Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Advent 1 C - 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

The Thessalonians were worried that the day of the Lord had come and gone and they had been left behind or it hadn’t come and those who had already died had missed the boat. At any rate what was lacking in their faith was a confident hope that despite their present circumstances of wondering when the day would come their future was still secure. Sometimes a face to face is the only way to restore confidence and so Paul prays day and night that he might visit those for whom his love abounds. But he had other congregations that demanded his attention, like the Corinthians who were not nearly as receptive and not as much fun and so it would take some time for his day and night prayer to be answered. In the meantime, he writes what is most likely the first letter of the New Testament. To those in doubt he writes encouraging words for abounding love and strengthened hearts that are a word for us as well. May you believe the unbelievable that despite what you know about yourself you will be blameless before the Lord Jesus and the cloud of witnesses that will accompany his return.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Advent 1 C - Psalm 25

Be mindful of your mercy and your steadfast love and do not remember the sins of my youth although in the forgetting of my sin please don’t forget me. It is the prayer of the thief who recognizes Jesus’ innocence and fully aware of his own guilt asks to be remembered. Jesus, remember me when you reach the place where the memory of mercy and forgetfulness of sin matter the most. It does not mean there are no consequences for sins of our youth or middle age for that matter. We are not as forgetful as God and sins of the past and present have a way of accusing us that we are not worthy of God’s forgetting what troubles us most. That is why we lift up our soul to the One who instructs us to forget what has been forgiven and remember the path of what is right which is to remember the consequence of youthful sins long enough so as not to repeat them.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Advent 1 C - Jeremiah 33:14-16

Jeremiah 33:14-16
The days are surely coming is a promise that the time of waiting will one day be over and the long expected Savior of the nations will finally come. And while we’ve seen and celebrate the Righteous Branch born in a stable, crucified on a cross, raised on the third day we still wait for something more, when what is old will become new and what is broken will be made whole. Sorrow will turn to joy, wailing into dancing, and death itself will be swallowed up by life that is unending. In the meantime, we anticipate that day best by putting on the future in the present through acts of kindness and mercy by living in love. The day that is surely coming came for Calvary member Raye Ann Sievers last Tuesday. If anyone lived the future in the present it was Raye Ann. While we often speak of those who have died in way that make them out to be better than they were that is not possible when we remember Raye Ann. Not that she wasn’t a sinner. But her light and love will be sorely missed by those who were blessed to be in her presence. And while Raye Anne was obviously not The Righteous Branch she was so clearly connected to Christ as to embody all the ways in which we are blessed by One whose life is our righteousness. Raye Ann’s day of waiting is done and while ours continues her way of waiting inspires us to work for truth and justice and love until at last we join Raye Ann and all the saints in the place of perfection. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christ the King Year B - John 18:33-37

John 18:33-37
“What is it you have done?” It could have been the name calling. You brood of vipers. You white washed tombs. You blind guides. It could have been the consistent breaking of Sabbath laws. It could have been the incident in the temple. Or we could take Caiaphas at his word, “it is better that one man dies for the people than the whole nation perishes." Fear is a powerful motivator and even a nation under Roman occupation seeks at all costs to hold onto the illusion of being in control. But Jesus is doing something else. If we take him at his word, He lays down his life only to take it up again to draw all people to himself because the world will perish unless this one man dies. Of course we who are on the side of truth for all sorts of practical reasons are still tempted to make Jesus’ kingdom look more like Pilate’s. But the greater truth of this Christ who is the King, handed over to a puppet politician by self-righteous religious rulers, is that he dies for them as well. Talk about going rouge. That really is a kingdom from another place.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christ thew King Year B - Revelation 1:4-8

Revelation 1:4-8
The letter that vividly describes a violent and final end for so many begins rather nicely for the seven churches. Of course this good beginning was written to seven churches facing an even more imminent end themselves. That is helpful to remember because I don’t think we can fully comprehend what the word from the One who is and was and is to come meant to the rightful recipients of John’s letter. I think I know what we’ve done with it and even though the best-selling series Left Behind was red hot I think God might put it in the lukewarm category for God's sake. So how do we hear a word for us even though it is clearly addressed to them? First of all, one does not need to be persecuted or enslaved by temporal powers in order to desire freedom. We are all in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. And while some may face an imminent end all of us face an inevitable one and can find comfort that the first born from the dead opens a way for those who will follow. And finally the promise of Jesus’ coming on the clouds, whether one wails or not, is a promise that our violent wounding world will come to an end and a world of peace and joy and love will take its place. And that is good news indeed.