Friday, July 22, 2016

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 31, 2016 - Luke 12:13-31 and Hosea 11:1-11

Rembrandt: Parable of the Rich Fool

The "Gospel" of Prosperity

The gospel of prosperity
Is sold with such sincerity
And has such popularity
Some fail to see disparity
Between the Lord's plain clarity
And self-serving barbarity!
I hope someday posterity
Will love with regularity
And look back with hilarity
At how "they" missed faith's verity.

Scott l. Barton

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Hosea 11:1-11

The Real "Old Testament God"

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.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 24, 2016 - Hosea 1:2-10 and Luke 11:1-13

Hosea and Gomer:
Hosea 1:2-10


Hosea gets the bright idea
To utter judgment on Judea;
But God's the real drama queen,
Prescribing what I'd not be keen
To do! And yet, he follows through;
And though, when we, by rights, construe,
The children born were other men's,
Hosea proved that love depends
Not on the unjust ills we've known,
But faithful acts in flesh and bone.

Scott L. Barton

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.”

When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.” Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

Luke 11:1-13

Ask and Ask

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
(Also at

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!”

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 17, 2016 - Amos 8:1-12 and Luke 10:38-42

Abel Meeropol cited this photograph 
of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith
August 7, 1930, as inspiring his poem, Strange Fruit.
Strange, Summer Fruit

The summer fruit of which the prophet speaks
Reminds me of a powerful critique
By Billie Holiday, about strange fruit,
With blood on the leaves and blood at the root.
And though it's been now close to eighty years,
The bitter crop of which she sang appears
On Facebook feeds and in this summer's news,
Such that, today, the nation sings the blues.

Scott L. Barton

Amos 8:1-12

This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord God; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!”
Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.
The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

Luke 10:38-42

Real Freedom

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
(Also at

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.”