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.
Martin Luther King, Jr. often referred to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). While King’s interpretation of the parable evolved over time, he maintained a consistent focus on the way the parable allows us to examine the obligations owed to one another, provided an enduring way to read this text.
King had a sermon on the topic which he used frequently. "Who Is My Neighbor?" highlights the question asked of Jesus. Jesus’ questioner, a lawyer, is testing Jesus and testing the limits of what Jesus’ God requires. They are agreed that loving God and neighbor is essential. But how far does this go?
In 1964, in a sermon preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, he discerned a philosophy or motivating principle expressed in the actions of three sets of the parable’s characters. "Everyone within the sound of my voice today lives by one of these three philosophies."
1. The Robbers
Often taken for granted, the waylaying of the traveler is what makes the parab…
Ashes have traditionally been a sign of repentance and mourning. Ashes inherently represent the passing of something vital – a tree which once grew tall, a house destroyed by fire, all that is left of a corpse after the flesh has been burned away. Ashes from the burned palms of last year’s Palm Sunday carry the reminder that the grandiose hopes of triumphal parades can so easily turn to betrayal, persecution, and burial.
On Ash Wednesday, as people turn from their daily lives to observe the start of Lent, that season of penitence and preparation, the minister takes ashes, and draws the sign of the cross one forehead at a time, saying the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (evoking the story of humans' creation, Genesis 2:7).
It is always a bit amazing how many people are eager to receive ashes. You wouldn’t think that we need or are eager to hear reminders of mortality. After all, we get those all the time. Loved ones die. Our own bodies show signs of …
Have you ever been to a holy place? Not necessarily the places called “holy,” but a place where you could sense the spiritual power, the uniqueness, the extra-ordinary nature of the place?
Throughout time, people have found it crucially important to know these points in the natural landscape, and later in the architected human landscape, where the powers of the universe are most powerfully present. Maybe you want to access them – maybe you want to stay away from 'em! But as people, we have wanted to understand where they are.
I don't know if this is more of a statement about God or about people, but there are places which are special, where God seems more obviously and powerfully to dwell. The book of Genesis tells how people found these places in the landscape, mountains and springs and river fords. In the journey out of slavery,…