The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me. – Isaiah 49:1
The beginning of a new calendar year is a time when we often reassess direction and ask questions yet again about who we are and where we are going in life. We make resolutions, we sign up at the gym (again), we vow to be better people. This year we will take a deep journey into the question, “Who Are You?” We will discover that “who we are” is indelibly linked to “Whose we are.” What amazing things could happen if you lived into your best, most passionate, loving self? Let’s find out what transformations can happen in just 9 weeks!
Follow Your Star | 1.8.2017
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. – Isaiah 60:1 …there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. – Matthew 2:9-10
The Wise Ones found what they were looking for by following the lighted path. When we trust the “star” that God hung out for us, we move toward life in its fullest and discover joy beyond imagining. What paths is God shining light upon for you? We will take the next 9 weeks to implement movement toward a brighter future than we can imagine.
Connect With Your Belovedness | 1.15.17
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. – Isaiah 42:1
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17
Can you imagine what relationships could be like without the human fear of rejection? This Sunday we remember our baptism and the voice of God which proclaims to all of us, “You are my beloved.” Let’s live in the abundance of grace and acceptance and just see what happens when we offer that to others!
Know Your Name | 1.22.17
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me. – Isaiah 49:1 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”… “We have found the Messiah.” – John 1:38, 41
The question of “who are you” often starts with a name. In the scriptures, people begin to describe Jesus by many names–Rabbi, Messiah, Lamb of God–as they tried to understand who this special person was. What descriptors do you want to be known by? Who has God called you to be?
Claim Your Vocation | 1.29.17
For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. – Isaiah 9:4 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4: 19, 20
We continue this Sunday with the idea that God has called us, not just by name, but to a special purpose. When we find and claim our own vocation–that which fulfills us and creates good in the world–we are freed from the bonds of what others may expect of us or claim for us. Discipleship comes in many, and sometimes unlikely, forms.
Embody Beatitude Living | 2.5.17
God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are… “ – Matthew 5:1-12
Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are… “ – Matthew 5:1-12
Two of the most powerful and poetic lessons for life appear in the scripture readings this Sunday. The definition of beatitude is “supreme blessedness and happiness.” In our search for happiness among the “stuff” of life, have we missed the point? What difference would it make to embody a love for justice and kindness in our everyday lives?
Live With Integrity | 2.12.17
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. – Isaiah 58: 11 You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot… Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. – Matthew 5: 13, 17
Something with “integrity” is stable–all the parts are supporting the whole. We are invited to examine all the parts of our lives to see if they point toward the fulfillment of our identity, vocation and call. When all things work together for good, the parched places in our lives become watered and our saltiness never loses its taste. Are you a self divided?
Create Right Relationships | 2.19.17
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live… – Deuteronomy 30: 19 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23, 24
Who we are cannot be fulfilled in isolation. We were made for relationship and for passing on the life and love given to us by God. We’ve all experienced the pain of broken relationships and the joy of restored ones. How does our relationship to others define us? How does living in right relationship with friend and stranger send reverberations into the world and into the future?
Proclaim Transformation | 2.26.17
The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain… Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. – Exodus 24:12, 17
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves… suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” – Matthew 17:1, 5
We have walked in the light, we have heard the assurance of belovedness, we have named and claimed our place in the world, our passion, our vocation, our mission. Now it is time to proclaim to the world from the mountaintop that transformation is possible. How have you changed in the last 9 weeks? This Sunday will include testimonies and answers to the question, “Who Are You?”
Choose Life • Oct 2 • John Crowe
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
– Luke 24:1-9, Luke 17:5-6
COMMUNION SUNDAY: The first Sunday introduces the theme and invites the congregation to adjust their lenses to recognize life rather than focus on death–what feels like it is destroying us. We pose the questions this Sunday, “What is the focus of our attention? What dominates our imaginations?”And it introduces the five leading causes of life through which we will journey: connection, coherence, agency, blessing and hope.
