Sunday, March 27, 2011

Misunderstood & Engaging the Gospel of John

Part One - Engaging The Gospel

There are a couple ways to read the gospel of John. Think of it as a split foyer home, like the parsonage.

I could invite you downstairs and we could sit on our big puffy couches around the fireplace and a have a nice conversation about the details of the current projects the Church Board is working on this year while at the same time, another group of people could be sitting upstairs in the room above having a deep theological discussion about salvation and the “work of Christ”.

Both groups would be talking about Christian living, but on two very different levels. Both are important.

When we read or hear John’s stories, we can listen on a literal level. Today’s story will be about Jesus and a woman from Samaria. We can examine the details of the well and a water jar and what the disciples are up to in the story. And

We can hear another level where what happens and what is said, tells us about WHO Jesus is and WHAT is his relationship to God.

At each level we gain insight:

The 1st floor will find wonderful meaning in the story and may want to memorize a verse such as, “..those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” Beautiful words to remember and think about.

The 2nd floor may discover an insight into God’s long-term saving plan for all earth’s peoples. They may look at the symbolism in the story and discover what the husbands represent. They may recall the many biblical scenes at wells in the OT record. This scene in John is remarkably similar to the betrothal type-scenes in Gen. 24, 29, Exod. 2.[i] In these scenes “the future bridegroom journeys to a foreign land, where he encounters a girl at a well, and one of the draws water. Afterward, the girl rushes to bring home the news of the stranger’s arrival. Finally, after he has been invited to a meal, a betrothal is concluded between the stranger and the girl.”[ii]

It was true for Isaac & Rebecca, Jacob & Rachel, Moses and Zipporah. If John’s story is designed to recall these important marriages in Jewish history, then we should look back to ch. 3 v. 29 and notice that John the Baptist calls Jesus, “a bridegroom” – hmmm.

Suddenly the conversation upstairs gets VERY interesting and is full of more questions than answers. AND THAT’s The gospel of John. The plot thickens with each story and details becomes important. Our questions lead us deeper into the journey of faith.

As much as we have loved these stories when we talked about them on the 1st floor, we may find we like the conversation on the 2nd floor even more as we discover what we previously missed.

Part Two - Misunderstood - John 4

This is a take-home sermon with homework. I want you to think about this story (John 4) and I will give you some additional food for thought. Or perhaps, since water plays a more prominent role, some water to wet your thirst.

The woman in John’s story may be the most mis-understood woman in the Bible. In the first years after the gospel was written, she was admired by commentators and bishops for her knowledge of the theological debate between Jews and Samaritans. After all this is the longest dialogue that anyone has with Jesus and she certainly holds her own.

In later years, especially around the reformation, scholars (obviously all men at that point) described her as promiscuous. I’ll bet some of you have heard those interpretations. You can still find them everywhere.

When I told this story at camp one year as the visiting pastor, I asked kids, “why do you think she had had 5 husbands.”

You can guess their answer. “She was divorced.” That was THEIR experience. But we don’t know that. She may have been, if her husband chose to divorce her. It wasn’t up to her in that culture. Or she may have been widowed 5 times, or some combination of both. The sticking point seems to be the statement, “The one you have now is not your husband.” Which leads us to think, she’s living “in sin” as they say. But in fact, she might have been trapped in a levirate marriage, where her dead husband’s brother was responsible to marry her, which wasn’t a real marriage.

So, while we don’t know the details of her life, it was likely tragic and she more likely to have been a victim than the ‘whore’ she has often been portrayed as. It changes the feel of the story when you think about it. Because this Jesus’ story isn’t about morality it’s about identity[i] – who is this man by the well who offers living water? (that’s a take home question BTW)

Identity, not morality – changes the players. She seems to catch onto something after her conversation with Jesus and when she does, she runs off to tell her neighbors.

Have you ever done that? Not sit at a well with Jesus, but discovered something so amazing you had to share it? It can be the simplest thing. I ran into another church member when I was at Manassas and I had just picked up my dry-cleaning. We remarked how wonderful to have found the $1.89 dry cleaners! And we both said, how we go around telling everyone about the place. – -Evangelism? For drycleaners?

This woman is the first evangelist and she turns out to be VERY effective, doesn’t she? Think about her exuberant sharing when you go home, because I suspect we have all had something wonderful to share at some time - even as we cringe from the word evangelism and find it difficult to imagine sharing our faith stories. This woman found something so amazing she had to share it. Even tho she didn’t quite get the whole picture yet – still she ran to tell everyone. Or so the 1st floor story goes. How about for ‘extra credit homework’, we move upstairs and deeper look?

