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Sunday, 28 June 2009
This week at Still Waters - 6/28/09
Topic: Lectionary

This Week's Lectionary:  psalm 130, 2 samuel 1.1, 17-27, mark 5.21-43, &  2 corinthians 8.7-15

The themes of equality and faith found throughout scripture shine forth in 2 Corinthians 8 and in Mark 5’s account of two healings. In the gospel story, Jairus’ daughter and the woman who has bled for 12 years are on opposite ends of the social spectrum. Yet for Jesus faith is an equalizer of status. --Michaela Bruzzese


Posted by Pastor Kork at 2:20 PM EDT
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Saturday, 20 June 2009
This week at Still Waters - 6/21/09
Topic: Lectionary

This week’s Lectionary: psalm 9.9-20, 1 samuel 17.1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49, mark 4.35-41, & 2 corinthians 6.1-13

Working on a Tabernacle message about how we think that we need to defend God; violence, arrogance, separatism, hatred, war, & politics. Christ calms the storm and expects us (in the boat) to have “faith.” Seems, as His “Body,” we sleep at the wrong times, we panic at the wrong times (exhibiting little faith), rush to conquer and control, and if we are His representatives, why do we not calm the storms of those around us?

 

"Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" (mark 4.40)


Posted by Pastor Kork at 11:55 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 June 2009 11:57 AM EDT
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Sunday, 21 October 2007
20/20 Hindsight
Topic: Lectionary

Finding our present in the past

This week’s Lectionary:

psalm 119.97-104, jeremiah 31.27-34, luke 18.1-8, & 2 timothy 3.14 – 4.5

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3.16-17

Meditation:  'Grant me justice against my opponent.'  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'" (Luke 18.3b-5)

Reflection: It's easy to miss the point. One should not, after all, pray to God this way! Badger God, hound God, throw all God's promises into God's face and demand that the Judge of the universe do right? Far be that from us, for whom decorum determines godliness. God hears us the first time we pray! Admittedly the judge was evil; but isn't this a contrast parable, implying how much more quickly God will answer our prayers?

 

Consider:  In this week’s scriptures, I think the lectionaries’ point is to point us in the direction of praying really, really hard—persistently working toward God’s ends with great determination.  However, that’s not how these pan out for me… 

Psalm 119 has always been a bit of a paradox for me.  I mean that we are not given the author’s identity (many believe that it is a psalm of David), but without knowing his specific difficulties with authority, those in power, the elderly, etc., we are simply guessing at what his problem really is.  There is one point of view represented, and we never really get the other side.   

Much of this psalm sounds like an arrogant youngster, complaining (as we do) about how the power structures’ and such “don’t get it.”  And then there is the point of view that he really has been disservices by know-it-all leaders, bent on keeping him in his place.  It’s probably accurate, that the truth of his circumstances lies somewhere in between.  

Scripture is full of folks believing that God is on their side because they are right.  Fortunately, God has wonderfully preserved their stories as “earthen vessels” that captures their most base character flaws for our benefit.  

When we get to Jesus’ parable about the unjust judge, we are tempted to believe that he is giving us a pattern for prayer.  The trouble is that this picture looks nothing like the “Our Father,” and leaves his question, about finding faith on the earth at his return, hanging in mid-air. 

We are great at bugging God to give us everything we want, ensuring that we never suffer inconvenience or discomfort, calling it prayer, but if prayer is “communing with God,” surrendered listening to the master, perhaps we would find ourselves in the position of fulfilling God’s Kingdom here on earth, just as in heaven. 

Unjust judges are slow to hear the cries of the least important. I suggest that if we were to spend less time burdening God with how right we are, deferring to listening to him in our weakness, I am sure that he will find faith on the earth, his will being done… 

Just a thought.

2 timothy 4 .1-5

1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2 proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 5 As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

 


Posted by Pastor Kork at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007 12:36 PM EDT
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Sunday, 26 August 2007
Spirit & Truth
Topic: Lectionary

How To Screw Up Worship

Proper 16 (year c)

Psalm 71.1-6, Jeremiah 1.4-10, Luke 13.10-17, & Hebrews 12.18-29:

When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day." Luke 13.13-14

Meditation: "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire."   (Hebrews 12 .28 & 29)

Reflection: The reign that God proclaims and that we receive "cannot be shaken." Whatever we may or may not see, whatever we may or may not accomplish, this promise is true. We can trust it.

