10w for September 21st, the Great Reversal, P15.

The following is a 10 minute worship for September 21st, the Great Reversal, P15.  You can listen on the flash player below. You now also have the option of receiving these notices each week and on festival days by signing up for the 10W constant contact email list on the right side of the 10W blog where it says "Please Join our Email List. The song for the day is: If You Eat Each Day by Bryan Sirchio from the CD Justice and Love  http://www.sirchio.com/index.php?page=cds&viewas=list

10w for September 21st, Joseph in Prison, NL.

The following is a 10 minute worship for September 21st, Joseph in Prison, NL. You can listen on the flash player below. You now also have the option of receiving these notices each week and on festival days by signing up for the 10W constant contact email list on the right side of the 10W blog where it says "Please Join our Email List. The song for the day is: Waiting for the Lord by the Jay Beech Band from the CD Everyone Who is Thirsty Come http://www.baytonemusic.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SFNT&Store_Code=BTM


Poem based on Matthew 20:1-16 The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

And I will be taken up into the highest heaven

And from there…..
I will get to look down
(each received)
On all those Johnny come lately’s
In this game of heaven
And hell
I won
(labored under the burden)
Or at least came out on top
It was tough
Not much fun
But boy oh boy
Will it be worth it in the end
There is an end
Isn’t there?
Out there somewhere
An end
That will make it all worth while
The reward
Consummate upon my performance
Better than most I might add
(are you envious)
(because I am generous)
I earned it????
(the last)
The kingdom of God

Opening Litany based on Psalm 145: 1-8

Pastor: I will exalt you, my God the King and praise your name forever and ever.

Congregation: Every day of my life I will praise you O Lord and extol your name in all that I say and do.  

Pastor: Great and worthy of Praise is the LORD whose greatness no one can fathom. Each generation is called upon to commend the works of the Lord to the next, telling of the mighty acts of God. 

Congregation: We will speak of and show the glorious splendor of the majesty of the Lord to our children, and our community.

Pastor: O that our deeds would tell of the awesome ways of the Lord, celebrating the abundant goodness and righteousness of the Lord with joyful song. 

Congregation: For the LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

The church of God will grow

Sunday September 21st, Jonah 3:  10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah 4: 1 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Nostalgia has been described as six parts fantasy, three parts regret and one part history.  We often remember the good old days in ways they never were.  When Jonah saw the changes in Nineveh his reality changed and he was still able to make it all about himself.  In our churches we remember what it was like in the past in some very fanciful ways and then project this false reality onto others.  The reality is that the church is changing and will continue to change as each new person comes to join the worship community as well as when some of the ones we are used to being there, are no longer there.  When that false reality is bucked, new people just leave.  The keepers of the memory, whether true or false, are left with ever dwindling numbers and the mission is Christ is stifled in that place.  The church of God will grow and reach others with the good news of God’s love and grace, but each congregation has to ask itself if it is ready to be a part of that vision and mission.  

will prevail

Monday September 22nd, Jonah 3:  5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”  9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”   “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”  10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” What are our concerns in life?  For most of us, contrary to what we say are our concerns, our main concerns center around our own well-being.  One of the uphill battles for religion is to get the adherents of that religion to move from a concern for the me to a concern for the we.  The story of Jonah illustrates that in Jonah’s concern for the plant over 120000 people in the city of Ninevah.  That may seem silly to us, but then our choices in life may seem a bit silly to others.  But with a bit of advertising and the right code words, someone without a job can be drawn to be concerned over gay marriage or abortion or some other hot button ballot bait issue while voting against their own and their nation’s best interest.  Sometimes in the midst of things it is hard to realize that the way of the Lord will prevail in this world.  What the story of Jonah asks is, we will be a part of God’s way, or an obstacle along the way.  

Now live it!!

