Skip to content

The Lines

2/15/18

Every week they form a line

to receive from me

“The Bread of Life”

and

“The Cup of Salvation”

My hands are squeaky clean

like a doctor’s in the examining room

as I dispense medicine for the soul.

Many receive as a matter of course.

Most respond

“Thanks be to God”

and that out of habit.

Such is the danger of weekly Communion.

But others receive with joyful tears

or reverence

or humble gratitude

and say

“God’s grace for me”

or

“The presence of God”

or

“Forgiveness for my sin”

or

nothing at all.

This week they formed a line

to receive words of judgment

“Remember you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

I have the thumb of a mechanic

black greasy ash fills the space between my flesh and nail

as I cross each forehead

with the fact of our mortality.

Some respond

“Thanks be to God”

probably out of habit

perhaps to expedite the anxious moment

or maybe because mortality is the good news to end their suffering.

I am startled by the response of one:

“God have mercy upon me.”

Such is the danger of speaking the truth.

Advertisements

02.24.19 Music Accompanies Salvation Psalm 98 Sermon Summary

Note: This homily was delivered on the occasion of dedicating our new organ. It is based on Psalm 98 and the hymn “When the Morning Stars Together” in the Glory to God Hymnal number 689.

In the Creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2 there is speaking and fashioning but no songs, no singing. Later throughout the scriptures, however, music is heard. Take Psalm 104:12, for example. In a passage extolling God for creation, mention is made of the birds singing. Of course. It would be natural that when the birds were created there would be singing.

But what about the rest of creation? Was there singing throughout when God made the universe? In Job 38:7 God asks, “Where were you when the morning stars sang together, and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?” Here the answer seems to agree with modern physicists: the whole universe sings and has from the beginning.

Likewise, Isaiah 55:12 says that when God’s word accomplishes its purpose (and remember, it was God’s Word that created everything in Genesis 1), mountains and hills burst into song and the trees of the field clap their hands.

Psalm 29 says that the voice of the Lord is over the waters and the God of glory thunders. It’s a description of a mighty rain storm. And in the Revelation of John we are told many times that God’s voice is like the roaring of many waters.

I think it’s safe to conclude that music has accompanied creation from the very beginning and does so to the very end. And if so, then music accompanies salvation also.

It’s little wonder that God’s people make music, in synagogue and church as the Bible testifies, but also in every other religious tradition. The Bible testifies to music making by humans through singing, of course (the Psalms and other canticles), through stringed instruments like the lyre, lute, and harp, through percussion instruments like cymbals, timbrels, and drums, through horns like trumpets and animal horns, and through wind instruments like pipes from which we get the organ.

Most people today envision the church when they think of organs. The organ was invented in Alexandria 300 years before Christ. There blowing air through pipes was first automated. The organ accompanied games and circuses. Think about silent movies from 1910s being accompanied by organs.

The organ didn’t move into church until around 900, and it was well-established by 1400. In 1515 or so the modern organ as we know it emerged. In England in 1649 the Puritans destroyed organs. Nonetheless, organs reached their height in late 1800s to late 1900s. The industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was responsible for the installation of 8,812 organs in churches, concert venues, and civic halls by 1873. “I give money for church organs” he said, “in the hope the organ music will distract the congregation’s attention from the rest of the service.”

Today, the organ is a distraction for reasons other than Carnegie hoped. It’s not a pleasant diversion from the sermon. Some people refuse to worship unless there is an organ. Others refuse to worship because there is organ. This leads me to make a cautionary observation.

Music is highly personal. We fall in love by it, it accompanies our grief, it expresses our anger. In recent decades, music has become hyper personal. Today you can listen to countless selections of music that conform exactly to your preference. Individual tastes reign supreme. This is a very recent development.

Our ego plus endless choice has produced cranky consumers, and you see it in the church. It can keep us from worshiping together. I hate the organ, says one person. Well, I hate guitars. I don’t understand chant. I can’t stand drums. Some people hate singing. Others can’t tolerate silence.

How can we worship together with this cultural dynamic at work? I think we can if we remember two things. First is the reason we make music. We humans make music to worship God. Music-making is an expression of our divine image to create. Even though some music may obscure this original impulse, it still necessarily reflects it.

Second we do not have the luxury of worshiping alone. All creation worships its Creator. All cultures worship God. Even the most individualistic passages of scripture (and they are rare) expand eventually to envision and include all creation and all nations.

