Vote Pray Love (with audio)

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24C, October 16, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Jeremiah 31:27-34 I will put my law within them, and I will write it in their hearts, and I will be their God and they will be my people…they shall all know me.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Carry out your ministry fully.
Luke 18:1-8 Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.

O God of our hope, 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.

Many of you know that I was away last week for my middle daughter’s wedding.  It was a lovely and joyous opportunity for my extended family to gather.  One of the many blessings of my family’s gatherings, for holidays or for ceremonies, is seeing four generations of siblings and cousins all together, and noticing how similar they all are in appearance and expression.  Then I returned to Emmanuel on Tuesday, in time to get ready for the Yom Kippur Kol Nidre service, and I had a chance to recall that one of the blessings of being in an interfaith family, like the interfaith family Emmanuel Church and Central Reform Temple make together, is sharing in one another’s holiday celebrations, and seeing and hearing the ritual and theological relatedness of our traditions, how similar our traditions are in appearance and expression. 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

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

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