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Showing posts from April, 2012

Going wild

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I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.... My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.John 15:1-2,8

Much of the comment and preaching on this passage focuses on its role as one of the great "I am" passages that John relates. "I am the vine," says Jesus, "and you are the branches." And we rightly think about Jesus as the connective tissue between his disciples, and as the source of nourishment, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the branches.

Vines are amazing plants. They are prolific, productive. They do not stay put, but grow in every direction if given the opportunity, and something to support them (the ground, a tree, a fence or building). Some of our favorite food plants are vines (tomatoes, grapes, squash, cucumbers, kiwi fruit, melons, beans, and peas).

However vines are a…

Prayer for a baptism

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Spirit of love,
Sign of promise,
Word of life,
Lucas, water, Jesus
Now and forever. Amen.


Poem/prayer for the baptism of Lucas Avery Van Aken,
Sunday, April 22, 2012 at St. John's Lutheran Church,
Jersey City, NJ.
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What love - prayer for Easter 3B

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See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called 
children of God; and that is what we are.1 John 3:1
Loving God, with tender mercy you nurture us, with care you correct us, with compassion you give yourself to the world that we might see and touch and know your goodness. Thank you for this family into which you have called us, this strange assembly called church, and this holy family of life in your Spirit. Lead us in righteousness, encourage us in truth, and develop in us a forgiving spirit, filled with the love that is your gift, in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Into your hands I commend my spirit

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“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Luke 23:46

Sermon for Good Friday

[Preached in a service as a reflection upon the final of seven last words of Christ from the cross.]


In putting these seven words together, the church gives us a text different from that of the gospel writers.

It’s always a question about how we tell the story. Do we put the four gospel accounts together and try to harmonize them? Do we focus on the story as each evangelist told it? Do we let the particular gospel voices speak to one another in our hearts and minds?

It matters. In today’s readings, we could easily think that “into your hands I commend my spirit” is simply the coda to “It is finished.” Now that he is at his end, he tells us where he is going.

But Luke, who gave us these words, does not report that it’s over. In Luke’s version, Jesus first prays to his Father for forgiveness of those who are killing him. He announces forgiveness to the thief (or rebel) next to him. And then, just before he dies,…