Healing Power: Connection • Oct 9 • Laura Ostman
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
– Colossians 3:12-15, Luke 17:11-19
Churches can be places of healing–places of connection. This Sunday focuses on this first “leading cause of life” which is the root of our word “religion,” meaning “to bind together.”Physical healing happens when two sides of a wound reach toward each other and bind. All kinds of healing happens for us when we connect to the Source of All Being, to the Teacher Jesus, who guides us toward the “other,” and when we know deeply that we are all connected to each other.
Purpose & Meaning: Coherence • Oct. 16 • Cajun James
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” –
Luke 9:1-6, Luke 18:1-8
When we know in our bones what we are here to be and do, we have coherence. Knowing where we belong and finding meaning in our lives gives us purpose that holds up even (and especially) in the storms of life. Jesus said he had “come to set the prisoners free.”Bottom line. So if the “prisoner” in front of him was someone he wasn’t “supposed to” associate with in the social norms of his day, it didn’t matter because setting this person free was the bottom line. To have a life-leaning bottom line invites adaptability and choice, it doesn’t restrict it. Where do we find our meaning and purpose?
We Do, We Live: Agency • Oct 23 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“…Do this in remembrance of me.”
– Luke 22:14-20, Luke 18:9-14
Agency is about doing, even if it is just doing only what we can do in this moment–which doesn’t feel like much sometimes. When our purpose joins with our doing, then we have found our “calling.” Before he dies, Jesus invites his followers to no longer be servants, but friends who understand they must carry on his actions in the world. They are to become agents of change and possibility. Instead of focusing on problems, we focus on the assets of our community, our friends in Christ, and what is possible.
Generations of Love: Blessing • Oct 30 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” – John 1:16, Luke 19:1-10
Blessing is not just a nice thing to say, it is “generative” of life. It is what we do that creates more and more life within ourselves and others and it has been going on for, well… “generations.” Blessing is about opening to the channels of love that have been flowing before we came into this world and will flow after we leave it. We are part of a long river of life-giving actions of generosity, kindness, hospitality and humor.
Not Just Wishful Thinking: Hope • Nov 6 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”
– Psalm 31:21-24, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
COMMUNION SUNDAY: Humans have the capacity to imagine the future, drawing us together to take risks and face dangers because hope moves us forward. Hope held and spoken in community is not just wishful thinking, it is a bold announcement and celebration of a future in God.
Let Your Life Be about Life • Nov 13 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” – Ephesians 1:18-19, Isaiah 65:17-25
STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY: From death to life, from fear to blessing, from despair to hope… this is what we have been about in this series. In this final worship experience we will hear testimony to the “Leading Causes of Life” that we have witnessed and small or big ways in which we have refocused in order to let our lives be about life. We will pray for these life-giving practices to “go viral”–infecting our communities so that there is more connection, more meaning, more action, more blessing and more hope.
“Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised… Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” – Mark 16: 1-8
The subtitle of this series could be “When in Doubt, Read the Instructions!” Jesus’ time with his disciples was short. But from the beginning he began to prepare them to continue his ministry once he was no longer with them. This Easter season we will encounter teachings of Jesus that end up coming in handy as the early church struggles and thrives… ultimately handing on the instructions to us. What will we do with them?
“ G o ! T e l l ! ” • 3 . 2 7 . 1 6
E a s t e r
“Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” – Mark 16: 1-8
After the Sabbath, on the third day after Jesus’ death, the women go to the tomb to anoint his body, as was the custom for dealing with the deceased. Jesus prior instructions were that he would rise on the third day and meet them at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, but it seems no one paid attention. It took an angel to remind them to do “just as he told you.” On this Easter Sunday, what promises do we need to remember and believe about the possibility of new life? What message are we called to go and tell?
“ S t a y , W i t n e s s ” • 4 . 3 . 1 6
“He called for the Twelve and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick—no bread, no bags, and no money in their belts. – Mark 6:7-13
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
– Acts 1:1-14
Jesus sent his disciples on a “trial run” of sorts while he was alive. He gave them the power to witness, anoint and heal and sent them out with only the promise that they would be cared for. Now he has died, risen and been taken up to heaven–leaving them to carry out his ministry. They’ve been through a lot and must feel a bit powerless without him. But the instructions are clear. They will be his witness and the Holy Spirit will be with them. When we are feeling powerless to make change in this overwhelming world, will we proclaim the power of the Holy Spirit with us, just as he told us?
