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I do believe Paul's point is easily made at the end of ourreading. And that is that God's power ismade stronger in our human weakness. Therefore, boasting and weakness allows for Christ's powerand grace to be made more evident. Or, in our English translation of this, it'sperfected. But why? Why is the divine'spower perfected in weakness? Maybebecau…
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I think we are all familiar with "Are we there yet?" In fact, I can't help thinking that the question, so familiar to family travelers, is an inborn genetic trait that is triggered one hour after the car leaves the driveway. Sometimes children even make a repetitive chant out of it, thus increasing its output a hundredfold before the parents put a …
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I don't remember when I started seeing the oval decals on cars that say just 26.2, but for a long time, it puzzled me. I assumed it referred to a Bible verse, so I looked up all the "26.2's" in the Bible to see what message was being proclaimed. There was Exodus: "The length of each curtain shall be 28 cubits, and the width of each curtain 4 cubits…
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Are we, perhaps, a little bit afraid of Pentecost? And what the spirit? A couple of weeks ago,our neighbors invited us to attend worship with them at their church. Word ofdeliverance. I'd been there a couple oftimes before, but this was my first outing there with my children. The band was poppin, the speakers wereblaring. The choir was on fire. Lit…
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Think of someone who is suffering from addiction, from depression, from loneliness, self-rejection, rejection by the world. Distress due to finances. Meaningless of life. Think of them as being tossed into the ocean. Do we not hold on to Jesus, believe in our God and Christ so that we can be a lifeboat to others. By us sitting here, standing here, …
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I don't know about you all, but I feel like I've had more than the usual number of encounters with geese this spring. Maybe you've had that experience too. Frequently as they're crossing a road... And if I don't see them immediately when I'm behind other cars, I will find that I'm experiencing considerable frustration.'Why are these people not movi…
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A few years ago, when traveling anywhere was out of the question because of you-know-what, many homeowners thought of turning their own yards into destinations worthy of traveling to--and the staycation was born. My backyard was a blank slate full of weeds. I wanted a place outside that was worth traveling to, a yard that reminded me of places I'd …
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While coming down the hill into Hyde Park on Ridge, I noticed a car stopped in the middle of the intersection, and a man standing at the back of his car. Without thinking it through, I pulled off to the side, saying to my sister, hold on, a guy is stuck in the intersection. I'll call you right back. And as I jumped out of my car to see what was goi…
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Our hope rests in God. When God shows up and does thework of transformation, and resurrection in our lives, our part is to recognizeGod. And if you're not sure how to recognize God, look for love. And I mean, every time. Look for the love inyour life. And when you look there, you see God and you recognize that God hasbeen at work in resurrection al…
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How many of you have been through hell with God by yourside, through the trials of your life, possibly testing you? How about when you get to the other side andGod is still there? You know in yourheart that you've made it through the hard times and hardships because of thatpresence that you can always count on. The presence that always seems to pro…
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People were getting healed. There were rumors of a savior. We would overthrow our oppressors and be our true selves again under our true ruler. There were some disagreements among us at first, and some confusion, and some people got pretty belligerent, and they started arguing against us. And then, at the end, it's as if they got carried away with …
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Hospitality is also an integral part of our storytonight. And it's the one that surprisedme. I consider myself a pretty greathost. I love when people come to my homefor dinner. I'm Greek, so there's always enough food to feed a small army. And I've crafted my own signaturecocktail. And I've brought brightlycolored linens home from my travels so I c…
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Intimacy is connection. Knowing one another. Care andvulnerability. And what Mary shows tothis man who is not only her teacher, but her friend, and who we were remindedin this story is the one who literally raised her brother up from the dead. She drops to her knees and she pours perfume all over hisfeet and she takes her hair and wipes it off. And…
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Jesus is describing his own death, a death he understands as necessary for our salvation. So, there's intimacy, vulnerability, and there's deep commitment born of love. We see all three of these in this Gospel reading. In our own lives are there moments we want to shy away. We want to turn away. We want to turn inward and avoid intimacy, avoid vuln…
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Having his last supper with the disciples a troubledJesus announces that one of them is his betrayer. And do you know, if you read that carefully,every one of them is bewildered. They have no clue. And their uncertainty suggests that itcould be any one of them. A notableexample is Peter, who refutes that he would ever deny Jesus, but then does soth…
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We know that the pain and the suffering is still to come. Thinking about the disciples more, are, are they walking along Jesus, flanking him? Might that be something we would have done? Or are some of them acting almost as an advance team, drawing the crowds, letting them know about Jesus, letting them know that here is the person they have been wa…
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And often this change that we really want is todesperately go back to when we remember what we remember as simpler or betteror easier times. We want our churches to be like they were. And of course, theywere wonderful. We want them and ourworld to slow down and stop changing. But unfortunately, staying static or spending all of our energy andwords …
