A heart matter

A small boy, repeating the Lord’s Prayer one evening, prayed: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are dead against us.” As I mentioned last week, this morning’s Gospel is a continuation of Jesus’ conversation about love and forgiveness.  If we truly love God, then you and I are bound to be bearers of God’s love and compassion.  Love and compassion should, in turn, compel us to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with our neighbor.             Jesus’ teachings lead Peter to ask about the limits to forgiveness.  Religious leaders of the time capped forgiveness at three times.  That is, three times for a same or similar offense.  Then one could wash one’s hands of the affair with the knowledge that due diligence has been done.             No doubt Peter feels generous, then, at offering to forgive seven times.  Seven, in Biblical tradition, is a holy number.  God completes creation in seven days (Genesis 1).  Joshua leads the Israelites in marching around Jericho for seven da…

**SERMON** "All you need is love"

Exodus 12:1-14 + Psalm 149 + Romans 13:8-14 + Matthew 18:15-20

“All you need is love All you need is love All you need is love, love Love is all you need”
            With all due respect to the Fab Four, that is- again- the message in a nutshell.  Paul tells us that if what we do or say is motivated by love, then all the rest will take care of itself.  If we love, we cannot fail to live into the Good News and show ourselves to be true followers of Jesus. Or, as Jesus, put it (Matthew 22:37-40; CEV) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.             Where there is love- true love- of God and neighbor, everything else falls into place.  God will be first and foremost in our hearts.  All that we do or say will reflect our love of God.…

Genuine Love

“Let love be genuine.”
            That is Paul’s command to the Romans.  After all, love is easy to fake.  You speak kindly to others.  You avoid hurting feelings deliberately.  You appear to listen and take an interest in others.             True love, genuine love, is much harder.  As Paul reminds the Corinthians: Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
I Corinthians 13:4-9; MSG
Such love cannot be faked.  A love like this demands our all.  This deep love asks that we give freely of our time, our talent, and our treasure. This past week, we’ve all seen the devastation caused by Hu…

Holy Eucharist

You may have heard that The Vatican has recently decreed that the wafers used for the Eucharist can no longer be gluten free.

In other words, local Roman Catholic communities are not allowed to offer or use gluten free wafers.

This is especially problematic for those who suffer from celiac disease, where the body is no able to process gluten.

Now, for the record,  I firmly believe that God is present and the full benefits of the Eucharist are available if one partakes of only the Bread or only the Wine.

That is part of the beauty and the mystery of God's presence through Jesus in the Sacrament.

But for me, there is an even greater issue of pastoral care and concern here.

Some Protestant churches now offer grape juice in addition to wine in sensitivity to those who are battling or recovering from alcoholism.

Such churches have determined that is a reflection of God's mercy and compassion to make the grape juice available.  This enables those present to feel more fully includ…

**SERMON** Sowing and Planting

Genesis 25:19-34 + Psalm 119:105-112 + Romans 8:1-11 + Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Any brown thumbs here? How about green thumbs? Let’s see a show of hands.
            This is not normal farming!  Produce farmers usually take great care to prepare the land.  The pH of the soil has to be just right.  The land is often turned over to release nutrients from deeper down fertilizer may be added to enhance the soil.  If many different crops are planted, care is taken with where each crop goes.              All this hard work is in deep contrast to Jesus’ farmer.  The farmer of Jesus’ parable just sows seed far and wide.  No care is given to where the seeds fall.  Rocky terrain, dry soil, among weeds; it doesn’t matter.              Jesus’ parable defies all logic!  Until, until we remember that the Farmer is not just any farmer.  The One who so wildly scatters the seed is God, and by extension God in human form - Jesus.  Now it begins to make sense!  God is so in love with us and so longing to be in…

The Parable of LBC

A few months ago, I lost my faithful companion of almost 17 years.  He was "tall, dark, and handsome" . . .  only on four legs.  KoKo, also known as Kanika Kao, was a Seal-point Siamese.

KoKo possessed a larger than life purrsonality.  He was extremely friendly and out-going.  All were friends to him.

He was also quite the Mumma's boy!  Every night he would be there on my lap to watch TV or to read with me.  At bedtime, he was right there by my side.

The Bible study group can attest to how engaging KoKo was.  He would make his way to say hi to every one and frequented their laps as well.

However, not every one appreciated KoKo's vibrancy.

Back in 2005 I adopted an LBC-- little black cat.  She was so sweet and loving in the shelter.  I thought she'd be the perfect companion for King KoKo.


Shalimar was not amused!  KoKo's out-going nature turned her off.  He was too in her face and she did not like that.  They never did get along.

Now that KoKo has pas…

**SERMON** Instruments of God's peace

Genesis 18:1-15(21:1-7) + Psalm 116:1, 10-17 + Romans 5:1-8 + Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)

Manchester London Alexandria, Virginia San Francisco, California
            Once again, too often, our world is rocked by senseless acts of violence.  Every week seems to bring more tragic news.  After a while it can be hard to take.  We can easily become numbed . . . our hearts and minds hardened against yet another in an ever-growing list of tragedies.  We shut down and tune the news out.             You and I do not need to look far to see that our world is a far cry from the world in Genesis last week.  God created the world out of love.  And God called that creation good (vs. 4, 10, 12, &c).  It was God’s intention that all of creation existed in relationship.  Relationship with each other and in relationship with God.             Christians believe that Jesus is God’s answer to the brokenness.  So great is God’s love that God decided to overcome the brokenness.  In Jesus, God took on human flesh …