New Hope from an Old Place


Peter may have had a learning disability and Paul may have had MS. For some people these suppositions might be distressing or unnerving. For me, they are comforting and hopeful. If God could use Paul and Peter, not in spite of their disabilities, but through them, then there is hope for me, for you, for today’s church.

I’ve long had an affinity for Peter, but only recently realized that Peter as portrayed in the Gospels, has some indicators of a learning disability. He’s often impulsive and acting in a manor that suggests he hasn’t quite processed the reality of his situation. Like when Jesus walked on water and Peter was sure he could do it, only to take a couple of steps and panic. Or when he swore that he would never deny Jesus only to do that very thing three times in a matter of hours. Peter’s passion often gets the better of him.

Then there’s the experience of the Resurrected Christ on the beach. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Peter says that he does. Jesus repeats the question. Peter repeats his answer. Then the third time Jesus asks, Peter’s not happy about it. What we don’t see in the English translation and Peter didn’t hear is that Jesus was asking Peter if he loved him the way that God loves (agape). Peter was responding yes, but that he loved Jesus with a familial love (philios). On the third go, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him with a familial love, and Peter responds that he does. Peter missed what Jesus was asking. The good news is that Jesus knew Peter and understood him better than Peter understood himself. Jesus rephrased the question, so that Peter’s answer held truth. Jesus always met Peter where he was and used his passion and impulsiveness to build the church. Peter’s learning differences were not changed, healed, cured, or otherwise erased. God used him exactly as he was.

Paul’s story is similar if you are willing to entertain the idea that Paul had MS. His Damascus Road experience fits with MS symptoms fairly well. He was temporarily blinded. He fell off his horse. His body wasn’t working right for a few days, and then he got better. This does not negate the spiritual experience. In fact, it only makes the story more plausible, more powerful. In the midst of a physical crisis, God was able to reach Saul in ways that weren’t possible when Saul was reliant on his personal power and privilege. In Paul’s writings there are other things he describes that could be symptoms of MS. He wrote with “large letters” (Gal. 6:11). Maybe his unreliable physical health was the thorn in his side… Imagine the church’s greatest evangelist living with a physical disability! God used him to bring Christianity to the Gentiles, not in spite of his disability, but with it as part of his identity.

When a colleague suggested that Paul had MS it resonated so deeply with me. It also made me remember my theory that Peter had a learning disability. I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 19. At the same time, I developed double vision and some other symptoms that doctors thought were an atypical form of MS. The dyslexia diagnosis made sense to me as it explained some of my struggles with spelling and how slowly I read. But I didn’t share the news with very many people. Similarly, the tentative MS diagnosis isn’t something I shared with people very often, either. I didn’t want the inevitable judgment. Nor did I want to acknowledge my on suspicions of why I had these conditions.

Somehow having disabilities meant that my faith was inadequate. I would never be able to achieve Christian perfection as is commonly understood. Maybe if I prayed enough, I would be healed or cured or transformed in some way. Maybe the doctors were wrong and there was nothing wrong with me. Maybe if I ignored these things, they would go away and I could focus on my call to ministry. But what if these things were punishment for my sins?

More than 30 years later, I still have a learning disability though I am not sure “dyslexia” is the accurate label. I don’t actually have MS, I have a form of dysautonomia, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) that has some symptoms similar to those of MS and has only been recognized since the early 1990s. While I don’t announce these conditions all the time, I don’t ignore them anymore. I no longer think that they are punishment for sin, nor do I believe that they keep me from wholeness (my newer understanding of perfection in the Christian context). I accept that a learning disability and dysautonomia are part of who I am, and God called me into ordained ministry knowing me better than I knew myself, and meeting me where I was while calling me into a future full of grace and love.

This is why I find it extraordinarily wonderful that Peter may have had a learning disability and that Paul may have had MS. God didn’t see them as broken. God called them into the fullness of their being, their whole selves, so that God could work through them to transform the world. God does not see our brokenness; God sees our wholeness. May we have the grace to see wholeness in one another and love with God’s love.

RCL – Year C – Third Sunday of Easter – May 5, 2019
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19

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Thomas May Not be What You Think


What are you afraid of? On that first Easter evening the disciples were afraid of everything. Jesus was dead and gone; the body had even been removed from the tomb. They were afraid for their lives. They were at a loss. They were so afraid that they had locked themselves in a room. Was it the same upper room that Jesus had made sacred a few days before? It doesn’t matter. They were locked in and the world was locked out. They had to figure out what to do next. Where to go. Whom to trust. And then everything got weird.

