Friday, February 23, 2018

Lent 2 B - Romans 4:13-25

Romans 4:13-25
Abraham “is the father of us all” is how Paul puts it. Three faiths claim what Paul proclaims. Father Abraham and Mother Sarah birthed Judaism through Isaac. Islam’s claim came through Ishmael, the son of Sarah’s slave. And Christianity only got included by adoption. I wonder if God intended us to consider the children of the father of many nations as extended family. I don’t mean all branches of the family tree are able to hope against hope as the adopted children do. The legitimate children depend on who they are and what they do to be acceptable in the God of Abraham’s sight while we who didn’t have a prayer to be included recognize (I hope) our fortunate son and daughter status is due to what has been done for us. Therefore we hope against hope because truth is we were as good as dead before the mercy and grace of God appeared in the Christ, who was handed over to death for our rebellion and raised for our justification.  Given the grace extended to us there may be room within our faith tradition to embrace the entire human family as brothers and sisters and work towards the good of all so that the faith of the adopted child becomes the way the other children of Abraham and Sarah and Hagar can also hope against hope and be reconciled to Abraham's God by the only legitimate Son who is Abraham’s Lord.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lent 2 B - Psalm 22:23-31

Psalm 22:23-31
The Gospels only record Jesus crying out “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1) but I imagine he recited the rest of Psalm 22 under his breath. That is because His cry of dereliction was for our deliverance as "the people yet unborn" would hear the proclamation; “The Lord has acted!” But I wonder if it wasn’t for himself as well. Hanging naked, bleeding, dying while the multitudes mocked him Jesus sought out the psalm that both spoke to his agony “a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet; all my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.” (vs. 16, 17) and strengthened his resolve “the Lord does not despise or abhor the poor and the Lord’s face is not hidden from them; when they cry out, the Lord hears them.” So it is with us when faced with suffering and sorrow beyond our ability to bear. Just like Jesus we pour out our complaints to God trusting God hears us so that commending our spirits into God’s tender mercy we are confident God will deliver on the promise of peace in the here and now and the forever future.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lent 2 B - Genesis 17:1-16

Genesis 17:1-16
Ninety-nine is not too old for a new life and a name change, though Abraham might have preferred to be circumcised as an infant. I’m just saying. Of course Abraham wouldn’t be the father of many nations without Sarah and even if Isaac is named for her laughing at the thought of a child in her golden years it should be noted that Abraham laughed out loud at the thought as well. But that’s the way it is when you’ve spent a lifetime waiting for a promise to come true only to be disappointed time and again. And I imagine it became more difficult after Hagar bore Ishmael for then there was no doubt as to who was to blame for Sarah’s barren womb. But somehow through all the years Abraham and Sarah endured the sideways glances and whispered comments for the sake of the promise they barely believed. When the promise came true they were just as surprised as everyone else and we are as blessed by their laughing as their believing for if God allows room for disbelief in the mind of father Abraham and mother Sarah perhaps our believing has room for the doubtful laugh.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lent 1 B - Mark 1:9-15

Mark 1:9-15

When immediately after hearing “You are my Son, the Beloved” you are driven into the wilderness where Satan and the wild beasts hold sway the temptation is to doubt one’s “Beloved” status. Satan doesn’t have to do much more than ask the question in the same way Satan asked the first humans, “Did God really say…?” The question sowed doubt in their minds and it may have in the Beloved’s as well. But where the first humans gave doubt its due, the Beloved let the voice “You are my Son” speak louder than his hunger or the tempter’s deceit or the wild beasts in the wilderness. We are tempted in the same way when we find ourselves driven into the wilderness of circumstances beyond our control or difficulties created by our own design. Doubting our “beloved” status leads us to live in ways that devalue self and others so that we buy the lie and lose the paradise of peace and joy and love. The good news is that Jesus abandoned paradise to live in the wilderness of our world so that in "the kingdom of God has come near" we might repent and believe the Good News. We are loved.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lent 1 B - Psalm 25:1-10

Psalm 25:1-10
“Do not remember the sins of my youth” is the psalmist 's plea to God to not remember the sins the psalmist cannot forget. It is often true for us as well. The sins of the past haunt the present and color the future a darker shade of grey. Even those of us who claim that grace abounds and that God forgives and forgets find ourselves mired in the mud of the past where we willfully stepped off the path of the Lord and rejected the ways that were made known to us. But God, mindful of mercy, is always present to shed light on that which we prefer to hide so that in the confession of regret and guilt and shame God might make “a new beginning from the ashes of our past.” (We Are Baptized in Christ Jesus by John Yilvisaker) When God instructs sinners in the way the first lesson is that whoever we were and whatever we may have done or left undone has been forgotten and no longer defines our present or predicts our future for when we put on Christ we are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)