The real life

Luke 6:17-38
James Finley used to go to Thomas Merton for spiritual direction. When he arrived, Merton would ask him, “How’s it going?’  If Finley answered, “It’s going well!” Merton would respond, “Don’t worry, before too long it wont be going so well.”  And if he answered, “It’s not going so well.” Merton would respond, “Don’t worry, before too long, it will be going well.”
You aren’t sleeping through the night?  Don’t worry, soon your kid will be done teething.  You are sleeping through the night?  Don’t worry, soon your kid will be out driving late at night with friends. 
You are stable and happy and healthy and have a job you love?  Don’t worry, before too long you’ll get sick, or lose your job, or face some financial hardship.  You are going through a difficult illness, hunting for a new job or struggling to make ends meet?  Don’t worry, before too long your treatment will be finished, you will find employment, and one day you will be finished paying off your student loans.  
Jesus is amo…

Changing, and Being Changed

A sermon on Annual meeting Sunday.
Luke 4:14-30
Last night a friend posted a photo on Facebook of rack at a store with something blue, triangular shaped, quilted, and embroidered with flowers hanging on it, and said, “I think this ‘hat’ at the Good Will is actually a mislabeled tea cozy.’   The first comment underneath was, “What’s a tea cozy?” and he had to go on to explain that it’s a cover you put on your tea pot to keep the tea from cooling too fast – and not the tea pot you boiled the water in on the stove, the ceramic one you serve the tea from.   Neither the employees at the Good Will nor the friends on Facebook knew what this thing was even for. Becausein life, things are always changing. 
Last night I updated the church website with new photos. I didn’t mean to, I was there for something else, but I took a second and really looked at the photos for the first time in a long time.  And I was dismayed at how outdated they were.  Nearly every photo had people in it who are not here …

Differently than this

(You can read more about the story here and here).

Over the weekend, an explosive controversy unfolded rapidly on social media responding to an incident Friday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.  Groups of people gathered in the same place with different agendas, all operating on stereotypes, assumptions and prejudices.  And in the hours that followed, in the social media firestorm that was unleashed WE operated on stereotypes, assumptions and prejudices.  Here are some of the snap judgments that may have been in play:  MAGA wearing, white males = perpetrators. 
Native American elder = wise. 
Black people = victims.  
It's Simple. 
Except the kids were shouting school spirit chants, trying to figure out their way through an overwhelming situation.  The Elder inserted himself in, trying to change the dynamic he thought was occurring, adding to the confusion and fear.  And the Black people were the ones yelling racial slurs and demeaning things at other groups - for two hours.  

Cue …

What's Your Identity?

Luke 3:15;17, 21-22
There are things that happen to us in our lives that come to define us. They are the things that most make us who we are. Some of them happen before we are even born – where we are born, the color of our skin, our gender, our DNA that comes with its own timeline and traits, handed down from our ancestors or parents, that predisposes us to disease, temper or genius, a biological tendency toward addiction, or a mind for math.  
Then there are things that happen to us when we are young – particular experiences, like the loss of a parent, a childhood spent moving around from place to place, an exceptionally encouraging teacher, an acutely abusive coach, an accident or illness, or a relentlessly reoccurring message about what it will take to be accepted by our family or community.  
Then, there are the things we experience or choose, the opportunities open or doors closed to us, the advantages or struggles that set the stage for our lives, the terrible mistakes or the soar…