A look at the story of Zacchaeus through the lens of the Exodus story and the economy of God
We discuss the need for prayer and the different ways we can pray, learning from the parable of Luke 18:1-8 with the persistent widow and the unjust judge.
We worship God with our bodies in a particular place. Different places evoke different responses. Sometimes it’s nice to shake things up and try a new place.
A fully embodied faith, including all of life’s ups and downs.
A reflection on ways we’re self-centered and ways we feel we’re not good enough and how to navigate the middle.
How do we remain faithful to our faith while living in a land fluent in the language of greed?
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells the parable of the 99 faithful sheep and seeking after the one who is lost. Oftentimes, we find ourselves among 99 who are lost. How do we stay faithful in the midst of people who live according to a different narrative? Answer: we receive formation among the 99 faithful and immerse ourselves in the Story of God.
Whoever does not carry the cross cannot be my disciple. The cross is love. Love should never be burdensome. It was love that took Jesus to the cross. It was love that kept him on the cross.
Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” We’re getting close to the fire season in California and when people start mentioning fire, everyone gets twitchy and nervous. My husband and I did when the Oakland Hills fire of 1991 hit. We had to evacuate like everyone else, thousands of others but Thank God, the fire came only 25 feet from our house. We were luckier than many people in Santa Rosa or Paradise, CA. We usually think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace – but here he says he is the Bringer of Fire and Division. The fire of the Holy Spirit which divides the wheat from the chaff – truth from lies, integrity from corruption, inclusion v. expulsion, love vs. hate. We need this fire today more than ever. Sometimes it seems like Nature is fighting hard to get our attention. Each year, she sends us hundred-year floods, high tides, tornadoes, fires, and droughts, hoping we’ll get the message. The trouble is that sometimes the task of solving the environmental crisis we’re in - just like the divisions and problems made by with our current administration, seem too overwhelming – too big to handle by ourselves. And they are. Many of us saw and hear Bishop Michael Curry’s fabulous sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor chapel last year. He said: Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history. A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world…”Then he quoted the Jesuit paleontologist and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” But to harness that fire, each one of us needs to be fired by the Holy Spirit. Someone once said, “Christianity isn’t taught – it’s caught.” Jesus came to set us on fire – and then teach us how to be Fire Bringers. To set God’s world ablaze with His Love. This is the only way we can tackle the big problems that beset us – problems of the environment and those that threaten our Democracy. These things are way too big to tackle alone. Only as Fire Bringers can we do it together. It all starts with each one of us.
The Old Testament is full of drama and intrigue. This is especially true with the story of the Prophet Elijah, King Ahab and Queen Jazabell in the 19th chapter of 1st Kings. It is a story of the battle between good and evil, the true God and the false gods of false prophets. It is a story of wanting to give up after fighting for so long and God saying, "don't give up. The battle is not over. Get up and eat, otherwise, the journey will be too much for you". As we face the current battles what ever they might be, we need the food that only God can give that will prepare us for the journey ahead. The Old Testament is full of drama and intrigue. This is especially true with the story of the Prophet Elijah, King Ahab and Queen Jazabell in the 19th chapter of 1st Kings. It is a story of the battle between good and evil, the true God and the false gods of false prophets. It is a story of wanting to give up after fighting for so long and God saying, "don't give up. The battle is not over. Get up and eat, otherwise, the journey will be too much for you". As we face the current battles what ever they might be, we need the food that only God can give that will prepare us for the journey ahead.
We are faced with many challenges in life, most of all what we will stand for and believe in. We have to keep always our eyes on what is right and true. For us, "keeping our eyes on the prize" Our prize is Jesus. If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and his calling on our lives we can face the challenges that confront us.
John 5:1-9: A man who apparently was lame sat at the gate and pool called Bethzatha for thirty-eight years waiting to get in the holy waters to be healed. For thirty-eight years he sat there just waiting. Just waiting and perhaps begging for a few coins. Jesus appeared and asked him the question "do you want to be healed?" The implication was "do you REALLY want to be healed" Jesus saw through his response and just said to him"Stand up, take your mat and walk." The question is, do we really want to be healed from the things that block us from the fullness of life? Or do we just make excuses as the man did sitting by the pool?
