Showing posts from January, 2011

To us who are being saved

Epiphany 4A - January 30, 2011 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Have you ever had a radical realignment, a perceptual shift where everything changes? We've stopped talking about the conversion of Paul because of the way "conversion" suggests a change of religion. According to Paul himself, he never ceased to be a Jew, and at the time, there was no "Christianity" to convert to. But it is clear that something happened to turn him around. We don't know much about where or how it happened - but we can see his movement. Saul the persecutor took on the role of persecuted. His encounter with God led this Pharisee to embrace the illegal (un-kosher) and un-holy, and accept the "pollution," the shame, the outcast status, and the physical suffering that came with this change. In his letters, Paul repeatedly talks about the radical, earthshaking, transformative nature of the change. Here he stresses the perverse revelation of God, whose coming is seen not in im

We do big things

The commentators are so totally not going to get this. Amazing, and a very odd moment in American oratory. I think people were paying attention , while Obama said things that were hard to disagree with in a way that confounded the folks in "the Chamber." The folks in "the Chamber" (the Congress, the 24-hour media "echo chamber," the Chamber of Commerce?) didn't quite know how to react. It was Sober. Most of this plays very well outside the Beltway, and on my block. A lot of folks will listen to this. Amazing! We do big things. Did you hear that?!? Veto earmarks? Remove oil subsidies? (I've seldom heard less applause for more popular ideas.) Did you hear that? No retreat on health care. You got an idea? Put it out there baby! Did you hear that? Dream Act on the one hand.. Let's talk "illegal immigration" on the other. I dare you... let's do immigration... Freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years? Say what? Y

No divisions?

Epiphany 3A - January 23, 2011 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 No divisions!?! For Christ’s sake, how do you expect that to happen? Perhaps we don’t. In our daily lives, we constantly see real differences and divisions. All the current rhetoric about political divisions touches on the real fact that people have different opinions, beliefs, and interests. Personally, the markers of difference are part of our identity. And many of these are pretty important – we will not give them up or set them aside lightly. Ordinarily we think of these differences as the things which make us who we are. They define where we are in the world and who we are related to others. Divided Loyalties (artist unknown) This may have been even more acute in first century Corinth, where everything depended on who you were with. It mattered if you were with Cephas, or Apollos, or Paul. In the society it mattered whose family who were part of, since your family’s (and its head, its father) wealth, power, and influence deter

Prayer for Haiti

Lord God, as the earth moved one year ago in Haiti, move the hearts and hands of your people throughout the world, that we may remember the people of Haiti with our prayers, with our hearts and our words, and with our actions. Lord God, as the earth shook one year ago in Haiti, we ask that you shake the powers of this world. Shake loose some money, that it may fall upon Haiti, not just on the corrupt class, but upon those living in tents and on the streets, that it may make a difference in their lives. Shake up the structures of power which seek to exploit Haiti, shake out corruption within and without Haiti, and shake aside obstacles to adequate food and shelter, health care, safety from violence. And, Lord God, we tremble to ask that you also shake the people of Haiti, gently we pray, that they may band together to keep working and fighting with love for justice in their land. Bless the land of Haiti, and keep it and its people ever in your care, through Jesus Christ, bloodied,

God is great!

There is always a place for hope. On New Years Day, a bomb, possibly from a suicide attacker, exploded in front of a Coptic Christian church as a crowd of worshippers emerged from a New Years Mass. At least 21 people were killed and nearly 80 wounded. The attack came in the wake of threats by al-Qaida militants in Iraq to attack Egypt’s Christians ( Al Hayat wa Dounia newspaper ). Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. And then - a Christmas miracle. Last night, thousands of Egyptian Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve services offering their bodies as "human shields," making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife (Ahram online). Egyptian Muslim women displaying cross and crescent together in support of their Coptic neighbors May God, who is one, who is all-knowing, who is all-merciful, who is peace, guide and support and sustain and p

To the church of God

Epiphany 2A - January 16, 2011 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is the appointed second reading for most of the Sundays in Epiphany, with Year A containing portions of the early chapters (1-4), Year B the middle chapters (6-9), and Year C some of the later chapters (12-15). The interpreter has some basic choices to make in approaching these texts. The letters are intensely personal and address very specific concerns of Paul and the assembly of believers in Corinth. One approach to their interpretation is to try and understand this context as well as possible. In drawing conclusions about what faithfulness looked like in that setting, we might have an idea of what faithfulness looks like in similar circumstances. Another approach may look at the historical setting of the letter, yet recognizes that the letter now has a canonical context. The church has made use of this text in ways which go well beyond its original setting. These reflections will focus more on