We will grow in love. (with audio)

Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Proper 29C, November 20, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Jeremiah 23:1-6 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them!
Colossians 1:11-20 Making peace through the blood of his cross.
Luke 23:33-43 Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.

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.

Perhaps you are wondering what a crucifixion story is doing being read this far away from Holy Week. Today marks the end of our liturgical year. This Gospel lesson is appointed for today because, while we are celebrating the all-embracing authority of God’s Christ, that is, Love’s redeeming urge, and we sing hymns of gratefulness and praise, we can always use a reminder that our King of kings and Lord of lords was executed as a criminal with other criminals. He was friends with criminals while he lived, and then he died with them too. The word that Luke uses for criminal is literally “evil doer.” Our king, our highest earthly authority was executed for sedition – that is, for inciting resistance or disobedience to the government.
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Ministry Checklist

Seventh Sunday in Pentecost (9C), July 3, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Kings 5:1-14 …had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel and she served Naaman’s wife.
Galatians 6:1-16 If anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a Spirit of gentleness…bear one another’s burdens.
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 Do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

O God of the plentiful harvest, 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.

Our Gospel lesson covers a LOT of territory for a holiday weekend in the summer time! The story goes that Jesus has appointed 70 others (or 72, depending on which ancient manuscript of Luke you read) to be sent out – meaning Jesus has appointed apostles. Apostle means one sent – as in an agent or ambassador (according to Luke there were not only 12 apostles). The Lord appointed the number of all the nations. Some ancient authorities believed there were 70 nations in the world; others insisted on 72. The number is also reminiscent of the number of elders appointed by God to help Moses. In the Hebrew language version of the Bible, the number was 70. In the Greek translation, the Septuagint, the number was 72. The point is, a whole lot of people were willing to be appointed to go out to the whole world, importantly, in pairs. In other words, they were instructed not to go alone. It’s not just more fun to go with a partner; it’s the law. Two is the minimum number for witness and for safety and for fun. The rule is, when you’re going out to do work for the reign of God, always use the buddy system! This is true whether the work you are doing for God is in your household or extended family, or your workplace or your school or your neighborhood or your church or someplace else altogether! Two is so much more than twice one in any endeavor. And if you want to build something sustainable – the minimum number is three (but that’s a lesson for a different day). Continue reading

Pass the peace! (with audio)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 21B, September 27, 2015; The Rev Pamela L. Werntz

Esther 7:1-6,9-10; 9:20-22 Days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.
James 5:13-20 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise…
Mark 9:38-50 Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

O God of our redemption, 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 have just heard a part of the great story of Queen Esther, beautiful, brave, patient and smart, who used her position and her gifts, and risked her own life on behalf of her people. Esther’s name appears more times than any other woman in the Bible, and she speaks more than any named women except for Judith. She is the ideal against which Herodius, in the Christian testament of the Bible, was compared and was found to have utterly missed the mark, when a king, intoxicated by wine and the beauty of a woman, offered to do anything she wanted. Queen Herodius coached her daughter to ask for murder. Queen Esther asked that all of her people be saved from scheduled massacre. The Feast of Purim, which celebrates Queen Esther’s courage, compassion and creativity, is observed by Jews each year at the end of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) with celebrations that include presents for people who are poor, and gifts of food for all. 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