And before we go, another quick take home question: What happened to her water jar? Did she ever get water? Did she leave it? Did she not need it any longer? What could that mean? (I look forward to you email and letter homework responses.)

Upstairs at the house, the discussion begins with history so I’ll give you a quick summary. It’s OT history about Samaria from 2 Kings 17. When the Assyrians conquered the region in 721 BCE, they brought colonists from FIVE - foreign –nations - into Samaria. Hmmm 5 foreign nations with whom the “left-behind Jews” now known as Samaritans, intermingled and with whom they married.

Could this be a symbolic representation of Samaria as her 5 husbands? And if so, whose the 6th? It could be Rome, or it could be any of the colonists Herod the Great was bringing in, following the previous patterns. But nearer the time of this story, the Samaritans didn’t intermarry like they once did. So, the 6th—“you are living with, but not your husband”?

Could this woman be the Bride who represents all her people, coming to draw water by the well, where the Bridegroom sits as God’s representative (like Jacob did) to greet his bride; God’s Samaritan children welcomed back into the fold. Now THAT’s a betrothal scene!

There’s one more group upstairs, over in the dining room. And they’re talking about another part of the story; the time of day. These folks have read the first few chapters of John and know the importance he placed on darkness and light. Jesus sits by the well at NOON, the BRIGHTEST part of the day. And the “despised Samaritan, a woman no less” comes to get water and has a long & deep conversation with Jesus.

It’s quite a contrast to the story just previous in chapter 3 where a highly respected Jew, a Pharisee and leader, a MAN, (we even know his name, Nicodemus) comes to Jesus at night, under the cover of darkness. Only he never leaves the first floor discussion and can’t carry on a conversation with Jesus because he keeps taking everything Jesus says, literally. (I have to be born again?) If he is representing HIS people, he better do his homework.

Well, there’s a lot in this story to think about, isn’t there? And YOU have homework in this chapter 4 of John. Let me give you a little more incentive.

While the history of Samaria is interesting – to some, and the redeeming of this woman’s virtue, is certainly worthwhile, I don’t want you to leave thinking the John’s story was only for 1st century Christians, historians and feminist theologians.

You’ll remember John’s story is about identity. So the homework has 2 levels too.

· You can finish your homework by just learning a new understanding of God’s saving plan, which is designed to bring all people and nations ‘home’.
· You can marvel that a woman represents her people in John’s story, just as Nicodemus represents his people. 
· You can even develop a new appreciation for John’s storytelling ability and use of symbols and characters to tell the Story of Jesus, but if you ONLY acknowledge all this intellectually, you will have missed the point.

At the end of the gospel, after relaying the crucifixion and the witness of the women (1st again) at the empty tomb, John’s author tells us why he wrote it all down. “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

Any learning short of believing falls short of LIFE, the truth of REAL LIFE; eternal LIFE. Which John says comes by living in relationship with Jesus.

I don’t want you to miss it, b/c it’s the whole point. It IS the Good News AND it’s a story to quench anyone’s thirst.

[i] David Lose

[i] Frances Taylor Gench Back To The Well (Louisville: WJK, 2004) p. 113
[ii] ibid referencing Robt. Alter The art of biblical narrative

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Night Writing

I've been getting the "advice to writers" tweets as I wrote tonight. = encouragement. I have an all-day event tomorrow, fortunately as an attendee. I know I'll enjoy it but as today slipped away, I began to wonder how I'd get it done.

Now the sermon is written - such that it is. The "teaching moment" is ready, a children's message is sketched out, the worship is almost complete. I guess I can enjoy tomorrow, take my pages along and wonder if any of this makes sense. Ah well.

Maybe I'll reward myself on Sunday afternoon with a new book to begin. What shall it be? More Ken Follet on WWI?

Or finish Sense & Sensibility?

Or try something different my brother suggested?

Or finally crack open Carol Howard's?
so many choices will be a delight, but first Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is It Well With Your Soul?

