Lent 3A, March 19, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 17:1-7 The people thirsted there.
Romans 5:1-11 God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
John 4:5-42 Give me a drink.

O God of water and thirst, 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.

I just want to note that in our first reading this morning, I added the translation for the place names because to transliterate the Hebrew word “seen” as Sin just seems wrong. I should have added that the word Nile doesn’t appear in the Hebrew text – it’s just the river, and Horeb means “desert.” Perhaps the place names are not important to translate, but I couldn’t get past the distraction of calling the place in the Sinai, “Sin,” and I didn’t want you to either, particularly because our cantata text is all about sin. When you hear it, listen remembering that sin, according to the Bible, is separation from Love from neighbor. Sin is what we do or fail to do that keeps us apart from Love of neighbor and of God who is Love. Our scripture readings for today are not directly addressing sin, but are reflections on thirst, the physical and spiritual desire for wellsprings. Continue reading

Come closer! (with audio)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, 24B, October 18, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 53:4-12 It was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
[Job 38:1-7, 34-41 Who.]
Hebrews 5:1-10 He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Mark 10:35-45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.

O suffering 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.

Our Rabbi-in-Residence, Howard Berman, is fond of asking me whenever he preaches at one of our services, “Why do I always get the hard texts?” I say, I wonder the very same thing! Why do I always get the hard texts?” (I think the answer might be that they’re almost all hard.) When it comes to the Isaiah reading, I’ll admit that I did it to myself when I agreed to take a week away from our reading of the story of Job in the interest of Ryan Turner’s request for the lovely Distler motet.
Continue reading

What Difference It Makes

Trinity Sunday, Year B, May 31, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 6:1-8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!
Romans 8:12-17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
John 3:1-17 How can anyone be born after having grown old?

O God incarnate, 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.

Last week I told you that the Feast of Pentecost is my favorite church holiday. It’s always followed by Trinity Sunday – not my favorite. It’s the only Sunday in the church year entirely devoted to a doctrine – that’s the good news I guess (that there’s only one). Even though it is the most beautiful of doctrines, I doubt if it’s possible (for me) to preach on Trinity Sunday without accidentally tripping over some orthodoxy and falling headlong into heresy. One option, I guess, is to just choose the alternative lessons for the first Sunday after Pentecost, or focus on the Feast of the Visitation, which falls on May 31 (and is the twelfth anniversary of when the Church named me a priest). The thing is, though, I love the Trinity hymns. I love St. Patrick’s Breastplate – the name of our processional hymn this morning. It’s frequently playing in my head. I love the hymn we will sing at the offertory – Holy Holy Holy – called Nicaea. In the hymnal of my childhood, it was number one in the book and in my heart. I still remember the time about thirty years ago when I first heard someone read Isaiah 6:1-8 in Hebrew, demonstrating the power of the poetry and the mystery – Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh. Continue reading

Be Messiah to each other!

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 16a, August 24, 2014, The Rev Rick Stecker

Exodus 1:8-2:10 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
Romans 12:1-8 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Matthew 16:13-20 When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Jesus is in the district of Caesarea-Philippi. He is in foreign land. Today we would place him ten miles from Mt. Hermon and two miles east of the Golan Heights. He is near a spring, in a place called Pannias, one of the sources of the Jordan River. As is the case with many springs in ancient times, there are shrines and temples dedicated in thanksgiving for a life source. Back then, there was a shrine to the god Pan, the god of flocks and herds, and Pan is portrayed as having a man’s body and having the horns and legs of a goat. His sudden appearance is cause for surprise; we get the word panic from this god’s name. And so in Caesarea-Phillipi there is a shrine to the god Pan as well as a large temple to Caesar and several more temples to fertility gods. Fertility gods were believed to abide in the underworld during the winter (sort of like going to Florida) and they returned to the earth in the spring. The caves, which produced water, were thought to be entrance places to the underworld. I visited Israel some years ago and on this site now stands a mosque. Continue reading