Blessed Are the Peacemakers (James 3:14-4:10)

Blessed Are the Peacemakers (James 3:14-4:10)

Making peace by asking one another for forgiveness is a uniquely Christian task. Above all other things, it is what churches should be facilitating followers of Jesus to do! And yet, humbling ourselves to admit wrongdoing and living in peace with one another is outside of our ability as fallen, strife-loving people. Especially when we are used to being right (as parents, teachers, administrators, and yes…even pastors!), to admit that we are indeed wrong requires a real stepping-down. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the Prince of Peace, the One who humbled himself to death..even death on the cross…that we sinners might be reconciled to God and take part in a ministry of reconciliation, too.

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It Only Takes a Spark (James 3:1-12)

It Only Takes a Spark (James 3:1-12)

I remember a song from my childhood that we sometimes sang on parochial school trips or youth retreats. “It only takes a spark…to get a fire going. And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love…” It is an image that stays with me today. Though I might feel at times that the measure of God’s love I am able to pass on to others will not..cannot…make a difference in the world, the reality is actually quite different. God’s promise to me is that even the smallest gift of love I give can produce unforeseen good in the long run (2 Cor 4:1-6, Gal 6:9, et al.).

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Finding Completeness (James 1:2-4)

Finding Completeness (James 1:2-4)

If we seek God's answers to the most important questions in life ("Who am I?" "What Makes Me Unique?" "Why am I here?") rather than simply following our best instincts or inclinations in answering those questions, God promises to lead us to a greater maturity and stronger faith that is sure to grant us greater fulfillment and joy,.

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Conversation with an Armor Wearer (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Conversation with an Armor Wearer (Ephesians 6:10-20)

I don't know much about ordinary armor...let alone have I actually ever worn it myself. So when it came time to do a deep dive on the text for this weekend, a text where St. Paul encourages us to "put on the full armor of God" (6:11) I thought I would enlist the help of my friend Daniel Mehaffey. Daniel takes part in the Society of Creative Anachronism.

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When Our OWN Words Fail (John 6:51-69)

When Our OWN Words Fail (John 6:51-69)

Words fail us when we see the ugliness of the human condition, as it truly is. There is no excusing or somehow rising above the sin of the world in which we all share. But God's Word ultimately turns our attention away from exclusive focus on human failure to the only perfect sacrifice that will ever be made: the sacrifice of the Son of God, who died for us.

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Extraordinary (John 6:35-51)

Extraordinary (John 6:35-51)

This past week many of us heard in the news the story of an ordinary man used in an extraordinary situation. Zac Edwards and his bride Cindy were lingering for a bit after their seaside wedding taking photographs when they heard a cry for help 50 yards out. A young man had gotten a little too far out in the surf and was now fighting for his life in a rip tide.

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Miracles of Miracles (John 6:22-35)

Miracles of Miracles (John 6:22-35)

When you think of miracles what sort of image comes to mind? A prayer answered? Impossibilities made possible? Do you see miracles everywhere…a sunset…an upset victory on the gridiron…a newborn child? Or is your first thought about miracles that your own life seems especially short of them?

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That Second Tomb Account (Mark 6:14-29; 16:1-8)

 That Second Tomb Account (Mark 6:14-29; 16:1-8)

As a pastor I sometimes meet people who tell heartbreaking stories of how evil and injustice have impacted them in traumatic ways, leaving them numb and robbing them of their joy. I imagine something similar must have been going through the hearts of those who had been followers of John the Baptist, as they buried his earthly remains in a tomb (6:29). … St. Mark tells the story as one chapter of a greater story that would also end with an execution and a tomb. But though this injustice would be much greater--the death of an innocent man for the sins of the world--so would the nature of the comfort that would arise from his tomb: a tomb that did not stay occupied for long.

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The Freedom of Travelling Light (Mark 6:1-13)

The Freedom of Travelling Light (Mark 6:1-13)

Lack of ordinary capacity is actually a call to build on the extraordinary capacity of God’s own gift of Life to us: the precious gift of God's Word, and the mysteriously enriching work of the Sacraments. Everything else, when you think about it, is kind of like icing on the cake. We are disciples of Christ, given to “travel light” in the things of this world…confident that God has provided what we truly need: Jesus, and the eternal inheritance that awaits us.

