Friday, March 30, 2012

into Jerusalem

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today's passage portrays Jesus' entrance to Jerusalem, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday. John connects the recent sign (or miracle) of raising Lazarus from the dead with the crowds welcoming Jesus as their king. It seems Jesus is self-consciously fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy about the promised king by riding a colt into the city. As expected, the religious leaders, who have been worried about Jesus for some time now, are not happy with this open display of support for him as Israel's Messiah.

As usual, the disciples don't totally understand what's going on, but they will after Christ's death and resurrection. How can we get ready to welcome Jesus as our king?

God bless,


John 12:12-19
12The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” 14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: 15“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

annointed in Bethany

Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
Today's reading brings us almost to the end of Jesus journey to Jerusalem. Jesus has recently raised Lazarus from the dead and pauses on the way to Jerusalem for a meal with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The darkness is growing and we know Jesus' death is coming quickly. Even with that backdrop, there is space for love and beauty.
Blessings as you seek the beauty in your journey,

John 12:1-11
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

emptied himself

Good morning friends,
Yesterday we saw how the Roman rulers and religious authorities used power. To protect their interests they nailed Jesus to a cross because they felt threatened by him. In direct contrast, today’s reading shows how Jesus sees and uses power. Jesus had all the power in the universe but instead of clinging to it he gave it up for us.

Many scholars believe the core of this passage may have been an early hymn of praise. It is certainly beautiful and memorable poetry as well as powerful truth. I pray Christ’s love would fill your heart today and every day.

God bless,

Philippians 2:4-11
4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
Our passage for today is Mark’s version of Jesus’ condemnation by Pilate, led on by the religious leaders and the crowd. Notice how people make fun of Jesus using symbols of power. Watching Jesus on the cross, the idea that he was a savior or king seemed ridiculous. In reality, God simply sees power differently than we do. God could make us do what God wants, but God makes power perfect in weakness through Christ. And Jesus can guide us to a new way to see power in our lives today.

God bless,

Mark 15:6-20
6Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over.

11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Friday, March 23, 2012

proclaiming under trial

Good morning friends,
Peter and John have been arrested by the religious leaders for healing and teaching in Jesus name. Instead of backing down in fear, they continue to confess their faith boldly, which makes an impression even on their opponents. Notice too that they don't get nasty or rude in their defense, they simply tell the truth boldly and clearly. I pray God would give us the same spirit in our life and witness today.

God bless,


Acts 4:11-20
11This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” 13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.

15So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. 16They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. 17But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

testifying to rulers

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
I hope you have a chance to enjoy this incredible afternoon that God has given us today. Today's reading continues the story from yesterday. Paul and John healed a disabled man in the temple, then testified to the gathering crowd that Jesus was actually responsible for the healing. Hearing the story of Jesus made a difference for many people in the crowd, but they weren't the only ones to notice. The religious leaders noticed what Peter and John were up to as well, and they didn't like it one bit. It's exciting to see how Peter, who ran and lied when Jesus was arrested, is able to testify to Jesus now with boldness when he is arrested himself. The Spirit will give us the strength we need to be Jesus disciples, no matter what situation we're in.


God bless,

Acts 4:1-10
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand. 

5The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

healing in Jesus' name

Good evening friends,
Today's reading comes from the Book of Acts. After Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven his disciples kept meeting together in Jerusalem. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down on them and filled them with power to speak the good news of God's love through Christ, even in languages they didn't know. Not long after that Peter and John were walking in the synagogue and healed a man who had been disabled for many years. As a crowd gathered to see what had happened, Peter shared the good news in the following way.
God bless,

Acts 3:12-21

12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 

16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 17“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

nailed to the cross

Good afternoon friends,
There are two steps to understand today's reading. The first is that through faith in Christ we become part of him. In baptism we're joined in his death and burial and then in his resurrection. The second part is that through the cross, Jesus sets fulfills and sets aside the record of our sins that stands against us. In other words, the sins we've committed before are nailed to the cross and defeated. The power of hatred, sin and domination are also defeated at the cross. So joined to Christ our sin is overcome, our fear and striving are defeated, and we are set free for new life.

God bless,


Colossians 2:8-15
8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

13And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

grace abounds

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Today's reading is a classic way of looking at the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. When we were enemies, in other words, when we didn't know God and were still trapped in our sins Christ rescued us through his death. If Jesus would go to those lengths before we even knew him, now that we are his, we can be confident that there's nothing he won't do for us. After this introduction Paul relates Jesus to Adam. Adam's sin contaminated all of human kind but Christ's redemption spreads even further with its healing power. We can trust Christ's love and power to heal us no matter what.

