Bible


Sometimes things cluster.  The Daily Office Lectionary from the Hebrew Scriptures for today is from Proverbs 25.  Verses 21 and 22 jumped out at me.  (It seems unlikely, after all these years, that I haven’t read this section repeatedly.  But I do not remember having read these verses before.)  Here’s the quotation:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
If he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
You will be heaping live coals on his head, (more…)

I don’t know that there is a disconnect between being wealthy and having a relationship with God.  I do know that there are a number of people who have experienced such a disconnect, for them, between wealth and their relationship with God.  St. Francis comes to mind.  “The Late, Great” Gert comes to mind.  But I think my late friend Nel managed to use her great wealth to forward her relationship with God by providing a ministry of hospitality.  (There was both a real humility, accepting all kinds of people equally in God’s Name, and a willingness to use her position in support of the legitimate needs of others in her case.)

Never the less, I cannot understand those who feel that faithfulness to God and wealth go hand in hand — particularly the pursuit of wealth. (more…)

Paul can be a hard case:  blaming illness and death in the community on coming unworthily to the table.  It feels a lot like blaming the victim or the patient.  And it resulted, historically, in my church, in most members (for many years) receiving communion (at most) once or twice a year.

That’s really putting the fear of God in us!

So I like Luther’s take (if I understand it) that knowing and feeling your need of the sacrament is coming worthily to the table.

And I like Anne’s take even better:  Isn’t it precisely when you come unworthily to the table that you most need to be there and be fed and graced by God? (more…)

“… Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so …
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
and death shall be no more …”

I thought of these words, from Dylan Thomas and John Donne respectively, when my friend and colleague, Marcia, died just before this All Saints’ Day.  I think they capture some of the tension I feel between my sense of loss and anger when someone dies and my belief in the promise of fullness of life with God in the communion of saints. (more…)

I saw this quotation from William Temple (a former Archbishop of Canterbury) in the Forward Day By Day for Sunday (October 2):

“In our dealings with one another let us be more eager to understand those who differ from us than either to refute them or to press upon them our own tradition ….  Wherever there are divisions which persist, there is sure to be something of value on both sides.” (more…)

Actually wrote this a couple days ago, just posting today:

I’ve been using Forward Day by Day (www.forwardmovement.org) off and on for years as a supplemental daily meditation to the office.  And June 1, my neighbor (from a very different tradition) gave me a copy of Our Daily Bread (www.rbc.org) – a counterpart in use at her church.  I’ve been using both this month.  Today there was an interesting correspondence between them.  (This is a bit of a surprise, since Day by Day is a commentary based on the lessons in the Episcopal Daily Office Lectionary, and Daily Bread seems to seems (I may be missing something) to be a thematic commentary on a randomly chosen passage of scripture.)

Our Daily Bread uses the first verse of Psalm 57 as its scriptural base.  In theSt.Helena Psalter (which I use) the verse in question reads:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful,

for I have taken refuge in you; *

  in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge

  until this time of trouble has gone by.

In the meditation (by Dennis Fisher) what is quoted is “My soul thirsts for you … until these calamities have passed by.”  What he says is that if we have inflexible expectations of how God will work in our lives, we can run into trouble.  And he compares this to how the engineers who built the Trans-Alaska Pipeline used “Teflon sliders” to ease the shock of earthquakes on the pipeline.  In the 2002 earthquake, the ground shifted 18 feet to one side without damage to the pipeline.

He suggests that we move our focus from our problem to God, trusting God to get us through painful and confusing circumstances.

Forward Day by Day uses the tenth verse of Psalm 77 as its scriptural bases.  Again, in the St.Helena Psalter it reads:

And I said, “My grief is this: *

  the right hand of the Most High has lost its power.”

As it notes, this is a rather stunning verse.  Many of us sometimes feel this way.  Few of us are really willing to give voice to such a thought.  But, as the writer (unknown to me) notes, the psalmist not only voices the thought – voicing the thought is a turning point for the psalmist.  In the next verse, the psalmist commits to remembering the works of God (in the past).  And from there the psalmist the next nine verses talk about the power of God.

And the suggestion is that bringing our grief to God can be a comfort.  But the challenge that follows is to set aside grief and trust God’s power – no matter what the situation.

These are different approaches to dealing with troubles in our lives.  At least they are framed differently.  But it seems to me they supplement each other.  There is a kind of correspondence between them.

This is the sermon I didn’t give this morning in Fort Bragg:

This morning, we hear the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  Like many stories of Jesus’ life, this is a story about expanding the boundaries of who counts with God. (more…)

In his “Readings in St. John’s Gospel” William Temple says the following (in his commentary on John 1:29-34):  “The Sin of the World.  How utterly modern is this conception!  It is not “sins”, as by a natural early corruption of the text [we] were led to suppose, but “sin”.  For there is only one sin, and it is characteristic of the whole world.  It is the self-will which prefers “my” way to God’s – which puts “me” in the centre where only God is in place.”

This passage came to mind this morning while I was reading an excerpt from St. Augustine’s “The City of God” (In “Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church” by J. Robert Wright):  “[God] foreknew that some of the angels, in their pride, would wish to be self-sufficient for their own felicity, and hence would forsake their true good; and yet [God] did not deprive them of this power, (more…)

This past week, while at continuing education in Los Angeles (training for transitions ministry) I had the privilege of attending the midweek (Thursday night) service at Holy Spirit in Silver Lake.  This is a small, emergent congregation that started in someone’s home and now meets in a couple of rooms for Eucharist on Thursday nights.  They describe themselves as a meal in three courses, gathered around the altar.  And there is intentionality about being open and welcoming to the GLTBI community.

One of the things they do differently is the sermon. (more…)

And this poem, on the Last Supper, From Open Windows and Unlocked Doors:

it will be a long night
with this feast
of fish, olives, wine and bread;
their sweet aromas are mingling with
the smoke of the flickering candles. (more…)

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