Thomas was brave enough to venture out into the world. Was he fearless or did some need conquer his fear? Or was he so lost in his grief that he did not care what happened to him? We don’t know why he was out, but he was. The Risen Christ happened to walk in on a fear-filled room to breathe peace to them. What a gift! Well, for everyone except Thomas.

When Thomas returned to the locked room, the others told him that Jesus had been there and breathed peace into their fear. Thomas may have had his doubts, but so did the rest of them. Thomas hadn’t been there to see Jesus, to hear his words, or feel the power of the wounds, or inhale the breath of peace. He had a good excuse to be in that room a week later. But what about the ones who had been there the first time Jesus walked into that locked room? Why were they still huddled there a week later? Did they all hold their breath so they didn’t breathe deeply of the peace that Jesus tried to breathe onto them, into them? What held them in that locked room a full week later?

I suppose we shouldn’t be too hard on them. Grief is paralyzing sometimes. So is fear. They were at risk of being crucified for treason and blasphemy just as Jesus had been. I’m not sure how far out of that room I would have ventured, either. I know what if feels like to be held captive by fear, though. Fear shrinks all possibilities into one bottomless pit that threatens to swallow anyone who dares to move. Fear is contagious enough to hold ten people captive in a small locked room for a lot longer than a week. Fear can certainly hinder the breath of peace from doing its work. The Risen Christ had some work to do on everyone there, except maybe Thomas. After all, Thomas didn’t actually need to touch anything to believe what he saw when Jesus returned. He was convinced just on sight and sound. Was that because he was not bound to that room by the fear of all that could happen, all that might happen if the doors were unlocked?

What are you afraid of? Me? I’m afraid that I won’t be able to communicate this urgency for the church to change that I am feeling so deeply. Even though I ask God not to pester me with visions and calls and messages during Holy Week because I am busy enough, God seldom listens. Part way through Holy Week the vision I had been avoiding and the call I was trying not to hear, became unavoidable. I couldn’t lock the doors or pull the shades any longer. God had something to say to me, reluctant prophet though I may be.

Church, we have been hunkered down in locked rooms for far too long. So long, in fact, that we are dying for want of a few Thomases who are willing to go outside and experience what’s happening out there. We are dying because we are held captive by fear, fear that distorts our understanding and prevents us from breathing in the peace Jesus intends for us. Nothing we are doing right now is worth dying for. Seriously, the Body of Christ can’t really want to breathe its last over some stained glass or a pew or the grasp we have on yesterday. Fear is choking the life out of us.
What do we need to let go of so we can breathe deeply once again? Our buildings? Our denominational ties? Our sense of (self)righteousness? Our worship of the Bible? Our certainty that we are right? What would happen to us if we took a slow, tentative breath of peace? Would fear loosen its grip on us? Would we be able to envision an ecumenical community where grace abounds and fear is a thing of the past? Would we be able to move out of our crumbling buildings into a community space that is used 24/7? Would we be able to adjust our worship practices to include language, music, theology that speaks to those who are seeking meaning today?

It’s time to unlock the doors, take a risk with Thomas, breathe deeply of the Holy Spirit, and live into this new shape of Resurrection. Let’s do this before we entirely forget how to embody Christ in a way that brings liberation to all (no exceptions). Bound by fear is no way for anyone to live, particularly the Body of Christ. Let’s take a deep breath and see what is possible…

For other sermon thoughts try here.

RCL – Year C – Second of Easter – April 28, 2019
Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150
Revelation 1:4-8
John 20:19-31

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Not Your Average Easter Message



New Life. Who doesn’t want it? Love triumphing over destruction and death. Who wouldn’t welcome that? Seriously, is there anyone who wouldn’t leap at the chance to peer into the tomb of fear, hatred, and death to discover its startling emptiness? We should be running after those women and begging them to tell us what they saw. Or following Peter to the tomb to have a look for ourselves. We say we want to. We say we want New Life. We say we believe Love always wins. We say that the tomb was empty and that the women were telling the truth. Where is the evidence in our lives?

