Join the crowd!

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 11B, July 19, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 7:1-14a I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day.
Ephesians 2:11-22 He came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near [to God].
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 You give them something to eat.

Loving God, 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.

I hope that some of you noticed that our Gospel portion for this morning leaves out nineteen verses and acts like nothing happened. Perhaps you recall that frequently, the writer of the Gospel of Mark interrupts one story to tell another. It’s a rough and tumble story-telling method and the lectionary often takes out the interruption from one Sunday and place the offending story in a subsequent week. German theologians have a fantastic word for the rhetorical device of interrupting a story to tell another story: “Ineinanderschachtelungern.” [1] I feel like I want to use that word in a sermon at least once every three years when we’re in Gospel of Mark year! But, the verses removed from today’s portion aren’t an interruption at all. They’re essential to the story and they never get read in church – not next week or any week. Next week we will begin a series of five readings from the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John! (It’s a long chapter.) Continue reading

Expect miracles.

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 9B, July 5, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10King David made a covenant with them.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10 My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness…Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Mark 6:1-13 Jesus left that place and came to his home…then he went among the villages teaching.

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.

This past week has changed the Episcopal Church. Of course, every week changes the Church because to be alive is to be changed, but sometimes change is more noticeable than others, right? This week the Church’s ideas about and practices of home, heart, and hands got stretched and I saw it happen. This past week I traveled to Salt Lake City to attend four days of the ten-day General Convention of the Episcopal Church. By a blessed coincidence, I arrived on Monday, the day that the House of Bishops prayed and deliberated, and at last voted, to extend the sacrament of holy matrimony to same-sex couples across the whole Episcopal Church in jurisdictions where such marriage is legal, and to extend the blessing rite in those places where same-sex marriage is still not legal; and included a requirement that all bishops, even bishops who disagree or disapprove, make provisions for same-sex couples seeking blessing and marriage. The next day the House of Deputies voted to concur. But it wasn’t just extending same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Getting Chased around the Lake

Pentecost, Year B, May 24, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Ezekiel 37:1-14 Can these bones live?
Acts 2:1-21 I will pour out [from/of] my Spirit upon all flesh.
John 15:26-16:15 I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling.

O Holy Source of inspiration, 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.

Happy Pentecost everyone! I am very glad that you’re here – amazed and delighted, really. I expect people on the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas) and the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter), but when the Feast of Pentecost falls on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, well, I just never know. Pentecost is my favorite church holiday. I love our parades of puppets in procession at Emmanuel, bracketing the Great Fifty days of Easter. I love the Pentecost scripture readings: the rattling dry bones re-animated by the spirit of holiness, the breath of God. I love the sound like the rush of a violent wind of the Acts story – not a gentle breeze, not a still small voice, but a complete cacophony of the Good News of the powerful Love of God being told in at least 17 languages (we managed 10 languages this morning –wasn’t it perplexing and thrilling?) And I love the promise of the “one called alongside to help” – parakletos is the Greek word, champion, [1] here translated advocate. Perhaps, more than anything, I love baptisms and Pentecost is one of four days specially designated for baptisms. Continue reading

Compassionate Presence

 

Since beginning at Emmanuel and participating now numerous times in Art and Spirituality, Café Emmanuel, and Common Art, I have often found myself seeking a theoretical framework for myself to work within. What am I doing here and how is it rooted in my value system? What words do I use to describe it that fit me and can be applicable to all three of the communities that I work with as a part of my internship experience? In pursuing this interest I have been able to identify one word that I cannot get behind. That word is help. Continue reading

Bridges across Time & Space

I learned of my Aunt Libby’s passing two weeks ago and the news did not come easily to me. She came to Asheville, NC the same year that I did- for me to begin my adult life as a college freshman and her to end hers. She moved to an assisted living facility there that offered end-of-life care. The serendipity of this still baffles and amazes me. We spent countless hours together throughout the eleven years that we shared a zip code and she served as my primary family support throughout my twenties. I have been reflecting a lot on our time together and attempting to hold onto the lovely memories of her that I hope to cherish for a lifetime. I want to introduce her to you as a way to honor her. 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