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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas 2014

Audio Christmas 2014

Last Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Advent, we wondered what incarnation looks like. We told stories about how we see God-with-us. God-in-the-flesh. Jesus. We wondered how hope, and joy, and peace, and love, takes on flesh and blood. Because, that's what incarnation is, flesh and blood. We celebrate the birth of a baby. God, who is the baby born in a barn, the King on a bed of straw, Jesus, enters our world, our lives, our hearts, because God, the creator of all that is seen and unseen, loves us. God, the creator of the universe, breaks into human history, God shows up to show us the way to mercy and compassion and justice. In this night/morning, all of creation, the sheep and shepherds, the angels, Mary and Joseph, join together singing the love song of the ages, Holy, Holy, Holy. 
We prepare for this birth each year, we wait in the quiet, we are illuminated by the increasing light, and we come to this night/morning, so that we remember who we are. We remember we …

4 Advent Yr B Dec 21 2014

Audio 12.21.2014

So, this Advent I have been thinking a lot about incarnation, God-with-us. God-in-the-flesh. Jesus. And the question that has been rolling around for me is what does incarnation look like? In this time when we wish each other hope, and joy, and peace, how does that take on flesh and blood? That's what incarnation is, flesh and blood.  
And then my mother dies. Right in the middle of Advent. And I remember what incarnation looks like, it looks like they flesh and blood of her life, it looks like the flesh and blood of our lives. Incarnation is showing up for life, incarnation is showing up for the important things and the not so important things. 
Incarnation is showing up to feed people. My mom showed up to feed people. She was known as the donut lady at church. She coordinated the funeral luncheons for years. I heard stories from neighborhood kids that she gave them loaves of freshly baked bread. They would stop in for cookies whether or not we were home. 
Incarn…

2 Advent Yr B Dec 7 2014

Audio 12.7.2014

Are you ready for Christmas? If that means do I have my Christmas tree up, my cookies baked, my presents purchased and wrapped, I do not. If that means dressing like John the baptizer in clothes made of camel's hair and eating locusts and wild honey, again, I do not. Are you ready for Christmas? Are you ready to show up for the nativity? Are you ready to be present for incarnation? Well, I'm getting there, but I'm not there yet. I still have some time.
In the church we tell time differently than the world tells time. In the church, the beginning of the new year is the first Sunday of Advent. One of my favorite stories to tell with children is the story about how the church tells time. The church tells time differently than the way the calendar tells time. Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the morning with about ten children listening to the story and wondering about the church's way of telling time. The mystery of Incarnation is so broad, and wid…

1 Advent Yr B Nov 30 2014

Audio 11.30.2014
The church year turns to another beginning, another new year, filled with hope, expectation, anticipation of better relationships between people, and even countries. Advent invites us to turn.There is a Caribou coffee tag line - life is short, stay awake! I feel that way about Advent, Advent is short, stay awake, stay alert, or you'll miss it.
Indeed, our culture has already missed it. Christmas carols, christmas trees, christmas decorations. Christmas is all around us, and today I encourage you, at least in this sacred space, to make room for Advent.
In the cacophony of Christmas, make room for quiet. In the race to Christmas, make room for waiting, preparing, anticipating. Advent really isn't that foreign to us, it is where we live most of our lives, in the tension of what has been and what is to be. Advent calls us to live that tension intentionally. Rather than be lulled to sleep by the shiny balls and blinking lights, stay awake, stay alert, listen.
Advent…

23 Pentecost Yr A Proper 28 Nov 16 2014

Audio 11.16.2014

The kingdom of God is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He handed everything over to his servants according to their ability, and then he left on his journey. After the man left, the servants did as they pleased with what they were given. When the man returned, each servant gave an accounting for what they had chosen to do with what they had been given. Kathy's translation/interpretation. In this parable a question that gets asked is, is the man, the landowner, God? I think that answer is up to you, I'd like us to look at it just a little bit differently before we get there.
How do we imagine God? And how does how we imagine God shape our relationship with God and with others and with things? I wonder if we imagine God primarily as an enforcer of rules, do we get hung up by the legalism of religion? If we visualize God as stern and prone to punishment, do we come to believe that everything bad in our lives is punishment from God. If we see God as arbitrary…

22 Pentecost Yr A Proper 27 Nov 9 2015

Audio 11.9.2014

Again, we have a difficult passage from Matthew. As I read these passages and reflect on what they mean for us, there are always two things I think about. First, what is it that was going on when the writer or teller of the story, Matthew, first told it. And secondly, what is it we, 21st century followers of Jesus, can hear from it. To the first. Matthew’s parables are exhortations to a community that has come through some significant duress to keep the faith, to confess Christ, and to wait expectantly for his return, even though that return has already been delayed beyond what first generation believers anticipated. Considering that the Thessalonians to whom Paul was writing around 51 AD or so are already anxious that they have missed out on Jesus’ return, we can imagine that it’s quite a bit harder to inspire Matthew’s community to vigilance thirty years later. Now, project that out another nearly 2000 years and there we are. We no longer live in a time where we anti…