Tuesday September 23rd, Philippians 1:  27 Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Paul is writing this letter to the church at Philippi, but it could also be seen as a message from God directly to us.  In the face of the farce of end times theology that permeates the fundamentalists world, just live your life as it should be.   It is not a matter of getting ready for the big event, it is a matter of living each and every day of your life as the big event of salvation by grace unfolding.  Let nothing in your conduct change whether you think Christ is coming tomorrow or not, because if that is the reason you are living the way you are living, you are still not getting it.  It is the difference between living as a couple knowing the other loves you and living as a couple afraid that if you get out of line, the other will leave you.  One is life giving, and one is death dealing.  God loves you!  You don’t have to earn it!!  Now live it!!

right and just

Wednesday September 24th, Matthew 20:  1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.  3 "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' 5 So they went. First notice that the landowner doesn’t wait for others to come to him, the Landowner goes to the people and seeks them out.  Secondly, the wages were enough, not too much.  It was not a matter of grabbing the golden ring, it was simply what it took to get by for that day.  The real gift was purpose in life rather than standing around doing nothing.  What was offered was what the world as was right and just.  But just in our eyes and just in God’s eyes can sometimes be miles apart.  I wonder why is there no political conversation about that?    

it is not fair!!

Thursday September 25th, Matthew 20:  9 "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' This all could have been avoided you know.  If only the steward who paid them, paid the ones hired first before he paid the ones hired last.  They would have had their money and been on their way happy, content and clueless and any negative fallout could have been covered in the media.  But No, he had to make an issue out of it.  Why?   Well, perhaps for the landowner in the story, and for Jesus, it is because the lesson was more important than the pay.  And the lesson; all grace is amazing grace, and if you are working in the kingdom for special reward, you are there for the wrong reason.  If church must remain your church and not their church, then you gather for the wrong reason.  The reward is the work, and all are sought out and put to work.  That is the Kingdom justice, and you are right, it is not fair!!  But it is grace.


Friday September 26th, Matthew 20:  13 "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'  Is your church envious because God is generous?  Some in the Church want to “Pray away the gay,” God wants to invite them in.  Some in the church want to “keep worship as it was when I was young,” God wants to make church inviting for those who are not there.   God wants us to work in the fields because working in the fields is the reward.  Some in the church want to be in charge.  God has to work against some in the church to be in charge.  God’s control of the world doesn’t look like control, because it is not, it is grace.  


10w for September 14th, A Story of Forgiveness.

The following is a 10 minute worship for September 14th, A Story of Forgiveness. You can listen on the flash player below. You now also have the option of receiving these notices each week and on festival days by signing up for the 10W constant contact email list on the right side of the 10W blog where it says "Please Join our Email List. The song for the day is "Kyrie Elision" by Dakota Road from the CD "All Are Welcome"   http://www.dakotaroadmusic.com/index.php?p=catalog&parent=4&pg=1


10w for September 14th, Make the Roady by Walking, NL.

The following is a 10 minute worship for September 14th, Make the Roady by Walking, NL. You can listen on the flash player below. You now also have the option of receiving these notices each week and on festival days by signing up for the 10W constant contact email list on the right side of the 10W blog where it says "Please Join our Email List. The song for the day is "I want Jesus to Walk with Me" by Andra Moran from the CD "Little Miracles"  http://www.andramoran.com/store


Poem based on Matthew 18:21-35

We share this world

this life
with the many who are the
Children of God
We live
and sin
            and hate
                        and love
as do our brothers and sisters.
in forgiveness
Christ makes us one,
in envy
            we try to become two
forgive one another
live not as the master
or gatekeeper
lest you find yourself one day
facing the gate from the other side
forced by your own insistence
on the upholding of the law
than forgiveness
it is in forgiveness
that our division is united
and our soul healed once again
to see the glory of God
shinning into our lives

in love

Opening Litany based on Psalm 103

Pastor: I will bless the Holy Name of the Lord with all that is within me.

Congregation: Let all that is within me Bless the Lord.

