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Monday, July 25, 2011
Lectionary Scriptures: Genesis 32:22-31 AND Psalm 17:1-7 OR Isaiah 55:1-5 AND Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21

This week’s readings invite us to look at what happens when we humans encounter God and to reflect on the kind of God we encounter—or who encounters us.

In Genesis, chapter 32, Jacob wrestles with a man (an angel?, God?) all night. (vs. 24). Is it a dream? It is an experience of divine presence in some way or other. Jacob holds his own, demanding a blessing, and comes away from the encounter with an injury as well as a blessing. (vss. 25-26) Jacob’s name and God’s name come under discussion. (vss. 27-29) For Jacob it is an experience in which he has “seen God face to face” and not been struck by death, and he gives the place a name to remind him of that experience when he passes by again.

I offer some questions to consider as you reflect on this story:

1. In what ways have you/we wrestled with God, or wrestled to understand what it means to experience the divine?
2. What experiences have you/we had that might be described as seeing God “face to face’? If that description doesn’t work, how would you describe any experiences of the divine you have had?
3. Jacob came to a new understanding of himself, symbolized in a new name, an injury, and a blessing. How have you/we been changed in encounters with the divine, discovering new vulnerabilities, new missions, new possibilities, new grace, even a new identity?
4. What memories of encounters past shape your/our faith today? Do we mark such enounters in the maps of our spirits so we can draw future strength from those experiences?

The reading from Psalm17 can be seen as the Psalmist wrestling with God, praying for vindication. (Psalm 17:1-4) He calls upon God with confidence because of God’s “steadfast love,” concluding, as if we’ve been drawn into another dream, “when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.” (Vss. 7 & 15)

More questions:

1. What frame of mind do we carry into any encounter with God? Do we feel judged, seeking vindication? Do we feel self-righteous and pure, demanding vindication?
2. What do we find out about the nature of faithfulness and love in our encounters with God? Is God fickle so that we feel like we’re walking through a minefield, or do our encounters help us find stability and consistency in life—or maybe a loving foundation undergirding life so that we are always able to start anew?

Isaiah 55 and the Gospel lesson from Matthew both seem to point us to encounters where we are fed. In Isaiah 55, we have wine and milk which is freely given. We often spend our money on things that don’t satisfy, when God offers “what is good” and wants us to “delight” ourselves “in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:1-2) The source is that same covenant of steadfast love identified by the Psalmist. (vs. 3) It is a love which reaches out to include all nations. (vs. 5)

In Matthew, Jesus is the divine presence who notices that the people are hungry and sees that they are fed, all five thousand of them (plus the women and children who seem to be included almost as an afterthought). (Matthew 14:15-16 & 21)

However one interprets the “miracle” in this story, the feeding begins with an act of sharing. They have five loaves and two fish and donate them to the cause—or respond to Jesus’ command, “Bring them to me.” (vss. 17-18) Everyone eats his or her fill and there are twelve baskets left over. (Vss. 19-20) Was it sheer magic or did others step forward with food they were holding back? All we know is that the people gathered, they were hungry, and they got everything they needed. Is the story about physical food or about spiritual food? It is a story about encountering the divine and being fed. Jesus, on more than one occasion, spoke of the importance of spiritual nourishment.

Notice how the story begins: “Now when Jesus heard this . . .” Heard what? His disciples brought him a report that John the Baptizer, his cousin, had been beheaded by Herod. Jesus was in deep grief trying to get off “to a deserted place by himself.” (vs. 13) Instead he sees the gathered crowd and goes to them filled with “compassion for them and cured their sick.” (vs. 14)

Some more questions:

1. What kinds of encounters with the divine have fed and nourished your/my spirit?
2. Have any of your/our encounters with the divine been enriched when you or someone else shared something that nourished all?
3. What do you/I count as spiritual food?
4. Compassion is often rooted in experiences of pain. We know what pain feels like and so are able to respond to others when they hurt. In your/our encounters with the divine what do you/we learn about compassion, about a reality which absorbs our pain so that we can move on? Where does compassion—human and divine—come from? What can we learn from Jesus about compassion?

