Vote Pray Love (with audio)

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24C, October 16, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Jeremiah 31:27-34 I will put my law within them, and I will write it in their hearts, and I will be their God and they will be my people…they shall all know me.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Carry out your ministry fully.
Luke 18:1-8 Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.

O God of our hope, 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.

Many of you know that I was away last week for my middle daughter’s wedding.  It was a lovely and joyous opportunity for my extended family to gather.  One of the many blessings of my family’s gatherings, for holidays or for ceremonies, is seeing four generations of siblings and cousins all together, and noticing how similar they all are in appearance and expression.  Then I returned to Emmanuel on Tuesday, in time to get ready for the Yom Kippur Kol Nidre service, and I had a chance to recall that one of the blessings of being in an interfaith family, like the interfaith family Emmanuel Church and Central Reform Temple make together, is sharing in one another’s holiday celebrations, and seeing and hearing the ritual and theological relatedness of our traditions, how similar our traditions are in appearance and expression. Continue reading

Somatic Energy

On Monday at Art and Spirituality I led the group in opening ritual, card making, and the closing ritual. I introduced percussive movement in the opening name share. During our closing sharing, conversation emerged, and there was a shift in the circle. I felt the energy move from sharing about the cards they were making for others to sharing about their preferences, their artistic desires and their ideas for the future art-making. I couldn’t help but notice the program officer and the two nurses who were waiting for the program to finish were drawn to our conversation. Usually I see the nurse sorting pills or making small talk with the officer. This time they watched, silently and patiently waiting for the women to finish. It was as though they were drawn to the increased energy of the circle. Continue reading

The Mystery of Love

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 4B, December 21, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 I have not lived in a house…but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Romans 16:25-27 According to the revelation of the mystery. Luke 1:26-38 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. – or Here am I.

O God of impossible possibilities, 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.

Many of you know that I grew up in a household where wrestling with Holy Scripture was one of the things we did as a family for exercise. I didn’t know that some families went on ski vacations until I was well into college! I will confess that that discovery made me feel a little jealous, but over the years my gratitude for my dad’s insistence on Biblical engagement has grown and grown. Our Gospel story this morning has been calling people to wrestle – with paint, with poetry and prose, with music, with drama since the beginning. In fact, so many have wrestled with this text before us that we might not think we have to – we might think that we must either accept or dismiss the truth of the annunciation or accept or dismiss the truth of the virgin birth. Did this happen or not? (I think the answer is yes — sometimes.)

The town of Nazareth, in the Galilee is built on a hillside in the southern Lebanon Mountains. It’s a bustling Palestinian city now with a population of about 65,000. In the mid-nineteenth century, a French order of nuns built a convent in Nazareth. The Sisters of Nazareth have exercised their ministry there ever since. When I visited in 2007, they told a story of calling a plumber to repair a leak, who, in the course of his work, fell through the floor of the convent into a well-preserved first century courtyard house where there is evidence of 1st century Jewish occupants; there is also an animal feeding trough (a manger made of stone, not wood); and a burial chamber with a huge stone disk that can be rolled to cover the opening. Continue reading

Disclosing Compassion

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, 25A, October 26, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 20:1-4,7-9, 12-20 Do not fear.
Philippians 2:1-13 But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
Matthew 21:33-46 Listen to another parable.

O God of grace, 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.

This morning in our reading from Deuteronomy, we heard the very last part of the Torah. Last weekend was the joyful Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah (simchat means rejoicing). On Simchat Torah, this portion of Deuteronomy is read in synagogues, followed by a reading of the first portion from Genesis. On Simchat Torah, as many people as possible ascend to the blessing of reading, rather than just the usual two or three readers. Afterwards, the congregations dances and sings. It’s the celebration of endings leading to new beginnings. Continue reading

As a Gentile and a Tax Collector

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 18A, September 7, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 12:1-14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.
Romans 13:8-14 Love is the fulfilling of the law.
Matthew 18:15-20 Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

O God of mercy, 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.

Those of you who have heard me preach more than once or twice might know that I often complain about lectionary reading combination – the scheduled selections of the Hebrew Bible, Second Testament, and Gospel readings. Today I love them. Today, the reading from Exodus in the Torah, the piece of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the Gospel passage from Matthew all speak to each other so beautifully, at least to my ears. I especially love the way the first two readings can help us realize what the Gospel reading is all about, not in a way that props up the Gospel, but in a way that illuminates the path for us. Continue reading