Flint still doesn’t have clean water. Three churches were burned to the ground in Louisiana last week. There was a fire in the Al Aqsa mosque at the same time Notre Dame was burning. The sacred sites of Native Peoples are destroyed without most of us noticing. The number of children and teens with suicidal thoughts and behaviors has doubled in recent years. There is still gender disparity in wages. People of Color are incarcerated at a higher rate than white people. Immigrants are imprisoned and deported daily. White supremacy informs everything in this country from politics to news to religion. Are we in danger of being swallowed by the betrayal, destruction, and death that preceded the Resurrection?

Yes. Yes, we are in danger of getting caught up in a cycle that moves between betrayal and burial. We have forgotten that Jesus spoke out against religious authorities who served the empire first and neglected to care for the vulnerable among them. Jesus sought to empower those who lived under the oppression of Rome by teaching them how to love as God loves. Somehow, though, in our rush through Holy Week to the Good News of Easter, we have heard only that God might love us. Or that salvation is only available for those who are like us. It’s possible that today’s church isn’t all that different from the religious authorities Jesus openly challenged.

What we say we believe doesn’t matter if there is no evidence of that belief in our lives. If we say we believe in the Resurrection and there is no trace of it in our lives, what does it matter? If we say we have New Life yet continuously participate in systems of destruction and discrimination, are we the disciples we claim to be? If we say we love as God loves and do nothing to save the lives around us, are we really the Body of Christ? If we claim to be Easter people and remain trapped in Good Friday, where is the power of the empty tomb?

Jesus called people to repentance first, and then to the task of bringing the Realm of God into the here and now. In other words, Jesus challenged all who would be disciples to move from death to life. This is a full transformation. Yes, it can take years, a lifetime really, but it isn’t a half-way kind of thing. We’re either trusting in God to work in and through us or we are trusting in ourselves far too much. Whenever we think we are better than others, more deserving than our neighbors, we are not embodying Christ. Whenever we participate in the white supremacy that allows us to weep for Notre Dame and dismiss the intentional burning of Black churches, or not even hear about a fire in a significant mosque, or think about the destroyed sacred sites of Native Peoples, we have to ask whom we are serving. When we believe the lies that justify the status quo and ignore how they influence religious practice, we are caught somewhere between betrayal and burial; we have not found the empty tomb yet.

This year, I want Resurrection to mean more than chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. The power that took Jesus from death to life, can do the same for us. If we believe that Love is stronger than fear or hatred or the distorted perception of empire, then we must repent and leave the ways of death behind to embrace New Life. Jesus was pretty clear that those who want to be his disciples must love with God’s love which means that no one gets left out. Isn’t it time that we freely share this lifesaving Love? Let’s get busy bringing the Realm of God into the here and now for everyone, without exception. Seriously, who couldn’t use a healthy dose of Resurrection if all it really means is to live a life with Love that leaves no one in the hands of a destructive empire? After all, God shows no partiality. Why should we?

RCL – Year C – Easter – April 21, 2019
Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43
John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12

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Make a Choice


Most years when Palm Sunday arrives, I’m ready for the parades and the hosannas and the choice the day implies. There’s no need for the stones to cry out; I’m there. This year? Not so much. Sunday’s parades seem like they are far off and maybe Pilate’s war horses and shiny armor will overpower Jesus’ colt and cloaks. Who’s really paying attention this year? Who has palm branches at the ready and hosannas to spare?

When I talk about suicide prevention and the steady rise in suicide rates, people always ask why are so many dying by suicide? The answer to that is complex, of course. But there is no denying that there is a pervasive sense of hopelessness. Many people feel trapped in lives that seem not to have much of a future with poverty and racism and injustice all around. Others feel isolated and alone without a place where they are known and have a sense of belonging. Every day there are more reports of immigrants, refugees, and other vulnerable people being mistreated with fear and ignorance fanning the flames of dehumanization.

It’s no coincidence that a rise in hopelessness, a continuing increase in suicidality and suicide, is happening at the same time faith and involvement in faith communities is declining. Jesus didn’t ride a donkey through the back streets of Jerusalem to preserve the status quo. Jesus rode to demonstrate that true power comes with humility and a willingness to serve others. He also rode to invite people to change, to recognize that God calls us to new things, new understandings, new practices – then and now.