Psalm 145 is a hymn to divine compassion, as well as nourishment. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love . . . his compassion is over all that he has made . . . The eyes of all look to you, and you give them good in due season . . . The Lord is near to all who call on him . . .” (vss. 8-9, 15 & 18)

Finally, what do we do with the reading from Romans? In this week’s reading, Paul’s mind takes a leap and he spends three chapters considering the fate of the Jews who have gone before. Paul was an educated and devout defender of Jewish faith and practice. A sudden, dramatic, divine encounter challenged the way he looked at the world, so much so that he was “blind” for three days. (Acts 9:8-9)

Paul knew that he had been nourished by “the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” of the faith of his ancestors. (Romans 9:4) He cannot imagine a God who would reject all that. His belief is so strong that, as he wrestles with the issue, he has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart. He even declares that if the Jews are to be cut off, he would wish himself to be cut off as well. (vss. 2-3)

As Paul works his way through these three chapters, that all-inclusive love he has sung about at the end of chapter eight triumphs. We may not find all the complexities of his thinking relevant or helpful, but we need to note that, in the end, he declares, “ . . . all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26) On his way to that conclusion, he works his way through some of the patriarchal history we’ve been following in Genesis, noting that lines of inheritance took unexpected turns from the very beginning. (Romans 9:6-15) He deals with the image of new branches being grafted into old roots. (Romans 9:17-24) His bottom line is that knowing and experiencing the love of God (belief) trumps any questions about which branch or which root has priority. He warns against claiming “to be wiser than you are,” and concludes with another ecstatic declaration of the mystery of it all. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! . . . For from him and through him and to him are all things.” (Romans 11:33 & 36)

So, after considering Paul’s journey, what questions about our own encounters with the divine do we ask?

1. Have there been experiences in our lives that have shaken the foundations, the traditions, the rituals, on which we had relied in the past? What has the divine been saying to us in the them?
2. Some go through life acting as if every new insight involves rejecting all old insights. Paul would have none of that. How do the old and the new blend as you reflect on your encounters with the divine? What old insights continue to give you strength and nourishment? Where has the new taken you? How do you respond to the possibility of new encounters, new insights, yet to come?

Let this week’s readings be an occasion for examining our encounters with the divine and paying attention to how they have shaped and are shaping our lives.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Lectionary Scriptures: Genesis 29:15-28 AND Psalm 105:1-11, 45b OR Psalm 128:1-6 OR I Kings 3:5-12 AND Psalm 119:129-136, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

This week’s Gospel reading continues the series of parables from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew. There are five parables in all, some quite brief. Two liken the kingdom of heaven to a “treasure,” something of such great value, whether it is buried in a field or seen in a fine pearl, that one is willing to sell everything to obtain it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

Those two parables and the other readings for this week encourage us, I believe, to reflect on the things we treasure. What are the things of true and lasting value in our lives? What do we value above all other things? What treasures motivate us to commit our very lives to their pursuit?

In the Gospel reading, the treasure/value above all others is “the kingdom of heaven.” At its simplist (although not simplistic) it is life in the presence of God, in the presence of the kind of love represented in Jesus. It is the Good News of Jesus Christ. However we interpret his life, teaching, and work, these are some of things we are promised, and invited to experience, in him: hope, love, justice, peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, grace, fullness.

These words point to the highest value of all, life with purpose and meaning. Some philosophers have seen human life as an effort to ward off “meaninglessness.” However stark or laden with possibility we may see the starting point, at the deepest level we want to know that our lives count for something. Those of us (like myself) who are in the “senior” years of our lives find ourselves wondering what has been the impact of our lives.

What are the things that give purpose and meaning to our lives? Let us think upon, treasure, and commit ourselves to such things.

