Love is calling you.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 13C, July 31, 2016, The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Hosea 11:1-11 I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
Colossians 3:1-11 The wrath of God on whose who are disobedient.
Luke 12:13-21 The land of a rich man produced abundantly.

O God of abundance, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

This morning we have a pair of scripture readings that take the cliché and inaccurate characterization of OT “god of wrath” and NT “god of love” and turn it on its head. Colossians warns of the wrath of God on those who are disobedient. But through the prophet Hosea, a compassionate and merciful Holy One is telling the story of falling in love with the “god strugglers” (which is what Israel literally means) when they were children. God fell in love with those children when they were in a tight spot, a bind, a narrow place (which is what Egypt literally means). God called those children, but the more God called, the more the children ran in the other direction. They kept giving their precious resources to the wrong gods (gods of everything BUT love); they kept offering their devotion to worthless causes, placing their hopes in idols or dummies. And yet, God knows that they will eventually come trembling back from the narrow place (Egypt) and the militarized place (Assyria) and God will return them to their homes. Continue reading

Spiritual Infrastructure

All Saints’ Day (with alt second reading), November 1, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God
Revelation 7:9-17 Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!
John 11:32-44 Come out!…Unbind him and let him go.

O God of all, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

Some days on the church calendar are really big – Christmas Eve, Easter Day, Pentecost and All Saints are generally the four biggest for us. Today is the great Feast of All Saints; it’s a day to celebrate the saints, known and unknown. Tomorrow is All Souls’ Day – the day set aside in the church calendar for commemoration of all those who have departed this life, whether they were saints or sinners or both. So this is a Sunday to remember the present as well as the past – to honor all those who go and have gone before us – all saints and all souls. Continue reading


Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 22B, October 4, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Job 1:1, 2:1-10 Do you still persist in your integrity?
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 Someone has testified somewhere… .
Mark 10:2-16 Receive the kingdom of God as a little child.

O God of love, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

So how about those readings? One of the things that my clergy colleagues and I often do when we see each other in the week before particularly troublesome readings is ask one another, “are you preaching on Sunday?” And if the answer is no, the response is, “lucky!” If the answer is yes, the follow up question is, “What are you going to do with those readings?” This past week one of my friends gloated that she had decided to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis and to use the readings assigned for that celebration. I thought, “huh, I’ve never wanted everyone to bring their animals to church on a Sunday so badly!” And I thought of the ways that colleagues turn to one another for perspective, guidance, sympathy, insight. Debate is often a part of that engagement.
Continue reading

It is I.

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12B, July 26, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 11:1-15 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…David [stayed home].
Ephesians 3:14-21 The power to comprehend…what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ.
John 6:1-21 Ego eimi mey phobeisthe.

O God of wonder, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

We have, for our edification this morning, two fantastic stories, so famous that you certainly don’t have to be a Christian to know them – stories of abundance out of scarcity in the loaves and fishes and of walking on water in some rough weather. The stories get larger and more profound with each iteration in the four Gospels. By the time that the Gospel of John was written, the hunger of the crowds and the threatening storm have become less problems to be solved by Jesus and more lessons to be taught by Jesus, who knew all along, according to John, what he was going to do to try to impress on his followers the meaning of the presence, the power, and the promise of God. The Gospel of John has the biggest fish story of all! Continue reading

And that’s not all.

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 8B, June 28, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 Greatly beloved were you to me. Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 In order that there may be a fair balance…’the one who had much did not have too much and the one who had little did not have too little.
Mark 5:21-43 Do not fear, only believe.

O God of healing and restoration, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

What a week. What a week of so many tears. Tears of sorrow, of anger and despair, tears of amazement, tears of joy and relief, and tears of hope and brave determination. The people of Charleston, South Carolina are still burying the nine faith-filled people massacred in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church a week ago last Wednesday while they were praying together and studying the Bible. The families of the martyrs have declared forgiveness for the shooter. They are continuing to testify and demonstrate that love is stronger than hate, and more powerful than death. Wednesday Bible Study went on as scheduled this past week with about 100 people jammed into the room where so much blood had been spilled the week before. Pastor Pinckney’s lesson the week before had been about the parable of the sower. Pastor Goff’s lesson the week after was about the power of love – full of parables from both Hebrew and Christian Testaments that reportedly had the people in that gathering laughing and crying at the same time. What powerful seeds of love are being sown by Mother Emanuel. And that’s not all. Continue reading

Become trusting!

Second Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 12, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Acts 4:32-35 There was not a needy person among them.
1 John 1:1-2:2 If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves.
John 20:19-31 Peace be with you.

O God of hope, grant us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.


Many of you know that one of my life projects has to do with increasing literacy, particularly Biblical literacy among progressive Christians, who have tended to cede the Bible to more conservative Christians. For example, I want people to understand that what we call “The Bible” is actually more like a library or an anthology than a book. The anthology contains more than a dozen different kinds of literature – and each kind of literature has different rules and built-in assumptions for understanding it. For instance, one would read biography differently from reading a sermon or an editorial. One would read legislation differently from poetry or a song. It helps to know what type of literature one is reading in order to understand what it might mean or how to apply it to our lives. Unfortunately, figuring out the genre is often complicated by many centuries and many miles of distance, and further complicated by modern inventions – inventions such as the English language, punctuation, customs of printing, etc. Continue reading