#30: Choose your friends: #40ways40days

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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.’ (Reading: Luke 16:9)

 Before offering a brief personal reflection, I wanted to put down into words some of my musings and mutterings over this passage. Up front, let me say that I like Luke. Continue reading “#30: Choose your friends: #40ways40days”

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Forging discomfort into community

This week at Sanctuary we heard the story of the Widow’s Mite: Jesus is at the Temple and observes rich people dropping large sums in the offering box, and a poor widow who puts in the two smallest coins going at the time. Jesus tells His disciples that the Widow has given the most – everything she has – while the Rich have given only a small amount of their surplus. Giving out of your surplus always grabs me with this story. The notion that giving and remaining comfortable isn’t much to write home about – the real magic comes by giving even when it causes discomfort. Continue reading “Forging discomfort into community”

Angry judge, or the face of love?

Listen here.

How we hear stories about Jesus depends very much on our image of God. I was thinking about this because, in our conversation last week about the prayers of confession, several people said that they felt, or had been taught, that God was just waiting to judge them. The image of God as a harsh and violent judge is pervasive, and it shapes us. Like the disciples who go with Jesus up the mountain, many of us hold onto this idea, even although it may not be quite right. For this image of God comes, in part, from an older story, a story which predates Jesus. A story that also involves a mountain. Let me tell it to you: Continue reading “Angry judge, or the face of love?”

Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune … is in the good books with God. One of the problems with growing up comfortable and in the church is that it is too easy to think this. For we are the good guys: the right sort of people who never do anything seriously wrong. Insulated by our wealth and our privilege, we glance over at all those ghastly people whose lives are a mess, congratulate ourselves for our nice morals and clean living, and assure ourselves and everyone else that we belong in God’s house. For we are not sinners like them. We never rejected God; we belong in the kingdom. Yet, week after week, in God’s house we hear stories which should challenge our assumptions, and this week is no exception. Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice”

Cheeky acts of forgiveness

Once upon a time, the churches were commissioned to go out and participate in the mission of God: to bring good news to the poor, to free the captives, to heal the sick, to forgive debts, and to make disciples. Yet much of the church took this as a mandate to accrue wealth and wield power. Some preachers controlled their flocks through fear; some upheld violent nation-states to their own advantage; some wielded proof texts like a weapon. Some religious leaders took advantage of vulnerable people, while others used their power to cover up their colleagues’ acts of abuse. Churches hoarded riches, and locked them away; denominations invested in corporations that denuded the forests and poisoned the rivers. Some congregations became private clubs, and made anyone who was different feel deeply unwelcome; some became places of such vitriolic hatred that all who came into contact with them were burned. All these goings-on in God’s name made God feel totally ripped off. So God decided to leave the churches, and let them fend for themselves. Continue reading “Cheeky acts of forgiveness”

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