Sunday, January 21, 2018

Whales And Fishes

Today I preach about whales and fish – very familiar creatures to us who live on Cape Cod.   Many of us have gone on whale watches in Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays to see humpbacks, fin, and even the right whales. These impressive creatures have large mouths – some with teeth and some with baleen.   Leaning over the side of a whale-watching boat out of Barnstable Harbor or Provincetown to get a closer look, we might wonder if we could accidentally be swallowed by a whale if we fell in.  Not a chance. 

Still, have we ever found ourselves in the belly of a whale?  Not literally of course, but feeling as if we’ve fallen into the belly where everything is dark and enclosed – suffocating and frightening.   In other words, have we ever had a belly-of-the-whale experience of feeling unloved, sorrow, depression, anxiety, desperation…addiction in its many forms.   Most of us have. 

Another darkness experience is one that happens when we abandon God.  This can happen when out of fear, pride, or perhaps arrogance, we walk away from God – or at least we try to.  But God is never far behind.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Recognizing Evil

Today’s first reading speaks of sin.    But what is sin, really?    We should consider the “big” and meaningful sins Jesus addressed. 

Jesus was principally concerned about the sins of those with power and influence – those in control of the Jewish society and found at the top of the social ladder – those with the riches always seeking more wealth especially in the form of land taken from dispossessed peasants forced into debt with no way to repay, except by selling themselves into slavery as servants.   They tilled and harvested the land they previously owned for the benefit of the new owners (some would say cruel manipulators).

We all have personal sins when we miss the mark – when we disobey God’s commands again and again.  So we ask for forgiveness.  But the biblical meaning of sin is richer than individual wrong-doing.  As Marcus Borg stated in his 2011 book Speaking Christian, “The Bible speaks about, to use modern language, institutionalized sin, systemic sin, sin built into the structures of society.  There is collective cooperate sin causing systemic injustice and systemic violence.”   This is the sin so very difficult to root out with no one asking for forgiveness for the harm they have done.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Living Stones

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.  Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it says in scripture:  “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:1-6)

Although not one of today’s readings, this passage from the first letter of Peter encourages us to be stones – not cold, dead stones, but living stones.  Then, together we are to let ourselves be built into a “spiritual house” and to offer “spiritual sacrifices” to God through Jesus Christ. 

It’s stone cold outside, and at this time of the year being like stones scattered across the fields and in the woods all covered with snow is quite unappealing.   Then again when gathered together and used to build a house with a warm stone hearth where people assemble, we take on a new look and function.   That’s what Peter tells us to do.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Smile

The LORD said to Moses: "Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:  This is how you shall bless the Israelites.  Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them." (NM 6:22-27)

The New Year has begun.  Today’s first reading is guidance for 2018.    Can we greet those we like and those not so much, and deliver this blessing: “The LORD bless you and keep you!...”  If only we could and with sincerity.   So much hard feeling and even violence would be less likely.   This blessing is a peace offering. 

Today is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.  The LORD clearly blessed her, and kept her, and let his face shine upon her.   Throughout the coming year we all wish for the same favor.  Perhaps we can receive that favor if we let our faces shine on others.  We all need to start with smiles and warm welcomes to those in need of a little comfort and compassion.  And there are many.

Deacon David Pierce    

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year Resolution

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another,  if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Second Reading Col 3:12-21)

Today’s second reading makes for a great New Year’s resolution!  However, it will be a difficult multi-part resolution to keep.   Might we last a week before we break it?   

Saturday, December 30, 2017

God Strong

I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name's sake.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the Evil One.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the Evil One.

Do not love the world or the things of the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.  Yet the world and its enticement are passing away.  But whoever does the will of God remains forever.
(1 John 2:12-17).

John writes to us from the past.   Are we all (women and men) strong with the word of God remaining in us?   Have we conquered the Evil One?  

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say, "We have fellowship with him," while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.  

But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  If we say, "We are without sin," we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from  every wrongdoing.  If we say, "We have not sinned," we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
(1 John 1:5-2:2)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Four Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words.   Here are two.   I need write no more. 

Deacon David Pierce