Pastor: Never forget all the good deeds of the Lord.  How the Lord God forgave all your sins, brought you health and saved you from the pit. 

Congregation: Let all that is within me Bless the Lord.

Pastor: The Lord crowns you with faithful love and compassion, fills your life with good things and brings you life and vigor each day.

Congregation: Let all that is within me Bless the Lord.

Pastor: The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are brought down.

Congregation: Let all that is within me Bless the Lord.

Pastor: The Lord is compassionate and merciful, patient and filled with faithful love.

Congregation: Let all that is within me Bless the Lord.

Pastor: The Lord’s love for us is as high as the heaven is above the earth. The Lord does not deal with us according to our sinful ways, but removes the sin from our lives as far as the East is from the West. 

Congregation: Let all that is within me Bless the Lord.

Pastor: Like a parents love and compassion for their children---

Congregation: That is how the Lord feels compassion for all who live in the light of the Lord, therefore, let all that is within me Bless the Lord forever.  Amen!!

keep the façade going

Sunday September 14th, Genesis 50: 15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept. Lies tend to need more lies to keep them afloat.  Behind their fear was the thought that Joseph might try to act the same way they acted.  It would be nice to be able to point only to the other when bringing up wrongs, but alas, it is seldom the case.  How many times have you been caught in a bit of a cover-up only to find you need more of a cover-up to keep the façade going?  In the national arena there is the perception that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth, and swift-boating becomes a verb to describe that process, fox news has perfected it while calling it fair and balanced, itself a lie.  When the message came to Joseph, he wept.  Sometimes that is all you can do, weep for the depths to which we are all capable of stooping.  Weep, and then try to change the cycle of hate and lies and retribution and in the act of forgiving, saying, “no more?”  How do we move on from Sept. 11th?  In all honesty we will never get all the lies that followed this tragic event and led us into a war that killed tens of thousands, destroyed the lives of so many and threw the world economy into a tailspin.  We must look back and say that what Ben Laden started on this day was completed by Bush, Chaney, Rumsfield, ISIS and others.  But can we move forward?  Can we put the lies behind us while at the same time uncovering the implications and the mass killings perpetrated under their cloak of darkness?  As we look into forgiveness this week, perhaps that is the only direction we can go.  God help us move forward.  

always name, always forgive, always pray.

Monday September 15th, Genesis 50: 19 but Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Step one, get it out in the open and name it.  You intended to harm me!!!  Let us make that clear, very clear.  Without that out in the open, forgiveness might be able to happen, but reconciliation cannot.  Step two, forgiveness.  It is needed more for your sanity than for the sanity of the other.  Forgiveness even needs to happen if step one is contested, road-blocked and never fully comes about.  Forgiveness is not primarily a benefit for the other; it is primarily a benefit for you.  Sometimes, it is what is needed first in order that step one might come about, maybe, someday, maybe.  Step three, no matter what happens, if it is covered in prayer, and you are open, God can use it for good.  So, always name, always forgive, always pray.  

respect and disagree

Tuesday September 16th, Romans 14:  5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since  he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. As we prepare to move into election season, it is easy to forget that we are talking about mid-term elections and not some contest for the most popular kid in second grade.  Sometimes I just want to scream both to the one I support and to the ones I don’t support, Stay on Topic.  I want to hear about your policies and who you will surround yourself with.  Most importantly, who is paying your way that you will be beholding to and once in office, what you will do for them rather than the ones who voted for you.  It is so easy when we are unsure of ourselves to simply blame the other.  God calls us to respect and honor the other, even the other we disagree with and the politics of money has forgotten that basic aspect of Christianity all while claiming God on their side.  It is OK to respect and disagree, but it doesn’t sell media time.  Christ died for all, Christ is Lord of All.  We are all the children of God, and we are all called to act as the children of God, and brothers and sisters one to another.  


