8/23/2015

Home

This week's poetic Bible reflection (Not Psalm 84) began the wrap-up in today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL. 
"Home" podcast

8/17/2015

Not Psalm 84

But it has some of the Psalm’s flavor --I just made it into something that may be a little more realistic in the way many folks really think.

Our church building needs repairs and upgrades, God
I’m crying for there to be some kind of equality between the ones who have too much and the ones who don’t have enough
There are lots of people who are homeless in the world, God. What is up with that?
The people who are lucky enough to be sheltered by you really like you – but what about the ones who have no shelter? Do you hate them?
Those people who have what they need – are they really doing something right or is it that they’re keeping too much stuff. Why do things just get better and better for the ones who ‘have?’
Are you listening, God? I hope so! You better be!  
Please hear the cries of all the people, God
It’d be better to have a place to live than to be homeless
I’d rather have a job – any job -- right now
God – you’re the one who shines and blesses. So why do you hold back from the people who really need it?
It’s hard to trust you, God.

Quest

Last week's Bible reflection (Flaws) opened up the discussion for things that may or may not make a great leader.  In this case -- a look at Solomon. 
"Quest" podcast

8/10/2015

Flaws

King David died. Solomon became King. God said, ‘What do you want?” and Solomon asked for wisdom. God gave Solomon not only wisdom, but also riches and honor all his life.

Therefore, may we all seek to be like Solomon.   The end.

Except there is so much missing from that short snippet of Solomon’s life that it feels as if someone took a phrase, made up something that isn’t at all part of the intent of the phrase, made it into a campaign and then, no matter how inaccurate it was, called it truth – hoping to get others to believe it enough to tell it as if it was not only accurate, but also the complete truth!

All the Sunday School stories I read as a child that seem to end with “and you should be more like them.” need to tell the rest of the story. This week's Bible passage needs a lot more so that folks don't get fooled into thinking that Solomon did everything right in all of his life.

Solomon asked for wisdom. Solomon was also flawed. He made many mistakes. He didn't always act wisely. Solomon let the temple -- the glorious place -- become a place poisoned with power and corruption. He built temples to many other gods and made poor decisions when it came to taxes and even raising his children. Instead of being an example of how to be wise, he was a great example of how people -- even great people -- mess up in huge ways.

Shaping

Last week''s Bible reflection (Imitate) started a small discussion about imitating, impersonating, and living in love as part of yesterday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Shaping" podcast

8/04/2015

Bread

Last week's Bible reflection (Hunger) provided the backdrop for this past Sunday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL.
"Bread" podcast

8/03/2015

Imitate

In this week’s Bible reading from Ephesians 4:25-5:2 – There are  several plain instructions:
  •     Speak the truth to our neighbors,
  •     Be angry but do not sin;
  •     Do not let the sun go down on your anger,
  •     Do not make room for the devil.
  •     Thieves must give up stealing; let them labor and work honestly with their own  hands.
  •     Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up
  •     Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.
  •     Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander.
  •     Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another
  •     Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love.
I think the last one encompasses all the ones before – and any that might come afterwards.

Live in love. Be imitators of God. 

7/27/2015

Hunger

In this week's Bible reading from John 6:24-35, Jesus said to them -- "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

Bread is both a symbol of life – and something that is necessary for life. Bread means nourishment to someone who is hungry.

Jesus talked about bread and nourishment to a people who sometimes, maybe often, wondered when their next meal was coming or where it was coming from.

Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Here are some facts about hunger in the world.  (From feedingamerica.org, mercycorps.org, and wfp.org)

  • 1 in every 9 people worldwide -- close to 800 million -- don’t have enough food to eat.
  • Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined
  • The world produces enough food for every person to eat 2700 calories per day. The problem we have is with food distribution.
  • In the US - close to 50 million people live in food insecure households.  33 million adults and 16 million children
  • The number of people living with hunger has dropped by 17% over the past 20+ years.

And even though things are getting better.  It is not at all OK.

Presence

Last week's whimsical and questioning Bible reflection (But you'll have to wait an hour) provided the ideas for yesterday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Presence" podcast

7/20/2015

But you’ll have to wait an hour

This week's Bible reading from John 6:1-21 describes two very familiar miracles of Jesus from the Gospels: The Feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water.

Eating and Swimming?

In the first one – Jesus fed the multitude  - starting with just five barley loaves and two fish. And there was much more left over.

In the second one Jesus – after retreating from the group that just experienced the miracle and wanted to take him by force to make him king – joined the disciples 3 or 4 miles out  - by walking on the water – and then brought the disciples from a storm to safety. (Did he wait an hour before going into the water? Or does walking on the water not count in the “Wait an hour after swimming” rule? Or is that rule not a real thing anyway?)

That question aside.  What’s going on in this week’s reading?

What’s significant about the food? Is it that the people were starving and Jesus came to the rescue? Is it that the people needed to be fed or they would become sick and die? Is it that Jesus understood that people like to share a meal together and he gave them the opportunity to get together and share a meal? Is it that out of almost nothing there was enough? Is it looking at an impossible situation and finding out we truly can imagine what’s impossible?

And what’s significant about the water? Is it that there’s always the possibility of storms in our lives? Is it that no matter how far we try to row out from Jesus, he’s still near? Is it that when we think we’re in dire straits that God has already been guiding us to safety? Is it looking at an impossible situation and finding out we can truly imagine what’s impossible?