The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 19:1-10
10 mins 10 secs
Views: 14
From the time we are children, we are taught the difference between right and wrong, between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, between good guys and bad guys. We have expectations on how teachers and leaders behave and who they hang out with. This week, in our Gospel, Jesus once again turns everything upside down, breaks the accepted conventions and honors a rich tax collector by inviting himself to Zaccheasus’ house. In our Old Testament reading, God also turns things upside down by saying that He is tired of the sacrifices and offerings of Israel and tired of their various purifying fasts and rituals. Instead He says: Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:16-18 Ultimately, it is not our efforts but the redemptive work of God that forgives our sins, makes us acceptable and washes us white as snow. This Sunday at the second service we will share in the joy of the angels as we baptize a new member into the family of God.
The Rev. Carole Anderson
Luke 18:9-14
14 mins 30 secs
Views: 18
In our readings for this week, our psalm reminds us of the joy and blessedness we have because of our freedom in Christ. Psalm 84 is a prayer of longing for the house of the Lord. It is the cry of the heart of the Levite who presumably wrote this during a period when temple worship was prohibited. Not only was worship banned, but also any access to God's house was forbidden. The author gives voice to his longing for the sweet nearness to God in his temple that he had known in the past. "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." Have we ever felt this way? It seems so poignant that here is a priest who has no place to worship. Imagine if this should happen to us. How would we react? Well the good news is that our bodies are the Lord's temple, so we really don't need a temple or church to worship God or to come into His presence. Denying us access to the church and corporate worship will not bar God's presence from our lives because, Jesus makes His home in our hearts when we ask Him in. Also, we have the Holy Spirit who teaches us and instructs us in the way that we should go. So, while we would probably miss our place of worship and the fellowship, we would not be without access to God. In Paul's letter to Timothy, we have a wonderful example of a life lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Written while Paul is imprisoned in Rome, we can see from what he writes, that he has complete access to God. Clearly, Paul is someone who is not only in tune with the Holy Spirit; he also does nothing without the Holy Spirit's guidance. Can we say the same thing? Things to ponder
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 18:1-8
18 mins 4 secs
Views: 15
This week’s Gospel is the parable of the persistent widow who receives justice from an unjust judge and our Old Testament reading is the story of Jacob wrestling with God all night and receiving an out of joint hip, a blessing and a new identity. Our epistle is Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.” It is a powerful dose of the value of persistence, but what do unjust judges, wrestling blessings from God and working quickly before it is too late have to do with our relationship with a holy, loving and generous God
Dan Olson. PHD
Luke 17:11-19
11 mins 41 secs
Views: 14
This Sunday's Gospel reading is from Luke 17, telling the familiar story of the ten lepers who came to Jesus for healing. All were healed, but only one of the ten returned to give thanks to God for the miracle, and moreover he was a despised Samaritan. The lesson for us readers seems self-evident: we ought always to actively give thanks to God for the blessings we receive from his hand, and we should not be like the ungrateful nine, denying God the praise he deserves for his grace and mercy. But is that all there is to it? If the story is intended as an exhortation to behave in a certain way, it seems to be missing a key element: motivation. What penalty is there for ingratitude, and conversely, what reward is there for gratitude? The answers to these questions are not easy to find in the story. The key must lie in the very end, where Jesus tells the grateful ex-leper that his faith has made him well. This is not an unusual way for Jesus to end one of these encounters. Do we really understand what he means?
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter
Luke 17:5-10
23 mins 18 secs
Views: 2
Psalm 37 is a wisdom Psalm; written by David in his old age (imagine his perspective!). It is an invitation to rest…to a kind of rest rooted in a deep-lived wisdom about the truest nature of reality --that is a Trinity of completely competent love, who in wisdom are bringing to bear a well-ordered and reliable world in which we live and move and have our being.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 16:19-31
18 mins 10 secs
Views: 12
Our readings this week continue from last week’s readings. In our Gospel, Jesus is still responding to the Pharisees’ dismay at how he eats and drinks with sinners, with the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus. Amos addresses those who think they are comfortably out of reach of the drama and judgement that will befall the rest of God’s people. Paul, writing to Timothy for the sake of a people in the midst of a complex hostile culture, teaches on godliness with contentment and the dangers of the love of money. All of this is relevant to our lives in a place where the cost of living is so high, and the prevailing expectations of our culture don’t leave space for God, family, or contentment.
The Rev. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 16:1-13
19 mins 53 secs
Views: 20
This week, our readings explore the interactions between the Kingdom of God and the world of finances, right in the midst of our personal lives. Paul advises Timothy on how the church should view pagan and unworthy leaders. Jesus tells the story of the dishonest steward which is a difficult parable to understand and apply. Are we to be praised when we are dishonest? Is buying influence justified if it is in the name of eternity? Surely not. Our Old Testament reading in Amos, Jesus’s conclusion, and the Pharisees response all give clues to the meaning of this parable. Jesus says “No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Sometimes we don’t notice the ways we negotiate and compromise with our surrounding culture, and sometimes we react out of bitterness and fear towards the world around us, but our readings point to another way to live: in an attitude of love and generosity towards all those God has created, while never forgetting whose servant we are.
The Rev. Carole Anderson
Luke 15:1-10
15 mins 21 secs
Views: 26
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: 41
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: 23
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.