Wednesday September 17th, Romans 14:  10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.  We seldom see the connection between the passing of judgment and the statement that every knee shall bow to God and every tongue confess to God and everyone giving an account before God.  We confess in the Lord’s prayer our need not only for forgiveness, but also our need to forgive.  Are they just words or do we mean it?  Sometime new wording helps us to see what we are saying.  Try this version: God of Heaven, Holy is your name.  Let your Kingdom come and your will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us what we need for today and forgive our sins as we go forth and forgive the sins of others.  Help us avoid temptation and keep us out of the clutches of evil.  For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory belong to you alone, and to you forever.  Amen!!   Forgive us dear Lord for all the killing done in your name under the dark cover of revenge for September 11th.  Forgive us our sins as we move forward forgiving the sins of others.  

just keeping score

Thursday September 18th, Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"  22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. How would a marriage work if there was a notebook keep somewhere where each party could make a note each time forgiveness is granted?  Let me see, even if you took the variant of 7x70=490, or the literal used above of only 77 times, what would you end up with?  All you would have is a limited time, or a limited number of forgiveness’s and then, Wham!!!!!!  The big “D.”  I have never suggested that in pre-marital counseling.  On the contrary, my wife and I have a plaque that says that a loving marriage is a union of two good forgivers.  Reality is that for most of us, it would not take long to fill the page and be on our way out the door.  If that were the way God did things, we all would be on our way out the door and down the path to below a long time ago.  Perhaps the answer to the question of, how long shall I forgive my brother or sister or friend or enemy or…… is, until there is no longer anything to forgive and this life is over.  Anything else is just keeping score.  

pay it back

Friday September 19th, Matthew 18:  23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. The Kingdom is like, mustard weeds, unclean bread, nets full of good and bad stuff, a crook who gets away with a huge debt forgiven.  Not the usual picture of streets of gold and St. Peter as the gatekeeper.  The kingdom is like a king talking to a scumbag who stole billions of dollars from the treasury, begged for mercy and received much much more.  If you add up all you have received in your whole life and compare it to what you have given back, where do you fit in to this story?  A pastor friend of mine (not Lutheran) reminds his congregation that God has already given you the tithe and is waiting to see if you will give it back along with offerings, or if you will take the money and run.  I am not quite sure I am with him on that but I have used this offertory prayer as I hold the offering plates up high before the altar: After all we say and do, this is what we think of you.  Amen!  What is the debt you owe?  How will you begin to pay it back in this world?

Nice noble words,

Saturday September 20th, Matthew 18:  28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.  29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."  And forgive us our trespasses as we for those who trespass against us.  Nice noble words, old English enough to be holy, nice and clean without sounding personal. But with God, it is personal!!  How important is forgiveness, just read 32 to 35 again.  It is at the center of the Kingdom.  Add it to the mustard weed, moldy bread and dirty net, a place where forgiveness happens even when we don’t feel like it and when it comes is a personal cost to us.  So go and forgive as if your life depends on it.  In some ways, life on this side of the kingdom does!!


10w for September 7th, Rainbow Promises, NL.

The following is a 10 minute worship for September 7th, Rainbow Promises, NL. You can listen on the flash player below. You now also have the option of receiving these notices each week and on festival days by signing up for the 10W constant contact email list on the right side of the 10W blog where it says "Please Join our Email List. The song for the day is "Be Not Afraid" by John Michael Talbot from the CD "Table of Plenty" http://johnmichaeltalbot.com/complete-discography

10w for September 7th, Forgiveness, P13.

The following is a 10 minute worship for September 7th, Forgiveness, P13. You can listen on the flash player below. You now also have the option of receiving these notices each week and on festival days by signing up for the 10W constant contact email list on the right side of the 10W blog where it says "Please Join our Email List. The song for the day is "Forgiveness is a Lovely Hand to Hold" by Andra Moran from the CD "Harmony Groove" http://www.andramoran.com/store


Poem based on Matthew 18:15-20

As I gather myself to pray
I remember those around me
those in need
who are praying also for me
and together
you and I
we make up the church of God
gathered in Your name
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Children together in the family of God
no longer strangers
or lone rangers
but the forgiving and the forgiven
gathered at the table of the Lord
once again to renew our strength
for service

            of You

Opening litany based on Psalm 119:33-40

Pastor: Be my guide in life O Lord and teach me the ways you would have me live, that I may walk by your side my whole life long.

