Suicide and Love
2010-01-30 by David von Schlichten

A high school student in our community killed himself two days ago. I will be talking about this in my sermon for Sunday. I will invite people to think about how they deal with depression, about the ways we kill ourselves, figuratively and literally, and, most importantly, about how Christ welcomes all, including outsiders, to be part of the love of God that we are to share with each other. This love is crucial for helping people through crisis.

Thank you to our guest blogger Guy Kent for his thoughtful contributions, which you can enjoy by scrolling down.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





The Soloist
2010-01-30 by Stephen Schuette

Saw The Soloist last night.  It's a beautiful film about honoring people and dealing with that fuzziness around our own boundaries that intrudes on them and reveals our own sense of immaturity.  Talk about patience in love!  Maybe it's no coincidence that Paul mentions that first in the list of descriptors of genuine love.  Jamie Foxx is extraordinary too. 



Welcome, Guy Kent!
2010-01-29 by David Howell

Guy Kent is a retired United Methodist elder and founder of the Questing Parson blog at http://questingparson.typepad.com/



Generations
2010-01-28 by David von Schlichten

In Jeremiah 1, Jeremiah is young. In Psalm 71, the psalmist is old. Both receive a voice through Scripture. Both receive blessing from God.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Can You Tell The Difference
2010-01-28 by Guy Kent

I know how the Senior Rabbi of the First Synagogue of Nazareth felt. Last year I invited Walter Kimbrough to preach at my church. It was a memorable day.

He helped me with the Children’s Time by being my visual aid. There we stood before the kids assembled on the front pew, I am five foot six; he’s five foot seventeen. I had on a plain old black robe; he wore a bedazzling robe with trimmings that virtually sparkled. I asked the young folks: “Do you notice any difference in Dr. Kimbrough and me?”

They did. One of the kids pointed out he was taller. “Great,” I said, “anything else?” Another pointed out the difference in our robes. “Great. Anything else?” Someone called attention to the fact I was older. “That’s good. Anything else?” I had a lapel mike; he was holding a hand mike. “Anything else?” I had black loafers; he wore brown lace-up shoes. “Anything else?” Finally they exhausted, apparently, the differences. “Doesn’t anyone notice something else different?” There was silence.

“It’s okay to say it,” I finally said in a stage whisper.

One of the braver kids then responded, “He’s black.”

I can’t help but wonder how long it took the occupants of the pews that Sabbath in Nazareth to notice something was different.

At my church, that morning, there was another difference. I’m an adequate purveyor of the Word. I manage to keep the saints awake on Sunday morning, but Walter Kimbrough awakened them to a new level of listening. He dominated them. He demanded they pay attention. They didn’t even notice he had not reached his last point until a half hour past the normal time for the benediction. 

When Walter came to our church things were different, the message and the messenger.

So it was that day in Nazareth, for when the message is Jesus’ message the response is never ordinary.

The church I served prior to my retirement was an inner city congregation with a commitment to social justice and diversity. It was a church composed of red and yellow black and white, straight and gay. That church was so diverse I suspect a few of those attending on any given Sunday actually prayed, “To whom may concern.”

It was early one Monday morning when I was changing the wording on the church’s sign. Ron and Barbara approached me. They were a homeless couple who lived in the park across the street. Each morning they’d bring their bedroll to store at the church until they returned from their panhandling. This particular morning they stopped. They stared at me as I changed the sign. Finally, I paused.

“What?”

“Pastor, did you tell Leroy he could sleep on the church breezeway last night?” Leroy was another homeless citizen of the neighborhood.

“I did.”

In unison Ron and Barbara shook their heads from side to side as Ron told me, “Pastor, we don’t need Leroy’s kind at our church.”

Strange that these two incidents in my ministry pop into my mind on reading this lesson. Or, maybe it is not so strange. When Jesus brings us the message he often leads us to consider “a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon” and Naaman the Syrian leper and Leroy on the breezeway. When Jesus in the messenger, that message leads us right through the crowd of our insecurities and prejudices.





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