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.
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. 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 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. Cindy Stansbury
Luke 16:19-31
18 mins 10 secs
Views: 14
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.