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

The Art of Resurrection

Easter Year A, April 16, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Jeremiah 31:1-6 I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Colossians 3:1-4, 5-15 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Matthew 28:1-10 Go and tell.

O God of new life, grant us the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may and cost what it will.

I love the Gospel of Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus. But before I get to it, I need to say something briefly about our readings from Jeremiah and Colossians. Many of you know that promoting Biblical literacy is one of my life projects, and so I don’t want to miss the opportunity to draw your attention to the God of Love represented in our First Testament (also known as the Old Testament) reading. In Jeremiah, God is saying to Jeremiah “In the days to come, I will be their God and they will be my people. [Remember] the people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness when they were returning homeward.” Then God says to those who are living in exile as captives of the Babylonian Empire, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you…I will build you up again and you’ll make music and dance, you will plant long-term crops and live to enjoy the fruit.” Continue reading

Slow & Steady

I just learned that one man finished the Boston Marathon at 5am Tuesday morning. He was the last one to cross the finish line. Maikel Melamed is from Venezuela and has severe muscular dystrophy. In watching video clips online of his crossing the finish line in the dark hours of early Tuesday morning, I was struck by Maikel’s sheer tenacity to finish but also by the group of walkers who stayed with him and walked painstakingly slowly alongside him. Step by step, they stayed clustered close to him and crossed the finish line with him. This gesture of support and solidarity with Maikel’s resolve to finish the Boston Marathon had me thinking about all the ways in which I get to slow down and walk with another at Emmanuel. I believe that many of my learning experiences have been shaped by times where the therapeutic presence needed in the moment necessitated slowing down. Continue reading

Abundant Life

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, 22A, October 5, 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.

In our first lesson this morning we heard one of the most famous passages of scripture in the whole Bible. You don’t have to be Jewish or Christian to have heard of what are commonly known as “The Ten Commandments.” In our church tradition, this passage is called the Decalogue – literally “ten words” from God because of references in Deuteronomy to the ten words or ten things that were written in stone on Sinai – ten things that Moses reported hearing from the Source of all being on the Holy Mountain.

Here is the oldest example in our scripture of instructions for how to live long and well in community. The passage begins by telling us that God the Author spoke all these words, reminding the people first that it was God Who brought the people out of the house of slavery. It was God Who brought the people out of the narrow places – mitzrayim – between rocks and hard places – also called Egypt in the Hebrew Bible. This moment marks their new beginning – a fresh starting point for the community – another chance to live in an entirely new way. And God is expressing God’s will – God’s desire for God’s people. “Listen,” God is saying, “I have moved you out from a place of dishonor and disrespect. You are free. You are no longer trapped. You are not enslaved. I have redeemed you. You are valuable. You are precious to me. And here’s how you, my beloved, will behave when you have no other gods more important than me. Here’s how it will be when you know deep in your hearts that you are my people.” Continue reading

Be swift to love!

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 21A, September 28, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 17:1-7 The whole congregation journeyed by stages…is the Lord among us or not?
Philippians 2:1-13 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete… for it is God who is at work in you
Matthew 21:23-32 We do not know.

O God of mercy, 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 our story from Exodus tells us that in the olden days, the people of God used to wonder whether God was really with (or in) them or not. As I recited last week, the people of God had survived the plagues, experienced the Passover, miraculously escaped a pursuing army, escaped slavery, cried out for food in the desert and had meat and bread delivered. Now they were thirsty. They were so thirsty that Moses was afraid for his life if he didn’t find some water for them to drink. When water came bubbling up out of the rock, Moses named the place “squabble” and “disputation” because the people couldn’t agree about whether God was among them, yes or no. Just so you know, getting enough water to quench their thirst didn’t stop the squabbling and disputation about whether God was in their midst or not. We are still grappling with this, aren’t we, whether we are counting this year as 2014 or 5775 or some other number altogether. Continue reading