“Boundaries help define what a household, family, church, or community holds precious. However, the modern world is deeply ambivalent about boundaries and community. Although we yearn for home and a place to belong, often we find ourselves more co…
Matthew 20:1-16We want justice; we want fairness. When justice is not served and when fairness is not implemented, we feel that something is clearly amiss. The parable of the laborers in the vineyard is about justice and fairness, but on God’s terms.A …
It’s been a dramatic and difficult time for those of us in the Western and Nothern hemispheres. We had a total eclipse swath across the United States, there has been a massive earthquake just off the coast of Mexico, forest fires in Montana, and t…
Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14 or Ezekiel 33:7-11Psalter: Psalm 149 or Psalm 119:33-40Epistle: Romans 13:8-14Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20___Holy God, you call us to righteousness and light. Teach us the undivided law of love, t…
Original Posting At http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/allanbevere/ROss/~3/VLXQRjmLlpU/a-brief-history-of-labor-day.html
Old Testament: Exodus 3:1-15 or Jeremiah 15:15-21Psalter: Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b or Psalm 26:1-8Epistle: Romans 12:9-21Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28___In the flaming bush you promised deliverance to your people, O God,…
Original Posting At http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/allanbevere/ROss/~3/-CAWhmWIZt0/saturday-at-cinema-twenty-nine.html
Ob-ses-sion: the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
What’s your obsession? We all have one. We are told that obsessions are bad; that we need to be well-rounded people, that is, we need to live life in a balanced way. (Actually I always wanted to be one of those pointy conehead people on SNL, but that’s another post for another time.) Now I am all for balance in life depending on how it is defined, but when I read the New Testament, I have trouble finding balance being commended in its pages. Instead I read statements like:
Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” -Matthew 12:30
At that very time there were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” -Luke 13:1-5
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. -Philippians 2:7-11
Then there is this statement of Jesus from this week’s Gospel Lesson:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24
Most people are actually obsessed with something. Some are obsessed with making money, other are obsessed with a hobby or two, and still others are obsessed with not being obsessed about anything important; those last persons are obsessed with living a non-productive life sitting on the couch and watching old reruns. I know some persons who obsess over the weekend. Monday through Friday are days of purgatory that will give way to the party that begins on Friday night. There are others who are so obsessed with sports that they will take off their shirts, paint their chests with their team colors, and sit in a football stadium in below freezing temperatures. “Fan” is short for “fanatic.”
Much has been and is being made over the decline of the church in the West. Any pastor looking for a book on congregational redevelopment and growth will find more information than she or he can possibly assimilate. We read about techniques and strategies and how to understand generational differences in order to reach, in particular the young folks (which I am coming to see as being greatly overblown). I am sure these things have their place, but what is really missing in all of this is the church’s lack of obsession with the Great Commission Jesus has given to his people (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus says to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Too many folks in the pews are not obsessed with the Great Commission because too many pastors are not so obsessed and they fail to pass that obsession on to their flock; and too many seminary professors are not obsessed with Jesus’ last earthly charge to his disciples, and they pass their lack of obsession on to the pastors they train. But Jesus took up his cross for our sake. Can we the disciples of Jesus do less for the sake of the the world?
When I stand before God and give an accounting of my obsession in life, I hope I will have more to show for myself than my golf game (Actually, if you have ever watched me play golf, you will know that I definitely have no obsession in that respect!), I hope I will be able to say that my life in all of its aspects was about giving serious heed to the words of our Lord– “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
So… what’s your obsession?
And as to the shoes, let him who is about to touch the holy land which the feet of God hath trodden, put them off, as Moses did upon the mount, that he may bring there nothing dead; nothing to come between humanity and God (Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 45.19)
As Moses stands in the presence of God on Mount Horeb, he is commanded to take off his shoes for the place on which he stands is holy. In the ancient Near East, the custom of taking off one’s sandals was a sign of respect. But Gregory of Nazianzus turns our minds to the moral implications of what it means to stand in the presence of the holy. For Gregory, Moses’ shoes signify those unholy things that stand between God and human beings. If any of us is to stand in the presence of the holy, we too must be holy. St. Augustine picks up on the same theme as well in Exodus 3:
What are the shoes? Well, what are the shoes we wear? Leather from dead animals. The hides of dead animals are what we protect our feet with. So what are we being ordered to do? To give up dead works. This is symbolically what he instructs Moses to do in his honor, when the Lord says to him, “Take off your shoes. For the place you are standing in is holy ground.” There’s no holier ground than the church of God is there? So as we stand let us take off our shoes, let us give up dead works (Sermon 101.7).
The story of Moses and the burning bush is one of calling. Moses is being called by God, and the people are being called too– out of their bondage to a place of freedom where they will live as God’s people. The foundation of the divine law is the holiness of God, which God’s people are to reflect in their lives. It is no accident that holiness is connected to the call; for the call cannot be fulfilled without throwing off what is dead within us, that which keeps us away from the holy presence of God, that which interferes with the charge we have been given to keep.
St. Paul tells, the Colossians,
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful (3:1-15).
Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness will be the result of their lack of trust in God; their lack of holiness. In refusing to cast off the dead things, God’s people often found themselves at odds with the living God on their way to the Promised Land
Holiness is not an option; it is but another name for the image of God reflected in God’s people. The Bible says that without holiness, no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). It is also the case that without holiness no one can see Lord reflected in the Lord’s people.
Old Testament: Exodus 1:8-2:10 or Isaiah 51:1-6Psalter: Psalm 124 or Psalm 138Epistle: Romans 12:1-8Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20___God of Miriam and Moses, you are our help from age to age. Accept our worship, our living sacrifice,…