The Mighty Power of Love

Third Sunday of Easter Year A, April 30, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Acts 2:14a, 36-47 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away.
1 Peter 1:17-23 Love one another deeply from the heart.
Luke 24:13-35 Were not our hearts burning within us?

O God of our aching and burning hearts, 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 we hear the Easter story of two on the road to Emmaus – one named Cleopas and the other is unnamed, which gives me room to understand that the other was a woman. It’s a beautiful account of the art of resurrection, about how, even when we don’t understand it, we can’t imagine it, and we certainly are not looking for it, we can come to recognize that the Risen Lord can be walking along with us; the Risen Lord can be right in front of us without our knowing it. But before I go further down this Road to Emmaus, I must go back to our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Continue reading

Inauguration

Epiphany 3A, January 22, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 9:1-4 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius…(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else). [to me, this is one of the funniest lines in all of scripture]
Matthew 4:12-23 He saw [them]…and he called them.

O God of light, 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 hear scripture readings and a cantata text that invite us to ponder a new start – a new year — an inauguration. The timing could not be better, because we just had an inauguration on Friday, and then we had another one yesterday, one that took place in more than 600 cities around the world as more than a million, maybe more than two million people used their bodies to testify to the values of respecting human dignity and caring for our creation. Continue reading

Vision of Dignity (with audio)

Epiphany 2A, January 15, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 49:1-7 I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 God is faithful.
John 1:29-41 Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

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

Last week in our Gospel lesson, we heard Matthew’s version of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River. You might remember that I said that, according to Matthew, the voice that Jesus heard was an inside-out rather than an outside-in voice. Matthew was describing the bat kol – the voice of the Divine that sounds like the voice of a little girl, or the daughter of a voice, an echo. Matthew mentions that the heavens opened up to Jesus and a spirit of holiness landed on Jesus like a dove and he heard the voice of the Divine – the bat kol – saying this is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Matthew does not describe this as a voice that any of the others who were there would have heard. Continue reading

Welcome (with audio)

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 20B, September 20, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Proverbs 31:10-31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands and let her works praise her in the city gates.James 3:13-4:3, 7-8 Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

Mark 9:30-37 Welcomes…welcomes…welcomes…welcomes.

O God of radical welcome, 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.

Hello! I’m so glad you’re here! Happy New Year! Part of the fun of living in an interfaith family like the family Emmanuel Church makes with Central Reform Temple is that we double our holidays! This sanctuary is still humming with the celebrations of the Jewish New Year that began last Sunday evening. So we enter this place today in the midst of the prayers of the Days of Awe – the high holy days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The themes of the Days of Awe are hope, reconciliation and repair – in individual lives and in the world – the Days of Awe are days of reflection, renewed commitment, and action. 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

Called in

Yesterday while riding my bicycle from my home to my co-intern’s house to ride together to the prison for Art and Spirituality, I got into a minor accident on the ice that invisibly coated the side of the road I was traveling on. It was not until my rear wheel began slipping that I noticed the sunlight reflecting off of the patch of ice that was directly under me. As my bike slid out from under me and I slammed onto the pavement, I had a brief moment of uncertainty about how bad the accident actually was. In the moments that mark the climax of a crisis it seems as if my rational thinking goes out the window along with my normal sensory experiencing. Then, as quickly as it happened, the wave of feelings and fear come flooding back in like a tidal wave. Yesterday, I didn’t know if I was going to look down and see blood as I stood up and grabbed the frame of my bicycle. Luckily, I suffered no major injuries other than a potentially sprained wrist, and I was able to get back on my trusty steed and ride away fairly unscathed. Continue reading

Come down, O Love Divine!

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, 12A, July 27, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Genesis 29:15-28 This is not done in our country.

Romans 8:26-39 We do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Have you understood all this?O God of grace, 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.
Everyone take a deep breath and blow it out twice as slowly as you took it in. Do it again, breathing in the gift of oxygen; breathing out your gift back to the plants of carbon dioxide. Breathe the Divine Love come down – the breath of life – in and out. You know, in biblical terms, the word for breath, and wind, and spirit are all the same: ruach in Hebrew. I thought we might start with feeling thankful for breath – because — Continue reading