We can worship together with whatever instrument we bring—voice, organ, tambourine, hands, or just ears. We can worship together because we’re all part of God’s creation. Let us remember that we are each an instrument of God, no less than King David or Mary the Mother of Jesus, no less than the bread and the wine of Communion, no less than the organ we dedicate this day. And let us worship God together and with all creation, singing praise to the one who gives us life.

Dedicatory Prayer

Lord, as part of our worship each week we offer ourselves and our world to you through prayer. In baptism we thank you for your claim upon our lives and pledge to follow your guidance. With song we lift before you our joys and our heartaches. In all these ways, we make dedication to you each week in worship.

But this week we offer special prayers of thanksgiving and dedication. We thank you for the gift of music, and the opportunity we have to join together, not only with brothers and sisters in Christ in this place, but with those around the world, throughout time, and even with all creation, praising you in song.

We thank you for all who in the past many years have contributed to our desire to have organ music empower us for a new generation. We thank you for those who discerned and designed this organ and its installation for us. We thank you for everyone who donated to our new organ fund, for their love for music and the church is combined this day in the dedication of our new organ.

Make us all to be good stewards of these gifts—the contributions, the prayers, the skillfulness, and the music this organ represents. May all who listen and sing do so with joy and thanksgiving. May we follow the example of faithful servants like our organists, whose hands and feet harmonize the sounds of this instrument, adding our ears and our voices to their offered gift.

Let this organ, and the worship it accompanies, ever call us to faith and generosity, that in life and in death, with all that we are and all that we have, we may offer ourselves to your praise. We dedicate this organ to you. We dedicate all who hear it, in worship and weddings and funerals, to you. We dedicate all who sing with it to you. And we dedicate this church, served by this organ, to you. In Christ’s name do we pray. Amen.

02.17.19 Christian Roots and Fruits Psalm 1 Luke 6 Sermon Summary

Psalm 1 was placed at the beginning of the book to guide us in how to read the rest of the psalms. It lays out two paths in life, the righteous one and the sinful one. Like other “wisdom literature,” it uses metaphors from nature to teach. In this case, the righteous are like fruitful trees and the wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away.

In wisdom literature, the advice on living is often simple, but sometimes simplistic. Jesus was a wisdom teacher, but he was one who respected the complexities of life. For Jesus, there are not just two simple ways through life. Indeed, there are many ways to follow Jesus.

While Jesus occasionally drives people away, like the Rich Man to whom he said, “you must sell all you have and give to the poor,” (Luke 18:18ff) or the crowd to which he said, “you must partake of my body and blood,” (John 6:53ff) most of the time he lets people follow him for their own reasons, at their own pace, or not at all.

Something I’ve learned over the years as a pastor and as I read the Gospels is that not everyone comes to Jesus to be a disciple. And not everyone who comes to Jesus becomes a disciple. And this seems to be OK with him.

We get a picture of this from Luke’s “sermon on the plains.” Jesus has spent the night in prayer to discern whom to appoint as apostles, that is, “sent ones,” from among his disciples. Returning then to active ministry, Luke describes the Twelve Apostles, a great crowd of disciples, and a great multitude of people.

The great multitude came to Jesus, some to hear him, some to be healed of diseases, and some to settle troubling spirits. These may sound familiar to you, because on Sunday and throughout the week people come to the church, the visible manifestation of Jesus, for all these same reasons.

Luke has good news for all of them. No matter why you come to Jesus, whether as multitude, disciple, or apostle, Luke reports that Jesus healed them all. Perhaps Luke is making a spiritual statement here, that healing occurs in the presence of God, and that letting Jesus into your life brings healing.

Regardless, Luke seems to suggest there’s room on the path of Jesus for a lot of people to come for whatever reason they come. There’s room for me and you.

But there is also a distinction, for in the midst of this multitude, “Jesus looked up at his disciples,” Luke says, and begins to teach. The sayings that follow are for disciples. “Blessed” are the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful, and the hated. And “woe” is pronounced upon the rich, the satisfied, the rejoicing, and those well-spoken of.

Apparently even among the disciples there is great variety. Some are poor, others rich. Some are hungry, others full. Some are mourning, others are celebrating. Some are persecuted, others popular.

Some interpreters say Jesus is speaking of the afterlife here, of a great reversal of fortunes in a last judgment. Maybe. Or maybe Jesus is simply revealing reality: A present reality we easily overlook and that is also real in the future.

