Good News

01
Oct

October 2016 Verses of the Month

Compassion

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all he has made.
Psalm 145:8-9, NRSV

25
Sep

God and Money (Part 2)

The rich man was unable to see Lazarus as anything other than someone who might be able to see to his own (the rich man’s) comfort, to run errands for him perhaps. He never saw him as an equal, and still doesn’t; and that’s where the chasm is fixed, because maintaining inequality is the source of torment.

18
Sep

God and Money

The parable of the unjust manager: one of the most unsettling (to us) passages in the Gospels.

Luke 16:1-13
16:1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property.
16:2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’
16:3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
16:4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.
16:5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
16:6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’
16:7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’
16:8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
16:10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.
16:11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
16:12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?
16:13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

(notes to follow… watch the video)

11
Sep

Gratitude

Gratitude

1 Timothy 1:12-17
1:12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service,
1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
1:14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1:15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the foremost.
1:16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.
1:17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Notes to follow

04
Sep

Counting the Cost

The Rich Fool

Luke 14:25-33
14:25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them,
14:26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
14:27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?
14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him,
14:30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
14:31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?
14:32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.
14:33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

(notes to follow…)

01
Sep

Verse of the Month — September 2016

Say It

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I  will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1

28
Aug

Hospitality

Luke 14:1, 7-14
14:1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
14:7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.
14:8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host;
14:9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
14:10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.
14:11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
14:12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.
14:13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
14:14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Hospitality

Hospitality is a major theme throughout the scripture, which in a way stands to reason because it is something that affects life among human beings at every level.  We don’t usually think of Jesus teaching about social etiquette; but this is what he seems, at first blush, to be doing here.  But let’s look more closely at the setting.
He is invited to eat at the house of a prominent Pharisee one Sabbath, presumably following a religious service at the synagogue.  We know that on many occasions these religious leaders were not friendly to him, but this wasn’t true in every instance.  It’s a bit like a visiting preacher being invited for Sunday dinner at a leading churchman’s house, as happened to me last Sunday.  In the few verses we skipped over in our reading, we see him getting into trouble for mixing up his healing ministry with the ordinary course of business in a day set aside for worship and rest: as though, God forbid, acts of mercy and kindness (social activism?) have anything to do with religious observance.

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Hospitality:  How to accept it

Jesus noticed people competing for prominent places in the seating arrangement.  He commented on this, not by directly criticizing what he saw, but by way of a parable:  suppose you are invited to a more important event than this one, such as a wedding banquet; how ought you to behave?
 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 
The principle that those who promote themselves will be brought low, and those who lower themselves will be raised higher, is a principle found throughout the prophetic tradition in scripture, including the preaching of John the Baptist.  Here Jesus applies that principle to ordinary social interactions.

Hospitality:  How to offer it

Turning to his host, Jesus abandons the parable approach and addresses him directly:
When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.
 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
 And you will be blessed…
Note that here Jesus does not criticize his host, though he is a Pharisee, but offers him a path to blessing.

Hospitality:  Why do it this way?

We are given the opportunity to, in the first instance, imitate Jesus, who came not to be serve but to serve, who took the lowest place among humanity, the place of a criminal, which qualified him to be exalted with “a name above every name.”
In the second instance we are afforded a path to blessing in imitation of the Father, who welcomes us when we are needy and undeserving, and gives us a place at his feast.
01
Aug

Verse of the Month — August 2016

Clothing

Above all, clothe yourselves with love,

which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 — Colossians 3:14,  NRSV

31
Jul

Rich Toward God

12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
12:14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?
12:15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
12:16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly.
12:17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’
12:18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
12:19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
12:20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
12:21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.

Rich toward God

Rich Toward God:  Telling Jesus what to do? (13)

The setting: Jesus has been teaching, healing, feeding the hungry, and has most recently been instructing the people using parables.  He is being recognized throughout the countryside as one who speaks as someone who has authority. So it’s only natural for there to be people in the crowd who have a pretty good idea how he should use his influence.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
How easy it is to ask the Lord (or even instruct him) to tell someone else to do the right thing!  In our search for justice, especially, everyone seems to know what someone else ought to do, and our prayers sometimes take the shape of instructions on who should be told to do what. But Jesus rejects the role of judge and arbiter.

Rich Toward God:  Focus on the motives (15)

And he said to them,
Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
Both brothers get the same instruction, and the crowd also gets to hear it. We who are so good at watching one another’s behavior are called upon to watch our own heart. In Proverbs it says, “Guard your heart above all things, for out of it flow the issues of life.”

Rich Toward God:  A Parable (16-20)

The master storyteller begins by speaking of someone who had a plan and a purpose for himself: to accumulate wealth and see to his own future comfort. Notice how often words like “I” and “my” show up in this man’s self-talk.
12:18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
He’s not lazy; he has ambition, an ambition focused on a single goal.
12:19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
What he didn’t know was that he was saving up for the wrong purpose. All his wealth is going to stay where he put it.

Rich Toward God:  Where is your wealth?

 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

Rich Toward God:  Rich toward God

 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
In the subsequent verses, Jesus expands on how we can be rich toward God.  First by not concerning ourselves with the daily needs of food and clothing; not that we don’t work for them, but that they need not be our main concern, as God who loves us provides these things. Next by investing in things that last: relationships, the well-being of others, peace and justice for the next generation.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
29
Jul

In Memoriam

Louella (Peggy) Myers Shamblin went home to be with the Lord on July 27, 2016 at the Hospice of Charles County.

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