deliberately extinguish the Christ candle

Blessing and Benediction

Keep us safe Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ.

Now, may the peace of God, which passes all understanding

keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God

and of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;

And may the

Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

Love of God

Communion of the Holy Spirit

Be with you – and everyone you love

Tonight, tomorrow, and forever. Amen

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Matthew 17:1-9

  1. Way In

    What makes you comfortable?

    Favorite clothes?

    Fav. jeans, sweatshirt, pajamas, etc.

    jeans I have rescued from the garbage can

    flannel pajama pants too frayed to walk in

    t-shirt that eventually lost the collar

    favorite food

    what you remember from childhood

    “Like Momma used to make”

    scrambled eggs and grits

    Chinese buffet, peanuts

    favorite room in the house

    best chair, soft blanket, window to look out, place to read (and nap)

    familiar people

    “ones who know all about you and still like you anyway”

    … seems to be rooted in familiarity, satisfaction (like food)

    What makes you uncomfortable?

    unfamiliar surroundings, new places

    unwanted attention

    When I was a kid, I had a bad stutter

    other kids made fun of the way I talked

    got better, speech therapy

    but to cover up the stutter

    I still thought that if I talked fast I could get the words out before I stuttered

    interested in school plays

    slowing down, I had to work on it

    seemed to always be my biggest problem

    really good drama teacher

    encouraging, worked with me on speaking clearly, projecting

    kept on with plays; school, Community Theater

    stutter got better

    still work on slowing down

    usually have a card in the pulpit reminding me

    during discernment to pastoral ministry

    seemed odd, public speaking, me?

    continued working on speaking

    preaching class

    in front of classmates, prof.

    seminary chapel



    Out of my comfort zone

    I could have decided to draw myself in

    Safe from risking sounding like Porky Pig

    but I would have missed out on opportunities in plays

    no noble reason to keep putting myself out there

    no big success story to tell

    sometimes my stutter shows up

    stammering, or long-delayed response

    where people sometimes think I didn’t hear them

    but working at it keeps me in the possibility of doing something I love – a place to which I believe I have been called


    that’s where I want you to pay attention to today’s gospel lesson

    listen for what the disciples are saying about their comfort level

    where do they want to be?

    why do you think they want to be there?

  2. Tell the Story

    Read the gospel lesson

  3. So What


Today we read about how comfortable Peter was up on the mountain with Jesus.

Up there, away from the crowds, away from other responsibilities,

Peter was hanging out with Jesus and

two of the other disciples, John and James.

Yes, they had a disturbing vision of the transfiguration of Jesus,

the appearance of Moses and Elijah,

and the voice of God booming out from the clouds.

But once they got over all that,

things were pretty good up on the mountain –

makes me think about a line from a poem,

they were “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife”


Reading just past today’s text

we find that the disciples have come back down the mountain.

Jesus leads them back among the crowds

where right away a man brings his son

to be freed of the demon that possessed him,

then there are more teachings and more healings

as they go along their way.


Peter seemed pretty comfortable on the mountain,

and I think he wanted to stay up there for a while.

“Let’s make some places for us to live in up here,”

Let’s stay up here where it’s comfortable,

where we don’t have so much stuff to worry about.

But Jesus would have none of that.

He had taken these three disciples up there

to teach them about his ministry,

to give them a glimpse of his power,

and to teach them about his heritage of prophecy

along the lines of the ancients: Moses and Elijah.


A hero of the faith for me is Dorothy Day

the Catholic layperson who started the Catholic Worker movement,

the one who started feeding the hungry in New York City

during the Depression

from bread lines and soup kitchens.

Also seen the phrase attrib. to Mother Theresa

Dorothy said that her mission in life was to

“comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

In her work she comforted the afflicted,

she fed the hungry.

And in her writings she afflicted the comfortable;

told the stories of the hungry people she fed

as they lined up in the very shadows

of the towering buildings –

edifices of capitalism

in one of the wealthiest cities

of the wealthiest nation in the world.


Dorothy Day chose not to remain comfortable,

but to come off the mountain

and walk back into the crowds like Jesus did.

She lived among the poor people that she served

That’s where Dorothy Day could make a difference.

