Here's the link http://www.crossings.org/thursday/2014/thur082114.shtml
The liturgy we used at Gloria Dei and First English this weekend that affirmed the vocation of daily work can be found on the crossings.org website. I know several people who are active in this remarkable law/gospel community. If you get a chance, peruse the website. Several years ago I went to one of the January events. Good theological reflection.
Here's the link http://www.crossings.org/thursday/2014/thur082114.shtml
2014 – Pentecost 12 – 8/31/14
Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
Pr. Dean Lueking asks in his commentary on today’s Gospel "Can the hard word of the cross of Christ and the reasons he had to endure it even get a hearing in an atmosphere so unwilling to allow the truth that purposeful living comes by dying to the well-stroked ego and that fulfillment is the secret learned through servanthood?"
I think the answer to his question is no and yes.
Very few people truly do not believe in a higher power of some sort or another. Many of the non-church going folk I bump into talk about how God exists to make their life better. God has many names, but most importantly God exists to comfort me in my distress, heal me when I am sick, help me succeed in school and work, and help me find the perfect life companion, the perfect deal on life’s big purchases such as cars and houses and investments. God definitely wants me to get the promotion and makes lots more money. The list goes on. But, the basic understanding is that God wants me to be happy and successful and demands nothing of me.
With that frame of mind the answer to Pastor Lueking’s question is “no.” In such a way of thinking there is no place for the cross as sacrifice and a life that is cross bearing.
The answer is yes, when people from all walks of life and all income levels gather around the Word of God and Sacraments. We come because despite the amount of money we have in the bank, despite our success, despite the clothes that we wear, despite how things look on the outside, deep down we are incomplete without the cross.
The cross of Christ is the truth. Jesus sacrifices his God-human self on the cross so that we may know God’s love. We are incomplete without God. We are in deep need not only of human forgiveness, but of God’s forgiveness. We are in deep need of knowing that our future is secure in God.
Yes, the call to discipleship has a hearing with us. A life intentionally, purposefully lived has a hearing with us. In response to God’s love for us, we love others. Love is not always easy. The way that discipleship is carried out is in the mundaneness of life. Decision to check on and care for the elderly neighbor whose family has moved away; decision to raise the grandchildren because the kids are making selfish decisions right now; decision to be fair to and pray for the difficult person in our midst.
The Apostle Paul offers additional words about discipleship. Discipleship is not about becoming a missionary and going to a far away land. Discipleship is about bring the mission of God into our ordinary lives. Hear again what Paul says in Romans 12:
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[a] 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[b] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;[c] for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Yes, we do hear the call to discipleship. For the cross of Christ is at the center of each of our relationships and in the midst of every situation we find ourselves.
Next week we will have an opportunity as two congregations to come together for worship together at Gloria Dei at 10:30 Sunday morning. And, we will have an opportunity together to extend hospitality to strangers and sit with people we do not know when we serve Sunday dinner at Broadway Christian Parish after worship. If you are not serving, I invite you to join me in the dinner, as we are representatives of Christ to our neighbors. All God’s people say…Amen.
This Sunday's Gospel is Matthew 16:21-28. In his commentary on the lesson, F. Dean Lueking asks a penetrating question.
"Can the hard word of the cross of Christ and the reasons he had to endure it even get a hearing in an atmosphere so unwilling to allow the truth that purposeful living comes by dying to the well-stroked ego and that fulfillment is the secret learned through servanthood?"
That is one challenging question for all of us to ponder.
Lueking, F. D. "Matthew 16:21-28 Year A." The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday's Texts: The Third Readings: The Gospels. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans for Young Readers, 2005. 98-100. Print.
I benefit greatly from ebooks. I have a kindle and use it regularly. It's soooo nice not to lug around tons of books as I migrate from one church building to another. In theory, I agree with the development of bookless libraries. However, one of things that gets lost is the serendipitous nature of research. One of my professors from college talked about when writing a paper you want to go into the stacks and just walk down the aisles and look at the books, because you may discover something that wasn't obvious when you were in the catalogue. Or, may find articles in journals, that you didn't know existed but are pertinent.
Search engines are incredible, but they do take away some of the joy of the hunt. And, at this point, they don't let you find something that you didn't know you were looking for. Or at least not in the same way in which walking the stack would allow for a surprise find.
Here's the link that led to the partial lament.
David Mills offers a thoughtful reflection on the usefulness and the limitations of in article "Through Others' Eyes: on the limited Virtues of Reading" in the July/August 2014 edition of Touchstone. He quotes C. S. Lewis from An Experiment in Criticism.
My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others... In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
September 3 our Wednesday Morning Bible study begins again. I am continuing my teaching on the Creeds of the Church. Today I am working on the presentation for the Athanasian Creed. Athanasius is the icon image above. Athanasius did not write the Athanasian Creed. The Double Procession simply was not on the theological table yet. I find this wikipedia article to be very helpful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed
“Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself.”
St. Francis DeSales who was born on this day, 1567
Many of us are harder on ourselves than on others.
The 2,000 year anniversary of August Ceasar's death.
2014 Pentecost 10
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:[10-20] 21-28
There are ways of dealing with problems. The disciples are developing a pattern in how to deal with problems. They want to send their problems away. It is a common enough solution. Kicking the can further down the road is a way of sending the problem away. Firing the person who is the identified problem is another way of sending the problem away. Transferring to another department or state or country is another way of sending the problem away.
The disciples earlier wanted Jesus send the 5,000 or more of people away from him because they were hungry. Send them away so they can get something to eat. The disciples want to send the Canaanite woman away. All of her shouting is a problem. Please Jesus, send her away. She is bothering all of us.
Sometimes sending the problem away is the right solution. But, if Jesus had done what the disciples wanted, two phenomenal God moments would have been missed. We would have missed the feeding of the 5,000 and the demonstration that Jesus is the bread of life. He gives life abundantly. And, we would have missed the surprising sighting of someone who is pure in heart.
Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
The thing is, that loud, insistent woman is not supposed to be the pure in heart. And, she is certainly not supposed to see Jesus as God. Jesus withdrew to Tyre and Sidon. This is Gentile territory. But, the woman who needs healing for her daughter is not just a gentile, she is a Canaanite woman. Canaanite’s are that idolatrous and deceitful group of people who interfered in Israel entering and keeping the Promised Land. As time progressed, Israel was seduced by the Canaanite gods and quit following the one true God who rescued Israel from the promised land.
And, here she is. A representative of all the bad decisions that Israel ever made who sees Jesus for who he is and what he is. She calls him LORD. In the Gospel of Matthew, the word Lord is a statement of faith. A confession of who Jesus is. And, she calls Jesus Son of David. Unlike the Pharisees, she sees Jesus as Messiah. She places her faith in him.
If there is ever an unlikely candidate for faith in Christ, this is it. She is, as Jesus says “pure in heart, for she sees God.” And, if there is anyone who is an unlikely candidate to receive the mercy of God from a Jewish male teacher, she is it.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. The Canaanite woman is indeed blest because Jesus has mercy upon her and her daughter. She is healed.
One of the points that the Scriptures make again and again is that Life in the kingdom of God is full of surprises. Faith and heroic acts and mercy go to the most unlikely of characters.
When we are tempted as a church to send a problem away, I think we need to take pause, a God surprise may be just around the corner waiting to take our breath away and lead us deeper into faith. All God’s people say…Amen.