"Jesus heals a crippled woman, provoking criticism from Pharisees who, perhaps threatened by Jesus' growing popularity and power, accuse him of breaking Sabbath rules. Jesus' response is quick and severe; he exposes their hardness of heart by asking, 'ought not this woman ... be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?' Jesus rejects the rigid interpretation of the law and insists instead on the spirit of the law - that the Sabbath provides liberation and renewal for all."  - Freed from Bondage

 

Consider: Shaken, NOT Stirred?  As we look at this woman, bound in sickness-"crippled for eighteen years," the religious authority may well have marked her as undeserving of kindness, through an embellished purity code system. First, she was a woman-property, and of little more worth, and a long sickness might have been believed to be God's just judgment on her in their eyes.  So, Jesus affirms her as a "daughter of Abraham" and exposes their hypocrisy-they would rather take care of cattle, instead of a child of God.

Jesus points them to the Sabbath-the true meaning, and spirit of Sabbath. Remember him speaking on another occasion, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?" (Luke 6.9). The words he uses after freeing her, connotes the idea of obligation under the law. They surely understood his rebuke to be lawfully endorsed.

Prophets "pluck up" and "pull down." They "destroy" and "overthrow" (Jeremiah 1.10). His prophetic words and actions, reprimand the religious leaders of the day, for placing legalistic, and oppressive regulations-business as usual-ahead of the weightier matters of the law-like justice and mercy. Ultimately, prophesy is "to build and to plant," redirecting and renewing a vision with true compassion, as a worshipful reflection of God and his merciful order.

Today, the church seems to have things organized in such a way that this worshipful reflection finds its place in the margins of "normal" church life.  The "business" of church, seems to have superseded the true "work" of the church.  I wonder what will remain when our shaking begins.

Lord, let the shaking begin...


Posted by Pastor Kork at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 27 August 2007 5:50 PM EDT
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Sunday, 8 July 2007
Real Message/Real Community
Topic: Lectionary

The Power of Weakness

Proper 9 (year c)

Psalm 30, 2 kings 5.1-14, Luke 10.1-11, 16-20, & Galatians 6.1-16

Luke 10.3-6: Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.  Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!'  And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.      

Meditation: ...If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.  So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.  So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith."    (Galatians 6.8-10)

Reflection: "Our readings testify to the contagiousness of a lived faith, which not only witnesses to our dependence on God but also enables us to trust more fully in one another."  - Michaela Bruzzese

Consider: "Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals;..."

Is Jesus nuts?  He tells us to go out perfectly vulnerable!  Why would he do that?  Doesn't he realize that power is the way of procuring what it is that we want and need? Doesn't he realize that setting up his kingdom would be something that's going to need capital and prestige in order to make it great?  Amazing!  Doesn't he realize that we will look like fools?

I received an interesting question this week about this mission.  There was an obvious struggle within Jesus' earthly ministry, in that there were not a shortage of laws, and truly, his disciples thought that there was a military conquest (to whatever degree they even understood that) to begin, thus ushering in this kingdom.  Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem-to the cross, and they are out and about, rallying people to this inauguration.   Surely they knew enough to understand that Jesus' kingship was different, and slowly they were able to digest his methods, gaining some understanding.  But, underneath, they were still thinking that these are just a means to an end-a bait and switch (maybe) until the "power" of his kingdom was revealed.  In short, gaining support through good works, and in the end overthrowing the bad guys, establishing the kingdom through last minute "power."  "We Win!" 

However, what we find to be true later, is that Jesus wasn't playing bait and switch.  He meant it from beginning to end, and the methods that he employed, were kingdom living examples modeled right before them.  They were not a way to the Kingdom, but walking in the Kingdom. 

It is also interesting, that when Jesus went to the cross, he didn't have his friends with him.  They misunderstood the message and the method.  When he went to the cross, a struggle ensued within them.  Viewing their mission as failed, they were struck with the thought that the movement was aborted.

So, here is the question, when Jesus sent the twelve out earlier, and now as we read, he sends the 70 (or the 72 in earlier manuscripts), we wonder, "what was message that they were actually preaching?"  great question.  Why didn't most people follow him all the way?  Were they preach the wrong message? 

