The Rev. Carole Anderson
Luke 15:1-10
15 mins 21 secs
Views: 2
This week, our readings are all about forgiveness and mercy, something that God specializes in. In Exodus 32:7-14, Moses begs God to forgive His people and God relents. In the Psalm 51:1-11, David begs for forgiveness after he has been confronted by Nathan over his sin with Bathsheba. Our gospel reading from Luke chapter 15:1-10, which we could probably name the lost and found chapter, begins with the parable of the lost sheep, goes to the lost coin and ends with the lost or “Prodigal Son.” At the beginning of the chapter, we see Jesus' old nemeses the Pharisees and the teachers of the law are again muttering against him. It seems that Jesus’ penchant for hanging out with sinners and, heaven forbid; eating with them is a problem for them. Jesus responds to the Pharisees in His usual manner with a few stories to get them to see the error of their ways. In the first parable, Jesus appeals to their pocket books. He poses the question, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and looses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Jesus goes on to describe the rejoicing over the found sheep and ends by comparing this joy to the joy in heaven over those who repent. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Just in case our Pharisees and teachers of the law didn’t get the point, Jesus continues with another story. Again Jesus starts with a question. “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” Do you see the pattern here? Jesus poses a question, then He gives the answer in the form of a parable, finally He explains the parable. Jesus’ comparison here is almost the same as the first one, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” What is our theme so far? Heaven rejoices over the one sinner who repents, more than over all the others who do not need to repent. The good news for us in that God’s love embraces all sinners. Jesus story shows the contrast between the self-centered exclusiveness of the Pharisees, who failed to understand God’s love, and the concern and joy of God at the repentance of sinners. Remember that God loves each one of us as though there were only one of us. "How much more rejoicing is there in heaven over one sinner who repents?
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 14:25-33
21 mins 7 secs
Views: 2
Summertime is “ordinary time” in the church calendar, but ordinary doesn’t mean boring. Instead, the summer lectionary readings focus on growing in our spiritual maturity, and they are frequently challenging. Our Gospel this week seems a bit like the first hard midterm in a pre-med class… Jesus turns to the large crowds that are following him, and starts issuing challenging & (hopefully) hyperbolic statements including: Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple…Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. But in our Psalm for this Sunday, we also read: Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. Maybe the message [of these readings] is about sticking it out even when it is tough and we don't understand... Fruit in due season implies that we are not meant to be fruitful all the time, but we are grounded in God's Word all the time. Even when we feel dry and our leaves aren't so green, we are still planted by that life sustaining stream. Meditating on the law day and night... even out of season... even when it's hard. Following even when we are being pulled in a thousand different directions, and the demands on our time, money and attention leave us spinning - but being disciplined and consistent, grounded in the knowledge that our God is ultimately and supremely good beyond our ability to comprehend. And who loves us and created us for a purpose, even if we are too worn out to feel it. Being a disciple is not easy. It isn't meant to be. We cannot bear fruit if we don't first go through the growth required to be strong enough to bear fruit... and sometimes it is time to not bear fruit and just be a tree planted by the water preparing for the next season... To be prepared for hard challenges, but know that we don't face them alone... and to be grounded in God's Word so we make wise decisions knowing the season for bearing fruit will come again... To focus on God's Kingdom even when we live in this one… -- Rev Cindy Stansbury with help from Ginny Barry
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 14:7-14
12 mins 2 secs
Views: 2
So much of our lives involve working and striving and competing. In our Gospel reading this week, Jesus is observing the complicated sorting process going on as people sit down to dinner, where social rank determines who sits close to the head of the table. In our lives the jostling and sorting may be less explicit, but it is not absent. Jesus says that we should choose the lower spot & humble ourselves, rather than risk presuming and being corrected. It is another way the kingdom of God turns the affairs of men upside down.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 13:10-17
15 mins 40 secs
Views: 3
Our readings this week all touch on sabbath and worship of God. Sabbath is a concept often lost in this place we live. Like many spiritual disciplines, it is more important than we assume, but also prone to fall into legalism if we miss the spirit and underlying purpose and message of sabbath. This week in our Gospel, Jesus is scolded by for working on the sabbath by healing a woman bent over and crippled. His response is memorable: "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" "When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at the wonderful things that he was doing. Luke 13: 15-17