Congregation: Help me to understand your plan for the world that with your help I may walk in your ways and take all your teachings to heart. 

Pastor: Direct me in the paths of your ways for it is there I find my delight.

Congregation: Turn not just my head, but more importantly my heart toward your ways and away from selfish gain.

Pastor: Turn my eyes away from worthless things and fill my life with your word.

Congregation: May your ways be seen in this world so that you may be seen by others with the awe and wonder with which I see you O Lord.

Pastor: Remove the shyness and awkwardness that sometimes keeps me from being a child of God in this world; help me to show that all your ways are good.  

Congregation: I long to walk in your ways this day O Lord, Help me each and every day to walk in your ways, for it is You O Lord who bring life to my world.  

The questions is

Sunday September 7th, Ezekiel 33:  7 "Son of man, I have appointed you as a prophet to warn the people of Israel. So listen to my message. Give them a warning from me.  8 "Suppose I say to a sinful person, 'You can be sure that you will die.' And suppose you do not try to get him to change his ways. Then he will die because he has sinned. And I will hold you accountable for his death.  9 "But suppose you do warn that sinful person. You tell him to change his ways. But he does not do it. Then he will die because he has sinned. But you will have saved yourself.  The questions is, can one save one’s self if the other looses?  Can an individual ever fully be content with the demise of another?  Ezekiel’s message seems to be counter to the Gospel of Christ.  Jesus’ response is to treat them like tax collectors and sinners, or one could say, like Matthew and the rest of the disciples.  

a few more rose petals please

Monday September 8th, Ezekiel 33:  10 "Son of man, speak to the people of Israel. Tell them, 'You are saying, "Our sins and the wrong things we have done weigh us down. We are wasting away because we have sinned so much. So how can we live?" '  11 "Tell them, 'When sinful people die, it does not give me any joy. But when they turn away from their sins and live, that makes me very happy. And that is just as sure as I am alive,' announces the Lord and King. 'So turn away from your sins! Change your evil ways! Why should you die, people of Israel?'  Hamas is lobbing a few small rockets into Jewish territory and Israel is responding by sending in the fighter jets and bombs.  In many ways it is like shooting fish in a fish bowl.  Gaza is a walled-in prison, and even the illegal tunnels offer little in the way of escape for the children.  The world often claims the “rightness” of one side or another.  While the world is watching Gaza, Israel is stealing land around the historic birth place of Jesus.  In the middle of all the chaos, some guy is teaching Israeli and Palestine children to dance with one another. (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152340000372689&set=vb.19459912688&type=2&theater)  It may be like a rose petal in a cesspool, but it is better than just the cesspool by itself.  It is hard to see the blessings of Christ when looking through the glasses of racial hatred.  In the meantime, we need a few more rose petals please.  

source of great shame

Tuesday September 9th, Romans 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.  To have a debt in Paul’s society was a source of great shame.  At the same time, when you live day to day, there is always a cash flow problem.  To leave a debt unpaid among the mostly poor was to take food from the mouths of another family.  Paul is concerned about the survival of the community, and paying up on any debts was a way for the community to survive and someone who mooched off the others, while not to be confused with someone who is in genuine need, was a detriment to the survival of that community.  Paul’s double urging is to maintain the health of the community and to deal with one another out of brotherly love.  How much better off we would be if we had as our focus the maintenance of a healthy community and the caring for one another out of brotherly love.  In the end, it is not about Me, it is about We.

