Monday, February 24, 2014

Transfiguration Sunday, March 2, 2014 - Matthew 21:1-9 (10-21). A hymn for worship.

Raphael: The Transfiguration

Crucified Lord Who Rose So We Might Live 

Scott L. Barton (2014)              John Bacchus Dykes (1861)

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
After six days, y-o-u took them up the mountainside,
There a new defining, in your face all shining,
You, our new Moses, ever here abide.

We have come before you, seeking to adore you,
In this sanctuary, our songs to you we raise,
Your word still astounds us, grace for all surrounds us,
Our love for you, and all, our greatest praise.

There is no delaying, for we hear you saying,
"Follow where I go, and cure the sick and heal the lame;
Folk of every label, welcome to my table,
Fear not, by faith, my love to all proclaim."

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Now we go returning, out to the world you give;
Traveling together, through all kinds of weather,
Crucified Lord, who rose so we might live!

Scott L. Barton

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bonus Poem for the kids for this Sunday, based on the Matthew text

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,
Makes the whole world blind,
A better weapon you can use
Is always keep in mind
That you are still a child of God
No matter what your pain,
And so's the other person, too,
Although I can't explain
Just why that's true! But God loves more
Than you or I can guess,
And when we all can learn that fact,
Is when we'll all be blest.

Scott L. Barton

Print the picture on the front of little cards, with the poem on the back.  Put your name and/or the church's name at the end. Talk about how hard it is when someone hurts you not to want to hurt them back in the same way.  Read them the poem and finish by giving every child a card.

Have fun!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany/in Ordinary Time (A), February 23, 2014 - Matthew 5:38-48 (cf. also Leviticus 24:20)

Christian Evolution

Consider lex talionis,
That wonderful innovation
The Jews invented for us all.
When it was a life for an eye,
A clan for a life, and a tribe
For a clan - justice meant revenge;
But eye for eye was radical,
Life for life was retributive,
Not revenge, like, "We are god now."
Give thanks for Leviticus, then;
Don't put down that step which allowed
Jesus to go one step further.
It's the progression of faith, see?
I guess evolution always
Takes a very long time to get
To where God wants us all to be.

Scott L. Barton
(with thanks to my good friend Ken Williams, who reminded me of the
term Paul Hammer taught us 40 years ago at CRCDS)

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany/in Ordinary Time (A), February 16, 2014 - Matthew 5:21-37

Like a Poem

Is this just an ideal time
He posits, where reason and rhyme
Will fin'lly rule the way we live?
Or do his words an image give
Of faith right now, where anger, lust,
And all the things that he discussed
- Which cause us woe - make us averse
To let our lives by them be cursed?
This "You have heard it said, but I..."
Reveals that he's the reason why
We, too, might live with trust and thanks,
And on unmetered love now bank.

Scott L. Barton

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany/in Ordinary Time (A), February 9, 2014 - Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)

Have you ever noticed, "Here I am,"
That great response to the great "I am?"
So many say it throughout the text,
But then, Easy Street is never next!
Abraham says it first to the LORD,
And then, to Isaac, while holding sword;
And then a third time back to his God,
Each time portends a challenge so odd
You worry for the one who spoke it,
Since what those words all seem to transmit
Is something so scary up ahead
It's like a cue, filling you with dread;
For Esau, Jacob, and Joseph, too;
And then again, when Israel, who
Heard words that he should be not afraid
Feared, by sons, again he'd be betrayed!
Moses says it to that burning bush,
Then, Samuel, when, from sleeping, is pushed
To go to old Eli, speaks times five
These words; which means he could be deprived
Of life and limb, since answ'ring that call
Some day means he'll stand up to Saul!
The Psalmist, too, then risks offending
Those who would mock his faith unending;
And finally, Jeremiah risks it;
We hold our breaths, 'til he's acquitted.

But guess what? The LORD says such words, too!
In Isaiah, these same words construe
The risk God takes not to be swayed by
Our words, without our love we live by.

So when it comes
to love, I guess,
There's no such thing
as no duress.

Scott L. Barton
(The references above are to Gen. 22:1, 7 and 11;  27:1 and 18; 31:11; 37:13; 46:2; Exod. 3:4; 1 Sam. 3:4, 5, 6, 8 and 16; Psalm 40:7; Jer. 26:14; and Isa. 65:1, as well as our text, 58:9)

Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
"Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you, 
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 
if you offer your food to the hungry 
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, 
then your light shall rise in the darkness 
and your gloom be like the noonday. 
The Lord will guide you continually, 
and satisfy your needs in parched places, 
and make your bones strong; 
and you shall be like a watered garden, 
like a spring of water, 
whose waters never fail. 
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; 
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; 
you shall be called the repairer of the breach, 
the restorer of streets to live in.