Easter Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ –

George Burns and Gracie Allen were entertainment royalty. They started in vaudeville, transitioned to radio, and then to TV. Burns played the straight man with the gravelly voice (10 to 15 El Producto cigars a day will do it!) to Gracie’s winsome comedy. His parents were Orthodox Jews and she was a staunch Irish Catholic girl.

Gracie would die decades before George. The story goes that after her death, George went to sort through her papers and on top of everything in her desk he found an envelope addressed to him.

He opened it, and found this, "George, never place a period where God places a comma.” Perhaps you’ve heard this before.

George Burns died at 100 attributing his longevity to the El Productos. But that phrase "never place a period where God places a comma" has lived on with new resonance. I think this is something to keep in mind as we celebrate Jesus’ rising this Sunday.

There were some who prayed, those who feared, most who assumed the story was done – just another would-be-prophet, wanna-be-Messiah shown to be delusional and dead. But this time was different. What some thought to be a period was actually a comma as certain women found an empty tomb and a messenger delivering the obvious. "He’s gone. He told you where to find him." You see, Jesus obviously had things to do!

Men and women, so do we. This Sunday let’s embrace the reality that death is deposed! New life beckons in Jesus Christ! We’ll worship together in the Sanctuary. Remember, invite your friends, your neighbors, those who you long to see and even those you’d rather not. Let’s come together to worship the risen Christ!

In great anticipation -

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Palm Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ –

Imagine this: first century, you’re on your way to Passover.

You’ve saved up for the temple tax. You’ve arranged for your work, property, home to be cared for…

You approach the temple. You hear a ruckus. Crowds in Jerusalem – the population is swollen. You hear screams. Then you see goats and cattle stampeding…towards you. You hold your loved ones close. You can’t believe this could be coming from the temple! You place your family back out of harm’s way, but you continue and you see people running, the money changers, the keepers of the livestock. The temple is a mess. Coins on the floor. How will you pay the temple tax? So how will you be forgiven?

And then you hear: There’s a prophet inside who speaks of the temple as if it belongs to him. He’s tearing the place up! And taking on the temple authorities? Who is this?

It's Jesus.  He’s cleaning house.

Men and women, I hope you’ve been cleaning house, discarding everything that would keep you from his side. These times demand the people of God to be suited up and ready!

In great anticipation -

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Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ –

Some of you have heard the story of how my wife Rebecca and I met.

It was at a party that she would never have attended except to get away from a South Carolina farmer that had come to New York to save her from the city. But thank heavens she didn’t want to be saved from the city and attended this party that included actors and actresses all living on no budget and coming together for a little wine and cheese and to practice sight reading polyphony and madrigala. (I know)

I came late to the party myself. I waited until the Super Bowl was over. I walked in and was immediately captivated by the new girl – dressed in black, braid, and serious black shoes. 

When a break in the evening came, I sat near her and opened the conversation with, “I like your pumps.” Eighteen months later we were married. Shoes have always resonated with me.

Then there were beach shoes, then baby shoes, now horse riding boots, boxing shoes and daughters beginning to wear serious black shoes. Shoes matter. Because they take you places, different places. But there is one pair that fits all who will dare to wear them. God’s shoes of peace allow God’s people – all of God’s people to stand firm to stand together to withstand the wiles and attacks of the enemy. 

Sunday morning we prepare to slip on, strap up, pull on, lace up, tie on the shoes of God’s peace. And together we’ll lift the shield of faith. 

In great anticipation -

 

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Third Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ –

 I just got word from ‘away’ at school that there’s a new favorite song –When Did Your Heart Go Missing?

Easy for me to comment from my ‘mature’ perch that it’s maudlin, predictable, bad music and poor performance, but truth is, it isn’t.
It’s just heartfelt young love gone away.

Sometimes I lift my head from the keyboard, turn my gaze from the screen, put down the phone and wonder the same thing – When did your/our/his/her/my/the heart go missing? What happened to the passion, the compassion, the grace, the empathy of our nation and our community?

We continue this Sunday clothing ourselves in God. Yes, our discussion emanates from first century Roman Legionaire’s armor. That’s something the oppressed Jewish community would have much too vivid a recognition of, so they understand when Paul co-opts the image. Paul appropriates it to demonstrate God’s protection and our opportunity and need to suit up!

The Breastplate of Righteousness protects the very seat of our lives—our hearts. This Sunday gird our loins and stand firm in the righteousness of God our Savior!

In great anticipation -

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Second Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ –

The core of something may be defined as the central, most important part. Last week I gave an overview of Ephesians 6:10-19. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that he feels the battle for the human soul– I would even say for the soul of humanity– is being waged on a cosmic scale. Not was waged, nor may be waged, but is being waged even in this moment. Can one doubt as each day we’re confronted with the real necessity of discerning what is real and what is fake?

In the aftermath of the shootings in Parkland, Florida, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School vented their grief and outrage as they mourned their friends and teachers. They called for change and within hours a YouTube video appeared claiming that these weren’t students at all, but actors. The video was a fabrication.

Where are we to find our compass to navigate these waters?

Paul lists the pieces of armor in the order a Roman soldier would put them on for battle:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm, therefore, and having girded your loins with truth...”   

This is where we start– the core, central, most important part– God’s truth revealed in Jesus “so that you (we) will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, stand firm.”

I hope to see you in worship -

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