Friday, December 5, 2014

Luke 20:41-21:4

Give.  Give generously,give out of your poverty.
It is easy to give out of our wealth,out of the places we have the most, but what if where we find ourselves lacking, we gave from there.  What if we sought the places we are the weakest, where we have the most dirth and purposefully and calculatingly gave to God from there.  Giving from our strength, giving from our position of power and from our wealth is not only easy, but it is our place of pride.  If we are to give like the widow, if we are to seek to be unlike the scribes, then we can not give from our pride from where we are our best, because then we are giving of our best and can do so on display, for honor. This is my best see look see, I am worthy, I have so much.  But when we give out of where we have the least, out of our poverty, anything good, anything worthy, and thing breautoful the comes of it, is the strength, the wholeness, the power of God at work in and through our weakness and poverty.  Where am I least? Where am I lacking, help me to give from there, so that god's strength may be made known in me, and through me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Luke 20:1-8

The chief priests and the scribes came to JEsus with a question.  Jesus is all about the questions .  Jesus often taught by asking questions and he very. Jesus encouraged the asking of questions. But the questions he is presented with in this passage are not Ernest question. They are designed to trap home, to trip him up.  Jesus is all about answering Ernest questions.  Jesus has no problems with doubt and reservations but Jesus wil not be waylayed by insincere questioning.  Jesus will not play into their hands he wil not allow himself to be sucked into their game.
It I'd good to remember that ther is nothing wrong with questions and doubts.  In fact in many ways Jesus encourages us to come to him with our reservations.  Jesus wants us to come to him to learn, to find the answers to delve deeper into the personhood of God and God's redemptive plan for this world and for us. But at the same time if I am coming to Christ with insincere questions and argumentative confrontation, Jesus will simply not comply.  Will not be baited.  Insincere questions will remain unsnwere, not because Jesus does not have the answers, but because that kind of questioning does not deserve answers.

Luke 18:1-8

The persistent widow. In a world where widows had very little to depend upon save the graciousness of friends and relatives, especial be she a sonless widow, justice for her would be important.  There would be someone who would be required to take care of her, to be her advocate but if that person was failing at their responsibilities she would need Justice.  But she does not sit around and be,on the broken system, she does not whine allow herself to be the victim of a society that has forgotten her, she crystal out for justice.  She cries out and cries out and cries out and does not stop until she recieves the justice she wants. And Jesus says that if this man is wiling to do that for this woman how much more will God respond when one of God's own so relentlessly cries out for justice.  Justice. Jesus tells us to persistently cry out for justice, to work to move, to advocate for justice and God will see, God will hear and God will act on our behalf and justice will come.  Too often we sees the woman's persistence and think Jesus is telling us that if we are This persistent with. God for the things thT we want, we will receive from God what it is we want.  But it does not tell us that.  It tells us yo call out for justice, to work for justice and we will find thT God is too.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Luke 16:1-9

Deall shrewdly, Jesus says.  Be like the dishonest manager, Jesus says.  Make friends by dishonest wealth, he instructs us.  Shrewdness, dishonestly, ill-gotten gains.  These are the tools Jesus is instructting me to use this morning.  I know this passage, I know the difficulties it raises.  I know how to nimbly tumble through its' array of obstacles, with all the Greek, contextual and theology skills which have been given to me.  But today I am trying to look at it as if I juast read it for the first time.  Jesus says that we are to be shrewd, like the dishonest manager, that I am to make friends via dishonest wealth.  The end game being that we will be welcomed into their houses.  So we are to act in such a way that someone will acept take us in, utlimately.  When talking about ultimate things, I am thinking that we are working to be accepted, taken in by God.  We are to deal shrewdly with God. We are to do whatever it takes to gain God's favor.  My Wesleyan roots tell me I do not need to work for God's favor.    But this passage seems to tell me that when push comes to shove, when I am out on my ear, I should work to be the kind of person God would accept, God would take in.  The manager cuts the bills in half.  The manager gives these people what they want for 1\2 price.  They get two for the price of one. Christ has paid the price, Christ has done the work, so if we are like the manager we will work to be sure that we give two for the price of one, we give twice as much as what has been paid.  This is about giving all of our selves to Christ, to be sure that Jesus is getting a deal, is getting more than what he bargained for.  Give back to God more than God could possibly expect.  Live shrewdly, give God twice as much as what God paid.  Make your life a two for one deal, a 1\2 off special.  Live so that the price paid, is a deal.  Bring heaven to Earth with who you are. Live above and beyond expectation.  Being a dishonest manager means that you give God, the one who will eventually take you in, accept you, will be getting more than God bargained for.  Your life can be worth more.  Live shrewdly, give God even more than God could possibly want.  That means living Heaven here, living abundant love, that mean giving the kind of acceptance, I have recieved, to the world around me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Matthew 25:1-13

