Monday, August 12, 2013

Not Perfect..

Scripture: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 (NRSV)

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.

 When you come to appear before me,
who asked this from your hand?
Trample my courts no more;
 bringing offerings is futile;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
 Your new moons and your appointed festivals
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me,
I am weary of bearing them.
 When you stretch out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
 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.
 If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
 but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.


No matter what the rest of a text of scripture talks about, it always seems to come back to how we are called to love others. The oppressed, the orphan, the widow, what place do those folks have in your life? Do you represent one of those folks? The other concept that always seems to be part of scripture is forgiveness. At the end of our passage, God says, “let us argue it out,” and then proceed to explain that obedience to God brings cleansing that is white as snow.

Sometimes I think we feel as though we are past saving, like we have to be perfect before we participate in the God’s work in the world. That is the furthest thing from the truth. God loves and calls us just where we are and it is God who makes us white like snow. We do not have to be perfect to serve God; rather, we are called to serve God as people who are imperfect. May God bless and keep us as we come to him just as we are.


Holy God, keep us in your arms of mercy this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All in All...

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-11 (NRSV)

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.


There are two things that jump out to me in this passage. First is this sentence; “But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.” When you read these words what images come to your mind? For me it is times when I have spoken before I thought or said something that was mean or hurtful to a friend or family member. Afterwards, I usually feel awful and disappointed in myself, but more importantly I realize that I have hurt someone in the process. I think that is what Paul is getting at here. When we speak in a way that is slanderous or with malice anger, when we treat others with abuse in our hearts then we hurt them, and at the end of the day all people are children of God and deserve better.

That brings me to the second part of the passage that moved me; “In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.” In Christ we are all the same, all beautifully made, all loved and respected, all able to be part of the kingdom. The all in this passage does not have an asterisk or a footnote; all means all. Christ loves all people and calls us to do the same. If I feel malice or anger in my heart toward someone, I need to remember that they to are God’s beloved child, and God loves them.


Holy God, help us to love as you love and remove hurtful language from our tongues. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Thank You

August 5, 2013

Scripture: Hosea 11:1-11 (NRSV)

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
 The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.

 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.

 They shall return to the land of Egypt,
and Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
 The sword rages in their cities,
it consumes their oracle- priests,
and devours because of their schemes.
 My people are bent on turning away from me.
To the Most High they call,
but he does not raise them up at all.

 How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
 I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.

 They shall go after the Lord,
who roars like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west.
 They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria;
and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord


Even though God’s love is infinite and greater than we can understand sometimes we ignore that love and act as though it is nonexistent. I wonder if we act that way because the love of God is overwhelming or maybe hard for us to understand? Love that comes from God is different than other love that we give or receive in this life; God’s love is unconditional. Sometimes it seems that love that is give or received in this world is given or received with certain requirements in mind; the love is conditional. Therefore, when we are given a love that is unconditional we don’t always know how to receive that love.

Think about it when someone gives us a gift almost immediately we say things like ‘you shouldn’t have’ or ‘oh, I don’t have you anything.’ We begin to think about how we can repay the gift or give one in return. But how does that work with God’s love? Honestly, I am not sure but I think it begins with a simple thank you and acceptance of that love. It is a free acceptance that does not expect to repay the love, acceptance that pauses and realizes that God’s love is unconditional and free.

Holy God, speak so that your children might hear your voice, clear our thoughts that we may be focused on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Scripture: Colossians 1:15-28 (NRSV)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.


Reconciliation is central to the gospel message. Reconciliation as defined by Webster means to “restore to friendship or harmony.” All of Jesus’ work in the world, on the cross, and in the resurrection point to a God who is trying to bring us into right relationship. God wants to have a restored relationship with humanity and is willing to do anything to restore that relationship. I wonder if we think of life as relationship? I wonder if we live in such a way that we are thinking about how our lives affect others? Do we live in such a way that relationship is centrally important to us?

We are created as relational beings and we are called by God to be in relationship with God and with others. Do you think about your life through the lens of relationship?

Holy God, guide us by your example to live a people of relationship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Trust...

Scripture: Psalm 52 (NRSV)

Why do you boast, O mighty one,
of mischief done against the godly?
All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
you worker of treachery.
 You love evil more than good,
and lying more than speaking the truth.
 You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.

 But God will break you down forever;
he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
 The righteous will see, and fear,
and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,
 “See the one who would not take
refuge in God,
but trusted in abundant riches,
and sought refuge in wealth!”

 But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
 I will thank you forever,
because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
I will proclaim your name, for it is good.


Psalms push us to deal with the inner workings of who we are and how we live. Sometimes Psalms give us words to utter in times of hope and times of despair, and sometimes Psalms, like the one today, challenge us to take a look at our lives.

Where do we put our trust? This Psalm seems pretty harsh on folks who put their trust in riches or wealth or things other than God. Sometimes I wonder about where I put my trust. Do I put my trust in God? Do I trust that God is working in the world and in my life, or do I trust myself? I wonder if I trust others more than I trust God, and I wonder what trust in God actually looks like.

I think about Jesus, how he spent time in solitude and with his disciples asking questions of the established religious leaders and pushing for change and growth. Do we take time for solitude? Do we have a community that helps push us to trust God and apply our faith to how we live?

This life of faith and practice challenges us to examine and rethink how we live and where we trust. I pray you might find some solitude and a community that helps you do that.


Holy God, help us to trust in you, send your Spirit to dwell upon us, and give us the courage to be more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.