Two themes in today's readings from Acts and the gospel. The first is that the church should be open fully to all who commit to receiving the Holy Spirit and following the way of Jesus. This was Peter's vision given by the Holy Spirit and affirmed by Jesus's own actions during his life. Second, Jesus gave us a new commandment in John 13:34, "Love one another as I have loved you." This was directed at the disciples as they prepared to lead the Christian movement. They were called to live their lives as Jesus did. Sacrificing their lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God and loving one another in community.
The Readings for this Sunday from Acts 9:1-20 and the Gospel of John, 21:1-19, talk about how God used Paul and Peter to build the new Christian movement after the Resurrection of Jesus. He took two very "human" individuals who at first looked like they would be the last persons Jesus would choose to build the church and turned them into the two top leaders in all of early Christendom. The question is, will we let God use us in any way that God needs to extend the love and grace of Jesus? God can use you. Heed His call.
Two major significant events in the Christian year, Christmas and Easter. Christmas celebrates Jesus coming into the world and God's effort to reach us. Easter celebrates God giving us the opportunity for a new life, one free of sin and with the example of the life of Jesus to live by. Some say we couldn't have Easter without Christmas and that certainly is true. The question is, would Christmas have any real meaning without Easter? With Christmas, Jesus came into the world. With Easter, Jesus changed the world!
When the hour for the Passover meal came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles with him. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves...
John Maxwell wrote that "Today matters. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not promised. What you do today matters. It will impact your tomorrows." Mary knew that she only had Jesus a little time more and that she had to anoint him in preparation for his death. She could not say "Oh, I will get to that!" She had to act today. Today matters.
We have a tendency to want to go it on our own. To say, we don't need the Father. That is the story of the Prodigal Son. He wanted to spread his wings and to live outside of the relationship with his father. It did not go well for him.
A son of St. Augustines for sixty-nine years. A true servant of God and the community.
Moses, one of the great patriarch of our faith was reluctant to accept God's call to lead His people out of Egypt into the Promise Land. He made five excuses as to why someone else could do a better job. But God got his attention by saying, "I will provide all you need and will be with you to get the task done." Will you respond to God's call upon your life?
Abram, the patriarch of the three great world religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, was an example of how God responds to those who trust and obey him. If more followers would trust and obey God, a lot of the problems we face would be solved.
As Jesus was transfigured and spoke to the Elders on the mountain top, he was prepared for the most important part of his journey. His father said, "listen to him". As we move forward in the Lenten season, let us pay close attention to Jesus' words so that we know the steps we need to take to be true followers of our Lord.
God has a way of interrupting plans that are not according to His purpose and helping us chart another direction. Jesus, on the other hand, is a disrupter. He came to turn things upside down and to change the way that we live.
Jesus calls us to live into a new attitude of being in relationship to God. A life based on hope, respect, and remembrance of that which is good.
It would be easy to overlook the importance of Paul's message in his transitional section of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. It is, however, the earliest written record of the core Christian belief that Christ died for our sins and that together with his resurrection, constitutes the foundation of our faith. Paul explains the humility of his own apostolic ministry by claiming that "I am what I am by grace."
We should not limit God and we should not let others limit God's power in us. Because God made us all, we are all marvelously made.
When we are separated from God, we live in darkness. Jesus coming into the world broke through that darkness so that we might see and experience once and for all what living in the light really means. The light brings hope and the power to change. It is up to us to embrace the light.
The season of Advent asked the question "How can this be? The Christmas response is "with God, all things are possible." Like Joseph, Mary, the Shepards, and the three Wise Men say "yes to God." In your life say "yes" to God as God said "yes" to wanting to be with us.
Don't be afraid, for all things are possible with God. Fear can stop us from doing a lot of things. The Christmas story says that we should not be afraid, for God is with us. "How can this be" "God is with you."
"Where are the words of comfort that will give us peace this Christmas season?" Lay your burdens down.