Sunday, March 29, 2020

Prelude … the lord of the dance by the Irish Tenors

 light the candles

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

The following was shared by Pastor Judy Hanlon of the LGBT Asylum Task Force and it is written by Kitty O’Meara

And The People Stayed Home

And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised,
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless,
and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images, and created new ways
to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. - Kitty O'Meara

Amen let us begin todays worship

Call To Worship (responsive):.
Leader: behold a miracle.
People: behold a miracle.
Leader: A valley full of dry bones is transformed into a people of love and life..
People: Behold a miracle.
Leader: The graves are open Death has lost its sting..
People: behold a miracle
Leader: let us worship the Lord

Here am I to Worship performed by Jeremy Camp

Fifth Sunday in Lent
As we gather this morning we miss the normal bustle of a church on a Sunday morning: friends greeting each other, choir members getting their robes, children bringing their energy and enthusiasm. Now that we are sitting together in our own sacred spaces, grieving this loss of ritual, connection, and community I invite you to close your eyes . . . and consider the word, “sanctuary.” A sanctuary is a place set aside for sacred things. It is a place of refuge and protection. The room you are in right now is a sanctuary. The season of Lent is a kind of sanctuary, extended in time. And one of the things Lent teaches is that you, too, are a sanctuary. There is inside you a place for sacred things, a place where God abides.
(Silent time.)
As we extinguish this light, we acknowledge the darkness and pain of war and oppression in the world.
(A candle is extinguished.)
Let us pray:
Loving God, we open our hearts to you. We invite you into our inmost being, only to find you already there. Strengthen us in our quiet places and then lead us into the work of justice and peace. Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading is

John 11:1-45

The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,[a] “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus[b] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus the Resurrection and the Life
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus[d] had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles[e] away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[f] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[g] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
Jesus Weeps
28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The word of God for the people of God!

Thomas R. Kelly writes in his spiritual classic, A Testament of Devotion:

Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.[1]

I had a professor at Claremont school of theology that used to say; ”I hate to be the one to tell you this but it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.” From the day we are born we begin to die. It’s as if our bodies are already dressed in grave clothes. As marvelous as science is, it has not yet mastered life’s greatest enemy, death. Yet there is one who has.
What kind of life would we lead if we were guaranteed not to die? How would we live if we knew already that we were immortal like a kind of Superman or Superwoman? Would we be in such a hurry to get so much done? Would we be so troubled by a disruption of our daily routine?

There is something hard about this reading.  Jesus waited.  God waited.  God allowed someone to die and for “The people he loved” to suffer. Yet isn’t this the experience of everyone at one time or another. Sometimes we pray and God delays. Why?

 Though not one of the twelve disciples, I do believe this is the one whom Jesus loved, Lazarus was at least one of Jesus’ closest friends. When Jesus heard of his friend’s sickness, he indicated God’s purpose by saying that the illness would be used for God’s glory and God's Son’s glory. While others panicked, and were concerned, Jesus was calm in his faith. Then he went on to say that God’s purpose was “so that you may believe.”

Lazarus’ sisters both responded quite emotionally that if Jesus had been there sooner he would not have died. By this time, he had been dead four days. Again, Jesus emphasized the necessity of belief, of faith. Even his prayer, which was a public prayer, was said so that hearers may believe.

In the Play Corpus Christi by Terrance McNally we get a little different view of this miracle.

Simon there was an old man Lazarus. He’d been dead for six days and was starting to smell to high heaven. He had a wife and six daughters. I wish you could heard the racket they were making.
                And we do as the DISCIPLES become the WAILING WOMEN.
                They are Loud.

Joushua Arise Lazarus.

Simon  I think this was one of the practical miracles. I mean, there was no big reason for it.  Lazarus was no big Cheese or even especially a nice guy.  Joshua just couldn’t stand the noise.

Joshua Shut up, women.  Thank you.  Lazarus arise.

                LAZARUS suddenly sits up. ( in the 2006 version everyone screams in horror)

LAZARUS what’s the matter with you? You’d think you seen a ghost!

Joshua You have been asleep Lazarus – not for six days but for all the years of your life. Now live as if your very life depended on it.

LAZARUS How do I live? Teach me.

