Weekly word/sorted by Scripture

God has sent the rich away empty - Mary the mother of Jesus

Mary makes a spiritual leap that I think we all should make this Christmas season, especially in the midst of our fears and the growing social unrest of 2020. She says that the Messiah will be born on the wrong side of the tracks.

For: 
December 20, 2020
Luke 1:46-55
Advent 4
[Real religion is] to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep neself from being polluted by the world.”

Religions is all about widows and orphans, James says. They were the most vulnerable members of first century society. Their position correlates today to those among us without adequate health insurance, those whose jobs or military service may be dangerous (leaving behind widows/widowers), those who fail to earn a descent wage, and those who must flee their country in search of refuge.

For: 
September 2, 2018
James 1:16-27
Pentecost 15
God has filled the hungry with good things

Jesus came at Christmastime to a world where religion no longer served the people. Mary sang her hope of a different order. What about today? We live in a time of social upheaval and political polarization of equal magnitude to that of the first century. 

For: 
December 23, 2018
Luke 1:46-55
Advent 4
In the beginning was the Word

John challenges our faith: Do you believe that Jesus is God? Has he become the light of your life? Does he live with you in your everyday life?

For: 
January 3, 2021
John 1:1-14
Christmas 2
[The people] were baptized by John in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. - Mark 1:5

Jesus comes to be baptized by John in the Jordan. His baptism, like ours, is halfway between a bath and a drowning. 

For: 
January 10, 2021
Mark 1:4-11
Epiphany 1
"Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly." - Matthew 1:9

We, like Joseph, tend to consider the opinions of our neighbors higher than our faith when we are faced with a moral choice. We criticize unwed teens, but do little to make our highschools better enviroments for relational growth. Further, the church does little to transform those neighborhoods where a normal and safe childhood is an impossibility.

For: 
December 22, 2019
Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 18:9
Advent 4
"My soul magnifies the Lord..." - Mary the mother of Jesus

The wealthy pass themselves lavish tax breaks and the 1% deny the the majority a reasonable wage, affordable healthcare, or a decent retirement package. As much as things change, they remain the same.

For: 
December 15, 2019
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 2:1-14
Advent 3
Mary's Sunday
"Follow me and I will make you fish for people" - Jesus

“Follow me and I will teach you all the great truths of the universe.” Jesus didn’t say that. Why have we made the church so much about teaching doctrine and so little about love?

For: 
January 24, 2021
Mark 1:14-20
Epiphany 3
And Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases... Mark 1:34

Jesus charged nothing. We tend to say, “You get what you pay for.” That saying is nowhere in the Bible. It is a luxury to be able to pay more for something. Many people live on the edge of subsistence. We should be mindful of them as we line up for our vaccine or drive by the local food bank.

For: 
February 7, 2021
Mark 1:29-39
Epiphany 5
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

But then a fool became Pharaoh. The ethical standards that Joseph taught were abandoned. The nation began to betray its allies. Economic systems were put in place that gave wealth to a few elites and impoverished the common citizen. Hebrews became slaves.

For: 
August 23, 2020
Exodus 1:8-2:10
Genesis 41:46-47
Pentecost 12
...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

At Christmas and the holidays, paradoxes abound. Peace on Earth, is promised. Then Herod slays the innocents. Paradoxes prepare us for God’s built-in ambiguity.

For: 
December 13, 2020
John 1:5
Advent 3
"Live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear…" I Peter 1:17

The coronavirus is teaching us to be mindful of the invisible.  Even as we worship online, we are members of the Church triumphant. Along with myriads of angels and saints only seen by our imagination, we commune in the family of God.

For: 
April 26, 2020
1 Peter 1:17-23
Easter 3
The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. - Mark 1:12

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. Note that the verb drove does not mean that the gentle and mild spirit pulled up in an RV and waved Jesus into the air-conditioned cabin before heading off to an oasis with a pool and free Wi-Fi. No, the spirit drove him like a mighty wind away from everything familiar. Covid-19 has driven us into a similar wilderness. Life is, as Scott Peck reminds us, painful. We don’t become mature by avoiding pain. We become all that God calls us to be by allowing the spirit to drive us into the wilderness with Jesus.

For: 
February 21, 2021
Mark 1:9-15
Lent 1
Ash Wednesday
"They were amazed by Jesus, because he taught with authority"

Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to those he left behind so that they might have his authority to go into this hurting world and be compassionate. Anyone who knows Jesus can be “an authority” by simply choosing to love the people around them without compromise.

For: 
January 31, 2021
Mark 1:21-28
Matthew 5:21-32
Epiphany 4
"the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" - the Apostle Paul

Those who think that wealth = happiness, the stock market = economy, and smarts = wisdom, will have a hard time accepting the wisdom of the cross that Paul talks about or what Jesus was doing when he blessed the poor.

For: 
February 2, 2014
Matthew 5:1-12
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Epiphany 4
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" - John the Baptist to his disciples about Jesus

If we read the Gospels, I think we see what John the Baptist saw. We know that maybe we should follow that Jesus. Maybe we should become his disciples. That leads us to the question, “Who can be a disciple of Jesus?”