I am always captivated by the immage of God as a mother hen. I see a spring time farm yard, with a red hen over seaing a yard full fluffy yellow chicks.  They are running around, eating worms, sqeaking and pecking, in the warm sun.  Then the morning is disturbed by the sound of a car come in up the drive or the slam of the kitchen door and the rapid pound of a running child's feet at she tear across the farm yard on her way to somewhere.  And sudddenly all the chicks run, they don't scatter willy-nilly but they run for the hen, her wings are open wid eand she gathers them in, to protect them from what ever danger there may be, either real or percieved.
This is God, the red Hen, wings wide open calling for us to come, to be gathered in. Sheilded, protected under wing.  But Jesus is saddened here, because Jerusalem repeatedly refuses to come gather in.  They run the other way, ignore the pleas of the mother hen.  Go their own way, come what may, they will handle it on their own.  Will I be Jerusalem, going our own way, ignoring the loving arms of our Savior, or I be a chick, looking to Jesus for the guidance and protection he longs to give?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Luke 12:32-48

In the upside down kingdom.  The servant who is found good and faithful will find herself being served by the master upon his return.  The lowliest one will find that she is being treated as the one with the most honor.   That one will be put over all.  There is glory and wonder in the idea of the one on the bottom, being on top, those who are pushed to the side and live in the margins will find they now live in the center.  Those with the least will be giving the most.  Whenn we are lost we will be found.  When we have nothing, we have everything.  It feels wonderful to be the one who is brought to center stadge from the wings.  It is great to go from the back of the line to the front.  But there is responsibility to being on top, to leading the line, or being center stadge.  We are to be wise in how we use our new found positions, when we are in the center, our job is not to protect our position, but to instead then draw others  to the center as well.  To be pulling others out from the fringes, to be bringing other up from the bottom to the top.  Our postion not one of power and of authority, but of hope, and help and encouragement.  We bring the truth of the kingdom, the promises of God into fruition in the lives of others.  We have been brought into the center and now we too bring others in, making the kingdom of God a reality not only for ourselves for all those who need to be pulled in, lifted up and given honor.  Once the kingdom of God has been brought into reality in our lives, we then bring it into reality into the lives of others as well.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Luke 11:53-12:12

What I am hearing in this passage.
Do not be afraid of what is said or done behind your back.  People may say things in the dark of the night, they may do things in secret, and we can spend our lives afraid of others and what they may be doing, whether it affects us or not.  I can spend my life afraid of what people say about me when I am not around.  Do they like me?  Do they approve of me?  Are they paying attention to me? All questions which can consume my life.  I can worry about these things, but they are beyond my control.  There is really nothing I can do.  People will say what they will say.  They will do what they will do.   Their deeds, their words will be brought light.  Fretting and worrying about it will not change anything.
The same goes for me.  The deeds I do secretly, covertly, the words I say will all come to light.  Who I am in secret, will be known.  I cannot hide in the dark.  The person I am in the dark should always be the same person I am in the light.  The words I am willing to say in secret must be words I am willing to have been said in public.  There can be no duality of person, no bi-furcation of character.  I am a woman of God at all times, my words, my actions, where ever I am,  at all times reflects the truth of this.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Beginnings

So here is the deal.  I am busy.  I am a pastor and I am a Barista at a local Starbucks, a wife and a mother to two beautiful girls.  And most of the time I feel that I am too busy to spend time, outside of my weekly sermon prep, in the scriptures.  I try and I struggle with simply finding the time.  The other day I told someone else (a parishioner) it is not like you need to find a whole hour, just find 10 minutes.  You can do it.  And I said earnestly believing it, but also knowing, far too intimately, the struggle this person is experiencing. And this time, I listened to myself and thought about 10 minutes. During a shift at Starbucks, I get one ten minute break every 2 hours I work.  I usually get one or two breaks a day.  So that adds up to 10 to 20 mins every day.  So my commitment is to spend those 10 to 20 mins reading scripture and typing my thoughts and what I am learning.  Why in a blog you ask?  Accountability.  Even if nobody reads this, it is out there, where someone might read it where someone might notice, and for some reason that matters.  For some reason, it does.  So I am going to do this.  Starting TODAY.  I will read at least one of the daily lections from the BCP for my devotions every day, during my 10 min breaks and write, my thoughts, my prayers, what I feel God saying to me through scripture, here in this blog.