JOSHUA Be awake every moment and give thanks to God the Father for it. Give back as much – no, more! - Than you have been given. Laugh. Fill your lungs with His good air and Pray.  You have all forgotten how to pray.”[2]
Have we forgotten How to pray?  Or have we become obsessed with prayers of need and want or prayers for that miracle? Now is a time where we can focus our prayer and pray into whatever it is we are doing at the time.
As many are reporting that they are taking time to clean the house, to organize closets, to prepare a decent and healthy meal, to learn a new craft or finish some that they have started.  These are all, each and every one an opportunity for prayer. An opportunity to lift prayer into our daily routine so that each and everything we do becomes a prayer, gifted to god in thanks, in anticipation and in hope.
Before Lazarus’ resurrection (John 11:1-45) several things happened, perhaps serving as clues as to what we might expect before God intervenes. What w emight expect in a between time. Or a time of longing.
Before God intervenes… Delay.  A sacred time of living into the situation we are in, a time where we must seek out our own way of just being. Of just being present to the temporary events we are living into, breathing into.  Jesus stayed several more days after hearing of Lazarus’ Illness while the family had to cope, comfort each other and find acceptance of their situation.
Before God intervenes… Opposition: When Jesus finally decided to go, the disciples tried to dissuade him.  This opposition to a miracle sometimes comes as we love our misery, or we hate change, even if it might be for the better of the situation or worse yet the betterment of ourselves. We struggle in keeping to ourselves. Social distance becomes more of a trial as we feel this urge to rebel against it.
Before God Intervenes…Blame: Martha and later Mary told Jesus that if he had been there her brother would not have died. Often too we blame ourselves for whatever our situation may be or blame others…this never would have happened if I only had done this or if you had only done that …or in the current situation this never would have happened if not for the China, which unfortunately has been translated into unprovoked acts of violence against Asian Americans.
Before God Intervenes…Doubt: Martha also doubted that anyone could do anything after her brother had been dead four days. We become stuck in our own situations.  Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness overwhelm us and we cannot seem to move on. We may feel depressed and alone in this current situation.
All of these emotions and moments where fear, hate and doubt can be allowed to creep in we must lift up to God to ask for our own redemption if you will.
God may choose to bless us with a temporary miracle, and our faith may be tried but I believe we need to follow the wisdom of Terrance McNally’s Joshua. Be awake every moment and give thanks to God the Father for it. Give back as much – no, more! - Than you have been given. Laugh. Fill your lungs with His good air and Pray.”[3]
The miracle given is not the resurrection, in my opinion, it is the opportunity to live life to the fullest.  A gift we can embrace daily. Making the most out of our current situation and lift it up in joy.
You know Tim McGraw, the country artist, has a song that address a similar situation. The song tells a story of a man in his forty who gets hit with the news of being terminal when asked what he did with that he says ;
“"I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying"
And he said
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying"[4]
Jesus said; “Lazarus come out.” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth.  Jesus said untie him and let him go!” (John 11:44)  That is the miracle Lazarus was free from what bound him able to live life as Jesus wants us to live.
We are called to live and laugh and love fully in this life, to offer forgiveness and understanding where we can, to offer hospitality and companionship, and to fight for those who have less than, so that they too may have the opportunity live a resurrected life.
That’s it right simple live free and forgiven and proclaim it to all.  Simple to say the challenge is to try and to do it every day.  Do not wait for a miracle, be the miracle. And choose to live a Resurrected Life! Amen!

Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn

Late winter early spring… By John Denver

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Normally this would be the call to the offering if you would care to you can mail in your offerings or go to the top of the webpage and click the donate now
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry

I am available for one on visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again soon but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat , check in

Our God is an awesome God performed By the Acapella Group GLAD

[1] Stephen W. Smith, Living the Lazarus Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Transformation (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009),
[2] Terrence McNally, Corpus Christi: A Play (New York: Grove Press, 1998), 58.
[3] Terrence McNally, Corpus Christi: A Play (New York: Grove Press, 1998), 58.
[4] Tim McGraw, Live like you were dying [piano, vocal, chords] (Miami, Fla: Warner Bros., 2005).

Monday, March 23, 2020

Covid 19 ...Sunday March 22 Streamed live

Prelude light the candles

Let’s start with three deep breaths from your abdomen and relax….

