October 30, 2016 – Salvation, according to Jesus

Pentecost 24 October 30, 2016   (Ps 146, Luke 18:18-30, 35-43) Luke 19:1-10  Salvation, according to Jesus ***************************** Tomorrow is Halloween.  Our pumpkin patch for the Bourne Food Pantry of course piggy backs on the association of pumpkins with Halloween… And going door to door with kids or grand-kids, and greeting children who come to our doors with candy can be good ways to meet some of our neighbors. (If it seems appropriate in the course of conversation, we might even mention – we’re part of the church that sells pumpkins for the Bourne Food Pantry. We never know – someone we meet may be thinking about coming to church, and our pumpkin patch outreach may be of interest… ) And getting dressed up in costumes is also part of our religious heritage. Our Jewish cousins in faith dress up for the holiday of Purim, where wild and oddly funny costumes are the norm. And this year we’ve already held a bible character’s costume party, last Sunday…(Some of you were there helping, thank you very much…) I’m pretty sure we all had fun, and learned some interesting things about the bible. Many adult volunteers helped immensely; and Tatsiana and Tom Goux led us all in bible sing-a-long-songs… All costumes were creative and thematic… Jacob (Martitz) came as himself – actually, rather, as his biblical namesake, Jacob, from Genesis, who wrestled an angel all night and was given a new name, Israel… Jacob’s sister Ella had a great costume, all dressed in purple, as Lydia, the dealer in purple cloth known for her hospitality, who became the first leader of the church in Philippi (Acts 16)… Marcus was marvelous as bearded Melchior, one of the three wise men… Juliana was splendid as the daughter of Pharaoh, with adopted baby Moses under her arm… Her parents Christena and Cory looked great, though a bit young for their parts as Sarah and Abraham, who had their son Isaac when she was 90, he was 100….Yan came as Noah, washed ashore after the flood…. Alexis was shining like the sun in her bright yellow solar costume, while her brother Tyler did some time travel as Harry Potter, back into the bible, perhaps to check out the Potter’s House of Jeremiah 18… Rohi and her mother Reah came as contemplative Mary of Bethany and busy sister Martha… while yours truly with them was arguably also well cast, in his role as their brother Lazarus, brought back from the dead by Jesus… And today we continue on the theme of biblical characters in their various costumes… As we consider the case of two rich men and Jesus… *** In our first reading a rich ruler comes to Jesus. And if I were designing a Halloween costume to portray this bible character, I’d be looking in our thrift shop for a tastefully-expensive-looking business suit, perhaps with a golden-cross as a tie-pin. He comes asking, politely, what he must do to inherit eternal life. He seems to have faith eternal life is for real. And he seems to think its his to inherit… (Just checking with Jesus to be sure there’s no technical issues he’s overlooked.) And Jesus doesn’t say eternal life isn’t his to inherit, he just says, “you know the commandments: don’t commit adultery, don’t murder,...

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November 8, 2015

Pentecost 24   November 8, 2015   (Mark 12:38-42) Ruth 2:1-15, 3:1-5, 4:13-2 ****************************************************************** Our family recently watched again The Fiddler on the Roof, the grand saga of one Jewish family in one small village in Tsarist Russia… A parable also of Jewish life through the ages, in which God is always present, and life is always celebrated as a gift from God, even in the most difficult times… Fiddler on the Roof is one of our daughter’s favorite musicals, so we’ve seen it many times…(I bet many of you remember the movie; because at our Slow Church book reading group last week when we mentioned watching the movie, everyone in the room started singing “If I were a rich man… da-da-da-da-da-da...”) But the scene I love best is where Tevye, the father asks Golde, the mother, “do you love me?” And Golde replies: “Do I love you? Do I love you? For twenty five years I’ve cooked your food… For twenty five years I’ve washed your clothes…Do I love you?” (What kind of question is that?) A reminder true love is seldom about the swept-off-our-feet head-over-heels romantic love we see in most movies. Real-life true love is more like the book of Ruth… Where true love is found mostly in the everyday love of family, friends, neighbors, community…expressed in the everyday labor of love… We began the story of Ruth and Naomi last week – Israelite Naomi, Moabite Ruth; mother-in-law, daughter-in-law. Both of their husbands have died, and Naomi now has set out to return to her ancestral home in Bethlehem of Judea, after at least a decade away. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, ‘turn back, go home. There’s no future for you with me…’ Orpah does go back. But Ruth says, “Where you go I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people shall be my people. Your God will be my God.” Now Naomi and Ruth have resettled in Bethlehem. Ruth is off to work, gleaning grain in the fields, working hard every day to bring food home for Naomi and herself. Gleaning, meaning gathering what’s left behind by harvesters. The bible says gleaning is always to be permitted for the poor and resident alien, those without land of their own. Gleaning is laborious tiring work, with lots of bending and stooping down and picking up of grain off the ground. And it’s humbling to be identified publically as poor enough to need to glean. But gleaning is a life-saving option for those in need of daily bread….And now… Ruth’s faithfulness in this humble work of gleaning attracts the notice of Boaz, a prosperous landowner, who turns out to be fortuitously a relative of Naomi’s late husband. He’s my candidate for Best Supporting Actor alongside our two very strong lead actresses in this redemption drama – playing the role of a go’el, a biblical term meaning redeemer. Meaning a relative who bails another family member out from slavery, or debt, or both… And… The book of Ruth is a parable of redemption… In which those who show love for others find love and redemption themselves… And…Redemption is soon flourishing… As we watch steadfast love and faithfulness meet and embrace, metaphorically, as Psalm 85 says, also personified, now, in the quiet, courteous, courtship between Ruth...

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November 23, 2014 – Thanks be to God

Deuteronomy 8:7-18 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! Luke 17:11-19 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they...

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