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Showing posts from July, 2017

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 17, Year A

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like …

Readings: Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 128; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Jesus was a great storyteller. He told parables about the kingdom of God that opened up what God’s kingdom is like. It is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a plant large enough and secure enough to harbour nesting birds. It is like a fish hiding in the deep water that should be fished out. It is like a pearl, like a treasure, hidden in the earth. It needs to be found. It is like yeast that one puts into the dough to make it rise.

And the people listening to the stories nod their heads in agreement. They can picture it. They have planted tiny mustard seeds and seen them grow to be twelve feet high. The smallest of seeds becomes a plant that expands out and is so large, secure and encompassing that the birds of heaven come and nest in its branches, hidden and safe where their young can be nurtured.

They can see themselves finding the pearl of great price. “I…

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 16, Year A

Called By Grace

Readings: Genesis 28:20-29a; Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

It is the dark of night. Jacob is on the run – again. He is running in fear from a disaster of his own making. He is a fugitive with known anger behind him and unknown dangers ahead of him. It is a long story, almost a soap opera as we hear one thing after another from this trickster. First of all, he does his slightly older twin brother Esau out of his rightful inheritance. He then cheats him out of the blessing that is rightfully his as well. Esau is ready to kill his brother, so his enabling family helps him by spiriting him away to a relative’s place to find a wife. After all, he now has the family inheritance. It is important that he find a suitable wife in his ancestral lands.

It is while he is on the run travelling from Beersheba to Haran, that this story takes place. As night falls, he is still far from his destination. He uses a stone for a pillow, and despi…

Proper 15, Year A

What is God’s Spirit Saying to the Church?

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

Jesus leaves the house and goes down to sit beside the sea. What a natural thing for him to be doing! It is something all of us like to do now and then, especially during the summer months. We leave everything behind, head out into nature and sit quietly at the lakeside. In Jesus case, more is going on than we have been told. He has faced some difficulties in his hometown. People think he is out of his mind. Even his disciples don’t always understand him.

Then the crowds gather. Jesus leaves his solitude, slips into a boat and addresses them from the shore. He tells a parable, a story to which people in this agrarian society can relate. As the story unfolds, they can picture it. They can picture themselves walking through the unploughed field, scattering the good grain they have kept from the last harvest. There is lots of seed. They simply scat…

Proper 14, Year A

Comfortable Words

Readings: Genesis 24:34-48, 58-67; Psalm 45:11-18; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Jesus is in a pensive mood. “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn,” he says, and then goes on to reflect on the life of John the Baptist as well as his own situation. John the Baptist lived simply, practicing ascetic behaviour that put him at odds with society. Jesus points out that because he wouldn’t dance he was considered to be a madman.

Jesus, on the other hand, lived life and laughed and welcomed all kinds of people. He ate and drank with outcasts and sinners. Yet his Jewish contemporaries condemned him. Because he didn’t mourn with them when they “wailed” they wrote him off as a glutton and a drunkard.

“You just cannot win,” Jesus seems to be saying. And we can all relate. We have all felt that way at one time or another. We do everything we can and find ourselves being criticized. It happens in family relation…