I do this at night and the morning to just make sure that I’m set to go

As I wake in the morning or rest throughout the day. I give thanks to the sun as it comes up in this way. I feel the wind at my back to help guide me through, in my moments of wondering just what I should do.
I walk through my body to make sure it’s aligned; I move my thoughts from head to toe to see what I might find.  To start up at the top of my head where things seem to linger most, it’s time to start with a nice deep breath and release that bothered host.
Next, I feel my neck react to the calmness that I seek, another breath comes right now you can close your eyes or take a peek. My shoulders follow down the path of letting all this go, I feel this shifting as I breathe not wanting to say no.
Path of calmness radiates, down both arms as it skips, the exhale lets the feeling flow down to my fingertips. A full breath as my chest expands to bring a deeper feeling here, I get a sense of confidence and watch my stresses disappear.
My hips don’t know the pressure, they hold from day to day, that’s why I squeeze my buttock in and let the tightness fade away.   Relaxation seems to flow down one leg to the next, it takes another deep strong breath to let my ankles twist and flex.
Oh, my toes the feeling grows from where it started high, I can see the energy shoot, right up to the sky.  Now that I reached the bottom of my journey to unwind, it’s time to do some extra deep breathes and take a little time.
Feel the wind beneath my self to float up to the sky and take this time to be the best while my body takes a cleansing sigh.

Call To Worship (responsive):.
Leader: Open our eyes to see Your care.
People: Shepherd us, O God.
Leader: Shear our fascination with the ways of the world.
People: Shepherd us, O God.
Leader: Prepare us to follow You.
People: Shepherd us o lord

Psalm 95

Fourth Sunday in Lent
It’s Sunday morning. Last week, with all its demands, is over. The coming week, with yet another round of challenges and demands, is not quite here. I invite you to close your eyes and be in the moment. No matter where you are in your thoughts and feelings—relieved about what you have accomplished, anxious about what’s left undone, concerned about people or projects—no matter where you are in your journey this day—I encourage you to set all that aside and consider where you are right now. Whatever is true for you right now, in this moment, whether it be joy or sadness, gratitude or anxiety, let it come forward. When it is fully present, then listen  . . . for God is present in these moments, too. God meets you where you are and calls you forward, moment by moment, guiding you slowly but surely toward transformation.
(Silent time.)

As we extinguish this light, we acknowledge the darkness and pain caused by the lack of basic needs—lack of food, of shelter, of education, of healthcare, of love.
(A candle is extinguished.)

Let us pray:
Loving God, we thank You that You are with us, and that we may call upon You no matter where we are, or what we are feeling. Keep us mindful of Your presence and trusting in Your promise - that You are working with us in the moment-by-moment unfolding of our lives. Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading is

John 9:1-41

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We[a] must work the works of him who sent me[b] while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus[c] to be the Messiah[d] would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”[e] 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir?[f] Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord,[g] I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

The word of God for the people of God!

How were your eyes open? How did you receive your sight? How then does he see? What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?

Five questions…Five times they asked the blind man; “how did Jesus give you sight?”

And he tells them it’s like one of those late night TV ads …Buy this dirt and in a few easy steps it will remove your blindness

Take dirt, make mud, rub it on your eyes and then go wash in the pool of Siloam…all inclusive package shipped to your home including the water from the pool…

Only problem is the package doesn’t include Jesus or more importantly Jesus way of being in the world

When the religious leaders ask for the fifth time a question using the word “how”—“How did he open your eyes?”—we see that they are fixated on method rather than going to the deeper question: Who is this healer? But is that their motive or are they using the question to hid their alterior motive, find a way to trip up Jesus?

Getting fed up with the questioning the blind man sarcastically asks; “why do you want to become his disciple” .. “you’re the disciple not us …how dare you …get out.”

It is strange that the leaders are upset that Jesus perform Holy works on the Holy day, on the Sabbath, wouldn’t that just make the healing doubly blessed?

“The religious leaders even turn against the now-sighted man with disgust that he, a sinner, would deign to tell them how to think about Jesus. You can almost smell the vainglory dripping off these affronted religious types. We know them in our own time. They often get caught offending in just the way they accuse others of sinning.

Jesus’ absence for most of the story gives the ignorant and threatened people time to try to find someone who will blame Jesus rather than giving him credit for a good gift. When he reappears, he perfectly depicts in double meaning the point of his healing: “I came into this world ... so that those who do not see may see” (John 9:39).”[1]

The absence of Jesus allows for ignorance, fear and anger to rise up and dominate most of the story.  Isn’t that interesting?