It’s difficult to know whether to count the final verse of the Gospel reading as another (sixth) parable or as a commentary on all of them. It speaks of bringing “out of the treasure what is new and what is old.” (vs. 52) In the context of this week’s discussion it can challenge us, in examining what we treasure, to look at things both old and new. What have we carried with us across the years? What new things have come into our lives, surprised and nurtured us? What treasure do we still anticipate and await ahead of us?

The reading from Genesis continues the family story that is the unfolding of the promise to Abraham. It tells of Jacob falling in love with Rachel, the daughter of Laban, and agreeing to work for seven years so he can have her as his wife. (Genesis 29:15-22) After completing the seven years and spending the night with his new wife, he awakes to find it is her older sister, Leah. (vss. 23-24) Doesn’t say much for his alertness, does it? Laban says that that’s the way it is, the older daughter must marry first. (vs. 25) So Jacob has to work another seven years before he gets Rachel.

Again, the customs seem strange to us. What does not seem strange is the way Jacob is stricken by this beautiful woman. “Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.” (vs.17) Love stories are about people we treasure. “Jacob loved Rachel,” it says. Relationships are among the things we treasure. They are part of the way love becomes embodied in human experience. Jacob values this relationship with Rachel so much that he is willing to work 14 years to bring it to fruition.

What are the relationships in our lives that are treasures beyond measure, representing costly commitments we are prepared to make?

The readings from the Psalms refer to a variety of things that might make our list of “treasures.” Psalm 105 speaks of God’s “wonderful works.” (vss. 2 & 5) In the Psalms, God’s work is often seen in the beauty and sustenance of creation. In what ways do we experience nature as part of our “treasure”? In this Psalm, God’s faithfulness to God’s covenant is another thing to treasure. (vss. 8-10) To know that God is faithful is to have a sense of security about life. Where have we experienced security as one of the treasures of our lives?

Psalm 128 speaks of “the fruit of the labor of your hands” (vs. 2), another reference to both the abundance of nature and finding purpose and meaning and productivity in our labor. It also continues the emphasis of the Genesis family stories on children (vss. 3-6), reminding us that part of our “treasure” stretches into the future, coming to fruition in our “children’s children.”

In Psalm 119, a great hymn to the blessing received from God’s guidance, declares again, “Your decrees are wonderful . . . The unfolding of your words gives light.” (vss. 129-130) While our “progressive” style of Christianity rejects as rigid literalism, the “truths” and teachings of the ages that have guided us and shaped us are part of our “treasure.” What are the truths that have blessed and guided us? Who have been the teachers that have led and encouraged us and shaped our lives, been partners in our growth and learning?

Finally, the reading from Romans is an ecstatic and lyrical burst of confidence. One of our treasures is that we are treasured by God. Romans 8:26-27 encourages us when we struggle to express ourselves in prayer. We can be confident that the Spirit does it for us, “with sighs too deep for words,” and that “God knows what is the mind of the Spirit.” We sometimes struggle with the idea that “all things work together for good”(vs. 28) words that are sometimes misused—even abused, although, in general, we’re okay with the idea that we are often strengthened as a result of our struggles.

The treasure, though, is the declaration that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vss. 31-39) The list is interesting (vss. 38-39), often used at funerals because “death” is mentioned as one of the things that cannot separate us. I’ve always been interested that “life” is in the list also. Sometimes the things we go through in life seem like we’ve been separated—or tempt us to abandon our faith—but Paul says there is nothing in life that can separate us. Paul is fond of making lists. In this case, he doesn’t want to miss something so he adds, “nor anything in all creation.” (vs. 39)

Let’s join Paul in making a list—a list of the things we treasure in life. Let’s be sure that we have on that list things that are of lasting value, worth pursuing—things that are part of an eternal connection and eternal meaning.

Although I’ve moved on, there are still hymns from my “Gospel” roots that emotionally nourish my spirit. Two have been going through my mind while writing this blog entry. I share the words with you.

