The Ship in the Ocean and the Ocean in the Ship

The Ship in the Ocean and the Ocean in the Ship

Sermon on Genesis 28:10-19a for Pentecost +7 A, July 23, 2017

Genesis 28:10-19a

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place — and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel;

I heard a scientist talking about how important sleep is for us, specifically for the brain.  Apparently all kinds of important organization and clutter control takes place while we sleep.  He mentioned that our large brains that gave us the ability to out-think, and therefore, out-survive other primate groups, came at a high cost.  They consume an enormous amount of energy.  And the fact that they require so much sleep leaves us vulnerable for hours at a time. 

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It is interesting that Jacob’s first encounter with God takes place when he is vulnerably sleeping.  When you sleep, your defenses are down, you cannot play games.  Jacob had a lot of defenses, and played a lot of games. 

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The Best Invitation You Will Ever Receive

The Best Invitation You Will Ever Receive

Sermon on Song of Solomon 2:8-13 and Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 for Pentecost +5, July 9, 2017

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

The voice of my beloved!
 Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
 bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
 the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
 is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
 they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
 and come away.”

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 

[Jesus said:] “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is indicated by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

There is a love story in the Hebrew bible which does not get much attention.  It is called the Song of Solomon, or the Song of Songs, or Canticles.  It is about a Hebrew boy and girl who are desperately in love with each other.  They go back and forth singing each others’ praises in poetry.  If it were read on the radio today, it would come with a disclaimer that the language may not be appropriate for “younger or more sensitive audiences.”   

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The Way Christians Look at the World

The Way Christians Look at the World

Sermon on Genesis 18:1-14 and Matthew 10:40-42 for Pentecost +4A, July 2, 2017

Genesis 18:1-14

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.  He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.  He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.  Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”  And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.”  Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.  Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.”  Then he said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?”  The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’  Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Matthew 10:40-42

[Jesus said:] “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

When I lived in outside of this country, I often had experiences that I did not expect to have.  I expected to have to learn new words for things, but I did not expect the meanings to be different.  In Croatian, I learned how to say, “Good morning”, and for over a year I would greet people at the college when I arrived with “good morning.”  Finally a Croatian told me that I should be saying “Good day” because “good morning” was only used when people just got up.  All that time I had been, in effect, telling the people whom I greeted that I had just rolled out of bed.

Continue reading “The Way Christians Look at the World”