Archive for December 2011

A Death Allowed

December 30, 2011

The following poem is based on today’s gospel (John 4:43-54), and is a follow-up to yesterday’s post as well as a blade to till the soil for this coming Sunday’s sermon.

A second wonder in Cana.
A second word to give one pause.

Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.

Miracles – signs that bolster our faith,
a faith that ultimately rests on a death allowed –
the death of the Most Royal Official’s Son.
His death revealing how beyond self-saving we are;
how wretched our sin,
how whelming the flood of our suffering,
now engulfing the Son of the Most High.
Such love, such love.
(almost enough to make one believe)

Such power!
To alleviate and liberate,
to heal the sin-sick soul,
to transform all creation.

Resurrection! The fruit of dying.

Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies….
A mustard seed faith that grows out of a death allowed,
our own.


December 29, 2011

Today’s gospel reading contains the story of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Jesus’ initial response to his mother’s low-on-wine alert got me thinking…

“Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come.”

Distance from family. (“Woman.” That’s no way for a son to address his mother.)

Distance from circumstances. (“What does this have to do with us?”)

Distance from the tyranny of the urgent. (“My time has not yet come.”)

Distance that’s necessary to hear God…

who may end up telling us to do the expected after all,
but for reasons others don’t detect
and for purposes that will only later be known.

Lost…and Found

December 28, 2011

Today’s gospel reading is the parable of the lost sheep — where the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep that stayed put in order to find the one sheep that wandered off.  Jesus ends the parable by saying, “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:14).

I’m intrigued by what this parable teaches about what it means to be “lost.”

When I grew up, the term “lost” referred to people who were going to hell. But that doesn’t seem to be the meaning in this parable. So what does it mean that the sheep was lost? (more…)

Christmas Offering

December 23, 2011

Our BRC Christmas Eve offering this year goes toward the recovery efforts in Schoharie. If you have a few minutes, watch this video to know why your gift is needed.

Mary’s Righteousness

December 22, 2011

In Sunday’s sermon (“Think Big, but Think Small”) I suggested that the Son of God became a nothing to a nobody. In Philippians 2 the apostle Paul tells that Jesus “made himself nothing.” Mary, given what little we know about her, was virtually a nobody. I may have unintentionally offended when I spoke of Mary in this way. I’m not suggesting that Mary was a nobody, anymore than I’m suggesting that Jesus was a nothing. The main point is that Jesus emptied himself and became an embryo, a zygote, and eventually a servant. Likewise Mary, whoever she was at the time (and we know less about her religious or spiritual background than even that of the parents of John the Baptist), emptied herself and made her womb and her future available to the Son of God. (more…)

Grace Unabridged

December 21, 2011

I’ve sensed for some time that the church of Jesus Christ today needs to rediscover a more robust, biblical understanding of grace. The lectionary readings for today give strength to that conviction. In 2 Samuel 7:14-15a, God says to David about his royal offspring, “I will become his father and he will become my son. When he sins, I will use other people to punish him, with wounds inflicted by human beings. But my loyal love will not be removed from him….” In Titus we read, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires….” While reminding Titus that we “have been justified by his grace,” Paul also encourages Timothy to “communicate these things with the sort of exhortation or rebuke that carries full authority.(more…)

Getting Back to Our First Love

December 8, 2011

You have forsaken your first love.” This is the Lord’s surprising indictment against the Ephesian church in one of yesterday’s lectionary readings (Revelation 2:1-7) First Jesus lists a number of things the things church is doing well. The church in Ephesus is working hard and with perseverance. It doesn’t put up with wicked people, those who have tried to destroy the body for personal gain. It has also kept its distance from so-called “apostles” who preach a different gospel. It has endured incredible hardships for the sake of Christ and hasn’t complained or grown weary. (more…)