Eight years ago, I went to an evening Love Feast at the Brethren church where I was on staff as a licensed minister. The USA had begun bombing that day in a nation that I had paid little attention to in my hectic days of seminary, work, commuting to Gettysburg, and trying to be a wife and mom. The Love Feast Service began in the sanctuary with a time of confession and prayer. As a citizen, I felt I had a lot to confess. I felt a responsibility for the bombs being dropped and a responsibility for not paying attention to the world situation. Prayer concluded with the song, “When Peace, Like a River”. When I got to the words, “It is well…with my soul,” I choked. I couldn’t sing them because no amount of prayer made me able to sing those words on a night when US bombs where dropping on a city in the Middle East.
Too often our spiritual lives and our daily living are disconnected. Most of us go through each day doing ‘what has to be done’ in the hope that by evening there will be a little time to ourselves for family, TV, or a book. Then we sleep only to get up and begin again. Space for reflection is seldom part of our day or week or month…
Holy Week is a special time of year that invites reflection. Beginning with Palm Sunday’s triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and continuing with the moving rituals of Love Feast that mirror Jesus' last supper, we are transported out of our daily routine and reminded that we have a soul that needs tending. Before we rush into Easter and the glory of the resurrection, let’s take time to reflect, to consider how we feel as citizens of the world and, as citizens of Christ’s kingdom. Just how ‘well’ is our soul? I look forward to seeing you for the meal, feetwashing, and communion on Thursday evening, 7:30 p.m. April 21 for our Love Feast.

A Tweet about Peace
Church of the Brethren Peace Witness sent the following Tweet on Wednesday, March 23 suggesting we read an article that wonders if WAR is now our normal state? The following is an excerpt from the article. It is for each of us individually and for us, as a congregation to decide if War will be ‘normal’ for us.
From CoB_Peace: “An interesting look. What do you think? Is #war our new normal? Is it new? (link to full article)
The Normal of War By John Cory, Reader Supported News, 22 March 11
Reader Supported News | Perspective  
o here we are.
The 8-year anniversary of shock-and-awe and the invasion of Iraq. 10 years into Afghanistan.
War is so normal, so mundane, that we just accept it - like checking the daily weather report - cloudy, with a chance of gloom and death.
I read a poll that said 60 percent of Americans want out of Afghanistan, but only 2 percent thought about war during the 2010 elections.      No mention of Iraq.
Does anyone else see the irony of the new Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya on this weekend anniversary of the war in Iraq? Or the inkblot spread of the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan? Or the re-appearance of retired generals on MSNBC and CNN explaining how this new operation is necessary and will lead to good old-fashioned democracy in the Middle East? It all sounds so very familiar.
Wild Eddie once told me, "History is just an old martini with a fresh twist."
The words and phrases spill across the airwaves: Our brave men and women - justified action in defense of freedom - the full backing of the United Nations - neutralize assets - broad coalition - UN Resolution - force is not our first choice - overwhelming airpower with precision targeting.
And so it goes. A new war made of the same old flesh and bombs.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I was presented with several DILEMMAS by today’s scripture.
            The 1st, was “How can a sermon add anything to the dramatic presentation by Robyn and Warren?”
            2nd was
“How can the temptation of Jesus be relevant to a world rocked by earthquake and Tsunami?”

I felt that I was headed out to WANDER in the wilderness as I WONDERED about what to say. I thought I might take you along on my ‘WONDERING’ – ‘WANDERING’ journey and see if you can find a place to relate to temptation.
As always, I looked first at the context of the story:
Jesus has just heard the call of John the Baptist to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” He responds with his own commitment to ministry by being baptized by John, “in order to fulfill all righteousness”. He takes his private step of commitment by making his promise to God PUBLIC.
We don’t know who heard the voice from heaven say, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” But anyone around Jesus would have understood that ‘son of God’ is a title for royalty. This leads us right into the realm of his temptation.
But first, look at the place of temptation; The wilderness of the Palestinian dessert was not a place to wander into casually. This is a place for robbers to hide & for poisonous insects to lay in wait for prey. It is a place with no respite from the elements and no fast food stands or coffee shops. It is a place to go to be ALONE. & it is a place to FEAR to be alone.

We can infer that Jesus didn’t WANDER into this place but went intentionally to the wilderness for solitude and isolation from everyday life.

We hear the echoes of biblical story in the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent out here. We just reviewed Moses’ journey up the mountain (last week) for 40 days and 40 nights; A time when Moses was alone with God and received the gift of torah, the rule of living that all Jews would follow.

I began to wonder what ‘new’ Torah Jesus received during his 40 & 40.

And as I wandered into the account of Jesus’ 3 temptations I wondered if they were an invitation for me, -- for us, to enter Lent – another 40 day period – as a time when WE can RISK the journey closer to God.