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People come at us, and we're not really sure where they're coming from. And sometimes our first instinct is to take whatever energies come up that are thrown our way and throw it right back. Someone wants to come at you with some kind of anger or argument., you're going to knock them down. This is the way of our world friends. This is the way we th…
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When Jesus gets angry, it's because someone is getting in the way of someone else experiencing God's love. In the case of the temple, the people that are there, are selling oxen and livestock and things like that which are meant for sacrifice according to the commandments, and that's part of how people atone, and keep their relationship with God. A…
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He had on multiple occasions, masterfully bested fierceopposition for the most respected religious authorities. He astounded the crowds with his teachingsand actions. And he demonstrated boththe power and authority expected of a Messiah. However, such an expectation comes up short. It distorts one's vision and makes one seewith the human eyes on on…
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You are a daughter of God, in you, God is wellpleased. You are a son of God, in you, God is well pleased. And I have heardthis and I have come to believe it and it has changed the way I understand mywhole relationship with God, to understand that I'm not trying to become abeloved child of God. I am beloved. I am God's son. And this is a part of my …
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"Maybe your mother would be up on that hill or an aunt that helped you or a grandfather that mentored you. Would it be someone who has shaped the way you see the world like Moses and Elijah did? Would it be James Baldwin up on that hill or Ayn Rand or something like that? Moses and Elijah both had a sort of national reality. Would it be Thomas Jeff…
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Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. I almost asked Deacon Gary to take a long pause after that verse in our gospel today, so all the women in the room could have a collective eye roll together. Please. The only woman spoken of in the beginning of Mark is sick and laid up in bed…
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Well, how are we different from Jesus first disciples? Well, we have a significant advantage. We know what was accomplished through God's work through Jesus Christ. We know the end of the story. We know that like Jesus' disciples, we have been drawn into God's plan of reconciliation and restoration of creation. And we know that dropping our nets an…
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You know how they say you are what you eat? Well, I've always been so curious about whythe Gospel writers found it necessary to share with us what John ate. Locustsand wild honey. What a strangedetail. I know we don't often take timeto dig into little things like this, but it's my job. So, I went down a rabbithole for several hours, and let me just…
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We often forget the strangeness of this story that comes tous Because we've cleaned it up and made it so nice and familiar This sweet little baby this silent night all cuddled up and swaddling clothes But itwasn't like that was it? It was so much more real and raw and messy. A refugee family seeking shelter amonganimals A message of social upheaval…
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In September, after I'd been here at Redeemer for only one month, I had to have cataract surgery. Never mind that I had decided when I was young that I would never need cataract surgery. Apparently it wasn't my decision. But people told me that cataract surgery is no big deal. That's true about the surgery. It's a simple procedure. What WAS a big d…
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Empire is not a friend of anyone. Empire does not strive towards the well-being and thriving of every created life. Empire puts wealth, resources, knowledge, comfort, and God's abundance in the hands of a few. While others live lives of insecurity, uncertainty, misery, and hopelessness. An empire of human beings are nothing but a form of commodity …
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You're downtown. You're on your way to the Bengals game,and you see a panhandler on the street with a sign. Hungry. Please give. You do one of three things. You pull out yourwallet and give him a dollar. Or you shake your head to say no. Or you look straight ahead, trying not tocatch his eye as you walk by him. And then you feel guilty and you wond…
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You all may have heard this story from Jesus described asan economy of virtues. I've heard it that way in the past. God gives us each aspiritual gift some people are special, so they get more gifts, a veryconvenient translation for all the high achievers in the room. Anyway, everyonegets something and don't worry, God won't give you more than you c…
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We can certainly relate to these foolish bridesmaids. I mean, I certainly can. In the busyness of our lives,not always are we able to think three or four or five steps ahead. Not always are we able to consider all of theadditional planning we need to have in mind. Particularly in the busyness of our lives, we may be hustling througheach day. We may…
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Life is so complicated. It has so many experts, so muchadvice. We want to live well. We want to do well. So we turn to the experts.And so that's my excuse for telling you about the other day when I went withfriends to a Chinese restaurant. I don't usually meet for Chinese. I like mycooking just fine. But the restaurants have one thing that I don't …
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When I was a child, my Yaya used to tell us that ourHalloween costumes are supposed to scare away the devil. So, the moreterrifying your costume, the better. But still, in the midst of it all, I hadthis overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by terror. It felt like more thanjust a children's game. Just then, a familiar tune played in my head. "Le…
