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God Plays The Long Game

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Today's daily lectionary comes to us from Ephesians 2:4-7 which reads: 
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul sure had a way with words.  Although sometimes it's a little challenging to understand exactly what he's talking about.  

Ephesians 2 is one of those moments where it's a little hard to follow what Paul means when he says things like:  

"... even when we were dead through our trespasses [God] made us alive together with Christ..."   

"... raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places..."  

Paul had a particular vision for what had transpired when Jes…

Answer Me Quickly, O Lord

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Today's lectionary text comes to us today from Psalm 143, a psalm that is attributed to David, the great king of Israel.

This particular psalm is traditionally held to have been written when he was on the run, fleeing for his life from his father-in-law King Saul.  Here in these two verses, David offers a fervent prayer:
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
    or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
8 Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
    for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.
It occurs to me as I sit here writing this that my version of being sheltered in place, quarantined, locked down, whatever you want to call it is not at all terrible.

For example, my version is vastly different than what a single mom, living in an apartment with three kids is experiencing...

Or a working family living paycheck to paycheck, without any paycheck is going through right now...

I…

Reading The End Of The Story

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Today's lectionary text for today comes from Luke 24:44--a moment when the resurrected Jesus appears suddenly and mysteriously to his disciples while they are gathered together in a room.

He calms them down, hangs out with them, and even eats some broiled fish.

I actually love that Luke's Gospel includes these details.  It makes it seem so down-to-earth, so absolutely real.  And then Jesus begins to exhort his followers with these words:
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”I had to wonder why this particular passage was included in the Lenten readings for the Daily Lectionary. 

It seems a bit odd, doesn't it?  Why would we be reading about a post-resurrection moment when we haven't even gotten to the point in the story where Jesus goes to Jerusalem and ultimately is crucified?

Here's what I have come to realize abo…

Fifth Sunday of Lent - Can These Bones Live?

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Today is the Fifth Sunday of the season of Lent---a season when we can prepare ourselves for our journey with Jesus.... Forty days of letting go of what keeps us from following Jesus and taking up whatever brings us closer to Him. 

The passage of Scripture that we're going to be exploring today is one of the most dramatic scenes from the Hebrew Scripture:  The vision of the valley of dry bones in the prophet Ezekiel.  

Since this whole passage is about bones I got to thinking about all of the things that we learn from bones... What do bones tell us?  

If you watch shows like  Forensic Files or any other true crime television program, most likely you will catch an episode where the crime was solved and a murderer was brought to justice all because of what forensic analysis told us about a bone fragment.  

Bones can tell a story.  Have you ever seen the recreation of some long dead person's features based solely on what can be learned from their skull?  Pretty incredible, right?

Bone…

And He Shall Reign For Ever and Ever

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Today's lectionary reading comes to us from Revelation 11:15-19, which might seem like an odd choice.  Here is what it says:
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord    and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”If you thought those words sounded a bit familiar, you've probably heard them sung before, even if you've never really read them.  That last line is prominent in the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah: 

"The kingdoms of this earth have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ... and he shall reign for ever and ever..."  

With no shame, I will say that when I hear that part of the chorus sung... I always get choked up.  And I haven't really thought about exactly why this is so.  And so today I decided to think about it, especially in light of our current situation.

When you listen to the "Hallelujah Ch…

Morning Is Coming

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Today's lectionary text comes to us from Psalm 130---the following excerpt is what was speaking to me as I read it:  

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
     Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

The first thing that struck me about this psalm is that the Psalmist cries out to God "from the depths."   

From the depths of what, exactly?   The depths of despair?  The depths of suffering?  The depths as it relates to the deep, darkness between death and life? 

It's not clear exactly, but whatever the Psalmist means exactly isn't all that relevant because there's a universality to the word, isn't there?  Each of us knows our own depths, and for some of us the depths right now mean different things. 

There's the depths of fear that com…

You Shall Call Your Walls Salvation

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Today's lectionary text comes to us from Isaiah 60:17-18.  There was more to the lectionary passage, but these verses stood out to me like a flashing neon sign. 

It's impossible for me to read the Bible now without looking for signs and messages that connect with our current circumstances.  

When you are in crisis, every moment has the potential to be imbued with meaning, and the same goes for Scripture, I'm learning.  This is what I read this morning: 
I will appoint Peace as your overseer    and Righteousness as your taskmaster.Violence shall no more be heard in your land,    devastation or destruction within your borders;you shall call your walls Salvation,    and your gates Praise. - Isaiah 60:17-18I needed to see those verses.  I needed that promise.  

I'm feeling kind of raw and emotional today for some reason.  I have these moments when I am so filled with joy that I can't seem to contain it in my chest.  And then ten minutes later, I find myself sinking into sa…