Archive for August, 2008

Exodus 3:1-15, Matthew 16:21-28

August 31, 2008

For today’s readings go to http://bible.oremus.org

Take a chunk of gold ore fresh from the ground, and it looks like a rock. Burn away the dross, however, and you have pure, glowing metal. A similar smelting process produced the Lord’s Prayer. In the burning bush we call Jesus, extra words and extraneous thoughts went up in smoke, and laid bare a prayer utterly pure and spare; and yet it contains all that prayer can encompass. Call it a miracle of distillation. The prayer has five parts. First, it addresses God in praise and worship. Second, it addresses the world’s needs. It concludes with three petitions for our individual well-being. This morning I want to focus on the second part, “…thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….” (more…)

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Matthew 16:13-20

August 28, 2008

Today’s reading: http://bible.oremus.org

This is not merely a turning point for Jesus’ disciples here at Caesarea Philippi; they make a U-turn.  In fact, it is a U-turn at three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual.  Here at Caesarea Philippi they have reached a place of crisis, where life is challenging them to turn from the known to the unknown, from holding on to control to letting go, from security to adventure.  This passage churns with tension, as it should for us, too. (more…)

Genesis 22:1-14

August 17, 2008

Today’s reading: http://bible.oremus.org
Return to the story of Abraham and Isaac as often as you like; you will never reach bottom. Today I want to mine that story by means of another story. This story is told by a pediatric oncologist, Rachel Naomi Remen, in her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom. Some years ago Dr. Remen was treating a twelve-year-old girl for Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. The child had come all the way from New York City to Stanford, California, to be treated at the linear accelerator. Her father, who had come with her and her mother, was an ultra-orthodox rabbi. He obeyed not just the Ten Commandments, but all of the laws in the Bible. (more…)

Matthew 10:24-39

August 17, 2008

Today’s reading: http://bible.oremus.org
“I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”  Fair warning!  History shows us how right Jesus was.  Generations of martyrs have died for their faith, one of the best known being a woman named Perpetua, who was put to death in the year 203 at the age of 22.  Perpetua converted to Christianity during a period of the Roman empire when to do so meant death.  She came from a noble family and was nursing an infant son at the time of her arrest; and yet none of this counted in her favor.  She could only save herself if she renounced Christ; and this her Father, a pagan, desperately pleaded with her to do.  She refused and in due time she and five fellow martyrs died a violent death in the arena. (more…)

Matthew 14:22-33

August 17, 2008

Today’s reading: http://bible.oremus.org

Reading history reminds me of beach combing.  Facts wash up every now and then that stop you in your tracks.  For instance, did you know that until the 17th century ships’ navigators commonly went blind in one eye?  A history of longitude I have been reading, tells how sailors used to have to find their latitude by using a cross-staff, a simple instrument which entailed staring directly into the sun with one eye in order to measure its height above the horizon.   After several years of this, navigators commonly became blind in that eye.  I picked this fact up, because like the occasional piece of flotsam and jetsam this fact has a use.  It can help us see into today’s Gospel. (more…)

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

August 17, 2008

Today’s reading: http://bible.oremus.org

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Is there anyone here who hasn’t said that? It’s a lie. Broken bones heal rather quickly, but names can go on hurting forever. No one is immune. Do you have a physical deformity? Chances are you were taunted as a child, made to feel like an outsider, identified as inferior. Are you a person of color? Chances are your tormenters lashed out even harder. A Jew? You are lucky if names were the worst of it. The list has no end – queer, Spic, Polack, geek, even girl. Calling names generally ends with childhood, but the underlying bias and rejection fester. We try to pretend that only what has weight and mass can hurt – sticks and stones, for instance. We tell ourselves that what cannot be seen is not really real, and so cannot hurt. Not so! (more…)