Jesus is first tempted to use Divine Power for his own survival.
            That had to be a serious temptation in a place without food or water. – a place where survival is NOT a sure thing. In fact, it is far from it. Surviving the dessert is a major accomplishment. This temptation requires an immediate choice for how can Jesus accomplish any mission if he doesn’t survive to live and preach another day?
Jesus not only survives, he “declares that his faith and obedience to God is his security,”[i] not food, water, or protection. His lack of self-preservation looms over this desert scene like the shadow of a cross. We, who know the whole story, know that he WILL NOT put his own protection before obedience to God.

Jesus also is tempted to tempt God. Diablo even quotes scripture to entice Jesus into using Divine power to PROVE to the world who he is. ‘Goes to show how easily scripture can be used as a weapon.[ii] But Jesus refuses to challenge God or ask God to subvert God’s will for his own.

And lastly, Jesus is tempted to use power to establish a political regime, to make the world his own. . . . . But isn’t that what he came to do?

I realized in my wondering, how my own temptations, however petty they may seem in comparison, mirror these temptations. Am I not tempted to pride, vanity, selfishness & power?
Am I not tempted to be a spectacle – only in order to attract others to follow Jesus as part of this church, of course?
Am I not tempted to lobby for political gain, even if only so that people may be fed and clothed and provided with shelter.
Am I not tempted to ask God for the miraculous? To ignore the rules of nature set in place in order that the world (would) be according to MY WILL?
I read a series of  tweets yesterday as people commented on God’s will in regard to the natural disaster in Japan.
 I wondered about how death is part of life and noticed how quickly we put blame on God when things ‘go wrong’.
I wondered how often I am tempted to ask for miraculous intervention. Am I wrong to ask? Am I wrong to question?
Why is it so hard to believe that GOD walks with us thru the storm AND the calm?

I felt alone and out in the wilderness because I realized I am tempted by all these things.

And I continued to wonder about us as a community of faith and about the future of the Christian Church as a whole, realizing that at one time or another; Christ’s church has succumbed to ALL the temptations that Christ overcame.

The church adores the miraculous.
- We love to hear of life-giving changes that happen out of the blue.
- We can’t help but glorify Easter; ---- too often without mentioning the cross that got us there.
- We love to speak of rising from the dead without talking about giving up our lives.

The church loves good news, celebrity good news. Giving thanks whenever good Christian people are lifted up and written up in the news. And we long for more publicity and greater recognition for our congregation and our denomination.

The church grapples with political power and each time ‘we’ have it, ‘we’ screw-up somehow..  .   .   .

Whether we can find evidence of giving-into each of these temptations in our own congregational history or our own personal history, we know that as members of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, we all stand guilty as accused.

We feel insecure about not having enough. (Enough money, enough insurance, enough people in the pews)
We make judgments about other people who make statements and choices we don’t understand.
We get preoccupied with causes, big causes like world hunger and disaster relief that allow us to look away from the people in need right before us.
OR, we focus on building up the church so much that we live our lives unaffected by poverty, hunger, and world-wide disease.

We are guilty because we all want POWER; power over our own lives; power over the circumstances and people around us. We want influence and we have the need to control everything we possibly can.[iii]

“Temptation wins [everytime] when we get so caught up in the trappings of life that we lose sight of life itself.”[iv]

And when we can’t hear the good news of happy days in church on Sunday, we stop coming, because no one wants to stand accused.
No one wants to feel guilty, or guiltier that we already do.

But I am guilty and I know it. . .

Where is the promised ‘good news’ of Jesus today? . . .    . . .   . . .

Wandering in this wilderness I discovered a gift.
I found it - not running away from the truth of these temptations, but by looking them right in the eye. Surprisingly, It is the gift of Lent itself.
I found HOPE in the words of Maryetta Anschutz, who wrote
“Lenten penitence engages the dark places in our lives that we may come face to face with them,
                        Name them,
                                    Understand them,
                                                & seek forgiveness for them.
It is about freedom from the control that our fears and insecurities have over us all. [Lent] is about amending life and about new beginnings.”[v]

Lent is followed by death and resurrection.

I invite you to enter the wilderness of Lent with me. Take time in these 40 days to examine your journey with God. 
Look at the way WE yield to temptation.
Look at the way we rely on control and power and security
for the real temptation is TO NOT ENGAGE the JOURNEY at all.

