Christ the Power Source

Christ the Power Source

But what happened, Jesus? You were there with them, or so it seemed… where did you go?

Some say, you were lifted up, right out of sight and into the heavens. Some say nothing at all about what happened, as if, maybe, you ghosted on them…simply melted into a crowd, one day, disappeared. Some say, it was just like that morning at the tomb again, witnesses in white angel-splaining. Again.

And so your disciples returned to their upper room. They prayed. They searched the scriptures. They went about the business of living. Some probably talked of returning to their boats and their nets, goods and their bills of sale. After all, everyone has to make a living. Life goes on.

And what does it all mean, anyway? How they learn to live in a world where they could no longer see you? How do we live in that kind of world?

Christ the Spirit-Sender

Christ the Spirit-Sender

When have you experienced the work of the Paraclete, the Comforter? Have you experienced someone walking alongside you at a difficult moment? Maybe you felt the Spirit’s presence with you in prayer or while meditating, lying on your bed in the night, or watching the sun as it rose in the morning. But maybe you felt it in the neighbor who brought you a bottle of water when you were overheated from mowing your lawn. Or maybe the Spirit drew alongside you in the co-worker who brought you some tea and asked if you needed to vent. Maybe you saw her in the nurse who adjusted your pillows just right, so that you could truly get some rest in a hospital bed. Or, maybe, the Spirit is made known to you consistently through one particular person—friend, partner, spouse, parent, child—who draws alongside you on an almost daily basis, listening, speaking the truth in love, and sharing life’s joys as well as its challenges...

Christ the Cornerstone

Christ the Cornerstone

But that phrase, “living stone,” is really so strange… how can a stone be living? Does it have something to do with being chosen and precious? Can we be both solid and shapeable? Can we be strong and teachable? Can we be firm and loving? Can we allow Jesus to determine our direction and our purpose? Is this how we affirm our identity as those who see Jesus Christ as our cornerstone?

Christ the Gate

Christ the Gate

The "Good Shepherd" might just be the most comforting image we have of Jesus. For some of us these words conjure a beloved picture we remember seeing hanging on a Sunday School classroom wall. If by chance in childhood we tried to memorize passages of scripture, this might well be the passage that has stayed with us. Gentle Jesus, loving Shepherd, carrying the lost and tired lamb home on his shoulders. It is an image both lovely and loving.

 

Praying With the Body

Praying With the Body

I remember vividly the first time I had an experience of praying with my body. I was 6 years old. I had been hearing stories about God from my parents and my school, and I knew that God was big—bigger than I could imagine, and God was powerful, more powerful than anyone or anything, and God was infinite. I remember wondering about that word “infinity.”

And then, one summer day, I went to the beach, as I had many times before. And I went into the ocean, which I had also done many times before. And I practiced something I’d learned, not in school, but at swim class: I practiced floating.

The Way of Letting Go

The Way of Letting Go

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  ~ Genesis 12:1-3

How to Pray: An Ash Wednesday Meditation

How to Pray: An Ash Wednesday Meditation

If there are so many different ways to pray… why is prayer so hard for some of us? I’ll confess to you that the reason I continue to return to prayer in sermons is because I find it so challenging. Oh, I’m great with an “arrow prayer,” you know, when someone asks for prayers, and you say, Sure thing, and you close your eyes and say, “Lord, help her!” But the discipline of setting aside time for prayer? I find it hard. Not impossible, but something I don’t do as regularly as I want.

Fortunately, the Ash Wednesday Gospel reading points us to Jesus’ instructions on prayer. Not only that, Matthew’s passage offers us a prayer—THE prayer, which Christians have been saying since it first got passed around and learned by heart, like the treasure it is.

Shining

Shining

I wonder about this.

This is an amazing story. A beautiful story. A story that, even though we may be very familiar with it still has the ability to affect us… physically, as well as emotionally. There are times when this story makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. And it makes me wonder.

So that is what I want to do with you, this morning. I want to wonder, aloud, about this story. Some things that we wonder, we can look up. They are things that are already on the record. But it’s the other things we wonder about… that’s where the mystery is, and that’s where we have an opportunity to really enter into this story.

The Hardest Commandment

The Hardest Commandment

What about our enemies? What about those, we are pretty convinced, are out to harm us, or even destroy us?

“You have heard that it was said,

"You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

But I say to you,

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;

for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,

and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45

It’s easy to think, well, Jesus could never have anticipated what we’re up against. Jesus doesn’t know the threat we’re under.

But the thing is, he does. He did.

The Disposition of the Heart

The Disposition of the Heart

When I was about ten years old, and the world was my oyster, and I didn’t actually understand many of the things I saw on TV, I was introduced to the most wonderful sentence in the world:

“The devil made me do it.”

This came courtesy of a brilliant African American comedian, Flip Wilson, who died much too soon, but whose variety show brought us his character, Miss Geraldine Jones, who lived pretty much by her powerful physical instincts. Her response to any accusation that she had acted improperly was:

“The devil made me do it.”

And it was said with a laugh, and the flip of her wonderful hair. Miss Geraldine Jones was letting us know that there were powerful forces at work, and what was a girl to do?

Jesus has some suggestions.

Blessed Are...

Blessed Are...

But what does Jesus mean? These words, by any traditional understanding of the word “blessing,” make no sense.

“Blessed” are the poor? Tell them that the next time they are evicted!

“Blessed” are those who mourn? Tell that to a widow, weeping for the only love of her life, after decades of faithful devotion.

“Blessed” are the peacemakers? Peacemakers are regularly killed for their efforts.

Is it possible that we have been completely misunderstanding this word “blessed”?