Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meditation for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost: “…less listening to internal tradition and more attention to the Word…”

Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10
James 1:17-27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

We spring through the Hebrew Bible reading and psalm, smelling the blossoming vines and scented robes of a royal wedding. Then we hear James discuss pure and undefiled religion. This provides a perfect lead-in to Jesus’ retort to the Pharisees who had accused his disciples of eating with defiled hands: “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Jesus explains further that it’s what comes from within that can defile a person. As church communities, we tend to cling on to internal tradition that inhibits our care for those in distress. We lose our fragrance and become stale, or worse. We forget why we are Church, like those who “look at themselves, and, on going away (from the mirror), immediately forget what they were like.” Pray that in the days ahead we can look less to internal tradition and more to the Word, Jesus Christ, our Beloved.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sermon B 13 Pentecost 16 Proper 26 August 2012

1 Kg 8: [1,6,10-11] 22–30, 41– 43; Ps 84; Eph 6:10–20; JN 6: 56–69

Happy are we who dwell in your house! We will always be praising you! O Lord of hosts, happy are we who put our trust in you. AMEN.

Today we have another facet of John’s Bread of Life discourse in this Mark year. This week, this phrase leapt out at me. “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.” The week was filled with men discussing again—in political situations—what women should or may do with their own bodies, and with our deep sadness for Michael Harnois’ death. While our flesh is often a burden, I don’t it has to be named “useless” too. “Bah,” I say, and “fie.” So much bad theology has risen from that sentence and thought, and yet it cannot be God’s attitude, intention, or way, or why bother with Creation at all? God created people in God’s own image, and saw that it was good. That’s our elemental reality and our place to start; flesh was proclaimed as both made in God’s own image and as good.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Meditation for August 23, 2012: “Who is of God’s household?”

Today's Psalm (84) speaks of the Temple. But the larger subject is those who are at home with God — 'who passing through the vale of misery use it for well; and the pools are full of water.' And so Solomon, dedicating the Temple (I Kings 8), blesses its use even by sinners, and in times of calamity, and by the stranger - 'that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake.' Boundaries — who is of God's household — are also a theme of today's Gospel (John 6:56-69). Unlike the inclusive Solomon, Jesus stresses them, deliberately provoking his hearers ' 'he that eateth my flesh...' Today's outburst in John evidently rescued his followers to the Twelve (v.66-7). Today's Second Reading (Ephesians 6:10-20) - equally shocking - unflinchingly insists the true disciple is a soldier, with sword, and shield, and helmet.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sermon: B 12 Pentecost 15th Proper 19 August 2012

1 Kgs 2:10-12,3:3-14; Ps 111; Eph 5: 15-20; JOHN 6: 51-58
Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. AMEN.
Since we’ve been listening to John’s Bread of Life discourse, I’ve kept the image that’s been with these Meditations on my desktop. I don’t know whether it’s the two, egg-brushed shiny loaves with the budded (or bottony) stubby crosses sitting on each, or the brightly colored, geometrically patterned plate itself that draws me in. “This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” It’s the bright image that reminds me of the double point John makes, of Jesus as the bread of life, while some around Jesus neither sees him, nor the bread, as that which promises and delivers eternal life. The more cheerful and well made the bread and its plate is, in some ways, the harder it is to see it as a mystery, and not just an attractive plate.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Meditation For Sunday August 19th (Proper 15): Wisdom

Our first reading tells how Solomon asks God for wisdom. Our psalm mentions some of God’s great deeds, and mentions wisdom and praise of God. The epistle advises us to live as wise people, filled with the Spirit, ‘as we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among ourselves, singing and making melody to God in our hearts.’ (Church musicians often like this!) All this is well and good, but then we hear one of those mystifying, weird passages from John’s Gospel that seem likely to alienate inquirers…(unless one knows about Holy Communion, and in that setting none of his disciples did, and none of the other Jews did.) Having eternal life, being raised up on the last day, living forever—these are attractive promises intermingled with the strange stuff. How would the wise person deal with all this? Ask God for wisdom about how to share the Good News?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sermon B 11 Pentecost 14 Proper 12 August 2012

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice &… AMEN

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna from heaven and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world in my flesh.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Meditation for Sunday, August 12th

"Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up..."

What harmonious families, churches, and communities we would have if we took these words to heart and spoke words that build up and not words that tear down. We often  either forget, or don't really believe, that we are all members of one another, that we are all the precious daughters and sons of God. There is something in us that delights in hearing and passing on gossip, or in making a cruel observation. In this political season, we're subjected to outrageous claims and distortions, sometimes bordering on outright lies. This makes good copy for the scandal sheets, but it only tears down -- people's reputations and people's faith in our institutions. Not spreading rumors builds up. Saying thank you builds up. Living thankfully with a generous heart builds up. Be a builder

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sermon: B 10 Pentecost Proper 13 August 5 2012

 2 Sam 11:26-12:13a; Ps 51: 1-13; Eph 4: 1-16; JN 6:24-35

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice… AMEN

As I was writing, I had the Meditation’s splendid image of bread on a Mexican painted ceramic plate with me. The bread’s a risen, glazed loaf with a cross of bread worked onto its top, and a small, almost roll-size one too. The plate has a cobalt blue and white edge, and a large 8-pointed star filling the circle. It’s outlined in gold-yellow, and its points are cross-hatched with blue and white squares filled with red dots. There’s more geometric and leaf painting to fill the plate with joy and color, but a picture really is worth a 1000 words. The bread sits on the center’s design of stylized leaves, so that the bread appears as the fruit of its vine, the flower of its plant.

Friday, August 3, 2012

MEDITATION For Sunday August 5th (Proper 13): Living Together

The Collect: Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

It took Nathan telling a parable before David could recognize his own cruelty and greed. Human beings never seem to do too well at loving our neighbors – or even simply managing not to kill them – when we become too powerful, or too isolated: when we lose our ties to community. The exhortation to the Ephesians challenges us to see ourselves not as self-contained, fully autonomous units, but as parts of a Body so much greater and more important than ourselves. We each have gifts to give that are necessary for our life together. We can only ever fully become what God created us to be when we help build up the Body that we try to become together, week by week, when we receive the Bread of Life.