Could it be that this was the reason that there were so many (throngs in fact) of people celebrating him as he entered the city--the "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem, as it is now known?  More good questions.

I do believe that Jesus was beginning to move toward making a show of evil.  It was his time of gathering people, making a show of, and exposing the "powers," selfishness, and sin, for what it truly is.  His message (and their message) was obviously the good news of his kingdom, and how close it has come to them.  We see hints in relation to what Jesus and his mission truly were, and we, ourselves, have been prepared even down to our shoes, with the preparation of this message--the gospel of peace; the good news of the kingdom.  Our reading from Galatians, divides the ideas of what constitutes spirit and what scripture calls flesh.

Today, our power struggle with Jesus, is the breaking of our old paradigms that says that we must be powerful in order to accomplish his will.  Jesus hands us the option of a radical surrendering of our strength.  God calls our strength "flesh" and when it is employed, the kingdom is not seen.  However, if we will forgo our own prerogatives, and our own righteous agendas--assuring that there is nothing in it for us by this world standards--then the message is not tainted, and the kingdom is free to rise above the private fires of difficult lives made worse by the gasoline of purity codes and sin police; free to rise above the ashes of people's lives.

In our reading from second Kings we see a nobody; a girl; the least important; One who is done wrong and still finds the higher road of blessing those who curse.  Perhaps she thought that Elisha would call down fire on Naaman, perhaps she thought that he would treat her better if the Prophet would heal him.  In either case God's way of blessing was reveled in weakness, regardless of her motive, the kingdom of God came very near to Naaman.

Maybe the lesson for Naaman (and us) is that all of this is, in fact, impossible, if we are independent; strong; self-reliant and able.  The little prisoner of war, needed Elisha, Namman needed Elisha, the disciples needed each other, the Galatians needed each other.  None of them need a program.  They needed the true good news of safety that is contained in true family.  They needed a good kingdom.

When has the kingdom of God come near you? Has it come near lately? Have you positioned yourself where it be revealed through you?

We can expend a lot of energy helping people to find God with all the wrong motives--with huge misunderstanding--with our own agenda.  But even in spite of our misunderstanding, and our simple mindedness, God finds a way of bursting forth in simplicity, to those he's reaching.  I ask us to think, for own sake and reward, if we have made ourselves small enough to apprentice with Jesus in his mission to people in our time.

With whom are you sharing the good news of the end of domination? 

Embrace your smallness.


Posted by Pastor Kork at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007 4:08 PM EDT
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Sunday, 1 July 2007
Real Independence
Topic: Lectionary

Free to Live as a Slave

Proper 8 (year c)

Psalm 77.1-2, 11-20, 2 Kings 2.1-2, 6-14, Luke 9.51-62 & Galatians 5.1, 13-25

Galatians 5.13 & 14  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.   For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Meditation:  ...Someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."   (Luke 9.57b-62)

Reflection:  "To have no place to lay your head is difficult, unsettling - and an essential part of a walk with God. This "liminal space" is a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading us."  - Richard Rohr, OFM

Consider: To compound the distinction, Jesus, unlike Elijah, does not permit his followers to say goodbye or even to bury their dead, for "no one who looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." To follow Jesus is to do so wholeheartedly-there is no middle ground.

Paul reminds the Galatians community that they "were called for freedom," which is most fully expressed by the ability "to serve one another through love." He insists that this law is the highest way because it bears the true fruits of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

James and John's suggestion to punish those who rejected them was a clear indication that they still lived by the flesh. We, too, can easily see where our loyalties lie by the fruits of our actions, especially those directed toward our enemies.

How can we possibly proclaim the good news if we ourselves have not left everything to live it?

Good questions - "What is the relationship between faith and the law?"."


Posted by Pastor Kork at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007 2:48 PM EDT
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Sunday, 24 June 2007
New World Order
Topic: Lectionary

Gerasenes & Galatians - Abrahamic Children

Proper 7 (year c)

Psalm 42, 1 Kings 19.1-15a, Luke 8.26-39, & Galatians 3.23-29

Galatians 3.23 & 24  Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.   Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.

