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Showing posts from March, 2020

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…

Let It Be With Me

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Today's lectionary text comes to us from Luke chapter 1 focusing on one particular verse, which we'll get to in a moment.  

The passage that contains this verse is known as the Annunciation of Mary--the moment when Mary is told by the angel Gabriel that her life is about to change.  

She is told that she will become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that the child she gives birth to will be the promised Messiah, the Savior of all humankind and all of Creation with it.  

Naturally, she was a bit taken aback by this.  

By all accounts Mary was just a teenager, and even though she was not yet married, she was engaged, which was kind of the same thing in first-century Jewish practice.  

Which meant to be found pregnant while being engaged was the same as having committed adultery--an offense that could be punishable by death.  

Also, there was this:  

Conventional wisdom on the matter would obviously lead one to believe that there is no way on God's green earth that such …

These Are The Things I Will Do

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Today's lectionary text comes to us from the prophet Isaiah 42:14-16, which reads: 
14 For a long time I have held my peace,
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor,
    I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    and dry up all their herbage;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
    and dry up the pools.
16 I will lead the blind
    by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
    and I will not forsake them.
There is so much I love about this strange passage.  God is speaking here to the people of God through the prophet.  

God is responding to all of the hardships that God's people have endured---specifically those who are vulnerable and on the margins.  And what a response!  

The prophet purports that God is saying:  

"I've been silent, and held back while all of…

Experiencing Jesus

The lectionary text for today comes to us from Acts 9:1-20, but I'm only going to focus on a few verses.  

First I want to read verses 1 & 2 of the chapter: 
1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.This story is about the conversion of St. Paul, the author of half of the New Testament, a man who singlehandedly was responsible for planting churches during the first century all over the Roman Empire, including in Rome.  

But at one point in his story Paul was called Saul, a Pharisee, a potential star rabbi, with an assured seat on the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council. And Saul hated Christians.  He even took responsibility for the execution of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  

In the first part of this passage Saul is breathing out threats an…

4th Sunday of Lent - "One Thing I Do Know"

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Today is the Fourth Sunday of the season of Lent---the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  This is a season when we can prepare ourselves for our journey with Jesus--forty days of letting go, and taking up.

And on this Fourth Sunday of the season of Lent, we're going to be talking about how we can prepare for our journey in Jesus footsteps by taking stock of what we can know for sure when it comes to our faith story.

In the faith communities I grew up in, we would call the moment you decided to become a Christian "getting saved."  People would ask you, "when did you get saved?"  And you would respond with "I got saved when I was twelve, or twenty, or last week."

But the critical aspect of this was that you be able to remember a moment when it happened.  Because that moment was the moment when you would pray what was commonly known as the "Sinner's Prayer," and invite Jesus to "come into your heart."

Unless you could remem…

The Purpose Of Life

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Today's lectionary text comes to us from Ephesians 5:8-9
8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.This verse spoke to me, and I had to sit and read it a few times to get in touch with exactly why.  And then it came to me.  We are different now.  All of us.  

The world changed almost overnight.  Just a few weeks ago, it was life as usual--busy, crazy, hustle, bustle... We took for granted the meetings that we attended at work.  We passed by each other in the grocery store without really speaking. 

And now... I went to the grocery store yesterday and found myself wandering around marveling at all of the things that were gone from the shelves.  My eyes met those of the people I encountered.  I spoke to more people than I ever have.  

I found myself genuinely thanking the workers for being there, and told them how much we all appreciated their sacrifice.  

I even …

Thou Art With Me

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Todays lectionary comes to us from Psalm 23.  I thought I would share the whole psalm, considering it's one that is dear to so many of us: 

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3     he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

I'm struggling this morning to find the silver lining in any of the clouds that have descended upon us.  

It doesn't help that there's nothing but rain and clouds in the weather forecast for the next five days.  If only the sun would come out. If only the news wo…