Jesus dared to oppose the powers of his day with his words, his actions, his life. He did not sit back and allow the ways of the Roman Empire to separate, isolate, and disempower people. He did not remain silent when the Temple Authorities sought to maintain peace by serving Rome and silencing the people, particularly those without resources. Jesus spoke truth to power. He challenged the emptiness of religious practices by those who cared more about accumulating Roman money than serving God. He actively reached out and re-membered people who lived on the margins. He restored life to those who had been cast out. He spoke hard words of hope to a people accustomed to oppression.

Miraculously, some heard Jesus’ words. Some recognized him. Some dedicated their lives to following him, learning from him, trying to live as he lived. I wish I knew how many people witnessed his humble parade on that first Palm Sunday. I’ll bet more chose to pay homage to Rome, enamored by the display of power and the promise of safety implied by war horses, armor, and spears. I’ll bet even more stayed home to avoid the chaos all together. It is easier to stay home, not make an active choice, and pretend that it is someone else’s problem than it is to decisively attend one parade or another.

Some would choose Rome simply because they were afraid, and the Roman armies had power. Others chose Jesus because he spoke of love and freedom and made them feel hopeful under the weight of Roman oppression. The rest who stayed home, these are the ones that capture my attention today. The large numbers of people who didn’t believe their lives, their actions, counted for anything. The ones whose hope had long been extinguished by the oppressive weight of empire have me wondering if they ever made a different decision. Their decision not to choose was a decision in support of Rome, whether they knew it or not. Inaction preserves the status quo and sustains the oppressors.

That’s where we are today. There is so much ambivalence and apathy that comes from hopeless and isolation. The empire of any age will seek to divide, dehumanize, and disempower. The more we give in to our fears and remain inactive, the more despair and hopelessness thrives. People are literally dying for want of human connection, human care, a place to belong.

Church, we have a choice to make. We can continue as we are and support the oppressive empire that seeks to divide, dehumanize, and disempower by valuing our traditions more than the people outside our doors. Or we can choose the way of humility and acknowledge that in order to live the Good News, we need to re-member, re-connect, and serve the vulnerable among us, those who have been cast out.

God is still inviting us to a new thing. No matter how tired we are or how ill-prepared we feel, the day of choosing is close. May we all make a choice for new life, renewed hope, and re-membered community as we journey through Holy Week. Let’s not give the stones a reason to cry out.

RCL – Year C – Palm Sunday – April 14, 2019
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Luke 19:28-40

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A Way in the Wilderness

Once more I find myself sitting in an airport waiting to board the plane that will take me to another state where I will keynote at a conference. This surprises me almost every time. I marvel that I am now paid to break the silence and shatter the stigma around suicidality. For decades I was told never to share the details of my past, the details of my struggle with suicidality, depression, and an eating disorder. Now I am invited to come and speak these things out loud and challenge people of faith (all faith traditions, not just Christian) to examine their beliefs about suicide and see what needs to change in order to save lives. It’s more amazing than you might guess.

While I contemplate the transformation my life has undergone in the last decade or so, I think about the woman who anointed Jesus with oil of nard. While I do not believe that John’s gospel has the details correct, there is power in the story nonetheless. I doubt that Mary of Bethany was the woman who poured the expensive perfume over Jesus. Mary was a friend and the risk of her anointing Jesus in the company of other friends, was minimal. To think of this woman as an outcast, perhaps a prostitute, who entered the home of a leper (Matthew, Mark) or a pharisee (Luke) assumed a greater personal risk. This personal risk of rejection or condemnation adds a depth to the story that is missing in John’s more homey account.

That being said, it’s the anointing itself that matters most. Be it Mary or an unknown woman, she anointed Jesus with immeasurable extravagance. A jar, perhaps an alabaster jar, of rare, expensive oil could have been used for other purposes. The disciples wondered why it wasn’t sold and the money given to the poor. If a more reasonable person wanted to support Jesus’ ministry, even in the last days, the oil could have been sold and the money used to purchase food, clothing, or shelter for Jesus and his disciples. Or, looking at the days ahead, the money could have been spent on a really good lawyer. Why simply dump it on Jesus’ head for no perceivable reason?

Well, Jesus answers this question, sort of… Jesus tells them that the poor will always be around or that they should always be with the poor. In contrast, he wasn’t going to be with them much longer, at least not physically. The anointing, the extravagance, was good and necessary. I can just see the disciples shaking their heads in puzzlement. How was this waste the right thing?