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And we can choose not to allow God to influence our beliefs.We can believe what we already believed and then approach the altar of God andhope to leave unchanged. By saying, these things are the things that God caresabout and these are our concerns. We can walk into this space and leave ourcares and troubles for the world out there and come in here…
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We recognize authority. We place our trust in the people thatwe recognize are actually doing the work of love in our lives. Think for amoment about those you actually trust. The people in whom you put your trust.Is it the people with all the best words? Or is it the people that you haveseen, time and again, show up for you in love and care. We plac…
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The story that Jesus is telling is about a working-class guy who owes his boss 10,000 talents or about 60 million dollars today. Does that sound a littleunreasonable? Yeah, it is. Friends, it's not possible. Jesus is telling a story about a person who owes a completelyunreasonable and unpayable debt. It's such a ridiculous number that when the mast…
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Now working at a coffee shop can teach you a lot abouthumans. The one I worked at called itself People's Third Place. You have yourwork, you have home, and you have your third place. A place where you feel likeyou belong. Where you know that people are looking for you to be there. Whereyou're loved and you can show up in pajama pants and a messy bu…
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If we pay attention to Jesus fully and we pay attentionto the first generation of Jesus followers, we understand that to pick up ourcross and to follow Jesus is not to follow Jesus out by ourselves into thewilderness all alone. It is to follow Jesus deep into the heart of communitywhere we are meant to live our lives, building relationships of love…
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This week, my boys collectively convened at the kitchen table to discuss a lesson that they had both had in their first and third grade classes. And my ears perked up as I heard little Arlo say, And that's how the world was made. My parental anxieties leapt from my skin. We do live in Ohio, after all. What are you guys talking about in here? Oh, we…
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I don't think that he was just doing a sort of aperformative act of false humility in front of us. 'Oh, I'm just very young.'What I realized was that he was orienting himself in the truth of his infancy in God's eyes, because for him, that was a proper perspective on how toapproach the whole conversation of his relationship with God. You, right now…
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"As a child, you might remember, I know I do, your parents, the way they'd be when company was around, making sure the house looked appropriate for people to see. 'They don't want to know how we really live.' You'd remember this. You'd remember the shift.Sometimes their voices would change when others were around. And then they'd leave and their en…
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As humans, we are constantly making choices that requireseparation. We cannot have everything, so we are forced to choose. We cannot doeverything, and so when we do anything, we must decide not to do somethingelse. The French philosopher Paul Ricoeur once wrote, Ugh, if onlyI could grasp and embrace everything. And how cruel it is to choose and toe…
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Paul's not trying to get us to be fixed. And he's trying toget us out of the mentality that we are fixable. Or that Jesus came here to fixus. To solve us. There is a difference between being solved and being saved.There is a difference between being fixed and being loved. God loves you. God lives for you, dies and lives again foryou. God saves us a…
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Concerned that people would not just see it as a free ride, but a joy ride, a license to sin. Not exactly. To Paul's way of thinking, saving grace has ethical implications. And to do that, to make that explanation, Paul uses the analogy of slavery. It's something that everyone in the Roman world could relate to. One out of five folks in the Roman E…
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Drowning didn't make me perfect, but I think it did maybemake me a little bit better. I was more conscious of what was going on aroundme, more thoughtful around water. I trained in CPR, the same thing that savedmy life and became a lifeguard, helping others to be safe in the water. I didn't altogether throw out though the notion that youonly live o…
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...she like flung herself backward and I was like, whoa. Igotcha. that's where I saw God. I saw God inher throwing herself in my arms. I listed a couple other places that I'd seen God and then,My spiritual director came back to that one and he asked me a question thatmaybe some of you are asking or thinking as well, he said, so I assume in thatstor…
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There's a man whose daughter has died, that's the height of desperation. He doesn't say he believes in Jesus. He doesn't say he's going to follow him. He doesn't say anything about faith. He just shows up and says, can you please do something? And Jesus doesn't say, well, here's what I'm going to need from you. I'm going to need you to follow the s…
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In our reading from Genesis this morning, we meet them, theoriginal they, them, theirs. The one who was in the beginning before anythingelse ever was. When the earth was a formless void the rush of a violent windswept forth from God and formed the land, water, and light and life were made,and God was in all of it. Speaking and seeing, and blessing …
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Peter interpreted the events of that Pentecost in the light of his tradition and his experience of following Jesus, but not everyone welcomed the message, and it's not hard to see why. It meant that these devout people would have to significantly revise their ideas about what constituted faithfulness to their God. We're not told what was spoken and…
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I think we've reached that point in the sermon where I talk about the frustrating thing, which is you'll notice we can't find Jesus anywhere. Like, have you seen him lately, in person? We have all these stories today and we had this Feast of the Ascension on Thursday, and we have these stories today of Jesus disappearing. He's here one minute and h…
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