God bless,


Romans 5:8-18
8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

11But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

15But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.  

17If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows

Good evening brothers and sisters,
Today's reading is a beautiful word from the Book of Isaiah about God's suffering servant who is sent to bring Israel back to God. This passage wasn't written about Jesus, but we believe Jesus fulfilled the hope expressed here. God's servant takes the sins of the people on himself and receives the punishment we deserve in our place. It isn't fair, but the servant agrees to "take one for the team" in a big way. In worship today we read this passage once in good Presbyterian intellectual engagement and once trying to let the passage speak right to our heart about God's love and redemption for us in Christ. If you have the chance this evening I'd suggest doing the same thing: read once for "head" understanding and once more to let God's love sink into your heart. Jesus loves you.

God bless,


Isaiah 53:3-12
3He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. 4Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.

5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. 9They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. 11Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

blood of Jesus

Good morning friends and happy St. Patrick's Day,
We'll spend some time with this reading tomorrow in worship as we reflect on how Christ's cross frees us from sin. In some ways this reading makes more sense if you read the second paragraph first because the second paragraph reminds us that we all sin against God. If we say we don't have sin we are lying, but if we confess our sin God will forgive us.

The flip side of that is in the first paragraph: those who know Jesus and walk in his light are called to leave sin alone. Once we come to Christ we leave our sin behind. That doesn't mean we become perfect; faithfulness is always a struggle, but following Jesus makes a difference in our lives. As we confess, seek God's forgiveness and begin a new life of faithfulness, Christ's blood cleanses us from sin so we can be forgiven and made whole.

God bless you as you live into that freedom,

1 John 1:5-10
5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Friday, March 16, 2012

God's gracious sacrifice

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today's reading is challenging, so if you can, read it through at least twice. In the first two chapters of this letter Paul argued that everyone sins; he reinforces that point here. We have all sinned, so we all need God's forgiveness, God's grace. Paul says until Christ our sin was in forbearance like a loan we couldn't pay. God wasn't collecting the loan; he wasn't demanding the penalty for sin, but the sin wasn't forgiven either.

Then, amazingly, God offers Jesus as a sacrifice for sin. That shows righteousness because the debt of sin is paid for rather than just overlooked, but the debt we couldn't pay is paid by God. By paying our debt God offers forgiveness to everyone: Jews and gentiles, the whole world. We join ourselves to Christ by faith and so we trade in our sin for Christ's righteousness. We can't boast about our goodness because God did it for us. Our role now is to accept God's amazing love, to let go of guilt and fear, and to make our lives shine with love and gratitude to the God who loves us so much.

Blessings on your day,


Romans 3:19-31
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 

21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Good evening friends,
We're reading from Revelation tonight, which is a book many of us don't know well. The book as a whole is a vision given to John from Jesus. In the scene we're reading John is standing in heaven. The vision talks about how Jesus conquers the evil powers of the world through his death on the cross. He also talks about redeeming a people for God through Christ's blood. We share that redemption today. Through Christ's death and resurrection we are set free and redeemed.

God bless,


Revelation 5: 1-12
5Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 2and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. 4And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
5Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 8When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

9They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; 10you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” 11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Good morning friends,
Happy Pi day, for those celebrating the mathematical holiday. Today's reading is a follow up from Sunday's topic of being separated from God by our sin. Psalm 22 is a Psalm of lament. It's a powerful and emotional Psalm, all the more so because Jesus quoted it from the cross. Even when we feel far away from God, we know that Jesus once felt the same way. Jesus suffered, but God did not abandon him. God will never abandon us either; even in the darkness we can seek God's light.

God bless,


Psalm 22:1-11
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. 3Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

9Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

not hard enough

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Hopefully you all remembered to set your clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time before going to bed. This morning we'll be worshiping in Christler Hall with a more relaxed feel than usual (even though we're pretty relaxed all the time). Our service will include music from Bob Dylan, Neil Young and our own Alan Murphy. I'm excited about this morning, and I hope you can be there. After worship several of us will head across the street to the Boulevard to discuss the introduction of
I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church. Even if you haven't read the chapter, you're more than welcome to join in.

Our passage this morning features Paul wrestling with his desire to do the right thing while the power of sin pushes him in the opposite direction. Paul's words apply to our life in general and to addiction more specifically. He reminds us that trying harder won't work, we need to surrender and accept Christ's salvation. We can't do what we want to do and we cannot save ourselves from sin. Come seek Christ in worship today.