“Count your many blessing, name them one by one; count your many blessings, see what God hath done.”

In the spirit of the reading from Romans: “I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me; I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me.”
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Lectionary Scriptures: Genesis 28:10-19a AND Psalm 139:1-2, 23-24 OR Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16-19 OR Isaiah 44:6-8 AND Psalm 86:11-17, Romans 8:12-15, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Most of this week’s readings touch upon our internal state of mind and how that is affected by God. I thought about using the title of a popular religious song, “My God and I.” What drew me to that title was the connection between our understanding of God and our understanding of ourselves (the “I” or ego or self). One of my seminary professors did his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago on the relationship between one’s God’concept and one’s self-concept. It’s not clear which comes first (although the self-concept clearly develops earlier in life), but there is a strong connection between a healthy self-concept and a belief that God is loving and accepting. There is much more guilt and judgmentalism in the self that believes in a demanding, judging, God.

The question, “Who Do We Think We Are?” might well be accompanied by the question, “Who Does God Think We Are?”

The first reading, from Genesis, records one of Jacob’s dreams. I love these Old Testament family stories. They’re so earthy. They’re told, of course, to show the unfolding of God’s promise that Abraham will be the father of many nations (and, it turns out, more than one religious group). Jacob is now the one to whom the promise is renewed.

I think I’d have nightmares, not just ordinary dreams, if I went to sleep with a stone as my pillow. (Genese 28:10-11) The dream includes a ladder reaching to heaven with angels on it, a common way in those days of understanding the connection between heaven and earth. Who are we in our dreams? Do we soar in the sky, dream of almost unimaginable places? Do we have visions of the kind of mark we will make in history? Jacob did. (vss. 12-15) The dream is attributed to God. (vs. 13)

There are many theories about the origin of dreams, some based on scientific research. I tend to think there is some truth in most of the theories. However the synapses of the brain trigger the images in our dream, I think some of those images are drawn from our participation in a wider consciousness. Hints of this are in Carl Jung’s treatment of the “collective unconscious,” although he was mostly very careful not to claim much theological significance for that term. I’m willing to see the “collective unconscious” as a way of talking about God.

Many things (experiences) affect dreams. Some dreams are, I believe, planted by God, and shape how God understands us and how we understand ourselves. Perhaps we can all reflect on how the divine is at work in our dreams, what they say about God’s, and our own, understanding of who we are.

Psalm 139 calls us to think about God searching us and knowing us. (Psalm 139:1 & 23) To think of someone knowing us fully can be kind of scary. After all, that means my dark side will be exposed. Maybe we even want to “flee” from one who would know us that thoroughly. (vs. 7) In the Psalm, though, it seems to be a “wonderful” experience. (vs. 6) The Psalmist is, I believe, reporting what it is like to have God know and accept us without condition. “ . . . even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (vs. 12) Who do we find we are when we open ourselves believing that we are fully known and accepted by God?

The “Wisdom of Solomon” (often called just “Wisdom”) is a writing from about 100 B.C.E. It was written in Greek (not by Solomon) and is included in the Catholic scriptures, but not in the Hebrew or Christian canon. It presents a concept of a powerful God who is the source of all that is right with the world. (Wisdom of Solomon 12:13 & 16-17)

Many in the history of the church have hardened the powerful God into one with unyielding, unchallenged, “omnipotence” (all powerful). Last Sunday’s video presentation mentioned Charles Hartshorne, a theologian who has challenged that formulation in a book entitled, "The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God.” If we speak of being in “relationship” with God, God cannot be unaffected by that relationship. God cannot be solely hard and unyielding. (Read the book if you want Hartshorne full argument. Warning: It’s tough going.)

In Wisdom of Solomon notice that this is not a hard, judgmental, God. “ . . . you judge with mildness, and with great forbearance you govern us . . . you have filled your children with good hope, because you give repentance of sins.” (vss. 18-19) What do we think we are if we believe we live and move and have our being in the presence of such a God?

