Monthly Archives: March 2014

Who’s Really Blind?

Lent 4A: Change of Sight: Who’s Really Blind?

eyeJohn 9:1-41

March 30, 2014

 

Katie was a classmate of mine in elementary school.

​We were in many of the same classes for kindergarten through 6th grade.

 

I remember her younger brother well…

​he played trombone in the band,

​​he had a whacky sense of humor,

​​​he played baseball…

 

I remember her brother well…

​but I don’t remember much about Katie

even though she was in my class for seven years.

 

In fact, the only thing I really remember about Katie

​is that she was blind.

 

I and others identified Katie by her disability.

​She was the “blind girl” at Dawes School.

And sadly that’s all we knew.

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Loved Anyway

shockingLent 4A Change of Habit: Loved Anyway

John 4:5-42

March 23, 2014

 

“He told me everything I have ever done.”

 

There was a television show from the 1950’s and 60’s

the reruns of which have been on cable again.

The name of the show is “I’ve Got a Secret.”

(Maybe some of you saw the originals!)

 

It’s a game show with a panel of celebrity guests

who have to guess the secret of the contestant.

The secret is something unusual or humorous or embarrassing that the person has done.

If the contestant stumps the panel after a round of questioning,

they win (get this) a whopping $10!

 

Most of the secrets from the TV show are rather benign…

…an unusual job someone once had,

or an odd hobby.

 

Nothing really embarrassing,

nothing shameful.

Nothing like the secret of the woman at the well.

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Practicing a Change of Heart

Practice pinned on noticeboardLent 2A: Practicing a Change of Heart

John 3:1-17

March 16, 2014

 

In our classes these past few weeks on World Religions.

We’ve discovered a lot of similarities

among various religions of the world…

 

We’ve talked about common values of love and compassion;

We’ve talked about similar rituals to ours – such as baptism;

We’ve talked about some very similar stories in the sacred writings and even similar people in many of them

(On Thursday night we heard about the stories of Noah and Moses and Abraham in the Quran.)

 

We’ve also tried to get an understanding of some of the things

that are different from Christianity.

 

One of the beliefs that I find difficult to connect with,

Is a belief that Hindus and Buddhists have in reincarnation –

the idea that after one dies, one is reborn – born again

but in a different form.

The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth

can go on over and over again…tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years!

 

Frankly, I don’t really think I want to be born again!

(…or am I already?….That is the question for today!)

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Wilderness: Change in Circumstances

imageLent 1a – Wilderness: Change in Circumstances

Matthew 4:1-11

March 8, 2014

“When she was 22 years old,
Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything.

In the wake of her mother’s death,
her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon destroyed.

Four years later, with nothing more to lose,
she made the most impulsive decision of her life.

With no experience or training…
she would hike more than a thousand miles
of the Pacific Crest Trail,
from the Mohave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State –
and she would do it alone.”

This is the the publisher’s description of her book…
the book is called Wild. Continue reading

Sin, Death, and Ash

IdontAsh Wednesday A

March 5, 2014

Psalm 51

 

On Ash Wednesday we think and sing and pray and talk a lot

about things we don’t like to talk about…

Sin and death…

And more particularly…our sin…and our death.

 

If there was any question in our minds about sin,

We will reminded today in our confession…

We have not loved as we ought;

We have not forgiven as we ought;

We have not listened as we ought;

We have experienced pride and envy; hypocrisy and apathy;

We have over-indulged ourselves;

And the list goes on and on…

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Jesus Will Be There

transfiguration_frontTransfiguration A –Jesus Will Be There

March 2, 2014

Matthew 17:1-9

 

It wasn’t that long ago when many of us had never heard of  the word “transfiguration.”

…but then there was Harry Potter!

 

​For those of you a little rusty on your Harry Potter,

Transfiguration is a subject taught

at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The class teaches students how to transfigure –

How to change one object into another.

 

It’s known to be a difficult class at Hogwarts,

​since there are so many variables –

​​the mass of the object, strength of the wand, concentration, and the like…

​​

Students at Hogwarts start slowly, first changing things like matches into needles.

