July 7, 2019 – Cataumet

ANNOUNCEMENTS The Annual Trustees Clean-up Day will be Saturday, July 13, from 9:00 am to noon. Please bring rakes, loppers, gloves, etc. and help us spruce up! OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS Bible study will be on hiatus in July and August. EVENTS EVERY WEEK Sunday   7:45 am  Choir practice Sunday   9:00 am  Worship Sunday   7:30 pm  AA Meeting Monday   7:30 pm  N/A Meeting Tuesday     9:00am       Exercise Tuesday  7:00 pm  AA Meeting Thursday  9:00 am    Exercise Thursday   7:00 pm   NA Meeting Saturday  9:00 am  Osteo...

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June 30, 2019

Pentecost 3   June 30,2019 Psalm 77, 2 Kings 2:1-2,6-14; Luke 9:51-62, Galatians 5:1,13-25   For freedom Christ has set us free ***************************************************************** For freedom Christ has set us free… stand firm, therefore, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery – the apostle says. Then, just a few verses later he says – you were called to freedom, only don’t use your freedom for self-indulgence – but through love become slaves to one another. Stay free. Don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. And – Become slaves to one another through love. Isn’t this a bit of a contradiction? Let’s do a little very quick review of the background context of this letter to the Galatians – which has been a tremendously influential letter, especially in Protestant theology. Our doctrine of God’s free grace as the source of our salvation flows straight from Galatians (and it’s cousin, the letter to the Romans). Salvation by grace and faith is a huge theme in Galatians – but Christian freedom is actually the main theme of the letter, and our first verse today (Galatians 5:1) works as a theme statement: For freedom Christ has set us free. But – Free from what? What kind of freedom? Exactly how much freedom? Bible scholars are still discussing and debating virtually every line of Galatians, still trying to figure out what was going on when Paul wrote this letter – addressed to a cluster of churches in the region of Galatia in Western Asia, to the North and West of Israel. What we’re most nearly sure of is – some Jewish Christians with some connection to the Jerusalem church (how much of a connection is debated) have come to the Galatian churches saying non-Jewish church members must be circumcised – and obey all or some of the law of Moses, including Jewish food laws – if they are to be considered Christians. Some, perhaps many, in the Galatian churches have now believed these missionaries. And Paul is furious. He’s absolutely sure adding any non-essential-to-the-gospel requirements to the gospel of Jesus Christ risks damaging or even destroying the faith of people whose faith is still fragile or shaky.  He argues angrily, creatively, strenuously – that freedom for non-Jewish Christians absolutely non-negotiably includes being free from the law of Moses. The law is for Israel, not for Gentiles. Non-Jewish believers need to know the law but they are not subject to the details of the law… And here we need to know or remember – this is the same religious law that Paul used to teach, as a member of the strictest Jewish sect, the Pharisees, and a persecutor of the Christian church in his former life. But now here’s Paul, calling  the law a yoke that binds allwho attempt to live by it in slavery. Insisting that the law not only cannot bring salvation – trying to obey it will enslave us in fruitless effort…like running on a treadmill… going nowhere. And we need to know the issue really isn’t about circumcision (elsewhere in the letter he’ll say twice “neither circumcision nor un-circumcision matters) nor about dietary laws – the issue is making anything other than the gospel itself an issue. Contrary to what we may have heard elsewhere, the bible tells us – the...

