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Epiphany 4A, January 29, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Micah 6:1-8 [God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Matthew 5:1-12 Blessed…blessed…blessed.

O God of the strangest blessings, 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.

What a week. The other day, one of my colleagues asked a group of Central Boston clergy, “how are you preaching in times like these?” The swift and wise answer from another esteemed colleague was, “stay close to the Bible.” At first, I thought, “hey, my approach to preaching may be coming back into style!” That thought was quickly followed by my memory of a scene from the 1974 movie, Young Frankenstein, in which Frau Blücher, carrying a candelabra with three unlit candles warns, “stay close to the candles…the stairway can be treacherous!” But staying close to the sacred story, the Bible doesn’t work so well without the illumination of wisdom and learning, without the illumination of engagement of diverse communities across space and time, and without the illumination of Love (capital L). Wisdom and learning. Engagement of diverse communities. Love. If those three candles are lit, the stairway to the realm of God is not so treacherous. Continue reading

Beloved

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 26C, October 30, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Habakkuk 1:1-2:4 If it seems to tarry, wait for it.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11-12 The love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.
Luke 19:1-10 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich.

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. Amen.

Our first reading this morning is from the beginning of the short book of Habakkuk – the prophet. It begins with a title: the oracle, the pronouncement that the prophet saw – although that can also be translated the burden that Habakkuk saw. What Habakkuk saw was indeed a great burden: violence everywhere and a God who seemed not to see the degradation of justice and the utter devastation of well-being, of shalom. Habakkuk has two complaints: 1) God has done nothing to stop the violence so far and 2) it’s about to get worse. In this book, the voice of God is heard, but it’s not particularly good news. Essentially, the response is that the violence is due to the greed of the people and the failure to recognize the Holy One. The violence is understood by Habakkuk as the Holy One’s punishing response, rather than simply a predictable consequence that breaks Love’s heart. Continue reading

Who loved us first.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 19C, September 11, 2016; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not make a full end.
1 Timothy 1:12-17 The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus,
Luke 15:1-10 There is joy in heaven…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

O God Who loved us first, 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 first scripture lesson this morning from Jeremiah, sounds to me like it could be a description of life in the 21st century, even though it was written more than 26 centuries ago. The prophet Jeremiah is decrying the sins of those in leadership, the social injustice, the spiritual corruption, the war making that has devastated the land. Just before our passage begins, the priests and prophets have complained to God that God promised all would be well and it’s not. The Holy One delivers a scorching response: your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you – disaster follows disaster. In the verses that are omitted from our lectionary, God cries out in agony (actually it’s the word for childbirth labor pains). God cries out in labor pains that the leadership has broken Her heart with their flags and trumpets that lead people into war. Then God laments with a broken heart about the foolishness of people, skilled in doing evil, not knowing how to do good, making war instead of peace. It sounds like it could be a description of our life doesn’t it? – especially on this somber 15th anniversary. Continue reading

See, love, and behave accordingly!

The Second Sunday of Advent, 2B, December 7, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 40:1-11 Cry out!
2 Peter 3:8-15a Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
Mark 1:1-8 He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

O God of the prophets, 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.

Every year at this time, the church gives us a new advent – a new beginning — a new season of longing to hear and respond to lessons of prophetic wisdom and calls for repentance writ large. These calls are not for personal repentance, but for national repentance, for corporate repentance, and for ecclesiastical – that is Church — repentance. And the good news is that this year is no exception! The most magnificent sign of this kind of prophetic action can be seen in the large numbers of people rising up in Boston and all around the country to protest the status quo of racism and injustice. It’s good news. People are watching and waking up and demonstrating anger and calling for change. Continue reading