Friday, May 29, 2015

The Feast of the Holy Trinity Year B - John 3:1-17

John 3:1-17
The truth of “God so loved the world…” is diminished when we add conditional clauses that limit the ability of the wind of the Spirit to blow wherever it chooses. In the same way we demean the sacrifice of “he gave his only Son” by insisting that the Spirit wind of God’s love must blow everywhere for everyone. We do not know the extent or the limitations of God’s mercy although to insist on a verbal confession of a personal relationship with Jesus and a particular way of being baptized would seem to usurp God’s ability to do whatever God pleases. The ironic twist is that in Jesus day it was religious people - Pharisees and Sadducees and teachers of the law- that failed to see what God was about. The good news for those of us who are blessed to believe and those who do not is that the wind of the Spirit blows where it will and if the cross is any indication of God’s intent it will be a mighty merciful wind indeed. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Feast of the Holy Trinity Year B - Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:12-17
I will admit I’m in hock to the flesh and cannot conceive a payment plan that will get me out of debt anytime soon. Based on Paul’s struggle in the previous chapter “I do not understand what I do…” (7:15 ff) my guess is that Paul was paying down his debt his whole life as well. But putting to death the deeds of the body is not as much about freedom from the flesh as it is trusting that the cry “Abba! Father!” is heard no matter what. It’s like paying a mortgage on a house we get to live in as if it were our own even though the bank holds the note. But unlike human lenders the Lord doesn’t evict us if miss a payment and truth to be told the permanent dwelling is already deeded to us because of the down payment Jesus made on our behalf. So, yes, we are debtors but in debt forever to Christ and gladly so.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Feast of the Holy Trinity Year B - Psalm 29

Psalm 29
Hills skipping and mountains bucking are not that pleasant when one is in close proximity. In the same way we prefer our forests leafy green as opposed to stripped bare. But the Lord enthroned above the flood is imagined by the psalmist in ways that strike terror into human hearts so that God’s glory is matched strength for strength with the little g gods who are compelled to ascribe to the Lord the glory due God’s name. For our part we count on God’s voice to be reduced to a whisper when our name is called so that the God who bursts forth in lightning blasts might bestow on us the blessing of peace. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Feast of the Holy Trinity Year B - Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah 6:1-8
The call story of the prophet Isaiah is filled with fanciful details that defy explanation. The hem of the Lord “high and lifted up” fills the temple which must mean the rest of the Lord is seated in the narthex? Why do the seraphim need wings to hide their faces and feet when they only need two to fly? And burning coals do serious damage to lips so that one might be willing to forgo forgiveness for lack of lip balm. All of that is to say the vision is like a dream and is full of bizarre imagery to elevate the high and lifted up Lord beyond this mortal coil and usher us into the mystery of God that is beyond knowing. “Woe is me!” is the proper thing to say in the sight of such power but maybe Isaiah should have held back his “Here am I. Send me” until he heard what follows. I’m sending you to people ever hearing but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving. Make their hearts dull, their ears heavy, their eyes shut until their cities are laid waste. To which the proper response would be, “Woe is me” if not for the faithfulness of the Lord high and lifted on the cross of Calvary.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Feast of Pentecost Year B - John 15:26- 27 - 16:4 - 15

John 15:26-16:15
Pastor Kerstin Hedlund (Calvary intern and my former co-pastor) had a favorite phrase about preaching on a text like this. “I got nothing.” There are portions of the Gospel of John that are well loved and easily understood. This isn’t one of them. So how is the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement? The world, and that includes most of us, understands sin to be primarily about behavior but the Advocate knows sin is really about belief – or in this case lack of belief. Of course there is behavior that we can label “sinful” but all behavior begins with what one believes. But before you begin to think you can think your way out of behavior that is less than pure the Advocate Spirit convicts the world of thinking that righteousness – that is being at peace with God and oneself – can be accomplished apart from the work of the Christ. In the God so loved the world work of the only Son God reconciled the world to God’s self. (2 Corinthians 5:19) And the judgment that the Advocate announces is that “goodness is stronger the evil, love is stronger than hate. Light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death…” (Desmond Tutu) The other thing Pastor Kerstin would say is “that’s all I got.” Amen.