“ T o u c h , H e a l ” • 4 . 1 0 . 1 6
“Wherever he went—villages, cities, or farming communities—they would place the sick in the marketplaces and beg him to allow them to touch even the hem of his clothing. Everyone who touched him was healed.” – Mark 6:53-56
“Peter said, ‘I don’t have any money, but I will give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise up and walk!’ Then he grasped the man’s right hand and raised him up.” – Acts 3: 1-10
The story of Jesus’ ministry is filled with people wanting to get close to him–especially those who needed healing. After he was gone, that power to heal was passed to his disciples. We hear of one such story this week where Peter reached out to help a man leave the shackles of his illness and not only walk, but leap and praise! As we endeavor to be closer to Jesus, growing as his disciples, we are invited to reach out and touch the pain of the world. How are we called to be agents of healing in our relationships, both personal and communal?
“ B e w a r e , D o n ’ t W o r r y ” • 4 . 1 7 . 1 6
“Watch out for yourselves. People will hand you over to the councils. You will be beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me so that you can testify before them… don’t worry ahead of time about what to answer or say. Instead, say whatever is given to you at that moment, for you aren’t doing the speaking but the Holy Spirit is. – Mark 13: 9-11
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”
– 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (Acts 17:1-9)
The early church story is filled with both great excitement and growth but also intense suffering. In a Roman occupation, it was subversive and dangerous to proclaim a “king” other than the political rulers of the day. Jesus’ own death was proof of this and he knew it would be no easier for those he left behind. But “watch out” instructions also came with “don’t worry”–you are never alone. God’s never-ending presence through the Holy Spirit in times of trial is sure. What are the risks of proclaiming that Love reigns over the greed, hate and phobias of our day? Can we hear the voice of Jesus urging us onward and offering assurance?
“ D o n ’ t A r g u e , A g r e e t o D i s a g r e e ” • 4 . 2 4 . 1 6
“…on the way they had been debating with each other about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.” – Mark 9:34-35
“Now I encourage you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Agree with each other and don’t be divided into rival groups. Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
It seems that competition and the need to be right or better lives in our human genes. Even in the presence of Jesus, the disciples would argue over who was the best and who was the favorite. Jesus explicit instructions were to resist our tendencies to put ourselves first. To be “great” is to have a servant’s heart toward our fellow sisters and brothers. The early church was fraught with divisions (sound familiar?). How is the Kin-dom of God diminished when our purpose is thwarted by attention to being better-than or “right” at all costs?
“ L o v e , t h e M a i n T h i n g ” • 5 . 1 . 1 6
“The most important [commandment] is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
– Mark 12: 28-31
“If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal… Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love.”
– 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
In the letter to the fledgling Corinthian church, Paul offers a laundry-list of what love looks like. We can almost imagine that he is writing in response to some un-loving behavior that is going on (in the church, you say??!). When it came down to it, Jesus said that the litmus test for faithfulness to a loving God, is love. Bottom line. Have a question about what you should do in any given situation? Ask where your actions stand on the love meter.
“ L i v e , N o w a n d F o r e v e r ” • 5 . 8 . 1 6
“As for the resurrection from the dead, haven’t you read in the scroll from Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God said to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God isn’t the God of the dead but of the living.” – Mark 12: 26-27
“I passed on to you as most important what I also received: Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures… So if the message that is preached says that Christ has been raised from the dead, then how can some of you say, ‘There’s no resurrection of the dead’? If there’s no resurrection of the dead, then Christ hasn’t been raised either.” – 1 Cor 15: 1-26, 51-57
The resurrection from the dead was a long-standing and controversial issue among the Jews, even while Jesus was living. Jesus instructions to the Jewish rule-keepers of his day was to remember that God has always been the God of the living and life with God is everlasting. Letters to the early church acted as reminders of those instructions–of the promises of Christ that outlive his earthly life. We are to live as if death, the last enemy, has been conquered. Have no fear! Live fully–now and forever.
