We tend to blame people for what happens to them.  We really seem to like to think that people get what they deserve.  It’s a lot like the Eastern idea of “karma.”

We aren’t always blatant about it.  But we tend to think that a smoker with cancer (more…)

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Today is the day (September 30) on which, if were not a Sunday, we would commemorate Jerome.  He’s probably best known for his translation of the Bible (then largely available in Hebrew and Greek) into Latin.  This was really controversial at the time:  translating something holy from its original form into the vulgar language spoken by the people.  Hence it became known as the Vulgate.  Now it’s a classic translation, foundational in the Roman Catholic Church even today when they make new translations (i.e. they always seem to look at the Vulgate as well as the original Greek and Hebrew).  And I believe there are those who want to go back to (what they see as) the original vulgate version of the Bible.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating much.

Something similar has happened to us in the Episcopal Church (more…)

My friend Scott gave a very good children’s sermon today, walking kids around the church to meet people who were their neighbor — everyone they meet is their neighbor.  And I found myself thinking, “stranger danger!”  He’s the father of small children himself, but I found myself wanting to qualify his message (and thinking children that age don’t understand qualifications).  Maybe something like when you are with your family, then whenever you meet someone new you want to smile at them — but not with strangers you have never met when you are alone.  Even adults may need this qualification (but they should be able to deal with it).  People we don’t know are not necessarily safe!  But adults can deal with this.  And we are called (by Jesus) to see all people as our neighbor.  And we are called to love our neighbor.

So what are you thinking as you read this?

Except for our gospel this morning, all of our readings have to do with wisdom.  Solomon, invited to ask God for anything at all, asks for wisdom.  And God thinks this was the right thing to ask for.  Our psalm suggests that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom — again, seen as a good thing.  And in Ephesians we are exhorted to live as wise people.

Wisdom seems to be important.

And although our gospel doesn’t talk about wisdom, it is a reading from John’s gospel, which seems to develop the first creation story from Genesis — you remember that story, don’t you?  In the beginning God created.  And how did God create?  God created by speaking things into being.

And how does John’s prologue, John’s creation story start?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being …”

The Greek word which we translate as “word” is “logos.”  And the logos is much more than just a spoken word. (more…)

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…)

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…)