Meditation:  But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.' (Galatians 3.25-28)

Reflection:  "Must Gentile Christians adopt Jewish practices? Or does faith in Jesus make the law obsolete? Faced with these questions, Galatians responds with a vision of the law as a guardian until Christ's coming." - Jim Rice

Consider: Good questions posed by Jim Rice, "What is the relationship between faith and the law?" Our early church leaders struggled with these questions as embodied in the letter to the Galatians and even more thoroughly in Paul's letter to the Romans.

In this week's reading, we hear words about Abraham being "saved" by "faith," and that this faith was unfulfilled until the coming of Christ. In between, the law was needed as a guardian to keep us on the right track and save us from veering too far from God's will.

This scripture is translated in very different ways, and the message itself, can become confused by our own theological viewpoint.

We can read in the NRSV that before faith came, we were ‘imprisoned and guarded' under the law, which was our ‘disciplinarian,' while other translations say that the law was our ‘schoolmaster,' ‘custodian,' and ‘guardian.'

Rice points out that the Greek word in question actually referred to a slave who had charge of a child from age 6 to 16, one who accompanied the child to school each day to see that he or she fell into no harm or mischief. Paul is saying that the law is like a caretaker that looked after the people of God until it was no longer needed, replaced by the freedom that comes with faith."

We are discussing if the law has been made obsolete in Christ.  We, as "Christians" do have a tendency to want to believe that Jewish-ness is superseded by Christian-ness.  Our language implicitly sounds like this and we gravitate to scriptures like Jesus discussing communion, 2 Corinthians 3.6, and Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 (new covenant and better promises) to pose as our scriptural correctness is superior to that of ancient Israel.  I suppose that if I were to selectively rest on those scriptures, I would conclude that we, as Christians, are what God desired all along-meaning our way of doing things.

Certainly God did mean for us to be free, and without the stain and guilt of sin, as our religious efforts strain to embrace today, but have we really found freedom in Christ, or have we become a neo-legal covenantal people, simply transplanting old (covenant) laws with a new (covenant) "disciplinarian" and reverting to old ways of governing ourselves with a modern type of purity code(s) disguised as grace, wrapped in church law, government, and discipline (not meaning the disciplines of worship and consecration).

Maybe another way of understanding this idea of old testament law vs. new testament Christ following is to view it as the original intent of all of those Mosaic laws are modeled, and in fact fulfilled (or filled up), in Christ-as He would have said it, "I [Jesus] did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.," Or yet another way of viewing this, might be, as Jesus having filled himself up with the scriptures (or the law), thus becoming them - modeling what they have meant all along.  We are coming to understand that much of what our modern, traditional understanding of what this means to us is a serious demystifying of the scriptures. 

"What it means to us, and in the context of the early church's debates over who was eligible for God's grace, rests very clearly on Paul's summation that there is "neither Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, that if we truly follow Christ (as expressed in the scriptures), we are safe because he will never lead us into sin, where law will judge us to be guilty. Christ has rendered obsolete the practice of separating and judging on the basis of race, ethnicity, religious lineage, gender, economic status, or class. The human tendency to divide and denigrate is deeply ingrained, but God's way of equality and unity is the new order of things. The consequences of that profound revelation are still unfolding in us today."

Peace!


Posted by Pastor Kork at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007 6:56 PM EDT
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Sunday, 17 June 2007
Pharisees & Sinners
Topic: Lectionary

God's Righteous Dilemma

Proper 6 (year c)

Psalm 5.1-8, 1 Kings 21.1-21a, Luke 7.36-8.3 & Galatians 2.15-21

Galatians 2.19 & 21  For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. . .

I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

Meditation:  "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?"  Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly."  (Luke 7.41-43)

Reflection:  "It is nearly impossible for most of us to comprehend a God who forgives without merit, who loves us anyway, who keeps calling us home to the fullness of life that only God can give." - Michaela Bruzzese

Consider:  We love law.  After all, it is what keeps us honest--working together in a spirit of fairness.  Without it there would be anarchy.

Interestingly, the descriptive, terms for heresy means to depart from the commonly agreed upon orthodoxy--the conventional, mutually accepted beliefs, standards, and norms, that we all adhere to, and understand in order to act morally within our shared culture.  We have come to believe that heresy is a departure from the law.

In our Psalm this week, we have another pleading with God to uphold the Psalter because he is good, assured of God's mercy toward him.  But he ascribes hatred to those "evildoers" (or "heretics") who "lie and boast" and are his enemies. Are they law breakers?  Heretics?  And what "laws" do they break?

