Hold Fast (A Lesson for the Pastor)
One cannot find a better line
Before the church confession time:
“Since, then, we have a great high priest...”
[And read to] “...help in time of need.”
Fear not to use the scriptures more,
Not just in “lessons;” but restore
The sense, that more than that day’s crowd,
We worship with a witness cloud.
Your creativity that day
Cannot compare to the array
Of ways, time-tested, that express
How words, so old, still richly bless.
Remember that the gathering
Needs less pastoral blathering,
And more the church’s history
For bringing folk to Mystery.
And if this sounds curmudgeony,
Since I’m retired and fancy-free,
Perhaps I wish I could do o’er
The times I fear I must have bored.
Scott L. Barton
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
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Present Tense, or Eternal Now
The man ran up, and then knelt down
before the Lord could next leave town;
He asked with some anxiety,
while demonstrating piety,
just what he had to do to get
the big brass ring, through legal writ.
How would the LORD grant such a thing
to this child, so aspiring?
To which the son, who knew the ways
His father worked, then next amazed
the man, who walked away in grief
since offered grace gave no relief.
Why grace, you ask, since such a thing
proposed by Jesus seemed to sting?
Just this: That we might realize
eternal life is not some prize
which Jesus by and by suggests
should be his followers' big quest.
The more you have, more you perceive
you have to do, and not receive.
Not camel nor the rich go through,
but love is what threads through to you;
Thus, be not tense, or worry how,
but trust, and live eternally, now.
Scott L. Barton
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
A Picture I Can't See
(A poem inspired by a conversation with the Rev. Sarah Buteux, as we were discussing, after a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in 2015, the idea espoused by some in Roseburg, Oregon, that more people need to carry concealed weapons.)
I do not think they understand
Propensities the good guys have
To carry evil in our hearts
So sometimes, even we can't save.
If good guys carried guns, they say,
The bad guys couldn't kill as much;
But don't we think we all are good?
And sometimes, can't we all be touched
By what could crawl up from the depths
And do us in - and others, too?
No one is good, but God alone,
Said Jesus then, to me, to you.
Or put it this way: if the good
Alone be armed, then that leaves One;
The One who is all good in love
Who'd be the One to hold the gun!
Is that what God is all about?
Would this God kill for you or me?
Pull out his gun from cloak, concealed...
This is a picture I can't see.
Instead of taking life into
God's hands, God goes and lays down laws
Whose purpose is to help us through,
When we, from what is right, withdraw;
A country's laws, as well, seek to
Prevent the harm some might commit
(Including us, none "Good!") that thus
Society and lives not split.
Meanwhile, God goes and lays down life,
A giving that we can't control,
So we might follow in his way,
And value each and every soul.
Scott L. Barton
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone...."