Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Our primary text for this first Sunday of five where we study Jesus' parables (brief stories he told to illuminate what God or the kingdom of God is like) is Luke 14:1, 7-24, which can be read here.

Our parables this week are parables about our dinner tables that are told by Jesus around a dinner table. Which made me think that a good starting point for thinking about this parable could be, who do we eat with at our tables? What sorts of meals do we share together? Who is usually present for these meals? Who is missing?

I don't have pictures of all of you sharing meals in your private homes, obviously, but what I have done to start our reflecting is make a collage of artistic renderings of these parables together with pictures I have of meals we have shared together as a congregation. Take a while to reflect on these images that I have put together into one great image. Who is present in them? Who is absent? How do these images reflect the kingdom of God? Where is the kingdom of God needed to break in upon us in these pictures, and what might that look like?

Let your imagination and observation roam free...

For additional compelling feast images to get you thinking, check out this site that has some really amazingly provocative portrayals of the Last Supper:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What is Sabbath?

Our texts for this week are Luke 13:10-17 and Acts 3:1-8, which can be read at

Our Gospel story for this week, an instance where Jesus heals a bent-over woman in the synagogue,
leads to controversy over a question that, I think, we are still asking today:  what is Sabbath?  What does it mean to follow the fourth commandment, one of the ones we most often break--to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy?

As we approach our Christian Sabbath day tomorrow, I offer a few quotes to spark your thinking. What is the Sabbath day to you? What is the importance of a day set aside for worship, rest, and honoring God? What should such a day look like?

See if any of these ideas resonate with you:

The Sabbath is a "day of promise…a glimpse of God's dominion, a little slice of the messianic age dropped into the midst of regular time." -Richard Swanson

"There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.” -Abraham Heschel
"Like a path through the forest, Sabbath creates a marker for ourselves so, if we are lost, we can find our way back to our center." — Wayne Muller
What sort of Sabbath does your soul need? What does the Sabbath day look like in your life?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Being Jesus' Restless Ones

Upon returning home this afternoon after preaching on Luke 12:49-56 and Acts 17:1-8, I saw where one of my colleagues had posted this blessing from the Franciscans that seemed to fit beautifully with our sermon conversation today. I share it to further your reflection on Jesus' challenging words and the example of an early church that lived out its call to holy chaos, to turning the world upside down!

A Four-Fold Benedictine Blessing

by Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB (1985)
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blog Hiatus, and Art for Thought

Hello Faithful Readers-

You may notice a bit of a regular blog hiatus over these weeks; I have been out of town on a vacation that included an intentional internet Sabbath, and am preparing to head out on our annual Intergenerational West Virginia Mission Trip next week and will be on a forced internet Sabbath as we lodge at the lovely but very low-tech 4-H center of Barbour County.

However, as I regroup between these adventures, I came across a couple of pieces of art that go with the parable found in our Gospel text for this Sunday, Luke 12:16-21.  Give it a read here, then reflect on the artwork below.  How do these shed light on what Jesus may have been seeking to teach us in this short but powerful story of a man and his barns?

 Hofheinz-Döring, Margret, 1910-1994
, from Art in the Christian Traditiona project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Jim Janknegt’s "rich fool"
a project of