Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern_1860_200

Why I Need the Terrible Judgment of God

 

Proper 25: Year C

Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; Luke 18:9-14; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

I knew what I was supposed to say. I was supposed to say, “Sure. Of course I will meet to work out our difficulties, listen to his complaints.” But the words stuck in my throat. You see, I knew that I was more in the right than he. In truth, I couldn’t see how I had done anything worthy of this person’s mean and petty actions. A mutual friend was offering to mediate between us. In our phone conversation, she noted how the other party felt hurt, needed to be cared for, experienced abandonment, etc. The friend insisted that this other person had gifts to offer and had to be set free to do so. Internally, I balked. You gotta be kidding me, I thought to myself. I have been kicked around publicly and privately; I am not the one in the wrong here. I don’t want to care; I want them to acknowledge my pain, not attend to theirs. And to be honest, I don’t want to accept their offerings of talent or resources for the community, not until they act like a grown-up, own up to their faults, and stop hurting others.

When I am obviously in the wrong – for example, I blow a gasket in anger at my children or husband – I feel ashamed. Crippling shame presents its own unique challenge for being in communion with others. But while I profess forgiveness of enemies and want to participate in the ministry of reconciliation with those who have wronged me, in this case I slammed up against not my sense of shame but rather my sense of honest justice. I want to be seen as the one who has been mistreated; particularly if their violence toward me has been public, I crave judgment of the others’ actions. Read more

wedding at cana

Blessing and the Christian Life

Second Sunday after Epiphany
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time


Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

The Christian life is, or ought to be, an abundant life ever-rich in the centripetal blessings of God to God’s people and the centrifugal blessings of God’s people to God’s world. This pattern reaches back to the earliest chapters of Genesis as Abram is blessed to be the father of a nation which will in turn be a blessing unto the world. The pattern is then displayed throughout the rest of the Scriptures, as God’s people are blessed to be a blessing. The emphasis changes from time to time, as God’s people struggle to find their way: at times, blessing is poured out upon them, while at others, God’s people serve as a blessing, or are encouraged to fulfill their mission in blessing the nations around them. Read more

Schiele Holy Family

Holy Families?

I Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Col 3:12-17 OR Col 3:12-21
Luke 2:41-52

I have been claimed both as a member of an unhappy family and of a happy family. The unhappy one I was born into and the happy one I was adopted into through marriage. I am speaking of natural families here. As my family of origin was stricken by a failed marriage, I have a hard time believing that the distinction between happy and unhappy families is not a deep and important one.

Perhaps Tolstoy meant to respect this important distinction when he wrote that “Happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” At the same time, I have often wondered how as a Christian the claiming of me by my family of origin and that of my family of adoption might be equally important in teaching me what it means to be a member of God’s family in the body of Christ. Read more

Quail

How Much is Enough?

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Numbers 11: 4-35
Mark 9:38-50

Years ago in a cartoon in the Houston Chronicle, in the first frame was a man, obviously an American middle-class male, standing next to his car, saying to it, “Because of you, the air is foul. The globe is warming.” In the next frame, the man is pumping gas into the car saying, “Because of you I’m entangled in the affairs of countries that cause me headaches.” Next frame, while he is slumped in his seat in bumper-to-bumper traffic, “Because of you our central cities are empty and I waste half my life in traffic to the burbs.” Next frame, kids are getting in and out of the car, “Because of you my family is one big frantic snarl of hectic schedules.” Next frame, while holding his paunch with littered paper cups and french-fry containers around him, “And because of you I’m an obese drive-thru addict, a coronary just waiting to happen.” In the last frame, the man is hugging his car, “What would I do without you?” Read more

Matthew

Hearing and Obeying

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 35:4-7A
James 2:1-17
Mark 7:24-37

My mother – who, while alive, would have been mortified to be called a saint – often told us how God spoke to her in her prayers. She said so without irony or apparent metaphor, nor did she claim special standing, privilege, or insight. In fact, she gave no reason to believe her experience wasn’t available to every praying person. Furthermore, she never claimed to speak for God to others and, as far as I could tell, God’s speaking to her was more important than the words themselves, if indeed what she understood herself to hear were words. In truth, I’ve never understood quite what she meant. Her experience was not mine, though I’ve never doubted she had profound encounters with real presence. Read more