Coming Clean

Epiphany 7A, February 19, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 Do you not know that you are God’s temple?
Matthew 5:38-48 Give to everyone who begs from you.

O Holy 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.

Today seems like a good day to make sure you know some things about the Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Torah, because we just heard the only passage that ever gets read in our three-year lectionary cycle. Chapter 19 of Leviticus is sometimes called the mini-Torah because of how comprehensive it is in its summary of what it will look like to be the people of God. In a three-year cycle of readings, this lesson gets read on the 7th Sunday of Epiphany in Year A, when the calendar permits seven Sundays in Epiphany, which is to say almost never.
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Saved for a New Year

Feast of the Holy Name, January 1, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Numbers 6:22-27 I will bless them.
Philippians 2:5-11 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
Luke 2:15-21 Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

O God of our hearts, 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.

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Spiritual Infrastructure

All Saints’ Day (with alt second reading), November 1, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God
Revelation 7:9-17 Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!
John 11:32-44 Come out!…Unbind him and let him go.

O God of all, 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.

Some days on the church calendar are really big – Christmas Eve, Easter Day, Pentecost and All Saints are generally the four biggest for us. Today is the great Feast of All Saints; it’s a day to celebrate the saints, known and unknown. Tomorrow is All Souls’ Day – the day set aside in the church calendar for commemoration of all those who have departed this life, whether they were saints or sinners or both. So this is a Sunday to remember the present as well as the past – to honor all those who go and have gone before us – all saints and all souls. Continue reading

Getting Chased around the Lake

Pentecost, Year B, May 24, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Ezekiel 37:1-14 Can these bones live?
Acts 2:1-21 I will pour out [from/of] my Spirit upon all flesh.
John 15:26-16:15 I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling.

O Holy Source of inspiration, 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.

Happy Pentecost everyone! I am very glad that you’re here – amazed and delighted, really. I expect people on the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas) and the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter), but when the Feast of Pentecost falls on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, well, I just never know. Pentecost is my favorite church holiday. I love our parades of puppets in procession at Emmanuel, bracketing the Great Fifty days of Easter. I love the Pentecost scripture readings: the rattling dry bones re-animated by the spirit of holiness, the breath of God. I love the sound like the rush of a violent wind of the Acts story – not a gentle breeze, not a still small voice, but a complete cacophony of the Good News of the powerful Love of God being told in at least 17 languages (we managed 10 languages this morning –wasn’t it perplexing and thrilling?) And I love the promise of the “one called alongside to help” – parakletos is the Greek word, champion, [1] here translated advocate. Perhaps, more than anything, I love baptisms and Pentecost is one of four days specially designated for baptisms. Continue reading

Grapes

First Sunday after Christmas B, December 28, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest.
Galatians 4:4-7 So that we might receive adoption as children.
Luke 2:22:40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

O God with us, Emmanuel, 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 Gospel portion that I just read is only told in the Gospel of Luke. It follows immediately after the verse which says, “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child, and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. If it had been a little less chaotic at Emmanuel Church in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I might have remembered to expand our Gospel reading in your bulletins to include this verse, because of the reference to Jesus’ naming ceremony. Only Luke tells anything about Jesus before he reached later adulthood. So I wonder, what is it that Luke wanted to demonstrate with these stories of Jesus’ infancy and boyhood?

I think the first is that Jesus was a real human, according to Luke. He was born to human parents, with a genealogy that went back to Adam — earthling (who Luke calls the Son of God). The Good News of Jesus Christ in Luke is that God anointed a human being to fully embody God’s intention of freedom and right-relationship for God’s people. Jesus increased in wisdom as he increased in years. According to Luke, Jesus didn’t land on earth knowing it all. Jesus learned as he went. According to Luke, Jesus was fully, really human. Continue reading

Disclosing Compassion

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, 25A, October 26, 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.

This morning in our reading from Deuteronomy, we heard the very last part of the Torah. Last weekend was the joyful Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah (simchat means rejoicing). On Simchat Torah, this portion of Deuteronomy is read in synagogues, followed by a reading of the first portion from Genesis. On Simchat Torah, as many people as possible ascend to the blessing of reading, rather than just the usual two or three readers. Afterwards, the congregations dances and sings. It’s the celebration of endings leading to new beginnings. Continue reading

As a Gentile and a Tax Collector

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 18A, September 7, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 12:1-14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.
Romans 13:8-14 Love is the fulfilling of the law.
Matthew 18:15-20 Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

O God of mercy, 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.

Those of you who have heard me preach more than once or twice might know that I often complain about lectionary reading combination – the scheduled selections of the Hebrew Bible, Second Testament, and Gospel readings. Today I love them. Today, the reading from Exodus in the Torah, the piece of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the Gospel passage from Matthew all speak to each other so beautifully, at least to my ears. I especially love the way the first two readings can help us realize what the Gospel reading is all about, not in a way that props up the Gospel, but in a way that illuminates the path for us. Continue reading