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When a Brave Face Isn't Enough (Mark 4:21-43)

When a Brave Face Isn't Enough (Mark 4:21-43)

This week has been Vacation Bible School week at Trinity. What joy to see the spirit of Life in the children of our community as they sing songs and learn about the love of Jesus, the Great Physician of the soul, while making friends and having fun! Which makes me wonder: At what point do we stop approaching our Great Physician with the wonder, awe, and unabashed helplessness of small children?

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Of Refugees and the Republic (Romans 13:1-7; Zechariah 7:9-10)

Of Refugees and the Republic (Romans 13:1-7; Zechariah 7:9-10)

Every so often it's good to take a break from the usual routine of finding a devotional slant to the appointed readings on Sunday morning. This week, the national spotlight was on the immigration debate. I do not believe it is the role of a pastor to take a political stance and to advocate from the pulpit for one political position or another. However, the invocation of Romans 13 by two government officials recently, an action intended to produce what can only be described as "political goals," warrants--you might even say, necessitates--a brief reflection on Romans 13 and the Scriptures in general by all of us who claim those Scriptures as our own. 

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Where to Look When You Have Trust Issues (Mark 4:26-34)

Where to Look When You Have Trust Issues (Mark 4:26-34)

Trusting in God won't mean that bad things won't happen. It will mean that we hold on to a God who makes all things new in spite of the bad stuff. As we celebrate this Father's Day, let us also give thanks for the Father who loves us. We put our trust in the one Candidate who is worthy of that trust. And we live...never completely sure (yet free and at peace) about where the next bend in the road will take us.


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Sacred Rest (Gen 2:1-3; Deut 5:12-15; Mark 2:23-3:6)

Sacred Rest (Gen 2:1-3; Deut 5:12-15; Mark 2:23-3:6)

t isn't easy to step out of the torrent of activity that pushes us along in life. It is so much easier to give in to the schedule book, the demands of others, the need to be appreciated, the expectation that we will perform better than before. Sometimes there are real needs to be met RIGHT NOW. But this is not where Life is found. This week, we not only hear the refrain of sacred rest in the Scriptures....we rely on the gift of the Spirit to more perfectly sing it ourselves.

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Lord of Hosts..."Sabaoth" (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Lord of Hosts..."Sabaoth" (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Today we recall that Isaiah heard yet another name that often goes untranslated in our hymns and prayers: God's name, "Yahweh (Lord God of) Sabaoth." Isaiah heard it in that glorious vision of God he was privileged to see in the Jerusalem temple. The name sometimes makes its way into our hymns (cf. the classic version of "A Mighty Fortress"), but more often we sing it in our Communion liturgy, during the "Sanctus": "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth adored." What is a "Lord God of Sabaoth," anyway? And more importantly: why should it matter? 

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Life in the Valley of Death (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Life in the Valley of Death (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Not only does the Spirit/Breath enter and enliven the bones littered on that valley floor when Ezekiel, at the Lord's invitation, invites Him to do so. The Spirit of the Lord puts Ezekiel on that valley floor to begin with. The Spirit, you see, is in the business of taking what should not be able to live and to cause it to thrive. 

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Changed for the Better (Acts 10:34-48)

Changed for the Better (Acts 10:34-48)

We can only imagine the suspicions, fears, and prejudices that would have kept Romans and the local folks of the country they occupied apart. But the Gospel of Christ changed both [Peter and Cornelius]...for the better. First, through Peter, drawn by God to bring a message of life to Cornelius, this foreigner receives the Life-giving Spirit of God and is washed in the water of new birth. But the risen Jesus, Lord of the nations, changes Peter too. Before the encounter is complete, Peter sees the bond between all people that the Gospel of life makes possible: "I understand now that God shows no partiality" he confesses (10:34). All people are to be changed by the One who was crucified, but now lives! All are to know and to live in His love...and be changed for the better in the process. 

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