Monday, February 20, 2017

Looking Forward to February 26, 2017 -- Transfiguration, Jesus' Identity

The Scripture reading this week is Luke 9:18-36, 44-50

The Sermon title is Missing the Point

Early Thoughts: Sometimes it is hard to keep track.  Sometimes things don't make a lot of sense. Sometimes we get it wrong.

These things have always been true. Even people we think really "get it" can misunderstand quite badly...

Peter, James and John. If there is a triumvirate of "Best" disciples the Gospels would suggest that this trio is right up there. Surely they, who are so close to Jesus, who get taken up to the top of the mountain and witness the Transfiguration, understand what is happening right?

Sometimes they do. Sometimes they certainly do not....

Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah. Peter will also deny even knowing Jesus.

They hear Jesus say that the path he follows (and the path he invites them to follow) is not one of glory. At one point in the Gospels James and John ask for the prime seats at the table (this happens in Mark 10, when Matthew tells the same story he has their mother asking on their behalf).

Jesus proclaims the power of God to heal, to cast out demons. John gets worried about someone else doing the same thing, seemingly worried about the competition.

Sometimes it is hard to understand what it means to follow Jesus. The disciples are ample proof of this.

Maybe it is because some (much) of what Jesus says is counter-intuitive ("least among all of you is the greatest", the Messiah will be executed). Maybe it is because we don't want to hear. Maybe it is because we have yet to let go of more worldly understandings of 'how the world works'. But for the life of the Christian movement people have struggled with understanding. And that means we sometimes miss the point.

WE could beat ourselves up about that. OR we could remind ourselves that even Peter, James and John sometimes missed the point too. Sometimes they were afraid to admit they did not understand. [And I fully believe there are many things they did not understand until after Easter, when they looked back on what had happened, retrospection is a gift that brings understanding at times].

So to miss the point, to have questions, to be a little unclear makes us normal.

God help us in our understanding and in our confusion.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Looking Forward to February 19, 2017 -- Jesus sends out the Disciples

The Scripture Readings for this week are Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-11

The Sermon title is Sent Out!

Early Thoughts:Building and proclaiming the Kingdom is a big job. Too big for one person.

It appears Jesus knows this. And it also appears that Jesus is willing to delegate.

Just for the record, the sending out is still in place.

Jesus sends his followers out to share in the work of the Kingdom. And to a large degree he sends them out on faith and trust, calling them to rely on the kindness of strangers and the law of hospitality. He also tells them to pay attention to the audience, if they are not open to the message, go somewhere else.

How do we live out this challenge?

How do we go out to proclaim the Kingdom, to bring health instead of dis-ease?

Are we willing to take risks with limited resources? Or do we want to make sure we have all the ducks lined up before we take the first step out the door?

Are we prepared to share something that might be offensive to or rejected by some? Or are we stuck in the need to be "nice" (and liked)?

What does it mean to describe ourselves as being sent out in Jesus' name?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Looking Forward to February 12, 2017 -- John's Question

This Sunday we will be  celebrating the Sacrament of Communion.

The Scripture reading for this Sunday is Luke 7:18-35

The Sermon title is What Do You See?

(Found this one on Facebook)
Early Thoughts: Who are you? Are you the one we have been waiting for?

Sitting in his prison cell John has obviously been hearing reports about what Jesus is doing. So why is he confused? Why does he send people to ask Jesus who he is?

Maybe in part because John can not see in person, he is forced to rely on hearsay.

And maybe because Jesus does not quite fit the picture John was expecting. Jesus does not seem like the one who has a winnowing fork in his hand.  SO are you the Messiah?

JEsus' answer is pretty simple, if a bit non-responsive.  "Tell John what you have seen" Not a straightforward yes or no, but share what have you seen.  And then think for yourself, from what you have seen, what do you say?

In a couple of chapters Luke with share the account of Jesus saying to his disciples "who do you say I am?", a question they then have to answer based on what they have seen and heard and experienced. This is how God is known, by people sharing and reflecting on what they have seen and heard and experienced.

Even after resurrection, the presence of God is known because people share what they have seen and heard and experienced.

SO what have you seen and heard and experienced to "prove" that God is active in the world?

When you look at the world where do you see God at work?

If people ask you to report bakc on whether God is present, how could you answer?