Matthew 23:1-12

Ok so, wow.  This is kind of humbling.   On one hand it would be easy to read this passage and say, those Pharisees, better beware.  But here I am writing my scripture reading here in a blog for all to see.  Am I a teacher, a scribe, a Pharisee, showing off for those around me . . . for the world to see?  Look how spiritual I am, I am doing my devotions.  I am reading scripture.  I am seeking God.  Looky here, see me do it.  
I guess as I begin this new journey, that I should start it right.  I need to constantly remember that I am doing this for its own sake, not for to be seen (yes bad grammar and all), for the pat on the back, for the acknowledgement.  I can hope that whatever may come, that I will do this because it is right, because it is good, because it will draw me closer to God.  Let us hope that my coming here each day is answering the entreaty I am continually hearing from God.  Come spend time with me, come talk to me.  Let this time be my continual answer to the beckoning of God.
- Kaza

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Story We Never Tell

Genesis 21:8-21
Our story; Our story is the story of Abraham and Sarah.  Our story is the story of a promise, of an impossible child, of a blessing, of the creating of a nation out a hopeless situation.  Our story is the story of God bringing fertility where there was only barrenness.  Our story is the story of faith, the story of a miracle, the story of a God who provides, who protects, who leads, who transforms. Our story is the story of a man who trusts, a woman who laughs and child who is a blessing.  That is OUR story.
THIS is not our story.  THIS is the story we never tell; the story we want to forget.  The story we wish was not there.  It is kind of inconvenient.
But the story we have before us this morning shows us Hagar and Ishmael alone in the desert; abandoned by their family rejected by the people of God.
She is out of food, and she has run out of water.  She has nowhere to go and no one to whom she can turn.  She is at the end, not just her wits end, or the end of her rope, she is at The End.  She has no alternatives, she has no opportunities, she has no choices.  This is the end; for her, for her son. She is: Alone: in the desert without anything to sustain her; absolutely and completely alone.
So she takes her son, she puts him under a bush and then goes a little ways off, puts her back to her son, because she cannot bear witness to his dying.  As she sits there, back toward her son, far enough away that she cannot hear his hunger cries, she too begins to wail.
And how did we get here?  Is she cast off because she has done something wrong?  Is she banished because she has committed some heinous crime?  No she is sent away because her son was laughing and playing with Sarah and Abraham’s son, Isaac, at Isaac’s party.
Why is she here? She is here because Sarah and Abraham decided to take God’s promise into their own hands and find a way for Sarah to have a son w/o actually HAVING a son.  She is a here because she is a slave; she is Sarah’s slave.  She is here, because God’s people have failed, and have failed not just on one occasion but on repeated occasions and she is being punished for their failure and in doing so, they fail once again. 
So let’s back up for a second.  Let’s go back to Heron. Heron is where Abraham and Sarah are originally from.  While in Heron, God comes to Abraham and promises that Abraham will be the father nations, if he will only go to the land where God will lead.  So Abraham packs up all his things and he and Sarah, follow God across the desert in search of the place to which God will lead.  On several occasions God comes to Abraham and renews this promise in varying ways.  God promises that Abraham and Sarah will have a son.  God promises that he will father a nation. God promises that Abraham’s descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky.  God promises that Abraham will be a blessing, that the world will be blessed through him.
But it does not matter how many times God promises, or in how many different words, Sarah does not have children.  Not one, not even a girl.  So Sarah and Abraham decide to take matters into their own hands and do the only culturally responsible thing, for a woman of Sarah’s standing, who is barren, to do.  She offers her slave girl as a surrogate.  She gives Abraham her slave girl so that her slave girl can serve as surrogate and bear a child for Sarah.  That is right ladies, and gentleman, she gives her slave to her husband so that her slave can have a child with Abraham who would then be Sarah and Abraham’s child.  
And then, and then when the slave, whose name just so happens to be Hagar (neither Abraham nor Sarah call her by name throughout scripture), actually gets pregnant, Sarah gets upset.  Sarah goes to Abraham and complains, to him telling him that she does like the way Hagar looked at her. “Abraham, I don’t like the way that woman is at looking at me.”  And Abraham deals with it in a responsible fashion, by saying, “She’s your slave girl, you can do with her what you want.”  Yep, he eschews his responsibility toward the pregnant mother of his child and allows his wife to “do with the slave girl as she wills.” And what Sarah “wills” is to mistreat Hagar. The pregnant Hagar does not take kindly to the abuse and flees. 
It is by a well along the road, where God finds her and calls her by her name. God gives her the dignity she deserves, a human being.  God tells her to return to her mistress, that she will bear a son and he will be the father of a nation.  And she calls God, the God who sees, El-Roi.
When no one else in her life values her enough to call her by name, when she has no advocate, God steps in and brings value to her life.  God names her and sets her worst fears to rest; her and her child will not be destroyed they will live, and they will thrive.  God gives to her a promise of descendants and of a nation.  God gives her back her dignity.
Hagar returns to Sarah and Abraham and bears them a son, named Ishmael, which means God hears. God heard Hagar when she was fleeing and frightened, God heard Abraham and Sarah and finally gave them a son. God heard.  For a while they probably believe that Ishmael is the child of the promise.  Sarah and Abraham have a son who socially counts as theirs.  And it seems that this must be the way that God’s promise can be full-filled, after all God has promised Hagar that this child will be the father of a nation.  The promise associated with Abraham and his son.  The trio moves forward, Sarah’s cruelty and Abraham’s negligence seemingly forgotten.