We can do this together. We can wander into the wilderness; face our dilemmas, our fears, and every temptation. We can even die to ourselves as we face the truth.
And like Jesus,
                        We will be raised to new life, to living a new way; the Jesus’ Way.
This week's reading: Jesus; one man, two faiths by Ron Messier


[i] Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander Bishop Epis Diocese of Atlanta writing at
[ii] ibid
[iii] Maryetta Anschutz Feasting on the Word Yr A Lent Bartlett & Taylor, eds. (Louisville: WJK 2010) p. 48
[iv] ibid
[v] ibid p. 48

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Behind The Scenes

I’ve been doing a fair amount of ‘fun’ reading lately. Since pastoral work requires a lot of reading; from my Monday morning look at the weekly scriptures, to all the research texts and scholarly books on biblical topics, - I find that I get overloaded with “work” reading and need to slip away to a mystery or good novel.
… I have been escaping the 21st century lately with Ken Follet’s wonderful books on cathedral building in the middle ages, and Stieg Larsson’s ‘Girl’ mysteries. Since our son is a writer, and I do a bit of writing each week, I notice things now that I never paid attention to when I was younger. Conversations with Lowell give me new terminology for parts of the story. 

            For instance, I now know what a MacGuffin is. Do you?
            It is a device whose sole purpose is to move the plot along. A perfect example comes from my favorite TV & Movie world of Star Trek where the famous “tri-corder” turns out to be a macguffin. It is a device that is used to ‘advance the plot’.  

Here’s the Scene: Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy come upon a red-shirted crewmember laying in the dirt.  What will happen next? Well, the good doctor takes his TRICORDER and scans the crew member and says, “He’s dead, Jim.”  … those famous Star Trek words, and the plot takes off to discover the mystery of the death, which inevitably involves plot conflict and a side story where Capt. Kirk gets the girl, Mr. Spock comes to the rescue with his extraordinary intellect and logic, and another galactic war is prevented.
            In scene after scene the tricorder provides this critical function of ‘advancing the plot”. … 
along with my newfound vocabulary, I look at the stories I read from a narrative point-of-view these days. 

I NOW notice when there is extensive dialogue between characters or when the narrator is the one telling the story.
I notice when there is a break in the story line causing me to lose track of the plot- -not a good thing..
I also notice when the author makes a clever turn and catches me with a twist in the action or a surprise ending.

When I read these old, biblical stories, I find the same insights hold true. After all, EXODUS IS THE CENTRAL STORY OF JEWISH LIFE. It is THE central story of Jewish AND Christian faith. While we tend to focus on the sequel of Jesus’ life and how he brought us greater understanding of God’s saving nature, Jesus’ OWN core story, as an observant Jew, was the story of God’s salvation as played out thru the great narrative of the Exodus.

Today’s text is a unique part of that story. It’s a “behind-the-scenes” look at Moses’ journey up the mountain to receive the gift of the God’s Law.

Books and Movies have portrayed this scene in numerous ways. I’m sure you’ve seen some of them. There was Charlton Heston as Moses receiving the 10 commandments & Monty Python’s INFamous Moses, who returns from the mountain, struggling with an arm-load of stone tablets and says, “I bring you God’s 15, -crash, 10 commandments…”

I believe our minds do a better job of imagining than any movie producer can, including Cecil B. DeMille.
--When we read this passage, WE CAN SEE ourselves walking up the mountain with Moses, Aaron and all the elders of Israel.
--We can FEEL their “fear and trembling” as they rise higher toward the Cloud of Presence that led them across the dessert from Egypt and now covers the top of the mountain.
--We can be amazed that even our imaginations didn’t think of a sapphire pavement for God’s feet. Perhaps the story is reminding us that the elders ONLY saw God’s feet but never his face and YET somehow THEY BEHELD the Glory of God and lived to eat and drink afterwards.
Can you HEAR Moses as he gets called numerous times?
--He advances beyond his companions BUT then he must wait. . . And wait, 6 days but then on the 7th he HEARS God’s voice again.
-Perhaps this was the cycle for the whole 40-days:
God calls, Moses advances, then is commanded to wait another 6 days, and on the 7th, God calls again.

Don’t the symbolic numbers create questions FOR YOU, yet add suspense to the story?
--the 7 day cycle sounds like the 7 days of creation,
--the 40 days on the mountain equals the length of one generation and reminds us of the 40 years the Israelites WILL continue to wander.

And I even try to picture the appearance of the glory of the LORD, which they saw like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain. 

This chapter makes the OLD, OLD story of EXODUS come alive for us because we can see behind-the-scenes  - while the rest of Israel waits down below.
They only see Moses enter the cloud and then - THEY – must –  wait. This is a different POV than we usually have in Bible stories that tell only one-side of the story. This one is an insider scoop, a behind the scenes look that allows US to glimpse the Glory of God too. 

