Lent 2A, March 12, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Genesis 12:1-4a Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
John 3:1-17 How can these things be?

O God of grace, 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 is one of those Sundays when I have a harder time giving thanks and praise to God in response to the scripture readings when I first hear them, because it’s hard for me to hear them read without thinking about the damage humans do to one another using these passages as weapons.  The recent and dramatic rise of hateful words and actions against Jews and Muslims (or people mistaken for Muslims) is fueled by arrogance and ignorance of “Christian” teachings. The fighting happens within Christianity as well, between Catholics and protestants, between different kinds of protestants, and within our own Anglican traditions. Perhaps you have a similar experience of knowing these lessons from a standpoint of in and out, us and them, ours and not yours.  Perhaps you’ve heard these lessons as being about tests about who measures up because of what they think or don’t think.  If not, just wait for today’s cantata! All this makes many flee religious practice, and for good reason. Continue reading

Available Resources

Epiphany 4A, January 29, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Micah 6:1-8 [God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Matthew 5:1-12 Blessed…blessed…blessed.

O God of the strangest blessings, 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. The other day, one of my colleagues asked a group of Central Boston clergy, “how are you preaching in times like these?” The swift and wise answer from another esteemed colleague was, “stay close to the Bible.” At first, I thought, “hey, my approach to preaching may be coming back into style!” That thought was quickly followed by my memory of a scene from the 1974 movie, Young Frankenstein, in which Frau Blücher, carrying a candelabra with three unlit candles warns, “stay close to the candles…the stairway can be treacherous!” But staying close to the sacred story, the Bible doesn’t work so well without the illumination of wisdom and learning, without the illumination of engagement of diverse communities across space and time, and without the illumination of Love (capital L). Wisdom and learning. Engagement of diverse communities. Love. If those three candles are lit, the stairway to the realm of God is not so treacherous. Continue reading

Saved for a New Year

Feast of the Holy Name, January 1, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Numbers 6:22-27 I will bless them.
Philippians 2:5-11 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
Luke 2:15-21 Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

O God of our hearts, 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.

Continue reading

The Work of Christmas

The Feast of the Nativity, December 25, 2016

Isaiah 52:7-10 Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem.
Titus 2:11-14 Let no one look down on you.
John 1:1-14 Full of grace and truth.

O God of grace, 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.

Continue reading

Sharing the Blessings of the Gospel

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, B, February 8, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 40:21-31 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these.
1 Corinthians 9:16-23 I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, so that I might share its blessings.
Mark 1:29-39 Everyone is searching for you.

O God of blessing, 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.

When I look at the three scripture readings we have before us today I am reminded that, one of the things I love about the Bible is that it gives us more questions than answers. And I love the questions. I hear a question being called out in each of our readings. Our first reading, from the 40th chapter of Isaiah follows the famous plea from God for comfort and consolation for a people who have been devastated and who are despairing. “Comfort, comfort ye my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and call to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is more than fully paid…‘in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in a desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all people shall see it together. God is going to gather up the lambs and carry them and gently lead the mother sheep.’” What we hear today in Isaiah is the last part of a tender overture to an opus of consolation – a continuation of a love song written to bring relief to people who had been far from home, in exile in Babylon for more than half a century. Continue reading

Bad News and Good News

Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Proper 29A, 1B, November 30, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 64:1-9 Now consider, we are all your people.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Grace to you and peace from God our [Author] and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mark 13:24-37 Keep alert…keep awake…and what I say to you I say to all: keep awake.

O God of new beginnings, may we have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth – come when it may and cost what it will.

Today marks the end of our liturgical year in terms of Sundays. Today marks the end of our reading of the Gospel of Matthew (I know some of you are thanking God for that). We have reached the end of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel narrative. This passage is the conclusive teaching before the Passion. It’s combined in our lectionary with another great sorting prediction from the prophet Ezekiel, and an interlude from the letter to the Ephesians.

When I was growing up, my parents were fond of prefacing announcements with: “I’ve got good news and bad news.” There was a household expectation of asking for the bad news first. Whatever the bad news, presumably, it would be balanced out by the good news (it didn’t always work). That trope kept coming back to me as I reflected on our readings for today. It’s probably not coincidental that I was anticipating my brother Rob and sister-in-law Anna being in church today! Continue reading

Holding Space

While reflecting on the past three weeks working with common art, Café Emmanuel and the Art and Spirituality group at the Suffolk county corrections facility I noticed that I have been doing a lot of listening. Holding space is something we talk about often in my courses at Lesley. We talk about holding space in a therapeutic context yet I feel it is applicable in everyday life. For me holding space means engaging on a body level, using my posture to communicate attentiveness and support, and bringing myself into a group and participating cognitively through listening and responding when appropriate. I find that when I am holding space I am receiving so much from others who are given an opportunity to be and express themselves in an authentic way. Continue reading