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Grand Reversal: Blessings and Woes

Our Gospel narrative this morning is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but with significant and striking differences. These differences tell us about their perspectives on Jesus and his mission (or ministry).

Matthew’s account is more infamous as the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount.

Luke’s account is the Blessings and the Woes from the Sermon on the Plain (“level place“), which is significant. In his account, we experience three primary emphasizes that are the foundation of Luke’s imagine of God and his mission/ministry.

But, before we dive more deeply into it, I want to caution us about a trap:
The desire to envision everything as dualistic, thus everything as “either or”:

  • Black or White
  • Good or Bad/Evil
  • Right or Wrong
  • Blessed or Cursed/Woeful

Scripture, Jesus’ teachings, and our life experiences teach us that this simplistic, dualistic viewpoint is not reflective of our reality. It does allow the extreme voices to be heard while ignoring and silencing the infinite shades of gray that exists in-between.

Lutheran teaching, however, embraces this grey scale with our teachings of the ‘paradoxes’ or the ‘both and’:

  • We are both sinner and saint.
  • We need both the law and gospel.
  • We live both in the civil realm and the divine realm (well, glimpses of it).
  • We are both blessed and cursed/woeful.

Thus, let us avoid the dualistic trap and I will explain further in a moment. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Elizabeth & Mary: Their Stories Shared

During Advent, we have been waiting for this moment…
We have been waiting for the moment when we are not talking about the end times OR some wild man yelling at us, calling us “brood of vipers” and asking “who warned you to flee from the wrath of God to come”.

This morning, we hear about the Jesus we long to receive…
the baby, who will be born in the manger.

We also hear of another important figure in our faith, John the Baptist, whose acknowledgement of Christ while in the womb made a way for the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth, the mother of John, was overcome with the Holy Spirit proclaiming she knows Mary is with child and that her child will be our Savior. Elizabeth’s proclamation led to the Holy Spirit overcoming Mary and giving her voice for the Magnificat.

Elizabeth and Mary are from a long line of woman who have experiences with the Holy Spirit, which enabled God to break into their lives and our world, particularly through the birth of their children.

This year, we have borne witness throughout our world about the need to hear the stories of women more fully. Therefore, although the focus is often on Jesus and John the Baptist, I will be lifting up the stories of Elizabeth and Mary that most people do not know. Their stories are recorded within the Bible, extra-Biblical writings, and church tradition.

I will begin with Elizabeth’s story. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

A Complicated Father’s Day Prayer

It is a simple truth that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be challenging whether it is a difficult relationship with your parent(s)/child(ren), your unfulfilled desire to be a parent, or  your lack of desire to be a parent and the associated societal pressure.

Although I thank all men and women for their parenting of humans and fur-babies through traditional parenting, nieces/nephews, teaching, etc., there are not many resources that represent the limitless reality of these relationships.

Then, a couple of years ago a friend/colleague shared “A Complicated Mother’s Day Prayer” as her Facebook status. I have used it each Mother’s Day since, because it essentially speaks to the story of each person…

BUT, I have not found a similar source for Father’s Day and thus I re-wrote it.

I want you to know that I’m praying for you if you are like Zechariah, struggling with infertility or a miscarriage.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are like Joachim, counting the men among your family and friends who year by year and month by month become fathers, while you wait.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are like King David, and have known the bitter sting of a child’s death.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are like King Solomon, and your father has died.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if your relationship with your father was marked by trauma, abuse, or abandonment, or he just couldn’t parent you the way you needed.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you’ve been like Jesse (father of King David) and put a child up for adoption, trusting another family to love your child into adulthood.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you’ve been like Joseph, called to love children who are not yours by birth (and thus the father who brought that child into your life, even if its complicated).

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you, like many, are watching or have watched your father age, and disappear into the long goodbye of dementia.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are breathlessly awaiting the birth of your first child.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if your children have turned away from you, painfully closing the door on relationship, leaving you holding your broken heart in your hands, and now are fathering alone.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if fatherhood is your greatest joy and toughest struggle all rolled into one.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you are watching or have watched your child battle substance abuse, a public legal situation, mental illness, or another situation which you can merely watch unfold.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you, like so many men before you, do not wish to be a father, are not married, or in so many ways do not fit into societal norms.

I want you to know that I am praying for you if you see yourself reflected in all, a few, or none of these stories.

This father’s day, wherever and whoever you are, we walk with you. You are loved. You are seen. You are worthy. And may you know the deep love without end of our big, wild, beautiful God who is the very best example of a parent that we know. Amen.

Credit to Amy Young for original piece.
Credit to Heidi Carrington Heath for “Mother” adaptation.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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True Sabbath

I was amused as I prepared for this morning, because it can be challenging for a Christian pastor to preach about Sunday as Sabbath or a day of rest. It is the primary and most visible workday of our week, but we also had the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly this week.

The Sabbath, thankfully, is not restricted to a certain calendar day of the week; however, we are still called to take a day of sabbath (rest) weekly.

  • The Israelites and modern Jewish adherents observe Friday (sundown) until Saturday (sundown) as Sabbath.
  • Muslim adherents observe Friday as Sabbath.
  • Christian adherents tend to observe Sunday as Sabbath.

Thus, I was amused as I prepared because Saturday is often my sabbath and the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly was Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Thus, the Sunday a year that sabbath rest is our scriptural focus there was no sabbath rest at hand for me. I wonder if other clergy found it amusing as well.

We, as people of faith, have this mandate or commandment to ‘take a weekly day of rest’, BUT how many of us hold to it?

I literally see two hands. It is interesting to note, it is the youngest among us who are receiving their sabbath rest. (These were ages 3 and 7).

As I pondered our lack of sabbath rest, a song came to mind. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2018 in Sermons, Uncategorized

 

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