​Gradually they work their way up to transfigure larger objects –

a chair to a cat for example,

or a teapot to a tortoise.

Transfiguration in Harry Potter is magic.

​​

So is what happened to Jesus ‘magic’?

​Did he learn some sort of a spell that allowed him to suddenly change the appearance of his face and clothes?

 

I don’t think it was magic – I don’t think it was a trick.

​But I do think those who saw it might have described it as magical

I think they knew it was beyond rational explanation..

 

Peter, James, and John saw a spectacular vision –

it was so unworldly that it was frightening to them.

It was a brief moment when the light of Christ was truly visible;

it was a moment when God shone through, in all of God’s glory.

​​

And God didn’t just shine – God spoke as well.

They heard the voice of God proclaim,

​​​​​“This is my Son. My beloved. Listen to him.”

 

Frankly I don’t think Jesus needed to have warned the disciples not to tell anyone.

I don’t think they were about to tell anyone –

What words could they have used?

Who would have believed them?

 

I mean really, would they be likely to walk up to the other disciples and say,

guess what we did this morning…we walked up the mountain

and saw Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah,

and his face and clothes were sparkling white,

and then? Oh and then God spoke to us…?

 

One of the reasons I think Peter wanted them to build tents

was to get them to stay awhile

so they could go and get the others to see too.

They knew no one would believe them.

 

But then just as they look up,

Moses and Elijah are gone,

the voice is quiet,

and Jesus’ face and clothes are not shining any longer.

 

One of my favorite lines in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”

is one from the main character Blanche.

With wistfulness and wonder, she says, “Sometimes there’s God – so quickly.”

 

And isn’t that the case?

we get a momentary glimpse of God

looking at a spectacular sunset

or listening to an exquisitely beautiful symphony,

or looking at the face of the homeless person we’re serving a meal,

we get a glimpse – but as quickly as it comes, it goes away.

 

“Sometimes there’s God – so quickly.”

Oh so quickly…and then it’s gone.

 

If only we could capture a glimpse of that moment and hold onto it.

Build a tent.

Take a picture.

 

Peter, James, and John look around,

and once again they are all alone – except for Jesus.

And that’s a theme in the gospel of Matthew…

When everything else goes away, Jesus remains.

 

It is in Matthew where Jesus says,

“I will be with you always –

even to the close of the age.”

 

When it seems like everything else is gone,

Jesus will be there.

 

Jesus was on the mountaintop,

And Jesus will still be there when you come down from the mountain.

 

When the disciples come down the mountain,

the struggles of life hit them immediately.

They are met by a father of a boy with epilepsy,

begging Jesus to heal his son,

and he does.[1]

 

When you come down the mountain,

when the visions of glory have faded away,

Jesus will be there

In the rough and tumble of daily life.

 

When your plans are interrupted,

when your hopes and dreams have been disturbed,

Jesus will be there

As you make your way through the disappointment.

 

When you wake up one day in Ukraine or Crimea,

and troops have taken over buildings and airports,

and your sense of safety is gone,

Jesus will be there

As you listen for news and pray for family and friends.

 

Tom Joad said it this way in The Grapes of Wrath,

“I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be ever’where—

Wherever you can look –

wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.

 

Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there.

 

I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad.

I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry

and they know supper’s ready,

 

and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise

and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.”

 

Jesus will be there – at the very top of the mountain,

in the spectacular light that’s shining.

But Jesus will also be there at the bottom,

when the light has faded away,

and when it seems so dark.

 

Today we have 16 youth from our congregation

who are celebrating their first communion.

We’ve talked about how the bread and the wine

remind us of God’s love and forgiveness.

 

But especially this day I’d like to remind them,

as well as all of us,

that when we receive this bread and wine,

Jesus himself comes to us in the midst of it.

This bread and this wine

Are tangible, tasteable reminders

That Jesus is here now,

And that Jesus will be there…

When we are graced by spectacular mountaintop experiences,

And at the times we find ourselves in the depths of despair.

 

Even to the end of the age…he will be there.

For this we give thanks! Amen.

 


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