7th Sunday after Pentecost
Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! -Isaiah 44:8
Do not be afraid is a command that threads through the scriptures. But how can we help but be afraid? There is COVID. There are people on the streets who don’t look like us. There are threats to our health, to our economy, to our communities, to our nation’s security. The news we read and hear tell of danger and disruption of peaceful lives.
If we say we have no fear and anxiety, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 (changed slightly)
The gospel of God-presented through the life and words of Jesus-is directed to fearful and anxious people, especially to those who deny that they are afraid and anxious (their fear and anxiety are deep).
The gospel declares: “I promise”. Faith answers: “I trust your words.” In that simple call and response lies the spiritual center of the biblical faith.
Christian ministry tries to drill through layers of fear’s defenses-anger, vitriol, sarcasm, hostility, etc.-deep into the chamber of the heart where a flame of trust still burns. This is the key to Jesus’ ministry recorded in the Gospels: He shows us a faithful, trusting life. Paul said that the heart of faith is the heart of a child. We will hear how he puts it-in his letter to the Romans-in Sunday’s second reading.
6th Sunday after Pentecost
The mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the trees shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
Through most of human experience, pre-historic and historic, the presence of God and the works of God have been recognized in the natural world. Even when religious attention turned to the formation of ethical actions and healthy societies, people still interpreted outcomes of judgment and grace in nature.
The scripture readings for Sunday offer spiritual lessons from rain and snow, the growth of plants, the blossoming of flowers.
5th Sunday after Pentecost
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29
The Christian life is not a matter of learning concepts-even though there are ideas to learn, because we are thinking beings-it is a matter of behavior, more specifically of habits of behavior.
In the Gospel for Sunday we continue our reading in Matthew and we hear Jesus invite us to learn from him. Learning from him means turning to him and to the assembly (on Zoom!) that bears his name.
4th Sunday after Pentecost
…whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple–truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward. Matthew 10:42
Recently we have talked about signs that say “welcome” and we have talked about attitudes and behaviors that signal open and loving hearts.
Sunday we will think about Jesus’ words in Matthew and ponder what it means to say “Welcome”. Who is welcome? Who is not?
I guess it depends on who minds the door. If Jesus is at the door, all are
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Hide not your face from your servant; be swift and answer me, for I am in distress. Draw near to me and redeem me; because of my enemies deliver me. Psalm 69: 17
Faces. Humans have evolved as face-recognition experts. Our emotional and psychological well-being depend on identifying faces. Who are you? In some extreme moments personal and community survival depended on face recognition. Who you are is written on your face.
When our faces are hidden behind masks our highly developed face-recognition and face-reading skills are compromised. It is a psychologically and emotionally challenging time.
How can our Christian faith help us through the masked days of COVID-19?
We will think together about faces, and about the face of God in scripture, in church tradition, and in everyday life.
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5: 5.
We have passed through the two festivals of the Holy Spirit-Pentecost and Trinity-and have arrived at the beginning of our Pentecost journey. The season of Pentecost stretches through the summer and into the fall.
The Christian teaching for the coming Sunday is that the Holy Spirit empowers us, energizes us.
We need to find our way to the places where the Word of God can reach us and refill us with Holy Spirit, the breath of life and peace for us.