In last week’s gospel, we were reminded to store up our treasures in heaven, because where our treasure is our heart will follow. We were told to always keep watching or be on the look out for the day of the Lord’s return. This week our lessons are all about the judgment that will take place when the Lord does return. Jeremiah compares God's Word to a fire and a hammer that smashes the rock to pieces. Jesus reminds us that he did not come to bring peace, or prosperity, but rather as the reading from Luke 12:49-56 says, " I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Clearly the coming of the Lord will not be a fun time for those who have chosen to reject Him. Too late they will realize the error they have made. But these readings also remind us that since we have chosen Him as Lord and Savior, our sin is covered over with His shed blood, and God sees us as His precious children. Because of Jesus we never have to fear the coming of “that Day” again. We will be judged, but only on the basis of what we have done or not done for Jesus. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city..... I, Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Rev.22:12-14 … “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Luke 12:32, 40
Abraham spent years of his life living in hope of a future he couldn’t see. He set out for a unknown land believing it would be his inheritance. He lived as a nomad in that land for many years and believed that it would come to pass as promised. He lived to an old age with a barren wife without an heir, but when God said to him: “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And [Abram] believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:5-6 “Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, "as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, … But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:12, 13, 16 We also live our lives in hope of a future we cannot see. We live on this earth, but we also live in the Kingdom of God. We live and work here in this life, but we also anticipate the moment when Christ returns in power and glory: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” … “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Luke 12:32, 40
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 12:13-21
14 mins 57 secs
Views: 29
This week, our readings are on the not so cheerful topic of the impermanence of life and the futility of our life’s work. Here in Silicon Valley, that is a hard message to hear, but of course the good news is that life here is not all there is to our life in Christ. Instead, in Colossians we read, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2-3 If we focus all of our attention on our success here on earth, we will always ultimately be disappointed, because life here and treasures here do not satisfy, even if we achieve them. Instead, they leave us wanting more or feeling empty. However where our treasure is, there our heart will be also, and it is when our hearts are in Christ that we are rich towards God and truly fulfilled.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 11:1-13
17 mins 54 secs
Views: 27
Prayer is communication with God. It may be full of words, emotions, and pleas. It may be quietly sitting in the presence of God. It may be songs of praise, offerings of thanksgiving, or adoration of the nature and character of our loving and holy God. It may be going out to a lonely place before dawn to find enough space to pray alone, or standing in front of a busy hospital praying for a just-met stranger. Or, in the case of Abraham, it may be audacious negotiating with Almighty God for the sake of Lot, just before the destruction of Sodom. In our Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, and his answer is the Lord’s Prayer which is at the center of our weekly liturgy. Prayer is time with God; and it clarifies our perspective, heals our soul, and refreshes our spirit. Come join us this week for worship in the midst of chaos and for corporate prayer in the midst of the isolation and noise of life in Silicon Valley.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 10:38-42:38
18 mins 53 secs
Views: 21
In our readings this week, we hear about Abraham entertaining angels, the Psalmist question of who may abide in [God’s] tent, and Mary and Martha hosting Jesus and his entourage in their home. I can’t help but notice a theme of hospitality, and the different ways Abraham, Sarah, Mary and Martha responded to the opportunity to show hospitality to God in their homes. Besides making me question my own hospitality towards friends, family and neighbors, it also makes me wonder about how I show hospitality to the presence of God in my life. I hope you will come join us this Sunday to worship together and explore this question.
The Rev. Carole Anderson
Luke 10:25-37
14 mins 22 secs
Views: 11
This Sunday, we will read again the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus encounters a lawyer on the road who stood up to Him to put Him to the test: "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The Lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replies, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But the lawyer, feeling the need to justify himself, asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Aah, can you imagine the look on Jesus' face as he launches into the parable describing this incident on the infamously dangerous road to Jericho? When Jesus finishes telling the story about how the priest and the Levite crossed the road to avoid helping a traveler who had been robbed and beaten half to death, but a Samaritan bound his wounds and paid for his care, He asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise." I wonder what the lawyer was thinking as he returned home that night? Perhaps he went home unchanged, muttering “Go and do likewise. Who does He think he is? How can I possibly do that? Everyone knows that the Samaritans are half-breeds and not part of God’s chosen people. The priest and the Levite were just obeying the law. That doesn’t make them bad neighbors. There’s no way that I can do this.” But, what if the lawyer went home totally convicted about his heart attitude? Maybe he got it that God is more than the law; God is love. Perhaps he began to show up at the places where Jesus was teaching to find out more. Possibly he and his family came to know that Jesus is the Son of God and their Savior. Jesus said to him --and to all, "You go, and do likewise." Blessings, Deacon Carole