Lent 2A, March 12, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Genesis 12:1-4a Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
John 3:1-17 How can these things be?

O God of grace, 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 is one of those Sundays when I have a harder time giving thanks and praise to God in response to the scripture readings when I first hear them, because it’s hard for me to hear them read without thinking about the damage humans do to one another using these passages as weapons.  The recent and dramatic rise of hateful words and actions against Jews and Muslims (or people mistaken for Muslims) is fueled by arrogance and ignorance of “Christian” teachings. The fighting happens within Christianity as well, between Catholics and protestants, between different kinds of protestants, and within our own Anglican traditions. Perhaps you have a similar experience of knowing these lessons from a standpoint of in and out, us and them, ours and not yours.  Perhaps you’ve heard these lessons as being about tests about who measures up because of what they think or don’t think.  If not, just wait for today’s cantata! All this makes many flee religious practice, and for good reason. Continue reading

Mystery, Meaning, Risk & Relationship

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 19, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Acts 3:12-19 You Israelites…
1 John 3:1-7 We should be called children of God and that is what we are.
Luke 24:36b-48 And the psalms must be fulfilled.

O God of hope, 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.

You probably know that the Gospel of John, for all of its beautiful love poetry and prose, is notoriously anti-Jewish or anti-Judean in its rhetoric about the death and resurrection of Jesus, written as if it were Jews and not Romans who were the threat to Jesus. In the Gospel of John is codified one side of a late first century argument about ways to move forward socially, politically and theologically in the precarious time after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The writer of John places anti-Jewish words anachronistically in the mouths of Jesus and his friends who were, of course, all Jewish. Continue reading

Let’s work with what we’ve got.

A collapsing infrastructure is a time to connect and rebuild stronger.

On Monday night when the women came in for Art and Spirituality, we were greeted with a mix of excitement, eagerness, curiosity, and some mellowness. Overall I felt like everyone was glad to be back in that room with paper on the tables and art supplies ready to go. Since Art and Spirituality happens on Monday’s and so do all the blizzards in Boston, we have not been able to hold the group in four weeks. Part of our weekly opening prayer is “What we want is certainty. What we get is ambiguity.” I found myself referencing this prayer a lot in the past week. Continue reading

The Mystery of Love

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 4B, December 21, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 I have not lived in a house…but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Romans 16:25-27 According to the revelation of the mystery. Luke 1:26-38 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. – or Here am I.

O God of impossible possibilities, 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.

Many of you know that I grew up in a household where wrestling with Holy Scripture was one of the things we did as a family for exercise. I didn’t know that some families went on ski vacations until I was well into college! I will confess that that discovery made me feel a little jealous, but over the years my gratitude for my dad’s insistence on Biblical engagement has grown and grown. Our Gospel story this morning has been calling people to wrestle – with paint, with poetry and prose, with music, with drama since the beginning. In fact, so many have wrestled with this text before us that we might not think we have to – we might think that we must either accept or dismiss the truth of the annunciation or accept or dismiss the truth of the virgin birth. Did this happen or not? (I think the answer is yes — sometimes.)

The town of Nazareth, in the Galilee is built on a hillside in the southern Lebanon Mountains. It’s a bustling Palestinian city now with a population of about 65,000. In the mid-nineteenth century, a French order of nuns built a convent in Nazareth. The Sisters of Nazareth have exercised their ministry there ever since. When I visited in 2007, they told a story of calling a plumber to repair a leak, who, in the course of his work, fell through the floor of the convent into a well-preserved first century courtyard house where there is evidence of 1st century Jewish occupants; there is also an animal feeding trough (a manger made of stone, not wood); and a burial chamber with a huge stone disk that can be rolled to cover the opening. Continue reading