All Saints Yr A Nov 2 2014

Audio 11.2.2014

Grandmothers and Grandfathers, ancestors and forebears, the entire cloud of witnesses, stand here beside us. On this day of all saints, we call upon all of those who have taken this journey before us, to stand here with us as we are witnesses today to the love of our creator God, to the life and love and work of Jesus, and the enlivening presence of the Spirit. Stand here beside us, as we struggle to follow Jesus. Stand here beside us, as we grieve for our mothers and fathers and our loved ones who have died. Stand here beside us, as we endeavor to find our identity as the ones who are marked as God's own forever. Stand here beside us, as we continue to hope and find encouragement in the face of loss and discouragement. Stand here beside us, as we courageously invite those we love into a relationship with one another and with Jesus. Stand here beside us, as we strive to be a blessing in the lives of all we encounter. Stand here beside us, as we wonder about what bl…

19 Pentecost Yr A Proper 24 Oct 19 2014

Audio 10.19.2014

Money, politics, and religion, the only missing ingredient for impolite conversation is sex. So why is it we're not supposed to talk about these things? Maybe because these things are felt to be too personal to discuss in public, and too divisive. People feel very strongly about these things and don't want to be told what to think. Unless, of course, you are in some churches, that tell you exactly what to think about just about everything. I'm not going to tell you what to think about any of these things, but, our faith definitely informs us on these things, and today's reading from Matthew is all about these things, therefore, well, there you are.
Money, give to the emperor what is the emperors's. Politics, everyone has to pay taxes. Religion, give to God the things that are God's.
But as we well know, it's never easy, or clear, or straightforward. So what's really going on here? What is the kingdom of God like? 
What we have is actual…

18 Pentecost Yr A Proper 23 Oct 12 2014

Audio 10.12.2014

In the gospel of Matthew, we have been reading the stories of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem, Jesus' final entry into Jerusalem, and Jesus working incredibly hard to teach the disciples every thing that he thinks is essential for them to know when he is gone. Jesus seems to be tired and impatient as he finishes this task of imparting knowledge in the form of parables. The parable we hear today is unfortunately difficult. The preacher is faced with a choice, tackle the difficult parable, or preach on something else. So, first, I'll tell you about the context in which this story is first told. 
David Lose, of The Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, is helping me here. In this parable, as with the one we preached last week, we are catching a glimpse of the low point in an intense family feud. I want to emphasize the word “family” here because Matthew and his community are caught up in a struggle with their Israelite kin about how to be faithful to the…

17 Pentecost Yr A Proper 22 Yr A Oct 5 2014

Audio 10.5.2014

Listen to another parable. The Kingdom of God is like a... actually, in this one it is easier to say what the kingdom of God is not like. The Kingdom of God is not like those who extract a profit at all costs...the Kingdom of God is not like the kinship of honor and privilege of possession. Jesus said to them, "What? Haven't you read the scriptures? Haven't you paid attention? The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom." 
Remember, in the gospel of Matthew we are reading this series of stories and parables, and at the beginning of the 21st chapter, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for the very last time, and goes to the temple, and Jesus drove out all who were selling and buying. Now, the reason they were selling and buying in the temple is that there was a temple tax. But Roman coins had the image of Caesar on them, and those could not be used at the temple because there was a Jewish law aga…

16 Pentecost Yr A Proper 21 Sept 28 2014

Audio 9.28.2014

"By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them. "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you." The Pharisees are astounded at this. They are the authorities in Jesus' world. They hold the power. Who is this Jesus who says that his authority comes from someone or something other than them? Who is this Jesus who eats with tax collectors and prostitutes and sinners, these people who are the scum of the earth? Who is this Jesus? 
We have been hearing about forgiveness and reconciliation in the gospel of Matthew, as well as in the Old Testament Exodus stories for quite a few weeks now. Today’s story from Matthew turns a bit however. What we hear today follows the movement in Matthew of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time, and he asks the disciples to get him a donkey. He rides into Jerusalem on that donkey…

15 Pentecost Proper 20 Yr A Sept 21 2014

Deacon Marty Garwood
September 21, 2014Exodus 16:2-5; Psalm 105:1-6,37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16The kingdom of God is like.....That is what parables do - they help us to visualize what the kingdom of God is like.In today's reading from Matthew we are given a glimpse of what the kingdom of God is like.  It is a time ... it is a place ....... where there are no winners or losers.  Whether you work all day, half a day, or just a few hours, you are paid the same wage.Well that hardly seems fair does it?  But I suppose that my idea of fairness and perhaps your idea of fairness could be shaped in this instance by whether we worked all day in the sun or whether we were one of the later hires.  It is all a matter of perspective.  I am certainly more apt to feel it is fair if I am paid the same wage for my two hours of labor as you were for your eight hours of work.Let me  give you another example,The kingdom of God is like an Episcopal Church.  The founding members of the pa…