Anger in Church

Third Sunday in Lent

 

“The gesture in the temple is all the more poignant and prophetic when we imagine it executed by a man too slight to carry his own cross without assistance, a man whose idea of a workout is a forty-day fast.”

Garret Keizer, The Enigma of Anger

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stepping

Following Jesus One Step at a Time

Second Sunday in Lent

Mark 8: 31-38

This Second Sunday of Lent we come face to face with the hard news of following Jesus. Last week we read of Jesus in the wilderness facing Satan and wild beasts. That was hard, but that was about Jesus. This week there is no skirting the issue; Jesus is talking to us about what it means to follow him. This is hard and it’s about us. Read more

baptism

Dead in the Water

First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-17
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

Lent is wasted on the orderly, the continent, the well-behaved. Forego some trivial luxury if it makes you feel better, but do it on your own time, please.

Lent is for those whose lives are a mess: an invitation, once again, to acknowledge the fragile illusions in which we place so much trust, to name the destructive power of our deep habits. The traditional practices of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – were never meant to make good people better, much less make them more appealing to God.

Lenten practices are nothing less than little deaths, killing off the unnecessary within what we like to call “ourselves,” chiseling away chunks of rough marble hiding the delicate human figure inside. Not that we are the killers or sculptors. We enter the practice the way one enters the waters of baptism: called but never in control, ready at last to drown in the ocean of God’s unearned forgiveness. Read more

The Transfiguration

Plastic Minds and Magic Eyes

Last Sunday After Epiphany (Year B) RCL

2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

Not long ago my nephew was forcing me to find Waldo in page after page of busy scenes where somewhere there was a goofy guy in red and white stripes.  “Where’s Waldo”, “Magic Eye”–we love seeing games where we must pick out an image from visual confusion.  Perhaps this love comes from our history as hunters and gathers, when we had to unmask the camouflage of animals in order to gain our daily food.  Whatever it is, we love seeing what was invisible made suddenly apparent.

The ability to see beyond the obvious is a skill and we have to develop it.  I know people who have never been able to make a “magic eye” picture work for them, but most of us, after we see one “magic eye” image can see any “magic eye” image.  Once we learn how to see, we are able to see everything and anything anew.

Seeing is the common thread of The Revised Common Lectionary readings for this last Sunday of Epiphany.  Elisha must see Elijah taken up into heaven in order to have his double spirit, in 2 Corinthians Paul speaks of “the god of this world”  blinding “the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” and finally in the Gospel reading we have the recounting of the transfiguration where Peter, James and John see Christ glorified in an apocalyptic meeting with Moses and Elijah. Read more

Wade in the Water

6th week of Epiphany

Feb. 12, 2012

2 Kings 5:1-14

Psalm 30

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Mark 1:40-45

 Eighteen years ago, the Mississippi Annual Conference planted the next “mega church” in a small but rapidly growing community just outside of the state capital of Jackson.  The congregation started with an average worship attendance of around 90, a number that has dropped slowly but consistently over the years.  When I was appointed there 4 years ago we averaged about 35 on a Sunday morning.  This past Sunday we had eight.  As a worshiping community, it is getting harder and harder for us to have hope for our future, not to mention paying our utility bills. 

In an effort to encourage our struggling church our District Superintendent assured us that if there was even one family who could say that they were genuinely called by God to continue to worship and witness as New Covenant UMC then he would do everything he could to help us stay open and pursue that calling.  So it is that in the last few weeks, we have begun to ask each other very seriously and very concretely “What is God calling you to do?  What is God calling us to do as a Church body? Who is God calling us to be?” 

“Now Naaman was a commander…” Read more