The reading from Isaiah lifts up a similar image of God. “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6) Somehow, though, even this God is not one before whom we are cringe. “Do not fear, or be afraid,” we are told. (vs. 8)

The second Psalm looks to God to teach us, show us the way. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” (Psalm 86:11) The writer gives thanks “with my whole heart . . . For great is your steadfast love toward me.” (vss. 12-13) He speaks of a God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (vs. 15)

In the reading from Romans we again see God’s presence at work in our inner being reminding us that “all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:14 &16) The spirit does not fill us with a spirit of fear, but of hope. (vss. 15 & 24)

In this passage, the Spirit is at work not only in our inner being but in all creation. It is not just “My God and I.” God is at work all around us, in all of creation, seeking to overcome the decay that has set in. We are not alone in this. Who are we? We are partners with God in the saving of all creation? Only then will we know full freedom. (vss. 19-23)

Finally, the Gospel lesson is another parable about sowing and harvesting. Some suggest that it not really one of Jesus’ parables, that it was added later by the church. Either way, here it is. Somebody wanted us to look at it this week. Being a parable that looks to a judgment day, it includes an image of a judging God which differs from the image in the others of today’s readings. “Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and the will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire . . .” (Matthew 13:40-42)

In the parable, the householder sows good seed and an enemy sows weeds. They come up together. The question is whether the weeds should be pulled. “No,” the householder says, “for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.” (Matthew 13:24-29) I was just down in the garden this morning—pulling weeds. Sure, sometimes a good plant gets pulled along with a weed, but I also pull good plants to thin them out and let others thrive. Sure, there are those who obsess about having a weedless garden. Not me! Nature lets all kinds of plants grow together, but entirely ignoring the weeds makes it likely that the good stuff will never thrive.

One has to look beyond these details for the overall point of the parable. It is a parable that instructs Jesus' followers to leave the judging to God. Don’t be judgmental. Don’t keep an “enemies” list. Don’t try to keep the church so pure that you uproot the good while trying to draw lines of exclusion. So, whatever we decide to believe about final judgment, this parable answers the question, “Who Do We Think We Are?”, by reminding us that we are not to set ourselves up as judge and jury. Whatever God is trying to do in and through us, God has not called us to that task. God has, rather, I believe, called us to be channels of divine love, and, in Jesus, has given us a model for what that means in our human and holy selves.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
Lectionary Scriptures: Genesis 25:19-34 AND Psalm 119:105-112 OR Isaiah 55:10-13 AND Psalm 65:1-13, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

There’s a fascination these days with family history, even a TV program with celebrities seeking a long lost ancestor. Our ancestors are seen as the roots from which we have grown. In a week when the Gospel lesson is a parable about a sower and seed and soils, and a story about the Judeo-Christian (and Islamic) family patriarchs, it seems appropriate to think about how our own lives have, or have not, been nurtured.

The story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25 is a story about sibling rivalry, probably a reminder to the early readers of the origins of tribal antagonism they were still experiencing. Like modern-day religious rivals, they had differing understandings of the family traditions and accused each other of being unfaithful.

Like Isaac their father, the twin brothers, Jacob and Esau, are children of their parents’ old age. (Genesis 25:20-21) Their rivalry begins in the womb and Rebekah their mother is told, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided . . .” (vss. 22-23) Esau comes out but Jacob hand is “gripping Esau’s heel,” as if, from the very beginning trying to hold Esau back. (vss. 24-26) The two boys are nothing alike—Esau, a ruddy hunter, and Jacob, “a quiet man, living in tents.” (vss. 25 & 27)

The story reflects the transition from a hunting and gathering culture and a more settled agricultural existence, the two cultures almost always in conflict. Esau represents the old ways; Jacob, the new ways. And as is sometimes the case in families, each parents has a favorite. Isaac is fond of the hunter Esau. “Isaac loved Esau,” it says, “because he was fond of game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” (vs.28)

The custom was that the family inheritance went to the firstborn son. What is evident in more than one of the biblical stories is that God’s lineage isn’t always bound by human customs. Here God’s lineage is traced through the younger son, Jacob, even if trickery comes into play. (vss. 23 & 29-34) It is refreshing and humbling to be reminded that God’s ways sometimes leap around the barriers we humans would erect.

