Thanksgiving

All our many blessings come from God’s good creation.

  • Deuteronomy 26:1-11
  • Psalm 100
  • Philippians 4:4-9
  • John 6:25-35

The church recognizes the traditional Thanksgiving holiday as a holy day for our land, life, and heritage. We are called to be faithful stewards of the earth as God’s creation, given to us as a sacred trust. Simple living, with respect for each other and the earth’s resources, is a way to be thankful stewards for our blessings so that all may share them.

The meaning of Eucharist is Thanksgiving. The reading from Deuteronomy recalls the Lord’s mighty salvation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and the people are bid to offer in thanksgiving the first fruits of their fields. John’s Gospel of the story of the feeding of the five thousand by Jesus recalls the story of the food miraculously provided to the Israelites in the wilderness. Christians perceive in this meal a foretaste of the heavenly banquet in heaven. It also prefigures the Eucharist. Jesus is the bread come down from heaven. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 28 Year A

Being ready

  • Judges 4:1-7
  • Psalm 123
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
  • Matthew 25:14-30

We have the responsibility to use our talents to mirror God’s creative action in the world. What we do shows forth the glory of God, no matter how insignificant we think our actions might be. We must face the consequences of our failure to mirror God’s creation, whether through our fear or rebellion. We face these consequences individually and as a nation and society.

There are two great stories we can tell from today’s readings, each with the theme of judgment, wrath and justice. Deborah, a prophetess and judge, who with her general, Barak, prepares for battle against those who worship false gods. In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells us more than our need to use the gifts God has given us.

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All Saints’ Day: Year A

Hungering for righteousness

  • Revelation 7:9-17
  • Psalm 34:1-10, 22
  • 1 John 3:1-3
  • Matthew 5:1-12

All Saints celebrates the baptized people of God, living and dead, who are the body of Christ. As November heralds the dying of the landscape in many northern regions, the readings and liturgy calls us to remember all who have died in Christ and whose baptism is complete. At the Lord’s table we gather with the faith of every time and place, trusting that the promises of God will be fulfilled and that all tears will be wiped away in the new Jerusalem.

Today we receive testimony from saints of the ancient world, hearing both realized experiences and promises for the future: God is our shelter and our food, strong to deliver and sweet to taste.  We hunger for God’s righteousness and for God’s presence; we acknowledge God’s saving power and offer our worship with thanks that one day we will be filled at last. As we approach the table, we celebrate the past and the future our God has shaped, and we open our ears to learn what they teach us about the present. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 26, Year A

Practice what you preach

  • Joshua 3:71-17
  • Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
  • Matthew 23:1-12

What a contrast between the kinds of leadership presented in today’s two New Testament readings. Paul emphasizes how he, Silas, and Timothy strived for humility: they tried not to be a burden to anyone, they sought to comfort and encourage those they visited, and they acknowledged that the word they brought was not their own but God’s. Jesus speaks of Pharisees who are the opposite – placing heavy burdens on people’s shoulders, preaching what they don’t practice, and looking for recognition.

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 25, Year A

To love God is to love your neighbor

  • Deuteronomy 34:1-12
  • Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
  • Matthew 22:34-46

Over the past few weeks we’ve heard how the Pharisees continually challenge Jesus. Today they try one more time: “What is the greatest commandment?” In reply, Jesus quotes the Shema, the ancient Hebrew prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). He summarizes the law and the prophets by combining the two great commandments.

Love God. Love neighbor. Commands such as these, at least in general propositions, do not seem difficult to obey. They are found throughout this week’s texts and are infused throughout the scriptures, yet we regularly need to be reminded of these commandments. Love God. Love neighbor. Our own preoccupations with ourselves makes living these commands difficult. Bot commands require that we look outward. How can we possibly love God with all our heart, mind, and soul? How can we possibly love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves? These commands are not as easy as they seem. We need the reminder of these texts to keep God and our neighbors at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 24, Year A

Power & Authority

  • Exodus 33:12-23
  • Psalm 99
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
  • Matthew 22:1-15

Today’s Gospel is a timely one, as the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. We are a nation of economic privilege, yet the divide grows larger between those who have and those who don’t have. Joseph Donders, writes in his poem from Jesus the Stranger: Reflections on the Gospel:

[God] coined us in [God’s] image . . . We are [God’s] money, and we should be spent . . . Money should circulate; money should go from hand to hand, we should go from hand to hand; . . . money should be used, we should be used; . . . money is going to be worn, we should be going to be worn.
We should be spent, we are coins, God is trying to use us, to pay off our debts, to pay off our debts we owe each other here on earth . . . 
Let us risk being used, and we will be increased, and the end will be glory . . . 

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The Season after Pentecost: Proper 23, Year A

The Messianic Banquet

  • Exodus 32:1-14
  • Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
  • Philippians 4:1-9
  • Matthew 22:1-14

Two parables are in today’s Gospel reading: the invitation to the wedding feast and the wedding garment. The first parable suggests that the Kingdom of God will become known whether people are ready for it or not. It is God’s gift, and all sorts of people will be included, though many may not be worthy by the standards of the world. The second parable reminds us that we must be ready for the King at all times. His invitation comes unexpectedly. Continue reading

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