God bless,


Romans 7:15-24
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

creatures and the creator

Good morning sisters and brothers,
First, with a few hitches last week we didn't end up starting our discussion of I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church. Tomorrow we'll remedy that with an after worship discussion and lunch across the street at the Boulevard. We'll visit for a little while in Christler Hall before heading over to dig into a great book. I still have copies, so even if you haven't started reading you're more than welcome to join in now; it won't take you long to catch up. We'll be talking about the introduction tomorrow.

Today's reading from Romans sets the stage for this towering letter. Paul begins by explaining how everyone has the chance to see God's majesty through the glory of creation, but many people choose to turn away from God. Instead of worshiping God, people set up idols to give holiness to our own ideas. Idols aren't limited to pagan cultures of the past, even people who take their faith seriously can fall into idolatry and put pieces of the world ahead of God. This reading pairs with the second chapter, which warns religious people that they are not safe from sin either. With that in mind, Paul argues that everyone falls short of God's calling, so we all need Christ's grace.

Blessings on your weekend,


Romans 1:16-25
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.

19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.

22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Good morning friends,
Today's reading is the follow up to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden. God sends them out of the Garden to make their own way in the world since they have chosen independence rather than continuing intimacy with God. The result is that we no longer stroll in the Garden with God and we have to work hard to make our living. We are dust, taken from the earth and returning to the earth at the end of our lives. Not only are we separated from God, we are also separated from each other: God talks about the man ruling over woman as he struggles for food. Authority, power, struggle with nature and more are the marks of our separation from God. Fortunately, God hates being separated from us, so God sent Jesus to bring us back home.



Genesis 3:14-24
14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

16To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 17And to the man he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

20The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them. 22Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Good morning friends,
Sorry for the break in daily readings; I'm finding it challenging to put all the readings together in our new reading schedule. Once I get the hang of something new it will be easier. Today's reading is the known as "The Fall," the story of Adam and Eve turning away from God's one command in the Garden of Eden. Before this moment Adam and Eve didn't feel any distance between themselves and God. It's hard to even imagine what that would be like. It's interesting too that it only takes a few minutes of their new knowledge to learn to blame others for their mistakes. The feeling of separation from God is simply a part of our reality now. We can't give back the knowledge of good and evil, but we can seek unity with God and accept God's grace to bring us home.

God bless,


Genesis 3:1-13
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. 8They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

judgment day

Good afternoon friends,
This passage from Matthew always haunts me because it reminds me how far short I fall in following Jesus. The sermon today wrestled with this some, but the passage truly speaks for itself.

God bless,


Matthew 25:31-46
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Saturday, March 3, 2012

justice and judgment

Good afternoon church,
In today's reading Amos brings heavy charges against the powerful of Judah. He calls them to task for oppressing the poor and increasing their wealth. He also suggests that many people in Judah looked forward to the day when God's kingdom would be fulfilled, since they were God's special people. Amos warns that with the injustice Judah permits and continues they will find God's judgment harsh rather than rewarding. Faithfulness to God isn't about worship; it's about doing the right thing in our lives, and God cares deeply about the poor.

God bless,


Amos 5:10-24
10They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. 11Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. 13Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. 14Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. 15Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

16Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord: In all the squares there shall be wailing; and in all the streets they shall say, “Alas! alas!” They shall call the farmers to mourning, and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing; 17in all the vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through the midst of you, says the Lord. 18Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; 19as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. 20Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?

21I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. 23Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. 24But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

Friday, March 2, 2012

faith and justice

Hi Friends,
I'm sorry I didn't send out the reading yesterday; I'll add it to today's reading and talk briefly about both. The Prophet Amos is one of the clearest voices against injustice in Israel and Judah. In his day the two kingdoms were separate: Israel was the Northern Kingdom with its capital at Samaria and Judah was the Southern Kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. For Judah things were going pretty well in a lot of ways and the people thought of themselves as the faithful half of God's people. They apparently prided themselves on their worship life.

Amos addresses the rich and powerful in both kingdoms and accuses them of taking advantage of the poor. He talks about living in luxury while others go hungry. He also talks about commercial injustice: getting rich by selling poor quality grain and by using dishonest weights and measures. Amos warns them not to put so much confidence in their religious connection to God: they are chosen but they throw away God's favor by allowing and supporting injustice. What word does Amos have for us today?

God bless,


Amos 6:1-9
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria, the notables of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel resorts! 2Cross over to Calneh, and see; from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is your territory greater than their territory,

3O you that put far away the evil day, and bring near a reign of violence? 4Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; 5who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; 6who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away. 8The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts): I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds; and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.

Amos 8:4-10
4Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, 5saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, 6buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” 7The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

8Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? 9On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.