Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 4, 2013 - Hosea 11:1-11

I read a review of the Requiem - Verdi's -
Which spoke of the fear of "Old Testament God;"
I think that ubiquitous term is a pity,
"Advanced" as we are, who "that God" could not laud;
A dose of Hosea would do us a favor,
To hear God described as One yearning for love,
Who lifted the children, with tenderness, kissing,
But then, like a parent, got back-handed shoved;
It makes you just ache, which then turns into anger,
But being the lover, God knows how to wait;
And when there is trouble, the child returning,
And needing the things that this God can create,
Then finds this "Old Testament God" such a blessing,
Who roars like a lion protecting the young,
Whose wrath is directed towards all that would keep God
From being the One to whom praises are sung.

Scott L. Barton

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.

They shall return to the land of Egypt,
and Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
The sword rages in their cities,
it consumes their oracle-priests,
and devours because of their schemes.
My people are bent on turning away from me.
To the Most High they call,
but he does not raise them up at all.

How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.

They shall go after the Lord,
who roars like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come
trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria;
and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, July 28, 2013 - Luke 11:1-13

Let's say you need three loaves of bread
Because you did not plan ahead,
And company arrived at night,
Which gave you such an awful fright
Because your job's to be the host!
What will you do?  It seems the most
That you can do is go next door
And once again that friend implore
For what you need!  You've asked before,
But still, you dare, since your rapport
Suggests that when you would persist,
Your friend next door cannot resist!
It seems that he's a family man,
But you've revealed his bigger plan
That all be fed by human love
Which starts, of course, from God above.

If you would in the Spirit bask,
Then for your neighbor dare to ask -
Christ shows God's not for you alone,
So ask, and ask, that love be grown!

Scott L. Barton

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of
his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his
disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be
your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And
forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.” And he said to them,
“Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and
say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of
mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he
answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been
locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give
you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him
anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence
he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask,
and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the
door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and
everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door
will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for
a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for
an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bonus poem on the Sabbath

I'm sitting in the morning breeze
At lovely seventy degrees,
The birds, all flying through the air,
Seem not to have a single care,
Except their joy in tree and glade
That here's the day the Lord has made!
And I, with coffee and i-Pad
Am moved to write that I am glad
I can this Sunday just sit back
And have the Sabbath often lacked
By not just pastors, but all kinds
Of people for whom work defines
Their life! Yet even God assigned
A day when he could rest his mind
And body, and just take his ease
While sitting in the morning breeze.

Scott L. Barton

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bonus poem, especially for preachers

If you wonder if they'll miss you, consider these things I've been thinking, as I have found recently the shoe on the other foot, and waiting for my pastor to return!

Happy vacation!


Week One of the Pastor's Vacation

A tenth of the year, and the pastor's away!
I wonder if I will go into withdrawal?
Or maybe the shakes will come on, unannounced,
As Satan, all smiling, recalls how so long
The word from our Lord was what I could produce,
Which (don't get me wrong) I most always enjoyed,
But hearing the Word preached, each word fresh as dew,
Makes a body to feel, when no preaching, a void!
I never much cared 'til this pastor I met,
I thought, as for grace, I was fine on my own;
But hearing so clearly the news that I need -
This waiting for August's a thing I bemoan!

Scott L. Barton

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, July 21, 2013 - Luke 10:38-42

Oh Martha, oh Martha, you're running around,
Distracted, and worried and tense;
And Mary's no help, and the Lord does not care,
He simply wants grace to dispense.
Yes, that is the thing we find so hard to hear,
There's more to do than there are hours!
We cannot keep up; we resent those who don't;
And wish that we had much more power.
But what Jesus means, when to Martha he speaks,
Is, if his disciple you'd be,
You'll trust him 100 per cent with your life;
Receiving: That's when you are free.

Scott L. Barton

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, July 14, 2013 - Luke 10:25-37

How easily we turn this text
Into the force of law;
We ought to love the robbed, we think,
But where, in that's, the awe?
Let Jesus get into your head
When what you want's prescription,
Imagine you're the one who's robbed -
Would you throw a conniption
When helped by a Samaritan
You never thought would care?
Oh, no!  You'd love the one who just
Your soul and life repaired!
You'd have a new and different view
Of self - for you were saved
By one who rightly couldn't care
If you were in the grave!
I wonder why the Maker of
The earth and heav'n should care
About poor slobs like you and me
Who haven't got a prayer
Until our unsuspecting God,
And neighbor, don't pass by,
And grace, like oil and wine anointing,
Selflessly apply.

Scott L. Barton

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what
must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written
in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with
all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as
yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do
this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked
Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down
from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who
stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by
chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he
passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the
place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while
traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on
them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and
took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to
the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I
will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you
think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the
robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him,
“Go and do likewise.”

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bonus poem

Anticipated Worship Attendance on the Fourth of July Weekend
(A poem for Sarah Buteux)

We pastors sure are bummed when 

Only ten appear in church:
"Good grief! It's just a minyan!
Why's God left us in the lurch?"
But Jesus said. "Where two or three 

Are gathered in my name,
I'm there!" So sister, preach God's grace,
For that's why we ten came!

Scott L. Barton

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 7, 2013 - 2 Kings 5:1-14; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

We'd love to see the glory of
God's work performed outright;
Thus Naamann scoffed at what
Elisha offered for his plight;
But flashy deeds and fancy baths
Are hardly Yahweh's style,
Instead, a God in whom we trust
Makes grace a thing worthwhile;
And likewise, when the seventy
Were jazzed at their success
At demon-casting-out, since just
The Twelve had been so blessed,
They learned (and so might we) that
Flashy deeds are not God's glory,
But rather knowing that we're loved
Is our salvation's story.

Scott L. Barton

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and
in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given
victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from
leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl
captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She
said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in
Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told
his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the
king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the
king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six
thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the
letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches
you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure
him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore
his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man
sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how
he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of
God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a
message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to
me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the

entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying,
“Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored
and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away,
saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and
call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the
spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of
Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in
them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his
servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had
commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it?
How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So
he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according
to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh
of a young boy, and he was clean.


After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of
him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his
harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the
midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one
on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this
house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will
rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the
same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer
deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever
you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before
you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God
has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not
welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your
town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet
know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ “Whoever listens to you
listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects
me rejects the one who sent me.”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the

demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from
heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to
tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy;
and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that
the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in