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