Thursday, April 26, 2018

Easter 5 B - 1 John 4:7-21

1 John 4:7-21
“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” You would think the church could get this right since the command to love is the foundation of our faith. Some say the reason the church is in decline today is because those on the outside have finally figured out that the petty jealousies and judgmental attitudes that have come to characterize so many Christian communions are a direct contradiction to the teaching of Jesus. Individual Christians and whole communities elevate their particular doctrines or preferences to the denial of the one law that is in fact binding. Even Unitarians fight over doctrine for God’s sake!  But “the commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” So what can we do that we have not done already? Maybe we should stop doing what we’ve been doing and learn the lesson of love so that “as he is, so we (will be) in this world. I know it is passé but for all the hype around WWJD bracelets and bumper stickers there is only one answer to the question "What Would Jesus Do?" and it is what Jesus did - Love.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Easter 5 B - Psalm 22:25-31

Psalm 22:25-31
Psalm 22 begins not with praise, but lament. “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” In the verses that follow human suffering is spelled out in detail. “My heart melts like wax within me… all my bones are out of joint… a band of dogs surround me… they pierce my hands and feet!“ Insults and mocking and spitting accompany the abuse heaped upon the one who cries out by day with no answer, at night with no rest. Yet this “man of constant sorrow” trusts that the God far off will come near and even if going down to the dust is his destiny praise will spring forth from the grave. Some might call that a fool’s hope and be more inclined to go with Job’s wife’s advice, “Curse God and die.” But then the people yet unborn would not know the sacred story of the God who came so near to humanity as to wear our flesh and die our death so that we might live God’s life.  And so we proclaim and so you believe, “The Lord has acted.” Thanks be to God.  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Easter 5 B - Acts 8:26-40

Acts 8:26-40
The Ethiopian eunuch was well respected in the court of Candice but in Jerusalem he was denied access to the temple of the faith he was so anxious to understand. Cut off from the people of God by race and circumstance he none-the-less worshiped the God whose holy word branded him unclean. It is no surprise then that one so excluded would be drawn to the suffering servant described by Isaiah and wonder if the word about the prophet or someone else might also be a word for him. So God sends Philip the Greek to evangelize the African official into the faith of Jesus the suffering Jew. Irony is not lost on the Lord. Truth is the eunuch already had all the faith he needed and indeed was the one who asked the question, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Unfortunately the church has more often than not excluded those who in the church’s estimation are lacking without allowing that God is more than able to compensate for whatever we are without.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Easter 4 B - John 10:11-18

John 10:11-18
I had a Rambouillet lamb named Louie who grew up to be a sheep so tame as to be a nuisance. I’m not sure the Good Shepherd analogy works when the lamb won’t leave you alone and even the wolf retreats from the constant bleating for treats. On the other hand we are a lot like Louie bleating for treats as if all our Good Shepherd has to do is take care of our every need. But then this text is about the Shepherd and not the sheep and whatever it is we do or say or need doesn’t much matter as the Good Shepherd cares for us by giving and or withholding which in a strange way is still a form of giving. Unfortunately we, like Louie, are often tame to the way of faith so as to be a nuisance to ourselves and everyone else. The good news is that the Shepherd’s life is laid down and picked up to break through our “tameness” and give us a new lease on life which is a treat in and of itself. "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want." Settle down Louie.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Easter 4 B - 1 John 3:16-24

If my mind could convince my heart of the surpassing greatness of God’s goodness maybe it would stop condemning me. But then maybe the purpose of the condemning heart (aka conscience) is to get the mind to pay attention to what the hands are doing or the mouth is saying. Word and speech and truth and action are to work together for the common good which includes our own. That is because when we please God by helping others we are gifted with the Spirit of a quiet heart, a peaceful mind, a mouth full of praise and hands that help.  Martin Luther said it this way “A Christian is a child of the Holy Spirit, an heir of eternal life, a companion to the holy angels, a ruler of the world, and a partaker of God’s divine nature. A Christian is a wonder of the world, a terror to Satan, an ornament of the church, a desirable object of heaven with a heart full of fire, with eyes full of tears, with a mouth full of supplications and with hands full of good works.” That says it all.