But that is not the way the story ends.  God comes to Abraham and tells him that THIS is not the way.  God did not intend for Abraham and Sarah to use Hagar in this way.  God intends for Abraham and Sarah to have a child of their own.  And God fulfills this promise.  Despite the odds, overcoming her barrenness, and in spite of her age God allows for Sarah to bear a son and they name him Isaac which means laughter. 
And things seem to go well for a while, that is until Isaac is weaned and they throw a party to celebrate.  While at the party Sarah sees Ishmael playing with Isaac.  What is interesting here, is the word, in the Hebrew, has its root in the same word as “to laugh.”  So Ishmael is almost literally laughing with the child of laughter.  And Sarah sees this and instead of being happy that the two boys get along so well, she gets agitated.   She becomes afraid that since Ishmael is technically her son, he will be treated as the firstborn and that he will inherit instead of Isaac.
Sarah goes to Abraham and insists that he throw that slave girl and her son out of the camp, “because I will not have him inheriting alongside of my son.”  Sarah does not even acknowledge him as her son, or even as Abraham’s son, she does not even acknowledge that technically he is the firstborn, perhaps not wanting to remind Abraham of these facts.  Abraham is deeply disturbed, but being assured by God that Isaac is the child of the promise, Abraham feels free to give the boy and his mother some bread and a skin of water and send them into the desert.  But the desert is huge and a loaf of bread and skin of water do not go very far and soon they find themselves alone, in the desert, with no provisions.
The people of God have failed.  They have tried to take God’s promise into their own hands; they have mistreated and abused another human being.  They have disregarded her life and disrespected her as a person.  They act in ways that neglect their responsibility toward her and her son.  They cheat her son out of his rightful place in the household and steal his inheritance to give to their other son.  And when her usefulness no longer suits them they send her away; out of sight, out of mind. 
And let us not white wash this AT ALL, Abraham did not give her enough provision to make it to anywhere.  Abraham did not send her away in hope that she could find another family.  He did not direct her toward Egypt (the country of her birth) with the expectation that she could make her way back there and start a new life for herself and her son, perhaps find her family.  He gave her just enough food and water so that she and her son would be far away when the two of them died of exhaustion, dehydration and exposure. If he did not see it happen then perhaps it did not happen.  If a woman and her son die alone in the desert, where nobody can see them or hear them, do they really die?
But God is El-Roi, the God who sees Ishmael, and God the one who hears.  God sees!  God hears! And God shows them a well and provides for them and they both survive. 
And this is the story we never tell.  This is the story we want to forget.  This is the story where the people of God fail, and fail again and then try to cover up their failure.  They try to hide it. 
This is Abraham, the father of faith, the one whom Paul commends for his Faith, telling us that it is Abraham’s faith which makes him righteous.  Abraham and Sarah could be described as many things, when it comes to Hagar, but righteous is not one of them. Let’s face it they act sinfully toward Hagar in almost every way.  They do not treat her as a human being.  They treat her as an object which can be used, abused and thrown away when it no longer has value.
The people of God fail here. And the fact of the matter is that sometimes that the people of God fail.  Sometimes, even saved and sanctified Nazarenes act in reprehensible ways toward other human beings.  We ourselves, personally, act inappropriately toward other people.  But we also turn a blind eye when people around us are misused or abused.  We want to ignore their stories; we want to forget their stories.  Their story is not OUR story.  So what does it really matter.  Sometimes, we want to think as Abraham and Sarah thought, “out of sight, out of mind.”   Sometimes we think, “if I don’t see it happen, then it must not be happening”, or even, “I am not actually aware of it when it happens, then I am not responsible for it happening.”
But when we turn a blind eye to abuse; when we try to ignore the people all around us who are being misused; when our belief systems inadvertently call for us to allow abuse to happen to other people, when our words tell half-truths about the lives of others who are being victimized, when we realize that we are allowing slavery with our purchasing choices, when we are aware the things we eat and drink come to our tables without the very people, who toiled and labored so that these things could be brought up out of the earth, are not being paid enough to feed themselves and their families; when we find that we are participating in systems and paradigms that allow other people to be abused, misused, and enslaved, we are being Sarah and Abraham.  We are throwing Hagar and her son into the desert so they can die out of sight.
Let us be better than that!  The people of God ARE better than that.  We cannot call ourselves the children of God.  We cannot call ourselves Christians and turn a blind eye or stay silent or even participate in the abuse of other human beings.  Let us stand up and say, “No,” when we are witness to a person being abused by their spouse!”  Let us stand up and say, “No,” when we see children being misused.  Let us make choices with our dollars and say,  “No,” when we know that farmers, fishermen and other labor workers are being mistreated, underpaid and enslaved to bring food to our table, and coffee to our cups.  Let us do whatever we can to stamp out the slavery that happens in our neighborhoods, in our city, in our country, or anywhere else in this world where it occurs on a staggering and mind-blowing basis!   Let us be better than Abraham and Sarah, let us not us not fail as they did.  Let us truly be the people of God! Let us remember Hagar, let us tell her story and let us not allow this to happen to anyone else!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Encountering the text - What does it Say?: John 3:1-17