The story is so vividly painted that one can almost smell the stew Jacob is cooking. Esau comes in “famished” from working in the field. “Let me eat some of that red stuff,” he demands. (vss. 29-30) Jacob will do so only after Esau surrenders his birthright. (vss. 31-34) How quickly we are ready to forget where we have come from when we can trade our roots for our appetites. We are bombarded with things to buy which are guaranteed to make our lives better. It seems that we are measured by the dollars we earn and spend. Family stories like these in Genesis are told to remind the hearers about the deeper values that can be found in roots/heritage. What kind of soil do we come from?

The parable in the Gospel lesson from Matthew can be seen as asking that question. It’s often been called the Parable of the Sower, sometimes the Parable of the Seed. Many suggest instead that it be seen as the Parable of the Soils. A sower goes out to scatter seed. (Matthew 13:3) The seeds fall on all different kinds of soil, rocky ground, surrounding by thorns, etc., where they don’t fare well. (vss. 4-7) “Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (vs. 8) Those who focus upon the soils often end by asking, “And what kind of soil are you?” It’s a good question, although it may not be the only question.

Some ask what the images in the story represent—the sower, the seed, the soil. Are we individually the soil or is the community of believers that is the soil? As a gardener, I read the parable and I see the implication that we are to take care of the soil, working to be sure that there is good soil in which the seeds can grow. In my gardening I have come to the point where I see my first task as taking care of and building up the soil, even feeding and watering it. If the soil is healthy it will probably grow healthy plants.

This parable is part of a series of parables about seeds and growth—the seed being the Gospel message the disciples were commissioned to share. Their efforts were not always well received. I believe these seed parables collectively were intended as a word of encouragement to discouraged disciples. “Keep on planting; some of the seed will take root and grow.” No matter what kind of soil we come from seeds have been planted and some will grow. It is a word of hope to parents, to pastors, to all sowers of the message of love and peace and justice.

Similarly, in Isaiah 55, God’s word is compared to rain and snow which “come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10) That rain and snow, says the prophet, are like “my word . . . that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (vs. 11) The harvest is joy and peace, mountains and hills that sing, trees that clap their hands, signs of everlasting hope. (vss. 12-13)

The entirety of Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible) is about God’s word, something to be stored in our hearts so that we can be empowered and guided in our living. What soil do we come from? Here we are invited to grow in the soil of God’s word—not the cold word of a literalist reading, but the “decrees” which “are my heritage forever . . . the joy of my heart.” When asking what soil we come from, we are asking, in part, what is in our hearts. Psalm 65 also notes the abundant growth God makes possible and the hope it offers. “You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain . . . You water its furrows abundantly, setting its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.” (Psalm 65:9-10)

The reading from Romans keeps us focused on what is stored in our hearts, using the distinction between “flesh” and “Spirit”—“life” and “death.” “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) Paul is speaking primarily of two states of being as we live in this world. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (vs. 5)

In examining our heritage/roots, we are called to pay attention to the Spirit of Christ and God. If Christ is in us, we are “not in the flesh,” but “in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells” in us. (vss. 9-10) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to you mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (vs. 11)

On this week when our congregation mourns the loss of a beloved member, John Barnhart, and celebrate his life, it is particularly helpful and comforting to be reminded that it is the living, eternal, spirit that is the source of all meaning in life, his and ours. What a refreshing breeze God’s Spirit brought to life in John! And notice that the reading from Romans begins not with an emphasis upon judgment. As we reflect on our roots and growth and celebrate the lives of those around us, hear again the words that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (vs. 1)

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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