all sorts of fear

Wednesday September 10th, Romans 13:  11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. We have had a brown bear in the neighborhood.  Last year it snorted at my neighbor and when I walked my old dog, (she is gone now, RIP) she was very interested in the smells near the paths leading back into the woods.  When I walked her on her lease, I sort of felt like I was trolling for bear.  When fall came, I would carry the biggest best flashlight I could find and flash it all around while walking the dog.  Many things besides bears can hide in the darkness.  Paul goes through quite a list and it consists of greed for food and drink, greed for sexual encounter, and greed for power.  These human strivings are not always seen for what they are.  Most often they are under the cover of darkness and deceit.  On the political sphere, games are played, on the sexual sphere, games are played, on the financial sphere, games are played, and on the personal sphere games are played.  Game playing destroys community.  Games have winners and losers and the ratio is never one to one, for every winner there are hundreds or thousands of losers.  The solution is to bring things to the light, to bring things out in the open because it is there that things are seen for what they are.  It is also in the light that we are seen for who we are, and it is in the light that there is the possibility of hope for change and reconciliation.  Hidden in the dark, there are all sorts of fear and festering that can take place.  Revealed in the light, healing and reconciliation have a chance.  

reconciliation happens

Thursday September 11th, Matthew 18: 15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'. On the practical side…. If someone sins against you go and try to work it out, if that works, reconciliation happens.  If reconciliation doesn’t work, according to Jewish law, take some others along so they can listen to both sides.  Often times in the case of disputes, the truth resides not on one side or the other, but somewhere in the middle, an impartial group can help sort that out and reconciliation happens.  An impartial group can hold not only the other person accountable, but can also help hold you accountable.   If that doesn’t work, take it to the church and have the whole body of Christ work on getting things worked out.  The goal is not vigilante justice, but reconciliatory justice, to restore the relationship between you, the other and the community. The goal is not for one to win and the other to lose, it is for harmony and the community to be restored.

Matthew was a tax collector

Friday September 12th, Matthew 18: 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Sometimes people and communities and movements get their undies in a bunch and no attempt of reconciliation seems to work.  People become entrenched in their ways and no matter what is said or done, the other is made out to be the villain.  Fox news and right wing AM radio is a prime example of stoking the fire that will build until all get burnt.  When you run into a situation like this Matthew simply says to treat them like a pagan or tax collector.  To Matthew’s audience, pagans and tax collectors had a special meaning.  Matthew was a tax collector called by Jesus.  The Pagans were the ones Jesus ate with, forgave, restored and went to the cross for.  Pagans would be you and I.  So to treat them like a pagan and tax collector is to continue to treat them as a brother or sister in Christ.  

This is about community

Saturday September 13th, Matthew 18:  19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  This is not about individual Christianity, me and God, kind of stuff.  This is about community, prayer partners and getting together with others because each of us has the capacity to go astray if left alone.  When we gather, Jesus is there.  That does not mean that every gathering listens to Christ, but at least the possibility is there.  And there is no greater way to build community than to pray together with Christ.  When we are in sync with Jesus vision for the world where there is peace and justice for all, God gives us the insight to see how we can help bring this about.  When we are not in sync with God’s vision of Peace and justice for all in this world, we end up with political comments regarding hurricanes and earth quakes being God’s vengeance on sinners.  When that happens, know that the speaker understands neither God nor Science.   


Poem based on Matthew 16:21-26

Oh how we would love to have
according to our schedule
the world laid out in perfect rows
giving us the choice of this or that
free from any harm
or responsibility
to face the happy ending
in half an hour complete with commercials
Never Lord
was the cry of the  Rock
on whose recent confession
the church would stand
Never shall I allow you to go
to the cross
                        new life
            shall the designs of humanity
freely allow the
            Freedom of the Cross
                        to enter in
Never shall we know of the kingdom
on our own
            without the Christ breaking in
and replacing our inward gaze

With the light and hope of His love.

Opening Litany based on Psalm 26:1-8

Pastor: Look upon us with favor O LORD, for we have tried to lead a blameless life

Congregation: We have trusted in the LORD and for the most part have not faltered. Test us Lord, examine our hearts and minds.

