Inauguration

Epiphany 3A, January 22, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 9:1-4 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius…(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else). [to me, this is one of the funniest lines in all of scripture]
Matthew 4:12-23 He saw [them]…and he called them.

O God of light, 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 hear scripture readings and a cantata text that invite us to ponder a new start – a new year — an inauguration. The timing could not be better, because we just had an inauguration on Friday, and then we had another one yesterday, one that took place in more than 600 cities around the world as more than a million, maybe more than two million people used their bodies to testify to the values of respecting human dignity and caring for our creation. Continue reading

Vision of Dignity

Epiphany 2A, January 15, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 49:1-7 I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 God is faithful.
John 1:29-41 Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

O God, manifest in 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 in our Gospel lesson, we heard Matthew’s version of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River. You might remember that I said that, according to Matthew, the voice that Jesus heard was an inside-out rather than an outside-in voice. Matthew was describing the bat kol – the voice of the Divine that sounds like the voice of a little girl, or the daughter of a voice, an echo. Matthew mentions that the heavens opened up to Jesus and a spirit of holiness landed on Jesus like a dove and he heard the voice of the Divine – the bat kol – saying this is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Matthew does not describe this as a voice that any of the others who were there would have heard. Continue reading

We are doing it.

The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 27B, November 8, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin.
Hebrews 9:24-28 Now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Mark 12:38-44 This poor widow has put in more than all those…she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.

O God of all, 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.

The Gospel lesson that we just heard is a very familiar story about the woman who put two copper coins, approximately enough money to buy one meal, in the offering in the temple. It’s a story many of us learned in Church School. People know it by the title, “the widow’s mite” (mite meaning a tiny little bit). It’s a nice story for little children who are learning about mite boxes and putting coins in offering plates. I’m aware that when the story gets told about Jesus commending the woman for giving everything she had, especially during pledge stewardship season (probably no coincidence, by the way), many of us adults kind of seize up inside. You know – we kind of brace ourselves for what’s coming next. Continue reading

Become trusting!

Second Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 12, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Acts 4:32-35 There was not a needy person among them.
1 John 1:1-2:2 If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves.
John 20:19-31 Peace be with you.

O God of hope, 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.

 

Many of you know that one of my life projects has to do with increasing literacy, particularly Biblical literacy among progressive Christians, who have tended to cede the Bible to more conservative Christians. For example, I want people to understand that what we call “The Bible” is actually more like a library or an anthology than a book. The anthology contains more than a dozen different kinds of literature – and each kind of literature has different rules and built-in assumptions for understanding it. For instance, one would read biography differently from reading a sermon or an editorial. One would read legislation differently from poetry or a song. It helps to know what type of literature one is reading in order to understand what it might mean or how to apply it to our lives. Unfortunately, figuring out the genre is often complicated by many centuries and many miles of distance, and further complicated by modern inventions – inventions such as the English language, punctuation, customs of printing, etc. Continue reading