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Showing posts from August, 2016

Jesus and Miss Manners

Many visitors to The Falls Church Episcopal comment on how hospitable - warm, friendly, welcoming - we are. I've not been here long enough to be able to take any credit for that - it's part of the DNA of the 2007-2012 "continuing congregation" that we've all inherited -- so I feel free to brag about it! Extending a wide-open welcome to everyone is more than just good manners. As we'll see in this Sunday's gospel (and explore further in my sermon), the reason we, as a church, extend a wide-open welcome is biblically based -- particularly Jesus' vision for a faith community. Jesus lifts our eyes to what a faith community can and should be. He paints us a picture of the heavenly banquet, God's Kingdom come, God's will being done, on earth, as it is in heaven. It's a place where the ways we normally define ourselves - wealth, occupation, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, politics - still exist, but are so far on the p

Jesus vs Religious Hypocrites

As we'll see again in this Sunday's gospel , if there was one thing that drove Jesus up the wall, it was religious people. Especially religious hypocrites. And on the other hand, when Jesus encountered moral failures and social rejects, he had nothing but compassionate and forgiving words for them. Again, I invite you to read, for yourself, any one of the gospels - especially one of the first three so-called "synoptic," or thematically similar gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke -- straight through, in one sitting, and then ask yourself: what image of Jesus emerges from that reading? Do that - read a gospel straight through - and I'll bet you'll be surprised. Because the picture of Jesus that emerges from such a reading is not as someone who was primarily a miracle worker or healer. It is not Jesus as primarily a teacher or preacher. Rather, it is Jesus as someone who was primarily a provocateur : someone who deliberately, repeatedly, provoked the re