When I was in seminary,

I learned about the work of people like Dorothy Day

and Clarence Jordan, the Georgia preacher

who had the idea to help sharecroppers build decent homes

for their families

this work turned into the international home-building work

of Habitat for Humanity.


Dorothy and Clarence brought comfort to the afflicted

and they afflicted this comfortable seminary student.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to study at Columbia Seminary,

to learn to read and translate Hebrew and Greek,

to study the scriptures, read the works of theologians,

and study among scholars.

I am thankful for what I learned there.


But I must say that I was transformed

by what I learned from people like Dorothy and Clarence.

And the Open Door Community

Because I would have been more comfortable sitting in my dorm room

I had air conditioning in the summer

and heat in the winter.

I would have been more comfortable

spending my days in the library

among thousands of books, the things I think I love the best.

Those were very comfortable places,

places to live and learn,

and to build a foundation for thinking theologically

and to do ministry

as guided by the teachings of the scriptures

But the places where I can really say I was transformed (for ministry and for life)

Have been outside of those comfortable spots.

I remember traveling from my home in Birmingham in June of 1990

to hear Nelson Mandela speak

after his release from prison in South Africa.

He spoke at the football stadium at Georgia Tech

I was the only white face in the crowd

right around where I was sitting,

and definitely in the minority among the crowd

in GA Tech stadium

and on the subway and bus ride

to where my car was parked

On the 2½ hour drive back to Birmingham

I felt transformed

I realized that was may have been the first time

That I experienced being in the ethnic minority

by feeling what it’s like to be an ethnic minority in the crowd.

It took a step outside of my comfort zone –

at least from what I was used to

And I am grateful for the opportunity to put myself in that place


Another physical stepping out of my comfort level:

walking through Little 5 Points in Atlanta.

how I was transformed by looking for the places

where homeless people slept…

places I missed when I drove my car,

but I saw when I walked instead.

An emotional stepping out of my comfort level:

the “discussion” Kazy and I have sometimes.

How I am being transformed

to step outside of my comfortable self

where I feel protected by not sharing my feelings,

and how I am being transformed as I talk more about them

and how that allows me to be more engaged with Kazy.


Are there times when you have been transformed?

by stepping outside of your comfort level?

Are there ways you can push yourself outside of comfort level,

to take the risk of being transformed?


That’s where Jesus is calling us.

We want to be like Peter,

build a comfortable home

up on the mountain where Jesus is teaching.

But Jesus calls us out of those comfortable dwelling-places,

whether they are physical places or emotional ones,

to be among the people, fellow citizens,

fellow human beings who were also created in the image of God –

and that’s all of us

Because when we step outside of those comfortable places,

we step into the place where it’s possible to be transformed

by the ways Jesus teaches us…

to build community together,

to learn to serve as he teaches us…

comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

To do this – we have to “get up”

Get up and go – off that mountain top

Even if it feels real comfortable there

Like the disciples…

There on the mountain

With Jesus, and their friends

“Far from the madding crowd”

Let’s just stay up here, Jesus

It’s comfortable, we know everybody

(Well, now that we’ve met Moses and Elijah

That was a bit of a surprise)

We don’t have to mess around with all those other people

Sick, hungry, afflicted, broken, unloved

They might be needy,

And we may have to work at the relationship

Or we may find that we’re needy

If we get off this mountain

and have to start doing stuff

So let’s just build some houses and stay up here

Jesus, you can get us whatever we need…


Jesus knew that he had to get them off the mountain

Too comfortable – there were things to do

Jesus had a mission and a ministry to fulfill

And it wasn’t going to happen

In the place where everybody felt comfortable

Because off the mountain – is where the transformation takes place.

And Jesus knows that about us

We tend to like it where things are like we’re used to

… where we feel comfortable

But Jesus wants to get us beyond that place

Off the top of the mountain where we know everybody

And things are comfortable and familiar

Where is that comfortable place for you?

Where is the place you can retreat to?

Where everything is comfortable and familiar

Picture it.

That’s a good place to rest and recharge

We need some time away like that

Transformation begins there


But the full work of a transformed life has to move on

Off the mountain top – where the other people are

Because down there … among life, other people

That’s where we make a community

And it takes work

And it may be outside our comfort level

But Jesus goes with us

And shows us the way

So may it be with us. Amen.

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