Good questions, but what about Jesus?

In our gospel text, Jesus (a heretic Himself) reaches beyond just law-keeping, to a higher Way, that of senseless mercy, and in so doing, He forces us to wrestle with a dilemma; What is Justice in light of Mercy? Is it God's morality to just keep the orthodoxy, or to find the way, at all costs, to reach beyond law to a place where there truly is nether Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female;   Where our Pharisaical personal rightness is superseded by a deliberate refusal to ascribe justified hatred, opting for unjustified mercy.  

Now, when we cannot pay for our law breaking (or law-keeping as it were), having been given cancellation our own dept, how appreciative will we be?  (How much have you been forgiven?)  Will we love more; will we honor Jesus in the face of a religious culture that wants to personally embrace law-keeping, feeling as though we don't need to do more, or move beyond our simple ability to keep law; that we have simply not violated anything?   In what ways should we honor Him?  Perhaps by following Him into His work in the world...  by this example, touching, and being touched by a religious outcast.

Are you justified because you have obeyed the orthodoxy (reflected by a very little love toward those who are not like you), or do you have a sober judgment of yourself in true appreciation of a very big dept cancellation--exhibited by a very heretical mercy, love, and appreciation, for those God loves?  Have you just been religiously right, or sacrificially--heretically--reaching to love with senselessly mercy?

Incidentally, Jesus and this woman are both heretically reaching to save a learned Pharisee from the death of personal religious correctness. 

In God's holy perfection, He is not wringing His hands trying to figure out how to be Just and Merciful to His world.  In our humanity and sinfulness, we do...  Let's try to think in His terms; let's rethink the term Gospel...

Peace!


Posted by Pastor Kork at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007 7:18 AM EDT
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Monday, 11 June 2007
prophesy & purpose
Topic: Lectionary

The Voice and Character of God Among Us  

Proper 5 (year c)

psalm 146, 1 kings 17.8-24, luke 7.11-17, & galatians 1.11-24

galatians 1.11, 15-17a
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin;...

But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went...

Meditation:
The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!"  This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.   (Luke 7.15-17)

Reflection:
" God's mercy and justice for the oppressed, as described in Psalm 146, are not typical of the "lords" of this world, but they are characteristic of the God who spontaneously reaches out to bereft widows in 1 Kings 17 and Luke 7. "   -
Jim Rice

Consider:
Often, we believe that God is bound in duty to perform for us.  We silently think that when all goes wrong in our lives, that he is less than God if his deliverance is not here when we order it-like at the drive-thru window.

This also affects us in our "want-to" lives.  If I am uncomfortable, or don't "want to" do something, embrace someone, or step outside "self," then God is not "leading me" to do so.  "After all, he would never want me to be uncomfortable."  "In fact, I am convinced that these just are not my gifts, and to engage out side of those giftings will be counter-God."  We expect unlimited happiness and if any difficulties come, somehow this is "the enemy" and not God.  In the past we have talked about tests that approve us (God's test), and tests to undo us (satan's tests).  How do we know the difference, or is there a difference--outside of allowing the test to run it's course and effecting change in us. Trouble does come to us in the everyday, and even if it doesn't draw near, or crouch at our own door (I don't mean to infer that sin is attached to trouble), it is at least present within our circles-friends, family, co-workers,.. 

It is also always very present within the Churches harvest field-and ironically prevalent.  Suppose everything was okay in your circles-no one having a single worry-happy go lucky-just good clean Christian fun...?  Drive a few minutes (or less in any city).  You will find despair.

I talk to, and have a lot of homeless friends, and they walk by well lit houses at night, warm in the winter, and with windows shut with comfortable air conditioning in the summer, as they swelter outside, exhausted from the heat.  I know how they feel about that.  They do see extravagance too, as they go without.  They ask why people are not content in such places that have "everything," and worse, why they think that they deserve everything, and worse yet, why they can't be human enough to share a little, or even sacrifice some extravagance for those who are struggling.  They point an accusing finger at the Church--and rightly so...  (Deut. 15.7-11)

Our Lectionary readings for this week focus on widows, worship and the change of heart that moves us from being religiously right, to religiously sacrificial for others.  The readings from St. Paul's story is that of his change of heart when God changes his perspective. Prior to this "revealing," he was comfortable in his piety, and in his striving within religious circles--excelling and having it all, working hard and enjoying the lavishness of his rewards.  I imagine he felt justified and sinless to a degree because of his ability to strive and attain a particular religious stature.