Many of us ask this question today. We have choices to make with our resources. How often do we choose to pour out our very best on Jesus? Are we willing to give to Jesus that which is most valuable? What extravagant love have we offered Jesus just because Jesus is Jesus?

When it comes to transformation, it might just require this extravagant outpouring from us. I think about my own experience. I held so tightly to my own pain. I thought it defined me. I thought it was the most valuable thing about me. Over time, I was able to let it go and ask God to put something new in its place. The letting go was scary, not unlike walking into the house of a pharisee or leper as an unwanted outcast. Trusting God to heal the deeply broken parts of me was a kind of outpouring, offering God everything I had in exchange, nothing withheld. Can you smell the nard, the extravagance, filling the room?

Church, it’s time we seek to anoint Jesus with that which we hold most dear. We need to break those jars and let the smell of extravagant love flood the room while the tears of grief fall. Trust in God is a gift we can offer anytime. If we break our precious jars over Jesus’ head, there are those among us who will not understand and grumble about the cost. God is always doing a new thing and clearing a way in the wilderness. It’s time for us to stop doing the same old thing and try out extravagant love and see what transformation comes in its wake. It is worth the risk. Lives will be saved as a result for this is God’s promise to us – life, and life abundant at that.

RCL – Year C – Fifth Sunday in Lent – April 7, 2019
Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8

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Time to be Prodigal (with Love)


…let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

Don’t tell. Don’t share this with anyone. Keep that to yourself. Nobody needs to know. Secrets tangled with silence to create shame. For years I believed that I had done horrible things, that I was a bad person, a disappointment to all. I had more secrets than I could keep, and they were consuming me. Even after the crisis of my adolescent years had passed, the advice I received was to keep quiet and demonstrate that I was well and looking forward to the fullness of life.

Some people who told me to keep quiet only wanted to protect themselves. Others wanted to protect me. I couldn’t tell the difference. I thought I was an embarrassment to everyone who knew me because I had these things festering inside of me. I thought no one would want me around if they really knew who I was, what had been done to me, and what I had done. And, of course, there was no way I would have been ordained if I had been honest about the struggles that followed me into young adulthood.

Every time I read the “Prodigal Son” parable I am reminded of the longing I felt in those years when I was held hostage by shame. I had empathy for both sons in the story. I identified with the younger son who went off and wasted his gifts on things that left him alone, hungry, and longing for home. I also had an affinity for the older son who always did the right and expected thing and resented everyone around him for not doing their part. Of course, the bulk of his resentment fell on his younger brother and father upon the wayward one’s return. Why was he not celebrated with such lavish attention when he never did anything but serve his father?

5c93f3e6ba24b.pngThese two warred within me. I continued to hold against myself all the self-destructive things I had done. Even though the ongoing suicidality and eating disorder were not readily apparent to anyone else, I hated myself for not wanting to live and for wanting to starve myself. I hated myself for all that I could not speak out loud. I, like the younger son, had squandered my gifts and remained unsatisfied and hungry and alone. Yet, I kept this hidden under the façade like the older son. I, too, sought to do all that was right and expected while secretly building resentment. Who was going to fill my life with extravagant welcome?

Now, many years later, I see how I missed the heart of this parable. It wasn’t the sibling rivalry. It wasn’t about wasted gifts and self-destruction anymore than it was about harboring resentments while doing the right things. I’d always overlooked the father in the story. He was far more prodigal with his love than the youngest son was in wasting his inheritance. It was the father who waited patiently for his sons to figure themselves out. It was the father who remained, ready to open his arms with love and forgiveness no matter how long it took.

In those years that I spent ashamed and feeling unworthy and unlovable, I missed the message of prodigal love. God already knew the worst of what had happened to me and the worst of what I had done. No silence was big enough or heavy enough to keep God out of my life. Shame was not a barrier, either. All the years I spent harboring pain and hiding the truth, God waited patiently for me to accept the gifts of grace, forgiveness, and healing God offers all of us. There was a party being held in my honor and I was the last one to show up and see it for what it was.suicidetext

Only when I realized that I was more than the secrets I kept was I able to let go of the shame and break the silence I had acquired in childhood. With suicide making headlines again, it’s a good time to remember that God is a prodigal God, endlessly, lavishly pouring out love and grace, forgiveness and healing. Who do you know that needs to be invited to the party held in their honor? Who do you know who carries shame and guilt who needs a word of hope and promise? Who do you know who hides in a silence that love could shatter?