Is this applicable today? Some may say these days are dark times.  It may feel to some of us even apocalyptic in nature.

Todays Letter from the Ephesians reads, in part, For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. (Eph 5:8-9)

And so

“Abiding “in darkness”—as the Epistle contrasts that place with being “in the Lord”—has to do with orientation, perspective, and goals. Consider what you learn from a visit to an underground mine, for instance, when the guide turns off the lights for a brief moment.
  • You are oriented only to yourself—the clammy humidity on your skin that occurs far underground, hearing or feeling the beat of your heart.
  • You can no longer see anyone else in the group.
  • You alone are important; there is no larger picture.
  • You are focused on the moment, on temporal safety.
(OK this may be a little dramatic, but if you’ve been in a mine without light, you know I’m telling the truth!)
On the other hand, when you are living “in the Lord,” the scope enlarges.
  • You can see other people.
  • Community becomes possible.
  • You step with confidence into the unknown.
  • You comprehend the landscape, the big picture.
These are conditions for an orientation that can lead to “what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10).”[2]

To say we are stepping into the landscape of the unknown is an understatement.
To hear these  words and say wait  I can’t see other people, community is not possible, I am afraid to step into this unknown with confidence is an authentic response. 

Yet through who we are as the federated church, who we are called to be as a Christian community, a community who strives for Love of Neighbor we can say yes to all above through Christ. 

If we pause to be centered. If we pause to listen. Our eyes are open to all sorts of possibilities in this time of social distancing.

We can still see other people… even if it is from a distance ( someone que Bette Midler)
We can reach out to our community in need and feed, literally feed each other…
Is someone incapable or too afraid to go out?  Call one of your brothers or sisters in Christ and see if they may be able to shop for you?

If you go shopping please drop of something at the food pantry…It is getting busy around here…
Phones work…call one another…have coffee together just be sure to sit across the table form one another…

Pray for each other and the world around us.. Pray this ends soon…Pray for stillness .. pray for peace…

Spring is in the air get out of the house…it is perfectly safe to walk around and wave at our neighbors…

“When Jesus returns to the story at the end, he pulls out from God’s word the deeper meaning of having vision. He enlarges the meaning of the light that God gives so that it becomes a kind of interior seeing. Having vision becomes a way to connect with others.

The healed man doesn’t get caught up in the obfuscating questions of the religious leaders like whether Jesus is a sinner. The healed man says what he knows to be the flat truth: he healed me. And he is gutsy. He sounds exasperated at the religious leaders when they want to hear it again and he says, “I have told you already, and you would not listen.” His vision has brought him a clarity that we might all admire. Vision brings wisdom.”[3]

Vision brings wisdom. Our vision, our prayers, prayers thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, takes time and patience.  Today we are breathing into a new vision, a temporary vision of what it means to be community. This isn’t forever. But if we use our inner light to look out into this world we can see and hear Jesus call to get creative, be patient, and continue to love one another.

“The story of the blind man’s healing in John can be recounted in three parts:
  1. Jesus comes and heals the man born blind.
  2. Everybody is in a dither trying to figure out what happened.
  3. Jesus comes again to the healed man when he is kicked out of the community.
This movement of events mirrors our world in every age:
  1. Jesus came.
  2. We wonder what happened and argue about it.
  3. Jesus comes to us ... again and again ... with healing.
Jesus, the light of the world, is a mystery, except that while the whole world around the blind man is confused, the blind man is quietly abandoned by everyone but Jesus.
Finally, notice Jesus’ most telling action. Jesus comes to the man in his blindness and gives him vision. He does not quiz the blind man about anything. Only later, when Jesus returns, does he use the word “believe.” His healing makes no conditions.”[4]

We now more than ever have the power to be the calm presence of Christ to each other and those around us.  We can offer healing in small simple actions.  With the light of Christ in us we remain the vision of Christs kin-dom in action..

Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn

Glory to God in the highest…

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Normally this would be the call to the offering if you would care to you can mail in your offerings or go to the top of the webpage and click the donate now
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry

I am available for one on visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again soon but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat , check in

Prayer of St Theresa,

[4] ditto

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The samaritan woman at The well

How would you feel or react if a woman, who had been married and divorced five times and now unmarried, co-habiting with a man, came to church today? How if she was from Africa, is in a polygamous marriage to her husband, and HIV+? That is, she is one of four wives? Would we be polite yet feel uncomfortable? Would we even talk to her?
The gospel this morning that Jesus was traveling from Judea to Galilee and journeyed through Samaria, stopping at the town of Sychar, at Jacob’s well. It is noon, and it is hot. Just then a Samaritan woman came to draw water at this time. In the earlier poem by Diarmuid O’Murchu names the Samaritan woman Photini (Christianity’s Dangerous Memories). O’Murchu refuses to keep the women in the gospels unnamed, for he has a habit of naming the unnamed women in the gospel to make them real people to us.

Jesus asked her for a cup of water. The fact that the Samaritan woman was drawing water herself indicated that she had no servants and was poor. She is shocked and baffled, “How is it, you a Jew, ask a drink of me, a Samaritan woman?” Jesus is not observing conventional Jewish purity laws and ethnic hostility with Samaritans. A Jewish rabbi alone with a woman was taboo; it was socially immoral. Jesus asks for a drink of water. This baffles the woman since Jesus as a Jew should not be speaking to her a Samaritan woman. Why was he willing to share a cup of water? For Jews, that would be unclean.

Jews weren’t fond of Samaritans. They were called half Jews, and they were hated. The rabbis taught, “The Samaritan daughters are menstruant for their husbands.” This means that Samaritan women were always in a state of menstruating, a state of impurity. Thus, their husbands were also impure. Jews were not to share cups or plates together with Samaritans. A group hates another group by applying stigmas to create the group as hateful. So Samaritans were considered half Jews, different, dangerously unclean, strange, lazy, and immoral.

When we listen in on the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, we realize that the Samaritan woman is not only an outcast for Jews, she is an outcast in her own village, her own people. It is not normal for her to draw water at noon, the heat of the day. Usually water was drawn in early morning or at dusk. The Samaritan woman is avoiding the stares of other women from her village and shaming that she suffers with her own people: married five times, and now living with a man in unmarried relationship. She is doubly stigmatized or an outcast—to the Jews and her own Samaritan people.

Jesus encountered Samaritans a number of times: In his parable of the Good Samaritan, healing the ten lepers, one was a Samaritan and who came back to thank him, and now this Samaritan woman. Imagine what fellow Jews would say about Jesus: His critics would call him “Samaritan-lover.” That’s is like white supremacist or nationalist saying: “N-word-lover,” “Mexican-lover,” “Immigrant-lover,” “Queer-lover,” and “Muslim-lover.” As long as humanity has existed, we hated people different from other and made them other, including those who included them.

So the Samaritan woman was considered perpetually unclean with Jewish stereotypes that Samaritan women are always menstruating. There were so many barriers of ethnic and gender barriers between Jesus and the unnamed, unmarried Samaritan woman. In the story, we see when Jesus’ disciples return, they were astonished as the two were engaged in conversation. They were accustomed to Jesus tearing down walls with outcasts. But now a Samaritan woman? What is our teacher doing now?
Now the two are engaged in one of the most profound theological conversations. I remind you despite all the social, gendered and ethnic barriers. If you step back and listen carefully, I ask myself who is leading the conversation? I suggest that the Samaritan woman is leading the conversation through her questioning. She is a genuine theologian or conversation partner in one of the most profound spiritual/theological conversations in John’s Gospel.

When Jesus speaks about living water, the woman inquires where he is going to get such water. He doesn’t even have a bucket. He tells, “Everyone who drinks of this water be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will never be thirst again. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” She asks for this living water that will quench all thirst.

Living water is Jesus’ revelation of something spiritual for those who can recognize God’s gift. Jesus is making the point that water is to life just as living water is to eternal life. Living water is the Spirit God confers upon us. We all at the center of our being thirst for God, and only God may quench our thirst.

Jesus finally reveals to her that he is not talking about water to drink. He tells her to go call her husband. She answers, “I have no husband.” And Jesus comments, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.’” He states the fact and does not shame or guilt her. He does not judge her nor call her a sinner but accepts her as beloved child of God.

And when she realizes this, she asks him about the most divisive pressing theological question that plagued the relationship between Jews and Samaritans. She asks him where God should be worshipped, “Our ancestors worshipped God on this mountain, but you Jews say God is to be worshipped in Jerusalem.” He notes where God is worshipped doesn’t matter because the day is already here, when worship is freed from any particular place and reoriented it toward spirit and truth.