For: 
January 19, 2020
John 1:29-42
Epiphany 3
[As they waited they] devoted themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus -Acts 1:14

What has our experience with the coronavirus been about? It’s been about waiting. In Acts 1:4, Jesus tells the disciples to wait. We will never be effective at anything in our lives unless we learn to wait.  

For: 
May 24, 2020
Acts 1:1-14
Easter 7
"Take courage, all you people of the land. For I am with you," says the LORD of hosts.

In this modern era, it takes courage to speak about the reality of Heaven. Our bodies are mortal, from the moment of our birth we begin to die. Yet, our culture idealizes youth and riducules those who are content with the aging process. Often we are told that believing in heaven is silly, only a pie in the sky.

For: 
November 10, 2019
Haggai 1:15 to 2:9
Luke 20:27-38
Pentecost 22
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” -Matthew 19:19

Today we see “good” church-going people supporting systems that lead to human bondage. Often, undocumented immigrants are held as slaves, that is not permitted to decide their own future or leave a certain location, or paid for their labor, whether it be at a farm, a chicken processing plant, as landscapers or maids, or in a sex trafficking ring. Slavery still shapes our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. Until recently, the banking and real-estate system of our country prevented people of color from owning certain homes, thus denying these families the opportunity to build equity. Segregation is a denial of freedom and unloving.

For: 
September 8, 2019
Philemon 1
Matthew 19:19
Pentecost 13
Week after Labor Day
Do you believe that the poor actually have been chosen by God to be rich in faith?

When I read James, I find myself reconsidering the radical statement that some Liberation Theologians make, that being poor is a prerequisite for understanding Jesus. Throughout the Bible we hear an oft repeated warning, friendship with wealth never ends well. Those who have been born with it, need to flee into the wilderness — do a Saint Francis of Assisi style run — to be purged of its effect. Those who have earned it, must cauterize all thoughts that they are somehow better people because they played life’s game to achieve this sordid end.

For: 
September 9, 2018
James 2:1-5
 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Pentecost 18

One key difference between Jesus and Herod the Great was that Jesus had a succession plan. Herod the Great seemed oblivious to the fact that he would die. Jesus came into the world in order to die for sinners. Herod considered anyone who challenged him to be disloyal and a threat. Jesus forgave his enemies and invited them into his kingdom.

For: 
January 6, 2019
Matthew 2:1-10
Epiphany 1

When we do Christmas, it is very tempting to skip the story of King Herod's murdering the children of the Bethlehem region. I remember one adroit fool suggesting that we could skip Matthew 2:13-23 in our Sunday lections because the event discribed doesn't appear in the secular histories of the time and could have been made up by Matthew. The only secular histories we have from this period are pro-Roman and okay with Herod's "lock innocents in cages" type of politics.

For: 
December 29, 2019
Matthew 2:13-23
Christmastide 1

Not everyone sees the same thing. In each of the Gospel of John’s miracle stories, two people stand side by side, one believes and the other doesn’t. Like the wedding of Cana, the servants who pour the water that has become wine, believe and see. The master of the feast doesn’t.

For: 
January 20, 2019
John 2:1-11
Epiphany 2
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation...

I don’t know how to get others to the mountain. I only know that it is where I need to be. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” (Isaiah 2:5).

For: 
December 1, 2019
Isaiah 2:1-5
Advent 1
"This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many"- Simeon

God has intruded into our cycle of birth - innocence - rebellion - maturity - midlife - old age - and death. He has given us something eternal. What we see is not a generational division, but a timeless unity.

For: 
December 27, 2020
Luke 2:22-40
Christmas 1
Sunday between Christmas & New Year's
"Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple..." - Acts 2:46

The second chapter of acts describes the golden era of Christianity. But the most important thing we learn from reading Acts is that such things don't last. A golden age can end in two ways; either God says you're ready and sends the church out to transform the world. Or a golden age can end in nostalgia, apathy, and the failure to adapt.

For: 
May 3, 2020
Acts 2:42-47
Easter 4
Making a whip of cords, Jesus drove all of them out of the temple - John 2:15

Jesus doesn’t do church. He upsets the money changer’s tables. Kicks out the merchants with their sacrificial animals. He makes a mess of the 11 o’clock service. Why?

For: 
March 7, 2021
John 2:13-22
Lent 3
They were all of one accord.

In every parish that I served, I encouraged people to think of Pentecost as one of the three great holidays of the church. There is Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. They are of equal importance and should be celebrated with the same degree of serious preparation. Christmas allows us to speak of the Trinity and the uniqueness of Jesus among men. Our systematic theology goes into high gear as we try to speak about God’s mission to save all of humanity. In Easter we rediscover the passion of God and the wretchedness of humanity. Our theology goes low, as we identify with the people who stood by his cross and then carried our Lord to the grave. Easter is a story filled with transition, the greatest example being the resurrection.

For: 
May 20, 2018
Acts 2
Pentecost Sunday
'You must be born from above." - Jesus to Nicodemus

Most of us are never told that we can set out from the known and the familiar to take on a further journey. To be, as Jesus puts it, born again.

For: 
March 8, 2020
John 3:1-17
Lent 2
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

You can live 2019 with the peace of Christ in your heart. Always be compassionate.
Always try to understand as much as you can. Never let the ends justify the means, that is, don't forsake your principles or good behavior to get your own way.

For: 
December 30, 2018
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:41-52
Christmastide 1

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