“ B e O n e i n t h e S p i r i t ” • 5 . 1 5 . 1 6
P e n t e c o s t
“John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins… He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 4: 1-8
“When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place… They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.” – Acts 2: 1-4
“There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone… We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink.” – 1 Cor 12: 1-13
Our series closes on this Pentecost Sunday with one last instruction–be one in the Spirit. The saga of the early church mirrors the church of today: we find it hard sometimes to hold onto our faith and know what to do in an ever-changing world. But there is Good News! The Spirit fills each of us with different gifts for being the church. And together we can make a difference… just as Jesus told us we could!
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
– Isaiah 43: 19
“The Way: You Don’t Choose a Life, You Live a Life” – Lent is a time of reflection and there’s nothing like a pilgrimage to conjure that up. Inspired by passages in the scriptures that talk about the journeys, roads and pathways of life, we will make our “way” together through this poignant season. The movie “The Way” accompanies us as our modern-day inspiration to live the life we’ve been given to the fullest.
The Wandering Way
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
– Luke 4:1-2
After Jesus’ baptism, he went on a pilgrimage into the wilderness. A common practice among spiritual leaders of his day, this was a time to dig deep into the humanity of his soul. Along the way he encounters what we all encounter along the paths of life–temptations to stray from the path that God has intended for us. But “all who wander are not lost”–for it is in the wandering that we find our true selves.
The Way Around
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
– Luke 13:31-34
We are not always understood. Jesus found this out, just like so many others whose closest family, friends and neighbors have created an idea of who we are and cannot imagine the possibilities God has called us to. Sometimes we must go ahead and do what we dream, claiming who we know we are, taking the way around what others think we ought to do and be.
The High Way
Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price… For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
– Isaiah 55:1-9
We are taught that everything costs. But our ways are not God’s ways. There are higher ways. We are all invited, without price, to the table of God’s grace. This is the high way that we are invited to embody to others. Hospitality is the way… even we do not agree on everything, we are still one family at one table.
The Way Home
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
– 2 Cor 5: 16-17
…Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’
– Luke 15: 11b-32
No matter what we call “home” in this physical world, we yearn for a spiritual home within that offers serenity, acceptance, belonging. The extravagant acceptance of the father for the son in Jesus’ parable of the wandering son is difficult for us to believe sometimes… that no matter what we have done, who we are, how far we are from what we want to become, we are welcomed home by the Loving Parent.
The Free Way
Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
– Isaiah 43: 16-19
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
– Phil 3: 13-14
New paths are possible through freedom in Christ. And these ways made plain before us if we have eyes to see. Yes, we will strain against adversity–such is life. But new life is always possible. New horizons are ours through relationship with God and with each other. We will offer symbols of our efforts this day in the form of rocks (which can be both stumbling blocks and stepping stones along the way) and affirm that God, our rock and our redeemer is with us every step.
The Other Way (Palm Sunday)
As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” – Luke 19: 28-40
This moment on this road for Jesus feels both like the end and the beginning. Such are so many moments of our lives. A pilgrimage may reach its destination but the hope, the wisdom, the lessons learned along the way have offered a new starting point for us. What have we learned and what transformation–what “other way”–are we called to in the name of right relationship in our lives?
“Whoever does not love does not know God,
for God is love.”
1 John 4:8
The lectionary for the Advent/Christmas season alludes to a powerful love that we wait for, that we witness at the coming of the Christ child, and that we embody as children of God–the Body of Christ. The hymn “Love Came Down at Christmas” reminds us that God’s love lives among us and within us–our love is a token of the presence of God still working today. A more current anthem, “Testify to Love” (a song recorded by Wynona Judd and made popular on the TV series “Touched by an Angel” – also performed by Avalon), is the inspiration for the theme and can work well woven throughout the season as anthem, congregational response and solo.