Serious consideration and walking with Jesus will change that...

In our Lectionary story of Paul, we can view his words to mean that his "conversion" came from God, and so he needn't submit to anyone else--he is independent in his "personal relationship with Christ."  Truth be told, as we examine Paul's life, reconsider these words to be filled with exactly the opposite--a man not presuming to charge into the position of authority--a man who was learning slowly, to honor those around him, and above him--a man who was learning respect through an un-doing of his religiosity--a man finding humility, and a man finding himself in Christ.

 In the story of Jesus and Elijah, returning sons from the dead, in our arrogance, we can "claim" the abilities to work miracles, focusing on the shallow part of these stories, while the true "miracle" is resting there underneath, with its beauty hidden by the glamour of the superficial.  That beauty is the gut wrenching compassion poured out to these two widows, who without there son's, would be the most culturally vulnerable, and deprived.  The miracle, or "power" is that of extraordinary compassion for those without a hope, those easily tossed aside and without a voice.  These stories are full of beauty because they teach us that our religious striving is shallow; that true worship results in service to God through serving those who are helpless because they are important to God; that when we will, God's care is seen and understood; that the point is not our comfort and carefree life, but rather the losing of our life, finding Christ in each other's mundane.

When we find ourselves engaged like this, we become true representatives of the risen Christ, giving true hope without pretense or ulterior motive.  We find ourselves on the sure ground of speaking God's words, and our life's purpose is changed to that of significance in true worship of the living God.

Is today's Christianity a matter of good business, the latest Christian fads, like the lastest books, self-help, methods, and movements; sophisticated Christian consumerism and entertainment; private groups, clicks, and affinity groups; filling our heads with information and theory?  Is this where we find God?  Is this where we walk with Jesus?  Is this our prophetic voice?


Posted by Pastor Kork at 9:58 AM EDT
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Monday, 4 June 2007
Continuing The Gospels
Topic: Lectionary

The Triune Voice of God

Trinity (year c)

psalm 8, proverbs 8.1-4, 22-31, john 16.12-15, & romans 5.1-5

romans 5.1-5
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Meditation:
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? 5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,...  (Psalm 8.3-5)

Reflection:
" We worship an inclusive God - a God who says, ‘There are not aliens in my house.' We worship a God who is trinity, unity and diversity: A God who calls us to model our lives on the lives of the Trinity. " - Archbishop Njonkulu Ndungane (Desmond Tutu's successor)

Consider:
Trinitarian worship should be a reflection of family. God has gone to pains to model these relationships within the Godhead (as difficult as it might be to comprehend), each deferring honor to the other rather than themselves. The Father finds glory in the Son, the Son deferring to honoring the Father and is filled with the "Sophia/Wisdom" - the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit speaking only what He hears from the Father and the Son. Seems that they are competing to be the "least" or the last within their own family circle of sorts--the tri-unity of the Logos.

We are talking about receiving the Holy Spirit (or desiring, submitting to, and deferring to God in cooperation with His will) being in step with the Spirit who has been given to us.

This is a radical way to live, this crucifying of our way, to live in concert with God and His mission of new earth and kingdom living. It shakes our lives to the core as we find those things that are truly important to Jesus, and align our life to completely reflect His desires.

We are on firm ground as we endeavor to mimic Jesus in our contexts today, as expressed thorough the gospels--placing us in allegiance to Him only.

As disciples, we are the best citizens of any earthly country where we find ourselves--being true servants--but our loyalties place us in another world, with other convictions... Higher convictions!

We should consider all of this as the 2008 elections draw near.

How does Jesus feel about life, war, the poor, and the alien? Questions and problems we haven't seemed to be able to answer in earthly economies...

We might be tempted to think that Christian "political issues" are relegated to a couple of hot button topics, but if we will take the time to seek God will--what His will has always been--we will see a consistent theme of justice, equality and acceptance of those marginalized, in very profound ways.

God has made up His mind about these things. Perhaps we should rediscover His intentions, as He longs to act through us, and we become His reflections in the earth today--His Church.


Posted by Pastor Kork at 9:40 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007 10:00 PM EDT
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