Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Strength of Humility

15th Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 17 (Year C)
Proverbs 25.6-7; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13.1-8, 15-16; Luke 14.1, 7-14
Sunday, August 28, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

What would Emily Post or Miss Manners say? Hosting a dinner party without a seating chart and place cards? It can only lead to chaos – people elbowing their way to the seats of greatest honor. Shameful!

With all due respect to our mavens of etiquette, that wasn’t how things were done back in Jesus’ day. At feasts and banquets, the male guests would recline on couches. And there was a hierarchy to the placement of the couches. The center couch – the equivalent of the head table – was the place of highest honor. The perceived level of honor decreased as you got farther away from the center couch. Being seated in a place of honor was based on wealth or power. And it was somewhat fluid. If a more prominent guest arrived (fashionably) late, someone of lower rank would be moved to a place of lesser honor to make room for the more prestigious guest.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sabbath Controversy

14th Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 16 (Year C)
Isaiah 58.9b-14; Psalm 103.1-8; Hebrews 12.18-29; Luke 13.10-17
Sunday, August 21, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

To say that Jesus was controversial is an understatement. He had a reputation for saying and doing things that made the Jewish religious authorities nervous, if not downright angry. This was because Jesus’ words and actions challenged the status quo. In some cases, what he did or said even contradicted the Law. These incidents really got the religious authorities all hot and bothered. One category of Jesus’ actions was particularly troublesome for the authorities – what is collectively referred to as the “Sabbath Controversies.” Luke records four particular incidents of Jesus breaking not just any of the 613 commandments in the Torah but one of the Ten Commandments – one of the biggies. The one about keeping the Sabbath. “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work” (Ex 20.9-10).

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

What in Blazes is Going On?

13th Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 15 (Year C)
Jeremiah 23.23-29; Psalm 82; Hebrews 11.29—12.2; Luke 12.49-56
Sunday, August 14, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

What is going on? What happened to the Jesus who just last week offered words of hope and comfort when he said “Do not be afraid, little flock”? Just moments after saying these words, he pops off with “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” To be followed by “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” And then he talks about how this division will even be between family members. This all just seems so contrary to the image we have of Jesus. This is not the Jesus we know. And how can we not be afraid with his talk of fire and division?

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Last Word

12th Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 14 (Year C)
Genesis 15.1-6; Psalm 33.12-22; Hebrews 11.1-3, 8-16; Luke 12.32-40
Sunday, August 7, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

I may be a glutton for punishment, particularly in this election cycle, but I enjoy watching political news. Although I’m by no means a political junkie like some of my friends. Being a progressive, I generally get my political news from MSNBC. I love “All in with Chris Hayes” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.” And occasionally, if there is nothing else on TV, or if I have not gotten sufficiently sated, or sufficiently disgusted, with politics, I watch “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.” The title comes from the fact that at the end of his show, Lawrence makes a point of giving the last word on the issue of the day to one of his guests. You never quite know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s a word of optimism. But sometimes it’s a word of warning. Or of dread. Or of fear.

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