Jesus’ term for this reality is the “Kingdom of God.” And it is no less real for Jesus in this life than it is in the future. So Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor for theirs IS the Kingdom of God,” and “Blessed are those who hunger now for they WILL be filled.”

This is the reality of the Kingdom of God, and is it not ALSO reality that the rich will experience woe? For riches do not ultimately satisfy us. Ask most people, even the rich, “How much money would it take for you to be happy?” And the answer is always the same: “Just a little bit more.”

And the same is true with the satisfied, the celebrating, and well-spoken of. Woe is coming in this life and in the future, for these happy circumstances are rooted in happenstance and are not the enduring blessings of the Kingdom.

Luke has given us all good news, whether we are part of the multitude who came to hear, be healed, or with troubled spirits, or among the disciples who may be poor or rich, sad or happy. No matter what our circumstances, the Kingdom of God has already come in Christ and will ultimately prevail over our circumstances. Luke wants to teach us that we can orient our lives around this truth and experience blessing.

Jesus surely knew Psalm 1 with its stark, binary contrast: The righteous who meditate on the law on one side and the sinners who follow the wicked on the other. Jesus also sees these two ways, but he sees a larger picture and takes a longer view.

We might combine Psalm 1 and Jesus’ teaching into a “law of returns”: Whatever you return to IN your life will determine the returns ON your life.

If you return to Jesus again and again, first for healing, perhaps, or to comfort a troubled spirit, eventually the returns on your life will be the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But if you return to riches again and again, the return on your life will be woe.

Just as many came to Jesus with a variety of needs, so we come to his Table with a variety of needs. We come to be reminded that we live by bread, but not by bread alone. We come to be reminded that wine gladdens the human heart, but that it is just a foretaste of divine presence.

We come to be reminded that we may come to Jesus for whatever reason, by whatever cause, trusting him to provide for our needs, over and over, with more and more of our lives.

And we come to be reminded that we may return again and again, rooting our lives in Christ, finding our way blessed, until we reach that final Kingdom like that tree planted by streams of water, eventually bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

02.10.19 Called One Way or Another, Isa 6.1-8, Luke 5.1-11 Sermon Summary

(Delivered in first person as Peter)

We was just finishing up for the night, FINALLY. It was so discouraging for us fishermen. The work day was coming to an end. That sounds like a good thing, right? WRONG!

See, normally, my brother Andrew and I would clean the nets while our partners James and John sold fish on the shore. On a good night, there’d be so much fish we’d have to go to market to sell it all. THOSE are long work days for us. Not this one.

We’d lowered our nets all night. We caught nothing; not a single catch. Over and over we tried. “Let’s try over there.” “Let’s have a snack, then try again.” “How’s the family, Simon? I hear your mother-in-law’s sick.”

“Yeah, my mother-in-law WAS sick. But then that guy Jesus came over after teaching one Saturday. He healed her or something. I’m no doctor or anything. Maybe she was faking it.”

So now this guy Jesus was on the seashore teaching again. We was listening to him, kind of. We was washing our nets. It’s like side work in a restaurant for those of you who have worked in restaurants. One of you waiters gets “cut” which means you’re the first to go home. The restaurant is about to close. The kitchen is already closing down. You’re first cut so you do side work. Clean up. Like wiping down the ketchup bottles.

But then a couple comes in, or worse, a large group from the theater. And all of the sudden the kitchen springs back to life and you’re no longer cut.

Well, that’s what happened to us. We was doing our side work and this crowd starts gathering around Jesus. So he calls to me and my brother Andrew and he climbs right into our boat.

“Put out a little from the shore,” he says. And he starts teaching from the boat! I’m looking at that crowd and thinking, “Lots of people here to buy fish. Too bad we ain’t got any.” I just want this day to be over.

So what seems like forever—you know how preachers can get long-winded, right?—and with my frustration level getting pretty high, Jesus the healer/teacher says to me, “Put out to the deep water and let down your nets.”

I looks over to James and John. They’re done washing their nets and are storing them in the boat. I looks down at my nets, all nice and clean. I looks out at the water where we’ve been fishing all night. And I looks out at the crowd all those people about to watch me fail.

And I says to Jesus, “Look, we’ve been out there all night and we ain’t caught a thing.” But Andrew was all excited and the crowd was murmuring. And Jesus was just standing there looking at me. So I says, “If you say so.”