Testify to Righteous Love
November 29, 2015
“I will call a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall
execute justice and righteousness in the land.” Jeremiah 33:15
“That’s so righteous!” For a word that has not been used in common language for some time, the slang use of the word “righteous!” in recent years can serve as a metaphor for the kind of Love that “came down at Christmas” and for which we prepare yet again. There are similarities in the Hebrew Bible lexicon and the 21st century usage: righteousness is life and love permeated with integrity: exceptional living and, in our exploration this Sunday, exceptional loving. The depths of loving go beyond warm and fuzzy feelings to examples of exceptional relationship–“ right relationship.” Stories of those who go the extra mile on behalf of love of neighbor and hospitality to the stranger are shared in this opening worship experience as evidence of the kind of Love for which we prepare in Advent.
Testify to Unfettered Love
December 6, 2015
“.. that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear… the dawn from on high will break upon us… ”
Luke 1: 74, 78
The lectionary for this Sunday is rife with testimony to God’s love this shared with joy by which we can live in freedom from fear. The Holy is the One who guides our feet in peace and makes the way lighted with knowledge and insight. The main character in the Gospel is John, son of Zechariah, a “wild one” who has no qualms about testifying boldly and without fear about the One coming who will teach the good news of unfettered love.
Testify to Liberating Love
December 13, 2015
“The Lord, your God, is in your midst… God will rejoice over you with gladness, God will renew you in his love; God will exult over you with loud singing” Zephaniah 3:17
The love of God to which we testify is “antiphonal”–a back-and-forthness of call and response. Zephaniah says that the Holy One exults, sings, rejoices, over us with loud singing–and our response is to sing right back, letting all the earth know of this liberating love. And with what do we respond to God’s action of liberation and the gift of holy presence in Jesus? John continues his proclamation, answering the question “what should we do?” with a concrete step-by-step answer: Love others. Care for others. Give the “shirt off your back” and fill hungry bellies. This, indeed, will testify to liberating love.
Testify to Transforming Love
December 20, 2015
“But you, O Bethlehem… one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel… and he shall be the one of peace.” Micah 5:2, 5
The coming of a “ruler” in the form of baby, and the images of Mary’s Magnificat in which this ruler usurps the status quo rather than joining it, remind us to prepare to be moved (like the baby in Elizabeth’s womb) in ways we don’t expect. Following this “ruler”–saying “I have come to do your will”–will transform us and refocus our priorities (just like falling in love can change the trajectory of our lives). Are we willing to be gripped by this kind of Transforming Love?
Testify to Divine Love
December 24, 2015 – Christmas Eve
“With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise… let the sea roar… let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord…” Psalm 98
Love has come to town! This is the jewel in the crown of Creation–yet this is not the end of Creation, this is but an explosion onto the scene of what is already happening from the beginning and continues to burst forth in each of us. The Light, the Word, the Wind, the Music… is among us. And how beautiful are the messengers who continue to proclaim this hope in the midst of chaos, light where there was no light, movement where we thought there was no life. We sing “Gloria!”
along with all heaven and earth.
Testify to Incarnate Love
December 27, 2015
“Praise him, sun and moon… shining stars… highest heavens, and you
waters… fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind… mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars… wild animals…” Psalm 148
The incarnation of Love draws “whoops and hollers” from all of creation–for all of creation is “shot through” with the Divine Presence. We are invited to see ourselves as “clothed” with Christ-like Love: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience; bearing with one another because we are one body. We hear the story of 12-year-old Jesus in the temple… dwelling among the teachers and elders. Indeed Jesus dwells among us still… what will we learn about life and love if we stop to listen?
Testify to Unfailing Love
January 3, 2015
“With weeping they shall come, and with consolation I will lead them back… I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them…”
Jeremiah 31:9, 13
The lectionary scriptures for this Sunday are full of relational language. The radical nature of this familial language of relationship to God may be lost on us because it is so familiar. The language of Child/Parent, Creator/chosen, shepherd/sheep, guide/guided, adoption/inheritance is an astonishing feature if you live in a time, society or circumstance where assuming intimacy with a “superior” is far from reality. But perhaps we can attain a sense of the radical call of Love to unfailing intimacy when we imagine and testify to a love and grace that does not fail, that does not abandon, that is ever-present and always available.