Pastor: We have been forever mindful of your unfailing love and have lived our lives relying on your faithfulness.

Congregation: We do not sit with the deceitful nor I associate with hypocrites. We  abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.

Pastor: We bath ourselves in innocence when we go before your Altar O Lord and proclaimed your praise to all the world in what we say and in what we do.

Congregation: Aware of your wonderful deeds O Lord, we love to go to your house and praise your name in all we do and say. 

a little evangelical fervor

Sunday August 31st,  Romans 12: 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Think about this list from Paul.  Verse 9, religious right and tea party all the way……. But wait!  Verse 10, well they could be talking about us, the religious elite, the raging Pelagius, who have all the right answers and have earned every bit of grace they have unlike some others.  Verse 11, o yeah!!  That’s the religious right because it certainly is not the Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians or Presbyterians.  Verse 12, Oh Yeah!! Defiantly the religious right, upbeat music, prosperity gospel, we have it right and they have it wrong, definitely the religious right.  Verse 13!!!! What the hell is Paul talking about!!!  What if the world did just that?  What if the world loved that which was sincere, chose good over evil, loved and honored one another, was alive in Christ and filled with hope and prayer, practiced hospitality and cared for those in need?  What if?  What if congregations did that even a little bit?  What if?  Most people reject Christianity because it deals with hot button issues rather than love issues.  We are more concerned with who someone loves than with how someone loves.  But what if??  The New Enthusiasts in Christianity has verses 9-12 down, us mainline protestants, not so much, and we should.  Verse 13, we understand it even if we don’t practice it so well.  Perhaps we could have a synthesis, a little evangelical fervor, a little mainline protestant understanding.  Then we could be the church!!!!  

Paul’s imagination

Monday September 1st, Romans 12: 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.  OK, the religious right is beginning to sweat.  What if we lived together as brothers and sisters, even with those who do not agree with us, or with whom we do not agree?  Is that possible in the real world, or only as a figment of Paul’s imagination?  Can life produce such harmony or should we just give it up and go to war, and stop every proposal the other party presents, even if it is something we agree with?  The far right represented by the tea party is the ultimate form of stealth racism and partyism. Where would God have us go in times of conflict: to the negotiation table or to the battlefield?  We as a people, created in God’s image keep going to the battlefield saying the negotiation table doesn’t work.  And as long as we never really give it a try it in any sustained way, we prove ourselves right, and God wrong. God however has another idea.  

Pogo tells us

Tuesday September 2nd, Romans 12:  17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay, “says the Lord.  F Buechner talks about “anger” in wishful thinking by saying something like this: Of the seven deadly sins, anger is perhaps the most fun. To savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain your are given and the pain you are giving back.  To let grievances long past roll of your tongue and look forward to the bitter confrontations yet to come. To savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back.  In many ways it is a feast fit for a king.  The chief drawback is what you are wolfing down is yourself, the skeleton at the feast is you.  The cartoon character Pogo tells us that we have met the enemy and he is us.  Walter Wink warns us to not become that which we hate.  Paul says to not take revenge but leave room for God.  And still, well over half of our nation’s budget is tied up in some form of war spending and all hell breaks loose when we talking about trimming it even a little.  Some people never listen, except to the money to be made.

no money in it

Wednesday September 3rd, Romans 12: 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Paul gives us a “how to” on how to live as a child of God in this world where not everyone is our friend.  And even when we think we have some hope to be buttheads with the heaping coals line, we are called to understand that that was the normal way of carrying the hot coals one needed to get a fire going to cook a meal for friends or family, it was not a revenge statement at all, it is a statement of helping the enemy to provide for their needs.  I wonder if Romans 12 will make it in any of the political speeches from either pulpit or politico?   Bomb them with food and watch the war end.  Naaaaaaaaaaaah, there is no money in it.

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