We push out to the deeper waters. James and John are laughing to themselves. And me and Andrew cast our net out to the sea. I turns to look at Jesus. “Happy now?” I says to him with my face.

And there’s this twinkle in his eye, and the sea below us begins to rumble. And the boat begins to shake a little, then a lot. And we starts to get pulled over because the nets fill up with fish!

“Hey, get over here!” I yells to James and John. They row out and cast their net and the same thing happens. The crowd goes wild. Some people run into town. And Jesus says to me, with his face, “Are YOU happy now?”

As we struggle to fill the boats, so many people gather. I’ve never seen a crowd so big, which is great, because I’ve never seen a catch of fish so big. And I’m thinking “Cha-ching! It’s payday! I should probably tithe on the profits towards this Jesus’ ministry.”

I looks over to Jesus and with his eyes he says, “Now that I have your attention.”

But it wasn’t just Jesus looking at me. Through those eyes I realized it was more. It was God looking at me. And then I heard this little voice inside me: “You didn’t realize it till now, but I’ve been walking on this lake with you your whole life. Through the nights of catchless fishing. When you despaired of failure. I’ve been with you all along. And now you know.”

I thought, “Oh, man. This is holy ground.” I remembered the prophet Isaiah when he was called. He was in worship and had a vision of God in the Temple. And he said, “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips. And I live among people with unclean lips.”

And I remembered what Isaiah heard, that “the whole earth is full of God’s glory.” Not just the Temple in Jerusalem. And not just in heaven. But the whole earth. Even the Lake of Gennesaret. Even this place here. Even in yous life—“full of God’s glory.”

So I did what Isaiah did. I says to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”

And the twinkle in his eye turned to laughter and he said to me, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people.”

It took some time to get those boats back to shore. I thought of it all: The hungry households the fish would feed. How Jesus had blessed me to provide for them. How God moves in our lives in various ways.

Maybe it starts with worship like it did with Isaiah. Maybe it starts with success like with me. Maybe it starts with a healing like with my mother-in-law. Maybe it starts with a teaching like with the crowds. It doesn’t matter where it starts, or what direction it goes. What matters is realizing God is at work, blessing us in order to bless others.

And I decided I wanted to be a part of that for the rest of my life. So when we got to shore and Jesus stepped out of the boat . . . I followed him.

The catch of fish that day fed an entire village. And many times more Jesus fed hungry people. At the end of it all he gave us a ritual meal to remember this. He took bread and blessed it. He broke it and gave it to us and said it was his body given for us. And the cup of blessing was a new covenant sealed by his blood.

We participated in the meal that first night, not fully understanding. But a few days later, after he had been crucified and resurrected (!) and ate with us again—this time with fish!—we understood. He gave himself for us and called us to follow him so we could give ourselves for others. And in this way, the whole world could be fed.

Yep, amazing things happen when you decide to follow Jesus. So go ahead and interrupt your own side work, for God’s glory is right there next to you. And see what kind of work God has for you on the side. Because with Jesus and through you, God satisfies the hungry world.

02.03.19 No Excuse Jeremiah 1:4-10 Sermon Summary

Some of the most dramatic times God speaks to humans in the Bible are in the “call narratives” of the prophets. Jeremiah’s is an example. But even today people say that God has “called” them. When people tell me God “spoke” to them, they usually also describe it as the Spirit “moving” them to do something. They’re not referring to an audible voice.

Often the sense of “call” grows over time. We rarely realize God’s call in the moment. It isn’t until later, when we’ve entered into God’s call, or even when we’ve completed it, that we say with strong conviction, “God called me.”

I believe this is what we see in most of the call narratives from the prophets. Obviously these accounts are not written in real time. It’s after the prophet has performed his ministry that the community preserves his utterances in text. If this is true of the prophets in the Bible, it might also be true of you.

If God’s calling upon us doesn’t include a voice, how does it begin? God’s calling in your life can begin when you . . .

  • notice something: No one else seems to care, but something catches your attention
  • have particular insight: You see a solution or a perspective that no one else does
  • have trouble in your spirit: Something isn’t sitting right with you
  • experience a disturbance or disruption: An unchosen event has interrupted your plan
  • have a hunch, intuition, or sense: Something slowly or suddenly enters your consciousness
  • have a premonition or fear: The first words of divine messengers in Scripture is almost always, “Do not be afraid.”