1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 
2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." 
     By Night in the Dark - when it is hard to see
     Teacher come from God - a rabbi, but not a prophet?
     Recognition that his power, his ability is from God
     The "know" here is a seeing kind of work, we perceive, we can see . . .in the dark

3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." '

     See the kingdom of Heaven - it is night - hard to see things in the dark - Jesus is saying you can't see things very well.
     Born from above - I agree with Nicodemus below this is a strange thing to 

4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 

     You wouldn't fit, it would be DARK in there - you could not see ---interesting

5Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 

     Born of water and of Spirit - Jesus just keeps saying nonsense - does he expect Nicodemus to get this?
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 
     So are we flesh?  Are we spirit?  Do we want to be spirit?  Are we Gnostics today?

7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.' 

     Ok. . .not so much astonished as confused by what exactly you mean, Jesus, you keep explaining yourself but it is not getting any clearer.
8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." 
     Wind - Spirit - this is the gospel of John, I assume that connection is there
     You can feel the wind when it blows and you can hear it but you can't see it - So people of born of the Spirit can be experienced, even if you do not know their origins - maybe?

9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 

     Exactly - Nic and I are on the same page!

10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 
     And Jesus expect him to understand these things - at face value, without commentaries?  - I am a "teacher of Israel" too, so is this suppose to make sense to me?

11 "Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 

     We - we who?
     Speak of what we know and what we have seen - court language - he is a witness to what he knows and has seen but YOU (Nic - and I?) do not receive his testimony - we are rejecting it , see it as false, untrue - wow, Jesus is accusing Nic (and me) of rejecting true witness in court

12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 

     THESE are earthly things?  There are more complex heavenly things?
      Not so much Not Believe but more like not understand

13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 

      Has - past tense - Jesus has already ascended and already descended, I would expect the latter but not teh former
     Son of Man - is this term explained else where?  How would Nic hear this phrase?  It would not have the baggage I give to it.  Would it be a "new" phrase?  Or would it mean something to it?  Would it also carry any baggage that would either help or hinder his understanding?
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
     Reference to the Healing from the snake bites while the Israelites were in the desert.  A great St. Patrick's day passage ;) and in this case allusion made by Jesus for a Sunday that is the day before St. Patrick's day.

15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 

     Eternal - full, rich, abundant, lived to fullness, lived the way it was meant to be lived, living the way we were created to live - has a Here and Now as well as a life Hear After meaning

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 

     We will not live perishing lives, dying lives, half lives but full lives - :)

17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

     Saved - I have always thought this was a strange word.  Saved from what?  Saved from half lives, from lives that are less than full, less than rich, less than abundant. less than eternal?  
     No condemnation - not here to show us how worthless we are, or how broken the lives we are living truly are but here to show us what they can be, what they were meant to be - to offer hope, another way, a way out of our brokenness, a way to live the kind of lives that are eternal.   :)

Is there no response from Nic?  What does Nic thing and do in the end?  Where does he go?  

Are we left w/o his response to leave room for ours?

So where does that take us?  Where does this lead us?  What does this mean for us?  What doe we think about what Jesus said here?  What do we think about what Jesus is offering?