Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 8, 2013 - Luke 14:25-33

The family values Jesus had
Were things we wish he had not said,
Like hating parents, siblings, wife,
And even (dare he say it?) life!
The thing we have to see is where
He's headed when he says that there-
fore you must give up all you own,
Which, after all, are all on loan,
If you would his disciple be -
It's to Jerusalem, you see,
Where God gives all for you and me!
Can we show love to that degree?
The new disciples of this Christ
Will find our values are mispriced
Until what's dear will now expand
So Grace for All's our family plan.

Scott L. Barton

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to
them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife
and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot
be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot
be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not
first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to
complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able
to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This
fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going
out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and
consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who
comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the
other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms
of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do
not give up all your possessions.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bonus Poem - At the Farmstand

"I LOVE this time of year,"
I overheard her at the stand,
"The peaches!!! And the corn!!!" she gushed,
While paying, cash in hand;
The children at her knee seemed
Very glad she was their mom,
One, looking all around, the other's
Hand safe in her palm;
And though I like the produce, too,
All lush and firm and sweet,
The thing I love about this time
Is how some people treat
It as the perfect gift, and so
Express a perfect joy,
Which brings a smile to grown ups who
Once more are girls and boys.

Scott L. Barton

Bonus Poem - Ornithological, Musical and finally Theological!

I have musician friends who say
They love their ducks and geese
Who, landing on the river, trumpet
Honkings without cease;
Then gulls, and oft a heron form
The River Birds Quartet;
On top of this (that is, by air)
Fly, too, the Land Dectet -
The cardinals’ and robins’ notes
Distinctively all ring,
You know the finches, bluejays, wrens
And flickers when they wing,
And who are owls but the birds
You hope don't call your name,
Likewise, when rodents hear a screech
They know a hawk just came,
And then, of course, the woodpeckers,
Will knock, as at your door,
While crows, with caws, might sometimes make
You say, "Please! Nevermore!"
Still, birds, in concert, or alone,
By river, lawn, or tree,
Are never disconcerting, though
They constantly change key;
Their symphony for ear and eye
Puts in my step a spring,
Thanks to the Maestro of it all,
Whose praise all creatures sing!

Scott L. Barton

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 1, 2013 - Luke 14:1, 7-14

Here Jesus, to the guests, apprises
The news that God's about surprises!
Perhaps you find it disconcerting
That Jesus here does no asserting
To claim humility means showing
That you think others are more owing
Of what this good life has to offer!
Oh, no!  What Jesus seeks to proffer
Is that God's kingdom means believing
That you are really blessed, receiving,
When you could think of no potential!

That's why we call it Providential.

Scott L. Barton

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bonus Poem - The Swallows Are Having a Field Day

The swallows are having a field day,
They fly both to and fro,
They can't believe the feast they have!
Do I project my glow
On such a summer's eve
On birds that have no sense?
Or do we both know in some way
(Not sitting on the fence)
How absolutely blessed we are,
Like quaking aspens there
Who shake not just because the breeze
The cool of evening bears,
But overjoyed God sets the earth
On its foundations sure,
While birds, and one now watching
Find we're fed by grace assured?

Scott L. Barton

[There's a reference here to Psalm 104, but I didn't want to wait until October, 2015 to post it :)]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 25, 2013 - Luke 13:10-17

The indignant leader
Huffed and puffed
When the bent-over woman
Raised her head,
Blaming the victim
For being in the right place
At the wrong time.
He didn't even have the dignity
To address the woman,
Much less the man who healed her.
And he kept it up.
(Don't you hate it when that happens?)
So Jesus let him have it.
And he brought the house down,
While the woman smiled
With dignity.

Don't you love it when that happens?

Scott L. Barton

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 18, 2013 - Luke 12:49-56

Don't rock the boat, they always say,
These things always take time;
End slavery?  Let women vote?
Or blacks? Oh, that's a crime
To jump the gun, get people hurt,
Pit brother against brother;
How odd that Jesus knew these things,
But rather than another
Delaying word, he longs for fire!
His grace means not peacekeeping,
But rather, making peace for all!
For God is never sleeping
Whene'er one's siblings get short shrift
But you think things are cool -
You'll want to wake up, then, and not
Have Jesus call you fool!

Scott L. Barton

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already
kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I
am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring
peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on
five in one household will be divided, three against two and two
against three; they will be divided: father against son and son
against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west,
you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And
when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching
heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the
appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret
the present time?"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 11, 2013 - Luke 12:32-40

[Note: the KJV and RSV use the more literal "let your loins be girded" in vs. 35.]

"Gird up your loins!" as students we'd say,
Which meant, be prepared, or else, in dismay,
You'd find that a paper, or else a big test,
Would cause you to trip, since you were not dressed
To run your next race - or preach a good word;
Then, girding up loins also meant to be spurred
To walk into the pulpit and be not afraid!
"Gird" also means "belt," and thus fasten your blade,
To do battle with powers that make us believe
Our treasures we make, and not simply receive;
And finally, "loins" means it's not about "me,"
But those who come after, who through me might see
That believing means trusting the master to give
What I hardly expect!  But receiving, I live
For the sake of the One who has taught me how grace
Is the treasure of this oft afraid human race.

Scott L. Barton

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure
to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make
purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in
heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are
waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that
they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed
are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I
tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and
he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the
night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the
thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You
also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected