Monday, April 29, 2013

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 5, 2013 - John 14:23-29

Remember how, two weeks ago,
"The Father and I are one," he said?
At first, I wondered, with the text
This week, if back then, I'd misread!
But Jesus' great consistency
Is that he's always giving more;
And so, today, his words about
The Father's greatness help restore
The confidence his friends now need
As they anticipate the worst;
He wants them all to know that
Loving them, and others, is the first
And foremost thing that he's about -
"Not as the world gives," he persuades;
He doesn't seek the credit! Thus,
They'll hear his words, "Be not afraid."
And so the Spirit still reminds
Us, Jesus gives his own shalom,
So when we love, then God in Christ
With us will make himself at home.

Jesus answered [Judas], “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

"You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 28, 2013 - Acts 11:1-18

How int'resting their minds were changed
About one big taboo;
"We know that Gentiles can't receive
New life, like us," they knew,
Until to Peter, God then came,
And taught him otherwise,
Which when he told the church, they said,
"Our standard is revised!"
I am amazed how quickly God
Reversed the tried and true;
Or they, amazed more by God's grace
Than we, let God get through!
These days, so wedded are we to
God's gifts to man and wife,
We seem to think God powerless
To fill with grace the lives
Of two whose genders are the same!
Why? How could that bring hurt?
Perhaps we should think back to when
God bade the saints convert.

Scott L. Barton

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 21, 2013 – John 10:22-30

When in the portico of Solomon,
He gives me quite a clue
About the nature of a faith in him,
When Pharisees construe
He's uttered simple blasphemy to them
In his equation, bold;
I think it's even hard for US to take,
Although the church of old
Attempted to make sense of such a thing:
"The Father's not the Son."
And yet he pulls no punches with this line:
"The Father 'n' I are one."
There seems to be one way that even we
Might answer now this riddle -
Just think of young king Solomon at court -
Don't split Him down the middle!
He's not a human here, and God o'er there,
As if two forms of him might live;
He's what we need to see just what "God" means:
That is, to give, and give, and give.

Scott L. Barton

John 10:22-33

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”

Monday, April 8, 2013

Third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2013 – John 21:1-19

Omega 3 Antidote to Scarcity

I wonder why John gives the number
Of fish by which they were encumbered
While net hauling, a hundred yards from
The One ashore, who asked that they come
And have some breakfast! I think it's odd,
This detail of halibut or cod;
Why's it there? What's John want us to see -
That they dragged a hundred fifty-three?
Perhaps he's gotten so specific
Because his hero's so terrific
At pointing out the ways unending
That his disciples might be tending
His sheep - plus lambs and sheep be feeding!
At that, he says, we'll be succeeding
When trusting all his grace, exceeding
Whatever 'tis we might be needing.
He passes out the bread and fish, then;
They're holy, too, like bread and wine when
Ever in community we take them
And into loves unnumbered, make them.

Scott L. Barton
(Thanks to the Rev. W. Kenneth Williams of Rochester, NY's First Baptist Church for this week's title)

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the
Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there
together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana
in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We
will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night
they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach;
but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them,
“Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He
said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you
will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul
it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved
said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was
the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into
the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net
full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a
hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire
there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of
the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and
hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of
them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said
to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to
ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came
and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the
fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples
after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon
son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes,
Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A
second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He
said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him,
“Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do
you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time,
“Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you
know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly,
I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt
and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch
out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and
take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the
kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to
him, “Follow me.”