If you want to hear God’s call in your life, pay attention to these things when they occur. And you can also give attention to them. Open space in your life for them. Spend time in quiet, meditative prayer. Go for a walk. Pull out the earbuds and leave the phone in another room.

Jeremiah said he heard God’s call. We’re told he made excuses not to follow. He’s not the first to try. Moses said he wasn’t eloquent enough. Isaiah said he was too sinful. Jeremiah says he isn’t ready. “You can’t be calling me,” he says, “I’m just a boy!”

Commentaries tell us that he’s not referring to being young but rather that he’s merely an apprentice. God’s response is to reframe Jeremiahs’ excuse. “You may feel like you’re not ready,” God says, “but I have been with you longer than you know. I’ve been watching you from the beginning. I knew you before you knew me. I envisioned this calling before you asked. I created you for this. You’re ready now.”

This is one of the main points of Ephesians. God “chose us before the foundation of the world” and “destined us for adoption” the opening chapter asserts. Then Ephesians 2:10 concludes, “We are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” When you sense God’s calling, however it begins for you, the timing is right. God has prepared you to hear this call.

Whenever I feel apprehension about God’s call (which is most of the time) I try to remember this truth. I remind myself that God has delivered me this far and didn’t do so only to abandon me now. It doesn’t take the anxiety away, but it does allow me to keep listening.

To understand why Jeremiah made excuses, it helps to know his context. He lived at critical juncture in the history of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The north had long been conquered by Assyria, but that rule was beginning to crumble. In Judah, King Josiah was leading a rebellion and a religious renewal by emphasizing the Mosaic Covenant. Moses taught that obedience to the law leads to blessing.

But things didn’t evolve the way they hoped. Josiah was killed in battle and both the rebellion and the renewal stalled. Babylon was ascending and would soon take over for Assyria and actually conquer Judah. During this time Jeremiah was called to be a prophet.

Prophets tell the truth (not the future), and the truth in this case wasn’t popular. They see what’s going on, and may see what’s coming, but the horizon of the future about which they speak is near to them. Jeremiah saw what was coming. He saw Assyria’s threats as God’s judgment. He believed Josiah’s reforms were the right way forward but then they collapsed. Then he saw the rise of Babylon.

Jeremiah was nervous to be a prophet in these times, and we can relate. Telling the truth can be hard. But just like God has been with us in the past, God remains with us to deliver us. In Jeremiah’s call narrative, God says, “Do not be afraid of the nations, for I am with you to deliver you.”

Salvation is a matter of God’s presence. It isn’t a protective hedge or rescue operation, but solidarity. God’s calling does not ensure success, but promises God’s delight in our faithfulness. Jeremiah’s prophecies did not prevent Babylon from invading Jerusalem, destroying the Temple, or deporting the people. But he experienced God sustaining him as he spoke the unpopular truth. Being afraid was no excuse.

I bet Jesus thought a lot about Jeremiah. Jesus’ message wasn’t popular either. “God saves you,” Jesus preached, “not through religious righteousness or political power.” Instead, salvation looks like love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. “If you want to see salvation, look to me,” he said. “If you want to experience salvation, follow me.”

Jesus probably thought about Jeremiah as he told the truth to his disciples that he would be betrayed and crucified, but God would be with him despite the lack of success. Jeremiah was probably on Jesus’ mind when he broke the bread and poured the cup on the night of his betrayal. Jesus probably thought of Jeremiah when he was fulfilling his call, when he was speaking as a prophet, and when he was failing as the Messiah on the Cross.

Only after it was all over do we discover that Jeremiah was also thinking about Jesus. For even though it took another 600 years, God did save the world as Jeremiah prophesied, when Christ resurrected from the dead.

And now there is no excuse we can to offer when God calls us. For with the Spirit of Resurrection we too can speak the truth, live in the light, and fulfill our calling. May we recognize God’s calling and begin to live into it, and realize someday with conviction that God has indeed spoken to us in Christ.

01.27.19 Body of Christ 1 Cor. 12.12-31, Luke 4.14-21 Sermon Summary

If you hear this sermon, truly hear it, it may have transformative effects on your own life, the life of your congregation, and the life of the world.

