Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.

From today's reading:  [Jesus] unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  Luke 4:17-19

Jesus has returned from his time in the wilderness and as he has traveled around the region, he has begun to make a name for himself.  This is his first public statement concerning his identity and it is made in his hometown.  

The quote is from the prophetic literature of Isaiah.  It is a quote that says, God cares.  He cares for the poor, the captives, the blind and oppressed.  He cares that we are hurting, physically or emotionally or spiritually.  God not only cares, but he has provided an answer; one that assures us that we are loved and that he will not abandon us.  

Two sentences later, Jesus claims, "This has been fulfilled in your hearing."  What he is saying to the people is, I am the one who is sent to do these things - to bring good news, proclaim release, give sight to the blind, and set free those who are oppressed.  Jesus is the one.  He is the one we call on when we are troubled.  He is the one who offers us hope in the hopeless situation.  

Jesus is the one who can speak peace to our spirit, who speaks hope to our minds, who speaks strength to our heart.  Jesus is the one who reaches out to us when we are afraid, and lifts us up when we have fallen.  Jesus is the spirit that fills us and lifts us to God's presence - now and always.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Port cities for spreading the gospel

From today's reading:   When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.  Acts 19:6

I've been at the seminary for the Blandy Lectures.  It's been a great time.  The focus is reaching out to today's generation and the use of social media to increase your influence.  One of the comments - a "loose quote" from a book called, "Linked" - said that Paul was successful because he went primarily to port towns and towns that were crossroads for trade routes.  He would preach in those towns and then the gospel would go out on ships or with caravans to other places.  The book posited that some websites, blogs, and hubs are today's port cities - a place from which ideas and messages can be spread.  

The spread of the gospel, or even a simple blessing of someone in need, can happen when we are in the right place at the right time, regardless of whether it is in the "real world" or in our virtual communities.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Call on the name of the Lord.

From today's reading:  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’  
Romans 10:12-13

I think this is so important to remember - "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  It doesn't matter who you are, what your background is, how you differ from me; if you sincerely call on the name of the Lord Jesus, you will be saved.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Rosary Prayer for today

CROSS  -  In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

INVIT  -  O God, may your Holy Spirit direct us in all things and rule in our hearts forever.  Amen

CRUCI  -  A great crowd took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Jesus, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord - the King of Israel!'  (John 12:12-13)

WEEKS  -  For God alone my soul in silence waits;  truly, my hope is in him.  (Psalm 62:6)

INVIT  -  The Lord's Prayer

CROSS  -  Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.  Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

By His holy cross we shall be saved

From today's reading:  So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.  Numbers 21:9

This is an interesting little story from the Old Testament operating somewhat on the idea of cause and effect.  The people sinned so snakes appeared in their midst and bit them and they died.  But then Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp so that all could see it and those who looked at the serpent would be healed.  

There is a difference between the people of the Old Testament and the people of today.  In the time of Moses, our God, Yahweh, was the god of the Isarelites.  Other people had other gods and often multiple gods.  When people found themselves in any kind of trouble, they asked themselves, what have I done to anger God (or the gods?)  They took responsibility for their culpablilty and looked for ways to repair the damage, whether it was by offering sacrifice or cleaning up their act.  Many of today's generation, when in an unpleasant situation, instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, look around for someone to blame - often to sue - because they don't want to admit that they may have done something wrong or foolish, or that situations might just be without cause and effect.  

So in our gospel reading for today, Jesus says, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:15)  So just as the people in the desert looked up at the serpent and lived even though they had sinned, so we who look up at the cross of Jesus will also live regardless of our sin.  That is the gift that God has given us, that inspite of our sin, God has given a sign by which we may all be saved, if we only look up. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Patience to wait on the Lord

From today's reading:  After having heard that Lazarus was ill, [Jesus] stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.' The disciples said to him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?'  John 11:6-8

I think the disciples didn't always understand what Jesus was doing.  They didn't understand when he didn't go to Lazarus immediately upon hearing that he was ill.  Lazarus was his friend.  Jesus cared deeply for him, but Jesus didn't feel compelled to immediately go to him.  And now Jesus is talking about going back to Judea even when those in authority were trying to find a reason to kill him.  So I know that the disciples are wondering, "why now?"  

Jesus always had a reason to do the things he did.  He always knew what God was doing in the world and through him.  He didn't have the human questions like, "what if I'm wrong..."  I pray for that kind of assurance that Jesus had.  The sure knowledge that I am doing God's will in everything that I do.  I pray for the patience to listen for God's whisper in the night or during the day.  And I pray for the patience to wait on the Lord's timing in the things that He calls me to do.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Fruits of Creation

From today's reading:  Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.  James 1:17-18

Our lesson from James was the inspiration for one of the songs we sang in campus ministry in Huntsville  – “Father of Lights – you delight in your children.”  It goes on to say, “Every good and perfect gift comes from you…”  The lesson says that God’s purpose was to give us birth so that we might become the first fruits of his creation.  Now you realize that in most of scripture, we are enjoined to offer back to God the first fruits of our labor and here is this scripture that tells us that WE ourselves are the first fruits of God’s creation.  

That is absolutely amazing – we are the first fruits of God’s creation.  We are the best – the first and foremost.  Have you ever stood on the top of a mountain?  And looked out at what God has created?  Have you ever sat by a bubbling brook in a forest and watched the water splashing and tripping over the stones as it rushes down to the sea?  Have you ever looked out at the sunset – or sunrise and seen the glory of God written across the sky in an ever changing way that can only be created by God?   Or how about watching a rose unfold, or felt the delicate petals of an orchid, and wondered that God counts us above all that – as worthy above all that?   

Come to Grace Episcopal Church in Alvin for the rest of today's sermon.....