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Showing posts from August, 2010

Followers of Religion, or Followers of Jesus?

In the Gospel we’ll hear on Sunday (Luke 13:10-17), Jesus is criticized by a religious leader for healing someone with a severe physical handicap, because he healed her on a Sabbath day. Jesus responds to the criticism by calling the religious people “hypocrites.”

Religion -- religious practices -- had become more important to them than acts of mercy and compassion. That’s why Jesus called them hypocrites.

We are hypocrites when our religion -- worship, holding orthodox beliefs, saying our prayers -- becomes more important than following the founder of our religion in our day-in-and-day-out actions of setting people free from whatever ails them.

A few weeks ago, we heard a similar theme, when Isaiah (1:10-20) reminded us that God has grown weary with “solemn assemblies.” Acts of worship are “an abomination” to God unless the people doing such worship are “seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, and pleading for the widow.”

This is the reason we encourage every membe…

Know Jesus, No Peace

In the passage that is appointed for Sunday, Jesus asks the question,

“Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth?”

It’s perfectly understandable if your first answer to that is, “Uh… yes?”

After all, isn’t Jesus referred to as the “Prince of Peace”?

Didn’t the angels sing at his birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth”?

Weren’t some of his last words on earth, “Peace be with you, my own peace I leave with you,” and don’t we exchange the Peace each Sunday, saying “The peace of the Lord be always with you.”?

It is true that Christ came to bring peace, peace between us and between us and God.

So why did Jesus answer his own question by saying, “No, I tell you [I have not come to bring peace], but rather division!”?

Part of the reason -- something I hope to more fully explore in Sunday’s sermon -- is something we polite Episcopalians don’t take very seriously, and that’s this: whenever and wherever we take our discipleship (being apprentices of Jesus) seri…

Financial Safety

In the Gospel lesson appointed for Sunday (Luke 12:32-40), we hear Jesus calling his followers to make sound financial investments.

Have you ever purchased one of those money belts that you wear inside your clothing?

In Sunday's lesson, Jesus advises us, his followers, to create for ourselves a special kind of pouch, or depository, for our money that is tougher - longer lasting, less likely to wear out - than Kevlar.

There's a safe, or safety deposit box in which we can put our money that not only has never been broken into, but no would-be burglar has even come near - it's far more secure than Fort Knox.

Now here's what's interesting: Usually, putting our money in a safe (low risk) investment means getting very little back in return. That's because, as we all know from Economics 101, there's usually a correlation, or trade-off, between making low risk/low return investments, and high risk/high return investments.

But putting our money in the pouch or place that…