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June 23, 2019

Pentecost 2 June 23, 2019   (Ps 42, I Kings 19:19-21, Galatians 3:23-29)  Luke 7:36-50 **************************************************************** Your faith has saved you, go in peace, Jesus says to this woman crashing the party, washing his feet with tears and drying them with her hair. Well – Jesus never was known for his table manners… and…           Jesus is a dinner guest today in the home of Simon, a Pharisee. Pharisees are usually adversaries of Jesus in the gospels. But not always. Jesus has raised someone from the dead earlier in this chapter, now he’s being called a prophet. Simon’s at least interested enough to want to check Jesus out. Now a woman known in the community as a sinner comes in with a jar of ointment. Picture a banquet-type-meal with guests reclining, according to Roman custom, eating from low tables, sandals off, in a large home, probably with an open courtyard… Neighbors would often come listen when a guest speaker was present at a banquet. The welcome however, wouldn’t normally include people regarded as beyond the boundaries of religious norms – especially when the host’s a member of the strictest religious sect. But this woman, known as a sinner, has heard Jesus will be at the banquet – and she enters, welcome or not – intending perhaps just to anoint Jesus quietly – but as she gets close to him she bursts out crying, can’t stop, and perhaps without thinking, lets her hair down, starts washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair. Kissing his feet, anointing with ointment, causing a scene. For a woman to let her hair down in public then would be like wearing a bikini to church today, though probably worse… Simon, the host of the dinner party sees her at the feet of Jesus and thinks to himself, “if this he was a real prophet he’d know what kind of woman she is…” Jesus reads his mind and says, “Simon, what do you think? A man had two debtors – one owed fifty thousand, the other five thousand. Neither could pay – so he cancels the debts of both. Which do you think will love him more?”   Simon replies, “the one forgiven more, I suppose.” “Good answer,” Jesus says. “ Do you see this woman?” Like – really see her? Did you notice what she was doing? Because – “I came into your house as your guest, but you didn’t wash my feet or anoint my head or greet me with a kiss.” In those days of foot travel on dusty roads offering water for foot-washing was expected. Foot-washing’s rare now, but a kiss on the cheek or forehead’s still common practice in many parts of the Mideast today; the equivalent of a handshake for us. Anointing with oil wasn’t always expected, but the point is –  “You gave me no proper greeting,” Jesus says, “But she washed my feet with her tears, anointed my feet with ointment, and kissed my feet. And her sins, which were many, have been forgiven – so she shows great love – while the one who’s been forgiven less – (or thinks he’s been forgiven less) – only loves a little.” We’re never told what Simon, the host, thinks or says in response to Jesus saying this....

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June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday  June 16, 2019  Psalm 8, John 16:12-15, Proverbs 8:1-4,22-31; Romans 5:1-5  **************************************************************** Jesus tells us he’s got many things to tell us – many more things than we can bear to hear… And one of these many things we can’t quite bear to hear yet – just might be church doctrine – including the awesomely intricate beautiful doctrine – of God in three persons, blessed Trinity – the One – and – the Three in One – we’re celebrating this Trinity Sunday… Doctrine can be endlessly fascinating once we get into it… Or sleep-inducing, if we don’t see how it matters. And I’m not saying doctrine’s ever easy – or that I’m much good at it. Almost all I remember from my seminary Introduction to Theology class is that our professor let us rewrite our papers as many times as we were willing – and would change the grade on our paper every time it improved. Which wasn’t hard to do, since our teaching assistant, who graded our papers wrote helpful questions and comments on your paper – which, if you took seriously, made it relatively simple to get a decent grade after three or four tries. Which is a bit like how I understand the work of the Holy Spirit – whom I picture as, among other things, Jesus’ Teaching Assistant – since Jesus tells us in John’s gospel (ch 14-16) the Holy Spirit will remind you of everything I’ve taught you, and guide you into all truth. (And I am the truth, Jesus also says.) Jesus tells us we should be glad he’s going back to God the Father – so the Spirit will come… And I can’t help loving Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls (depending on translation) – our Advocate, Comforter, and Counselor… So when Jesus is preaching his last sermon in John, all through chapters 13 through 17 – it’s as if Jesus is channeling God the Father – and – preparing us for the Holy Spirit – who will be channeling Jesus for us… And I wouldn’t be surprised if God the Father turns out to be channeling Jesus and the Holy Spirit, simultaneously for us also… Since Jesus tells us even though God shows up as three persons – God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost – always God is still fundamentally One. And part of the difficulty of doing Trinitarian theology is that it’s often hard to be sure which person of the Trinity’s directing at a given time… and… At the risk of sounding irreverent, ridiculous or both – I’m reminded of a pair of great jazz pianists, composers and arrangers, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.  Ellington, the extroverted (and very heterosexual) band leader, often called introverted (and gay) Strayhorn his alter-ego. The two had very different personalities – but on their recorded piano duets (playing for example Strayhorn’s composition (You must) Take the A Train– if – you get to uptown…) you can’t always tell them apart. They absorbed each other’s styles so very thoroughly – that even they couldn’t always tell which of them was playing which part, when, in retrospect… (Was that me playing there or was that you?…) Which comes to mind this week, as I’ve been thinking about – how...

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June 30, 2019 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, June 30th:                        11:00 AM  Worship Service Saturday,  July 6th:                          10:00 AM  Children’s Clothing Exchange Sunday, July 7th :                           11:00 AM   Worship Service   ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                                                                                                                                                        THE THRIFT SHOP  will be closed on Wednesday July 3rd and Thursday July 4th in observance of  Independence Day. THE CHURCH OFFICE will be closed this Thursday. THE NEW LIGURGIST SIGN UP SHEET is out, please sign up. BIBLE STUDY will be on recess for July and August. PRAYER GROUP meets the second and fourth Wednesday of every month....

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