Nobody really gets the Trinity, do they? Understanding how God can be three distinct Persons, yet One – we just can’t quite explain it. The minute we try, we find ourselves spouting unintentional heresy.
But we can experience God’s interrelational personhood, and lots of folks will tell you it’s this interrelationality that matters. The community of the Godhead invites us all into that shared relationship, that love. I’m beginning to think this is what “God is love” really means.
In worship today, we honored our high school graduates and sent them off as apostles to their next season of discipleship. We celebrated the good news that the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, to which our congregation belongs, had a productive and Spirit-filled meeting this week. And we sang a lot. We heard the Word of the Lord. We prayed, and recited the Nicene Creed.
We embraced, if only for a moment, the ambiguity that surrounds our idea of Trinity. We leaned a little further than we have before into the paradox of a God who is One, yet Three.
And Love showed up.
Pentecost B May 24, 2015 (Viewa video of this sermon here.)
What happens when Jesus leaves?
When the one on whom all your hopes were pinned is gone, what then? Last Sunday, we celebrated the Ascension, and Luke’s version of that story has the disciples skipping off to Jerusalem with great joy. It’s a nice ending to the story that began with angels announcing “tidings of great joy” to shepherds in a field outside Bethlehem. There’s sort of a “they lived happily ever after” sense that the story has come to a satisfying conclusion, at least for the moment.
But we know better, with our twenty-fifteen hindsight. We know that those disciples were about to experience hardships and persecution they couldn’t possibly imagine. We know that they would soon fall into disagreement, Continue reading →
5/10/2015 (Mother’s Day)
It may seem that the heretics we read about in John’s letters are far removed from us. After all, they lived more than 2000 years ago, and a lot of theological water has gone under the bridge since then. We’ve had plenty of time to figure out what it means to be Christians.
Biblical scholars have written tons of books to explain the hard parts of scripture for us, and great leaders in the church have managed to refute most of the questionable beliefs that emerged during the early years of the faith. Those crazy ideas about Jesus being just a spirit who appeared to be human sound strange to us. It would never occur to us that Jesus was ever anything but fully God and fully human.
We live in a time when we don’t hear much about people standing their ground in theological debate. Our scholars and Christian leaders aren’t famous for hashing out the finer points of Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Instead of arguing about who God is and who Jesus is, we argue about who can be married in our churches or preach in our pulpits, or how we should respond to global warming, or what we should do about bigotry in all its forms.
That time seems far away, when Paul and John and Mark and Luke were still defining the very essence of Christian faith. And yet, the questions they faced were very much like the questions our culture asks today:
Who is God, anyway?
Why does Jesus matter?
What if I want to be “spiritual, but not religious?”
How can I know what lies beyond this life?
Who is going to love me, when I don’t love myself? Continue reading →
Note: The devotional meditation on jelly making referred to throughout this sermon can be found here. You can view a video of this sermon here.
May 3, 2015
During Lent this year, our ecumenical noontime worship centered on the “I AM” statements of Jesus, that we find in the Gospel of John. The final week’s text was the gospel lesson we are going to hear today, from John 15. “I am the true vine,” Jesus told his disciples. As we gathered for lunch and worship, I shared some thoughts on this passage that came out of my first attempt to make grape jelly several years ago.
Some of you told me afterward that I had left you hanging – I never told you how the jelly turned out! Well, today, you get to hear the end of the story. But first, for those of you who weren’t there, I probably should give you the background.
Our neighbor’s grapevine straddled the fence between our yards. One year, I decided it was time to put those grapes on our side of the fence to good use. I read the complete article on jelly making from Joy of Cooking, and decided to try the “old-fashioned natural” method that didn’t require a thermometer or commercial pectin. I knew the jelly probably would be less stiff, but the cookbook promised “a far superior product, depending on the quality of the fruit.” Continue reading →