Isn’t it time that we all practices prodigal love of God, of ourselves, of our neighbors, of creation? Imagine liberating the Body of Christ from these days of scarcity, fear, and shame to a future of abundance, peace, and love for all…

For sermon help, try here.

RCL – Year C – Fourth Sunday in Lent – March 31, 2019
Joshua 5:9-12
Psalm 32
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

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Alive or Dead? You Decide


A vision, a moment of clarity, a flash of insight, the proverbial “Eureka!” moment. Whatever you want to call it, it happened to me after my first yoga class ever last night. I don’t think it had anything to do with yoga as much as the conversation shared with my colleagues in text study earlier in the day. Yoga may have relaxed me enough to open me to the experience, though. Anyway, I’m going to call it a vision, even though that word itself sends shivers of discomfort through my being.

This vision occurred as I sat in my car after class. The sun had set, the nearly full moon lit the sky. I had a flash of a tree, not dead, but not quite a live and a person approaching, still a ways off, with an ax held ready. There were crowds around the tree. Some denied that there was a tree. Some said it was alive enough and should be left alone. Others wanted to learn how to nurture it into the fullness of life. Still others were offering better tree removal tools saying that the tree was wasting the nutrients in the soil.

All this was on display in seconds. Then a voice coming from the ax carrier: Alive or dead, you decide. No waiting. No procrastinating. Decide. In less than a minute, this vision was over and I was left shaking my head, trying to say that the decision is not mine to make. I put my car in gear and drove the couple miles home, thinking about the yoga class and not the vision that followed. Yet, this morning, it was the first thing on my mind.

Here’s the thing, Isaiah invites everyone to the table. If you’re hungry and can’t buy food, come to the table. If you are thirsty and can’t pay for a drink, come to the table. Stop paying for things that don’t nurture and stop laboring for things that do not satisfy. Repent of foolish ways, and come, have a seat at the table where you can eat until you are well-nourished and drink the water of life until your thirst is quenched. Sign me up! This table sounds perfect.

Yet, before any of us can get to the table, there’s a person with a fig tree that doesn’t yield any figs standing in the way. This person is displeased with the tree that has not produced figs in three years. It’s time to cut it down. The gardener rushes in to protect the tree, offering to fertilize and nurture it properly to see if the tree will then yield figs. The owner gives one more year. If it is still without figs, the tree will no longer be permitted to waste the soil.

Isn’t this a bit harsh? I mean, it’s just a tree and a few figs, right? Really, who gives a fig? All of us should. And here’s the heart of my vision, the urgency I felt in the moment: The church in all its manifestations is the fig tree. Our congregations are fig trees. Many of us have not born much fruit for far longer than three years. We are content to be “alive enough” but not fully living. We also don’t particularly welcome those who want to fertilize our imaginations and nurture any adventurous spirits within us. Nope, we want to keep our tree as it is, as it has always been. No need to proceed to that banquet table. We’re comfortable right here, thank you very much.

We must repent of our foolishness. God continues to call us to the table where all are welcome, especially those who hunger for community and those who thirst for love. Preserving our history without risking change for the present and future is a waste of soil. All our denominational differences might have mattered at one point in time and our numerous churches served a purpose in the past. Yet, God is calling us to a new thing, has always been calling us to a new thing.

We are being called to make room at the table for everyone, letting nothing get in the way. Nothing must prevent us from bearing fruit that will feed a starving world. We have been spending our resources for decades on traditions that no longer nurture and laboring to keep alive that which does not satisfy. We need to decide what to do before the soil around us is nothing more than a handful of sand.

Will we ignore the half-living tree? Will we keep it alive as is for as long as we can? Will we give in to the ax while the soil is still good so something else can be planted? Will we invite the gardener in to fertilize imagination and nurture our restless spirits so that the tree can come fully alive and bear fruit?

Alive or dead? We have decisions to make, my friends. What is God calling us to do and to be? What is the best use of our resources? How will we make room at the table? What will we risk so as not to waste the soil around us?

RCL – Year C – Third Sunday in Lent – March 24, 2019
Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

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