Peace

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 21C, September 25, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Jeremiah 32:1-3a 6-15 Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
1 Timothy 6:11-19 But as for you, [person] of God…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.
Luke 16:19-31 They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.

O God of peace, 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.

Welcome to this grand sanctuary – this haven of beauty. Welcome to this magnificent community whose primary mission includes welcoming you, no matter how long you’ve been here, and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, even and especially if you are not in such a good place on your spiritual journey! Welcome to a gathering of people that will love you just the way you are and will love you too much to let you stay that way! Welcome to church in the Back Bay, which often turns out to be very hard to get to because of road rallies, fundraisers, and movie makers! Welcome to a worship service in which the readings are usually challenging and sometimes confounding, the prayers of the people are often disturbing, and the music is reliably sublime! Welcome to a church long on questions and short on answers, and yet, a church where one beggar can always show another beggar where to get some bread. Continue reading

A Holy Spirit

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12C, July 24, 2016, The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Hosea 1:2-10 Children of the living God.
Colossians 2:6-19 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit.
Luke 11:1-13 Because of his [lack of shame or honor].

O God of dignity, 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.

It seems to me that the themes of our scripture lessons for this morning are fidelity and honor in difficult circumstances.  What excellent timing! Our three readings are saying, “Stay true. Hold fast to the reconciling Love of Jesus Christ. Don’t give up your dignity.  Don’t give up your integrity. Don’t give up.” Continue reading

We are doing it.

The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 27B, November 8, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin.
Hebrews 9:24-28 Now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Mark 12:38-44 This poor widow has put in more than all those…she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.

O God of all, 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.

The Gospel lesson that we just heard is a very familiar story about the woman who put two copper coins, approximately enough money to buy one meal, in the offering in the temple. It’s a story many of us learned in Church School. People know it by the title, “the widow’s mite” (mite meaning a tiny little bit). It’s a nice story for little children who are learning about mite boxes and putting coins in offering plates. I’m aware that when the story gets told about Jesus commending the woman for giving everything she had, especially during pledge stewardship season (probably no coincidence, by the way), many of us adults kind of seize up inside. You know – we kind of brace ourselves for what’s coming next. Continue reading

In Time of Need (with audio)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, 23B, October 11, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Job 23:1-9Today my complaint is bitter.
Hebrews 4:12-16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness.
Mark 10:17-31 For God all things are possible.

O God of possibility, 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.

“Indeed, [according to Hebrews] the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before God no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” Continue reading

Kindness

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 22B, October 4, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Job 1:1, 2:1-10 Do you still persist in your integrity?
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 Someone has testified somewhere… .
Mark 10:2-16 Receive the kingdom of God as a little child.

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.

So how about those readings? One of the things that my clergy colleagues and I often do when we see each other in the week before particularly troublesome readings is ask one another, “are you preaching on Sunday?” And if the answer is no, the response is, “lucky!” If the answer is yes, the follow up question is, “What are you going to do with those readings?” This past week one of my friends gloated that she had decided to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis and to use the readings assigned for that celebration. I thought, “huh, I’ve never wanted everyone to bring their animals to church on a Sunday so badly!” And I thought of the ways that colleagues turn to one another for perspective, guidance, sympathy, insight. Debate is often a part of that engagement.
Continue reading

Be swift to love, make haste to be kind.

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 17B, August 30, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
James 1:17-27 Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.

O generous 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.

This Sunday we turn back to the Gospel of Mark in our lectionary for the rest of the season of Pentecost in our liturgical year. [1] I’m tempted to dive in to this libelous text, to defend Pharisees and certainly to defend hand and dish washing, and also to deplore hypocrisy and all the evils that can come out from within our polluted hearts. I’m tempted to point out that this should be a troubling text for people like Episcopalians who cleave to traditions, sometimes at the expense of healing and feeding and freeing people who are ailing, undernourished and stuck in narrow places. Continue reading