Last November I sustained a shoulder injury, and it has given me a new appreciation for two verses of the Bible in particular:

  • “God has so arranged the body that there may no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25)
  • “No one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:29-30)

There are parts of my body I like more than others, and I have treated them with special care. But through this injury, I realize I have to love my whole body. In my shoulder I damaged the subscapularis tendon and the bicep tendon, both of which are located at the front of the shoulder. Through six weeks of physical therapy, those areas are feeling better, but now the back of my shoulder (the teres minor) is painful. Why?

It’s because that muscle (and some others) has been compensating for the weakness in the front of the shoulder. Just like Paul says, “when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.” So now I know that while I like some parts of my body more than others, I have to love my entire body.

The same is true of the Body of Christ. There are parts I like: Reformed theology, Lutheran worship, Roman Catholic charity, and Mysticism, for example. And through the years my likes have changed, like from pop Christian worship music to traditional hymnody.

It’s OK to like some parts of the church and not like others. But we have to love the whole church for we are members of one body. If one part suffers, the whole body suffers, including us.

We suffer when the fundamentalist turn the Bible into an idol, and when the progressives separate the Kingdom of God from Jesus. We suffer because we share one body with them. We may not like them, but we have to love them.

To love something means you give yourself to it willingly, generously, and consistently. When we love someone we rejoice with them and suffer with them. This is so important to understand because one of the biggest lies in our culture is that anyone can do anything. Just think back on the last commencement speech you heard.

The truth is that human beings are limited. This is the point of the stories in Genesis 3 and 11 (the two trees and the tower). You and I cannot do anything we choose. We are limited by countless factors, which is why we need God to lead us, to help us navigate through our limitations. This is why Jesus said “I am the vine and you are the branches.” As branches we need the vine. As members we need the body.

While it’s true that you and I cannot do anything we choose, still together we can do more. This is what Paul taught. He asks, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets?” The obvious answer is “no.” Between the members in the Body of Christ there are differences, in other words, limitations.

But taken together, the Body of Christ has apostles and prophets and healers and leaders. God has designed us different but complementary so that as we work together the Body of Christ grows and Christ’s ministry continues.

On Sunday morning I preach and pray, but Saturday night someone else spent the night here with our families experiencing homelessness. Throughout the week I study and offer pastoral care while someone else counts the milk money and delivers it to the shelter for youth experiencing homelessness. I may be able to talk someone down from suicide but I can’t write a big check to the church.

But when I do my thing and you do your thing, the Body grows and the ministry continues.

Paul accounts for this design because “we were all baptized into one body, and all made to drink of one Spirit.” Jesus was also baptized in the Spirit, and it was only after his baptism that he began his ministry “filled with the power of the Spirit.”

He taught in the synagogues and people praised him. He read Isaiah’s vision that someone would come anointed by God’s Spirit to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of God’s favor. Then he said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

It was fulfilled because Jesus had come. He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision—back then and in his day. Today we are the Body of Christ. Today this scripture is fulfilled in OUR hearing, if indeed we hear. If, in the power of the Spirit, we work together as the Body of Christ, not necessarily liking everything but still loving the church, giving ourselves to that which we love.

If by this same Spirit the scriptures are fulfilled in OUR hearing, we will be good news to the poor on the other side of the tracks and on the other side of the border. Jesus and Paul taught that this occurs by the Spirit of baptism, so remember your baptism and pray for the Spirit.

Where can you bring the Body of Christ? Jesus did in his small home town. Paul did in Corinth. You can bring the Body to school, to work, and to Faith Church.

Jesus and Paul discerned their calling in prayer and worship. You also can find your way in and with the church today.

Jesus and Paul took their guidance from scripture and the tradition. You also can align your life with these testimonies and become yourself a living epistle, a living Word of God.

One of the ways we become the Body of Christ is to receive the Body of Christ, remembering Christ’s example. This is why we come to the Lord’s Table each week, to “behold what we are, and become what we receive” in the words of Augustine.

So remember your baptism and pray for the Spirit. The church needs you. For in the words of Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless his people.

The Extent of My Faith

05/10/16

No action, no faith:

So says James.

Same as with love.

Not so with words.

You can have words

but still have no faith.

Words can, in fact, replace faith

while deluding you that you have it.

Not so with action;

or with love.

You can have those

with or without faith.

But you can’t have faith without love and action.

What about hope?

Can you have faith

without hope?

Can I have faith

without hope?

I hope so.

For as this is my only hope,

it is also the extent of my faith.