This a modern question, radically inclusive in a time of religious boundaries: Where is God to be worshipped? In Judaism or in other religions? In nature or in a church? I found answer to that question when as young man in India when I saw how much devotion and faith that Hindus, Buddhists, Jain, Sikhs, and Muslims had. They would put many Christians in the US too shame in the amount of daily devotions.

In nature or church? Some churches have answered that question in realizing church in the outdoors. One example is the Episcopalian Church of the Woods in New Hampshire The church purchased 150 acres of forest and wetlands for Sunday worship. There is no church building. In the winter months, the community puts up a tent. Otherwise, Sunday service is outside. An interesting inclusion of Spirit and truth!

Let me reflect further on this inclusion. What is Jesus speaking about?
Where is the Spirit? In fact, neither Christianity nor the church own the Spirit. The Spirit is greater than the church; like a wind, She blows where She blows. She is institutionally free to challenge us.

Jesus calls God’s Spirit living water who quenches our thirst, not merely Christian thirst. The Spirit is the Spirit of truth that She is involved with the Earth and all interrelated life. Traditionally, God’s Spirit hovered over creation at the beginning—the big bang 15 billion years ago. The Spirit is present to the Earth and all that exists as the Sustainer of life, who co-inhabits the whole of creation, empowers and renews all things in creation. The Spirit is the life force, the divine energy that permeates and enlivens everything in creation. It is in us, each plant and each animal, the divine energy impregnating and sustaining all life. Our spirit connects to God’s Spirit present on Earth. The Spirit in us seeks out the Spirit, mutually engaging and enrichening life—luring into God’s divine love.

Here Jesus makes a revolutionary, inclusive claim: God cannot be contained in any enclosed space, for God as Spirit is spacious and everywhere in nature. Nature is a place of divine presence; it is sacramental if we are attentive and discern the Spirit’s presence.

The Earth-loving Jesus instructs the Samaritan woman that God’s Spirit is wider than the Samaritan religion or Judaism. The Spirit is wider than all the world religions, and yet it is flows in all religions where compassion and love are found. In 2002, I taught in Thailand for a semester, and I would tour Buddhist Wats or Temples on my days off. On one of those visits, I met the Buddhist Abbot, who spoke English. We chatted. I shared that I was a Christian clergy as well as a teacher of Buddhism He responded: “At the level of love, there is no difference between Christianity and Buddhism. There we share profoundly—the dynamic loving energy in the world.” At the time, I thought the Abbot had shared a wonder example of common ground between us, God’s Spirit, dynamic compassion that exists in the universe and whose love befriends us and call us to compassionate action.

I think that this Spirit of Truth, no longer is located in a single Temple or a sacred mountain but everywhere. Jesus’ words made sense to me several weeks ago, indigenous writer Casey Douma raised an important issue, “The concern and dismay (over the fire of Notre Dame) is being felt by many around the world…Now imagine that the damage to this historic and religious site was caused by a pipeline running through it, by fracking, or due to development.” She persuasively argues how the damaged sacred space of the Cathedral of Notre Dame is treasured more than Lakota sacred sites that are violated. Natural places are sacred spaces according to Jesus in his dialogue with the Samaritan woman; they remain unenclosed. The Lakota Nation understands the land as their cathedral.

At the end of the gospel, the Samaritan leaves her jar at the well and returns to town. Jesus, by his inclusive acceptance and love for the Samaritan woman, She now has become a would-be theologian and evangelist to share the good news. She says to fellow Samaritans, “Come and see who has told me everything that I have done! Could this possibly be the Messiah?” So the town’s people came out to meet Jesus. The Samaritan woman hears the word. The result is the scripture says, “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him on strength of the woman’s word. “He told me everything that I have done!” The town’s people begged Jesus to stay with them, confessing him to be the Savior of the world.
Inclusion is radically dangerous to closed minds. Jesus’ message and behavior in gospel is radically dangerous, and the Holy Spirit, she is fiercely troublesome and threatening to closed minds. She is wider and outside of all narrowly barriers that we use to exclude whether people or God’s presence. God’s Spirit invite us to an unimagine inclusiveness as a remarkable grace and gift. Like the Samaritan woman, become an evangelist of dangerous inclusive love.