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Showing posts from May, 2009

Feast of Pentecost

On Thursday night I watched some of the finals of the national spelling bee. I always feel like a geek when I watch that, but I am fascinated by the focus those young people have on hearing the words to spell. They were able to spell based on pronunciation, based on etymology and language, but it all came down to their ability to convert what they heard into letters in our particular English alphabet. I am most impressed when those words don’t even come from the English language.

Hearing well and listening well is so very important for us. I am always mindful of my diction and delivery when I am speaking in public. It is very important to me that my words are heard clearly, if people can clearly hear what I say, I’m most of the way there to people understanding what I say.

This Feast of Pentecost that we celebrate is the occasion at which the story tells us that the Holy Spirit came from Heaven like the rush of a violent wind and tongues like fire appeared among them. In John’s gospel …

7 Easter Yr B

The Gospel of John is an amazing story. It is a story whose purpose is stated in the 20th chapter, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” This story shows us these signs so that we may have life in Jesus. The passage we have before us today is a prayer at the time when Jesus knows that he will die. It begins in the first verse of chapter seventeen and continues to the end of the chapter, we have heard just a snippet of the prayer today. Jesus prays that his followers may know his father, Jesus prays for protection for his followers, and Jesus prays that they may know the truth, and that the world may know the father through them, his disciples. It is astounding.

If we believe that in the incarnation God comes into the world as one of us, to live, love, laugh, suffer…

6 Easter Yr B

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I do not call you servants any longer, but I have called you friends.

As it becomes clear in John’s gospel that Jesus is bringing something entirely new to Jews and Gentiles, there also is a parallel movement in the gospel from servant to friend. In the foot washing story which precedes this story, Jesus says to those gathered that he has set an example, and that his followers should do as he has done. Servants are not greater than their master. We read that story on Holy Thursday each year as an example of servanthood. The story that is before us today, and that follows narratively in this text, is this story that shows us transforming love. Servanthood becomes friendship. What’s the difference? The master and slave or servant relationship was one-way. Master to servant. The main feature of Jesus’ new commandment, love one another as I have loved you, is friendship. The disciples are to be attached to Jesus …

5 Easter Yr B

The only planting and growing I’ve ever really done is by accident. When I can throw seeds on the ground, cover them with good dirt, and leave them go, I am a successful gardener. You should have caught that I left out the watering part, the weeding part, the pruning part, because I tend to leave those parts out. I have been successful at growing tomatoes and beans, some green peppers, but not in this soil. So far anything I’ve planted in the garden here has died, too hot, too dry, and not enough effort. Vines and branches, mustard seeds, wheat and grain, Jesus sure liked to use metaphors of planting and harvesting, illustrations that bear much more fruit than my planting escapades.

There are two major metaphors of Jesus’ relationship with us presented in the Gospel of John. Last week was the good shepherd who calls us by name. Today it is this metaphor of the vine. In the other Gospels, there are other images. It is important to understand that there is not one way to describe, or il…

4 Easter Yr B

Hear the sound of your name as the one you love speaks it. Hear the sound of your name as your best friend in all the world is on the other end of the phone. Remember the sound of your name when your mom called you for dinner, or maybe used your entire name when you did something you shouldn’t have done, or sang you to sleep at night. Even remember the sound of your name when used in anger, or in fear, Kathy, get out of the street! When you hear your name like this, you know the one who is speaking it knows who you are. They’ve known you forever, they knew you before you were born, they’ve expected your homecoming, they named you, they love you.

Today we hear Jesus call us by name, if we are the sheep, and Jesus is the shepherd. In the verses right before these we heard read this morning, Jesus says “the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voi…