It’s a powerful story, that even scholarly analysis can’t dim. Scholars note that two ancient traditions seem to be blended in this chapter; the Priestly strain and the Yawhist strain. Which may explain some of the discrepancies and irregular time-line.
But we needn’t plot the hour-by hour events to be amazed at a story where people SEE God and we can admire the way Moses’ journey up the mountain, ‘advances the plot.’

Of course, our point of view isn’t detached from the human emotion embedded in the story. Most of us remember that there is another ‘behind the scenes’ view  -
that is, ‘what is happening down below’ in Israel’s camp during the 40-days.
If you haven’t read it in awhile, pick up chapter 32 this afternoon and read into the next scene where the people convince Aaron to take their gold and make them an image to worship while Moses is so-long gone.

The whole narrative of EXODUS tells a story that is repeated again and again in Israel’s journey and in our own – that of faith and faithlessness, denial and redemption. These experiences and emotions are the real action that draws us in and helps us realize WE ARE PART of this story.

We know (from ch. 32) when Israel responds to Moses’ absence with confusion, anxiety and impatience[i], --even tho they KNOW Moses is with God, -- the adventure ‘turns out poorly’.
Israel’s reactions mirror our own when our personal story finds us waiting on God, and God feels too-long-gone.

When Israel turns away from God in the 40 days and reaches for more instantly gratifying objects to worship[ii], we realize how often we have done the same. . .
So this is a story for us to seek answers and when we look, find that..
Israel got  distracted from the plot. (lost the plot line of God’s story)
As soon as Moses was gone, they forgot the main story of God’s redemption and salvation. AND why does God stay with them, even when they repeatedly reject the Holy One? Because God is faithful to the covenant promise. God is faithful when people are not.

WE find ourselves in this story at numerous times in our lives.
We may be walking up the mountain one day with Moses’ feeling like we are right up there with God, then another day, -- when we feel like we haven’t seen God in an eternity- -We start melting down our gold to make a convenient idol. Soon we are devoting our time and energy to a new god, one can see because we made it ourselves.

Slowly WE LOSE THE PLOT LINE. We get distracted and impatient and we forget God’s covenant. We forget God’s promise & presence exists beyond the pages of Bible stories and is HERE, always available to us. And We forget that WE have a ROLE in advancing the plot. . . .

We naturally look to the NEW MOSES, Jesus, for assistance in navigating the storyline of our lives because God’s covenant was renewed in him. His life gave NEW LIFE to the story of God’s salvation. In him WE glimpse the Glory of God.

We find is that Jesus never lost sight of the plot. He knew God and he knew humanity. His actions were founded on the promises made by God in the Exodus covenant, and he advanced the plot by taking the old ways of blood oaths and cultic sacrifice to a new place – called Calvary.
And there he showed that faithfulness looks different in HIS story - than we ever imagined.

He knew his actions would tell God’s story louder than any words.
He trusted that if he was obedient to God’s greater intent,(beyond even the details of the law), that God would be faithful, no matter how HIS own story ended.
He reinterpreted living and giving according to the BOUNDLESS love of God.

IN  Jesus’ life we find the plot takes a clever and unexpected twist where death turns into eternal life and love conquers hate. The ‘surprise ending’ turns out not to be an ending at all, but a beginning of a NEW story, -- OURS.

When we follow the Jesus’ WAY, we take on a Divine plotline for OUR story. We are alive – active, vital actors in this world, because the vision of God’s Glory in Jesus is IN US.
In Jesus, we find the strength WE NEED to advance the plot of the on-going story of God’s Salvation.

[i] Erica Brown Wood Feasting on the Word Yr A, Bartlett & Taylor, eds.  Homiletical (Louisville: WJK, 2010) p. 439
[ii] feasting ibid

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm So Proud

My daughter began blogging this week! I'm so proud of her. (Isn't this a new age of learning?) I am waiting the final formatting of her space on wordpress and then I will have a link to share with you. How very exciting, isn't it? She is writing about food and fashion. I can't wait!

Meanwhile, in the waiting department, the days go by until the NEW iPhone is to come out in June. The iPad2 comes out today. More things to help me stay connected, although I can't really afford them both. Even the newest resources I review assume a level of technology or at least connection within the congregation. This is true because even the handful of older folks without email, spend their hours in front of a TV well aware of world-wide news every hour. Prayer concerns range from prayers of compassion for the person in the next pew to prayers for nations in revolt or facing oppression. It is a new day in the church and its time we caught up with everything we do. #mymantra

Until later...