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Showing posts from May, 2020

Pentecost 2020

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Today is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church.  

This is the day that the Church Universal acknowledges the events that took place in Acts chapter 2 when a few frightened followers of Jesus who were shut up in the same house together, wondering what they were supposed to do next were suddenly lit on fire by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

That fire seemed to descend upon them and burned so bright within them that they took the Church outside of those walls and into the city where eventually 3,000 people who had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot became followers of Jesus.  

This is the story that we tell each and every Pentecost Sunday.  And generally, I would be preaching directly from that passage as I have done each year for virtually all of the years I've been preaching.  

But not this year.  

This year is different.  

This year we'll be hearing a different story... 

which is fitting because this Pentecost is unlike any Pentecost any of us have ever experienced. 

It…

We Cant' Breathe.

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God,

We don't know what to do.

Our black and brown siblings can't breathe.

Injustice has had its knee on their necks for so long now--crushing their dreams, cutting off the air of freedom, rendering them helpless and hopeless.

What would we do if we couldn't breathe?

We would fight for our lives.  We would fight for every breath.  We would struggle to survive.

We would do anything to find air, to fill our lungs with hope, to simply stay alive.

This has been our sibling's reality--one that many of us cannot possibly understand.

We are in grief.  But we don't know what to do.

All we can know is this.  When there are some of us who can't breathe... we all are fighting for air.

God, we know that to you... all lives matter, but when some of us are struggling for air, we need to pay attention to them, attend to them. 

You created this way.  You created us to breathe for one another, to stand up when some of us cannot stand... because they are being kept down... being suffocated…

Listening For The Spirit

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In the Gospel of John Jesus told his followers before he was crucified, buried and raised from the dead that even though he would be gone from them that:
When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father--the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father--he will testify about me. - John 15:26This Sunday at my church we'll be celebrating that moment on the Day of Pentecost when, as outlined in the New Testament book of Acts, the promised Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Jesus and the Church was essentially born.

From time to time I will get asked a very important question about the Day of Pentecost that is not that easy to answer:

"So, if the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, does that mean that the Spirit was not present before then?"

In other words, was the "Third Person" of the Trinity just dormant, hanging out, waiting, etc. until that moment to appear on the scene for the first time?  Or are we missing something?

I've heard lots of di…

Sehnsucht

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One of the many things that I've been learning throughout the Corona Crisis is that there are many things that I can do without.

Cable boxes, for example, are not a necessity.  You can just stream everything, including all the cable channels.  We had one of those boxes on every TV in our house, costing us $8 a month. I dropped a whole bag of them off at the cable company office the other day, saving us nearly $720 a year!

I can also do without wearing real pants for very nearly the entire day, and no one knows because I'm only on video from the waist up.  This is a game changer. I mean, I'm wearing pants just not real ones... gym shorts, mostly.

What I have learned that I can't live without however are the moments when I've been able to sit outside, taking in the sunlight, the gentle breeze of morning, the birds singing in the trees around my house...

I also have discovered that I can't live without doing this every day--sitting down, thinking, praying, journaling,…

After The Rain

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The sun came out today for a while in between thunderstorms, including a massive one that blew through Austin and its surrounding area this past Sunday.  

We live on a hill and have large tiered flowerbeds in our back yard, so when the rain is really pouring down it creates an awesome waterfall.  

I always get this weird sort of satisfaction from walking around in my back yard after a rain storm, especially when the sun comes out and our plants and flowers begin to respond.  

But mostly I just love watching our drainage system do its thing.  It's soothing. 

There's generally a small stream that will form and make its way through our rock landscaping and then into an a main drain that will carry it away down the hill and ultimately to the main gutter. 

I've been thinking about things like my drain more deeply than usual.  I know, it's odd but hear me out.  

The main reason why I found it so soothing to watch the rain water trickle is that while most of the it is being carried…

Fear Itself

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I was reading an article the other day about what we can learn about people based on the ways that they have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My Facebook feed is a petri dish for that kind of experiment.  My friends have been all over the map when it comes to their responses to all of this, and I've learned a lot about them as a result. 

For example, I have more than a few friends and acquaintances who have not been shy about how they feel about being quarantined.

Some believe that they are being responsible by being cautious, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.

And others feel it is their responsibility to get back to the way things used to be when bars and restaurants were open and people didn't walk around wearing masks and standing six feet apart.

There are extremes on that spectrum, to be fair.  I've had to unfollow more than a few people over the course of these past two months just to keep from ruining my Christian witness, if you know what I mean. 

Bless …

The Grudge - Week Three: 490 Times (And Counting)

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Today we are concluding the sermon series, "The Grudge," a series that has been focused on letting go of past hurts in order to move forward.  

Over the past couple of weeks we've been learning about the importance of letting go of grudges, and how the people who get hurt the most when holding a grudge happen to be... us.  

We've also learned how the hardest person to forgive is typically us, too.  

But today we will be turning our attention to others, and discovering just how many times we have to forgive---according to Jesus. 

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness over the course of this quarantined existence that we've been living through over the past two months and change.  

There are some things that keep happening in my house that I'm finding hard to forgive.  Mostly this relates to my kids, unfortunately.  Being trapped in the house with them has brought me face to face with some pretty unforgivable behavior that has tested my mettle, if you know …

Time Enough At Last

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Time is funny.

It crawls when you are waiting for the next thing.  But it seems to fly when you aren't paying all that much attention to it.

Remember what it felt like to watch the clock in your elementary school classroom as it inched toward 3 o'clock or whenever your school let out for the day?  It felt like time had very nearly come to a halt, didn't it?

The opposite has been true lately for me.  I wake up at 5AM (or so) and then it feels like a blink of an eye and it's 9PM and I'm exhausted and wondering what happened to all of the time I thought I had when I  arose.  

Time is funny.

Did you know that time is not really linear?  There is not really a straight line from point "A" or a point "B" when it comes to Time. Time is actually curved, if that makes sense.

For example, a person floating in the space station above earth will experience time at a faster rate than those of us on terra firma.  This is because time will bend due to differences in …

Harmonices Mundi

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In 1619, the German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler published his masterwork, Harmonices Mundi  (Latin: Harmony of the World). 

For centuries before Kepler, philosophers had spoken metaphorically of the "music of the spheres"-- the idea that the celestial bodies, in our solar system moved in a way that was a form of music. 

Kepler actually discovered something deeper.  He asserted that there were physical harmonies in planetary motion. He found that the difference between the maximum and minimum angular speeds of a planet in its orbit approximates a harmonic proportion.

Kepler claimed that each celestial body moved in a way that formed part of a piece of music that was filled out by the parts of the other celestial bodies.  In other words, the sun, moon and planets were singing. 

I'm not a mathematician or an astronomer, so the details of Kepler's work make me dizzy.  But the thought of a song being "sung" by the universe around us absolutely blows…