Go lead!

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, 25B, October 24, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Job 42:1-6, 10-17 Now my eyes see you.
Hebrews 7:23-28 Prevented by death from continuing in office!
Mark 10:46-52 What do you want me to do for you?

O God of our wildest dreams, 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.

Dan Hazen had a vision of how he wanted his completed life acknowledged at Emmanuel Church and it did not include a sermon being preached about him. (I’ll honor his wish.) But I want to share one of the things Dan frequently mentioned in the seven short years that I knew him. It was that he didn’t like worship services that tied things up in a neat bow. So instead of eulogizing him from this pulpit, I’ll do my best to offer a sermon that is long on questions and short on answers, one that doesn’t even try to make sense of the incongruities and ambiguities! 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

Racism is wrong. We must do better.

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 18B, September 6, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.

James 2:1-10 (11-13) 14-17 Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Mark 7:24-37 They were astounded beyond measure.

O God of mercy, 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.

The lessons we just heard from Proverbs and James make it abundantly clear that the blessing of God is upon those who are generous, who share their bread with people who do not have enough. The evidence of blessing is not simply prosperity. I often hear people who are experiencing abundance expressing gratitude, giving thanks to God and saying, “I am so blessed.” But according to Proverbs, it’s not the fact of abundance that is a blessing from God; it’s the distribution of abundance so that everyone gets enough. The evidence of blessing of God is in the sharing. And James says that mercy triumphs over judgment – mercy trumps judgment — every time in the realm of God. Whenever there’s a conflict of biblical values or teachings, ask yourself, which approach is more merciful and go with that. Continue reading

Welcome forward, Emmanuel!

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 20A, September 21, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 16:2-15 In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Philippians 1:21-30 Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Matthew 20:1-16 Are you envious because I am generous?

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.

Good morning! Welcome into this magnificent sanctuary of time and space and parish that is Emmanuel Church. Welcome to you who are here for the very first time. Welcome to you who are returning here, having been away for a short time or a long time. Welcome to you who were here much of yesterday or the day before, or every day this last week. Welcome to you who have been here more times than you could ever count! Welcome into the future of God’s beloved community gathered in this place. You know, it’s our future that I’m most excited about. While I was traveling this summer, someone said to me, “Wow, Emmanuel Church in Boston has such a great history.” I said, “Yes! And a great future too!” I hope you’ll be able to stay for a while after our service to hear about the amazing progress on our north-wall restoration project. And I hope you’ll stay a while in the months and years to come to challenge and change us as we become more and more of who God is calling us to be. This is not welcome back Sunday; it is welcome forward Sunday! Continue reading

Blessing Day

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 19A, September 14, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 14:19-31 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground…the Egyptians pursued and went into the sea after them.
Romans 14:1-12 Welcome
Matthew 18:21-35 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?

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.

Today’s Gospel passage concludes the section in Matthew about what discipleship really means for Jesus followers. Those of you who were here last week might remember my rant about the words in the ancient Greek which read, “my brother,” being translated as “member of the church.” Since the problematic translation occurs again in today’s reading, this week I took the time to try to discover when that shift from “my brother” to “member of the church” happened – in the ancient Latin translation of the early church? Was it during the German or the English reformation? I went on an investigative tear. Alas. It was in 1989 with our present translation in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. I’m completely baffled by that. Continue reading