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Showing posts from July, 2016

11th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 18, Year C

When Does Need Become Greed

Readings: Hosea 11:1-11; Psalm 107:1-9, 43; Col 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

Ours is a very materialistic age. Our greed for “stuff” is insatiable. We buy, not because we need, but because we want. It is a sad commentary on our society that garbage is such an issue. It seems that greed is insatiable. It always wants more than a person can accumulate. There are even those who say that greed is a good thing. Ivan Boesky, a well-known stock trader defended greed in a commencement address at Berkley back in the 80’s. He said, “Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

Thomas Merton known primarily for his more than seventy books, was a Trappist monk. He was preparing to leave his monastery in Kentucky to live alone. It had taken him some time to convince his abbot that living the life of a hermit was the right thing for him. Then on top of that there was the orde…

The 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 17, Year C

Lord, Teach us to Pray

Readings: Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19); Luke 11:1-13

Jesus was praying, Luke tells us, in a ‘certain place’. I imagine him to be on a rolling hill by the Sea of Galilee. His disciples watch him at prayer with some interest. They see the serenity surrounding him as he prays. They want that same sense of peace. “Teach us to pray,” they say to him. Jesus responds with a prayer from his Jewish roots, a prayer that very much reflects his thoughts about who God is and the place God has in his life. He addresses God as Father. His prayer begins, not with his needs, but with his relationship with God. He prays that God will meet his needs. He prays to be a forgiving person. He prays not to be tested by life more than he can endure. They know from his prayer that Jesus is in a loving and intimate relationship with God, a relationship in which they want to share.

How did you learn to pray? I suspect that most of us in this church today learned to pray from our pare…

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Proper 16

At the Feet of Jesus

Readings: Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42

I was born in a little country hospital on Lake Erie. We lived in a tiny hamlet, and I was the third child so the doctor knew our family well. He said to my mother, “You have another girl.” Mother replied, “Oh! Her name is Catherine Ann.” He went out to my father with the same news. “Her name is Rachael Ann!’ my father told him. “You two had better get together,” the doctor told him. And so I became Ann Martha. And I must say, it was the bane of my existence growing up. You see my sister’s second name is Mary. They loved to remind me of the story of Mary and Martha, but it was always to remind me of my place in life. I personally believe they missed the point of the story.

What a homey story it is! Yet all week I have struggled with it, much as I struggled with it as a child. What can it possibly be saying to us in the context of all that has happened during this past week? The news of…

Proper 15, Year C

Who is My Neighbour?

Readings: Psalm 82; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37

A lawyer comes to test Jesus. “What should I do to be saved?” Jesus does not give him the answer. He seldom does. Instead, he turns tables on him, asking him, “What do you think you should do?” The lawyer gives the correct answer. “Love God and love your neighbour.” He knows the law. He says all the right things. He does all the right things. He lives a respectable life. He knows that he cannot be challenged on his knowledge of the law. But he wants to justify his actions, so he asks another trick question, “Who is my neighbour?”

Being a lawyer and an upstanding Jew, he knows the definition. Long before Christianity, Jewish tradition taught that love of neighbour was one of the great principles of the Torah. In fact Judaism’s love principle goes deeper than most people imagine. We Christians pride ourselves on the concept of loving our enemies, while the Torah gives examples of how to love do it…

Proper 14, Year C

No One is an Island

Readings: 1 Kings 21:1-3, 17-21; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 6:7-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

John Donne writes: (No apology given for the change to inclusive language!)

No one is an island,
Entire of itself,
Everyone is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any one’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in humankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

No! I am not making a statement about Brexit, although I suspect it applies quite nicely. The theme in Donne’s poem resonates with today’s readings. They all point to our need of God’s grace and of our need to share it for the empowerment of ourselves and others. No one walks alone through life. There is an interdependency on others and on God, no matter how hard we try to make it otherwise.

That is very much the les…