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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Who do we serve?


9/17



There was an  explosion in Chelsea last night. Do we even know what happened yet? It’s hope we live now….

Went to see  the TONY award winning play “The Humans” last week. A very powerful new play. About the struggles of a normal middle class family. Chinatown gentrifying daughter with crushing student debt, an attorney daughter who just lost her job, a father now working for Walmart. Ultimately all have common  issues. Job loss, crippling student debt, a mother who’s been ignored after 40 years in the same job… 

One of the reviews references a new report that says that for the first time in decades, life expectancy for middle class white males is dropping. And the suicide rate is hitting early AIDS like levels. 

So do we really have to wonder where the Trump support is coming from? It’s not just a "basket of deplorables.” Mainstream liberals have been so caught up  in identity issues, they have ignored class issues. a whole class feel like despite doing what they’ve been told, it juts doesn’t work…

Sweatshop Free Upper West Side is back again. It’s unique coalition,workers documented and un-, unionized and un-, cities and not, church people, neighbors, politicians, and most of all small businesses. They’ve won victories. And victories. Never lost a court case. Over 100 small businesses signed a pledge to obey the fair labor laws. Indus Valley workers. Won their case. A $700000 judgment. So Indus reorganized as  “Manhattan Valley”…and has been ordered to pay $110,000 in back wages..and fired workers who organized, Turns out this is a common solution  ….. some have done this several  times over. (We have a candidate who’s an expert at this strategy….) If it were parking tickets, these businesses would be declared  “scoffaw.” Denver boots applied to their wheels. We need an economic “boot.” We ant them not driving that car anywhere…

Jeremiah is the blues singer for his people. Looking for a balm in Gilead.

Jesus tells us a lengthy story. Another head scratcher of a parable. What’s going on?

Maybe it’s intended to be humorous. Maybe it’s against the scribes and pharisees. The wily manager wins favor for his master by reducing the debt.  But maybe it’s more. Maybe Jesus is saying we will subvert the order by forgiving. And the last lines are not confusing at all…

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”


Who do we serve? 
That is a decision we have to make as individuals, and as a church….

                  * * * * 

Of course we had to sing Balm in Gilead…and I decided to sing  Dylan’s Serve somebody 
again….even without Jeremy…( miss you man…)


You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high-degree thief
They may call you doctor or they may call you chief


You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say
Still, you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
                                       
                                            ****

Tears are streaming down her face. I invite her to come in off the steps. I can’t take it any more, she says, as she describes the abuse she’s been receiving from her partner, let’s say Norman, who was born, let’s say Jill.  Too many weeks on the street. Both off their meds. 

She’s maybe 40 something. A bit heavy. She never wanted to leave Erie where they had a section 8. But Jill had to come high  to the city. They met in prison. She’s open. About prostitution. Substance issues. I can still see the beauty there. And the sadness is profound. But it’s hard, she says, Jill was in for 18 years…almost 5 in solitary…I mean how do you be normal? And both of us, off our meds…can’t live like that…self-medicate, you know?…but I can’t be dragged down…

I use the airplane analogy…the oxygen mask drops…you put yours on first before for the child…if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t help anyone else…

She nods. Thanks me. Tears are stopping. She turns to go back to the corner where they’re hanging. I think of the neighbor, his face twisted as he described her to me as disgusting….the kind of person he didn’t want to see in his gentrified neighborhood. An angel unaware? Child of God. Enough.



First Reading Jeremiah 8:18-9:1


18My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. 19Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?" ("Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?") 20"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." 21For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. 22Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
1O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! Gospel

 Luke 16:1-13
1Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' 3Then the manager said to himself, 'What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' 5So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6He answered, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' 7Then he asked another, 'And how much do you owe?' He replied, 'A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill and make it eighty.' 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
10"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."


Saturday, September 17, 2016

9-11: Fifteen years later

9/11





Fifteen years have passed, as a friend put it, “in the blink of an eye” It’s hard to believe…

I read a wonderful story about Teddy…from his good friend:

On 9/11/2001 the unthinkable happened. Teddy ran to my daughters school and brought her to my girlfriend's house. My son was home and forbidden to leave the block even though he was 21 years old. A couple of hours later I went home to change and as I started to leave the house, Teddy, standing in the doorway asked me where I was going. I told him I was meeting up with some other paramedics and taking A couple of ambulances downtown to which he replied, "not without me you're not". I responded, "Teddy, I don't have time for this I have to go. They are not going to let you in there because you are not a Member of the service." I agreed to let him drive me back to Mary Immaculate Hospital where two ambulances stripped of all of it's equipment sat waiting for a bunch of us that were going down there for the purpose of recovery. I had a brief conversation with one of my partners outside the bus and when I stepped up into the ambulance There was Teddy, hands cradling the back of his head, chatting it up with four of my coworkers. How the hell did he get into that bus? Needless to say he was right. I was going down there, but not without him.

Teddy

That was our Teddy.

Fifteen years…long enough for a “truther” movement to develop.  (We had to pull the plug on one event scheduled here that turned out to be, frankly, anti-semitic…) One of our leaders has suggested that this is just one more  proof we “Need to move on…” I understand that. And I want  to speak about some of those issues.

I have to first recall that we were who and what we needed to be. Who we were supposed be: a church. We were:
1 a place of prayer and comfort for the community
2 a faith community that responded to human need…
A. we made sandwiches, 1500 pbj's
B. helped prepare food, peeling onions all night at Boulet
C.  went to ground zero
D. served as chaplains
E. were a hub center for 18 months with a social  helping those who “fell between the cracks”
F. hosted over two dozen work groups from around the country coming to our city to help out
G. hosted events seeking to prevent the war
We were named by New York City Presbytery “an angel of 9-11.”

Angel of 9-11

And it was strangely the best 2 years of the last 20 for West-Park. Over two dozen new members, 35 in Sunday School. (We were stopped by the economy …young families leaving the city…and then  our “building project” and the conflicts that process brought out…)

What have we learned?
1 New York City is a resilient city. We  live daily as a collective act of will. This city works because we  wake up and decide it will. We choose it to work.  So when a crisis hits, we start doing what needs the done before anyone tells us what to do. That’s why more lives were not lost.
2 We had a chance to connect to the rest of the world. To understand the suffering of others. What it felt like to  be Berlin, Belgrade, Beirut. But we fell into American exceptionalism. ( And that’s what our elder objects to…and she’s right..) As if our suffering is somehow more special than others. 
A. We have hosted here the annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemorations. Remembering our bombs that claimed over 250,000 in one day. And effects that lasted generations. 
B. My friend from Serbia described experiencing when NATO bombed Serbia for 72 consecutive days. 
C. Gaza, where over 3000 were killed in two “operations”
The fact is we are not special

3.  We opened door to a xenophobia/islamophbia that remains today…even in our presidential campaign. We hosted here a leader of the Sikh community sharing their post 9-11 experiences. 
(There is online a beautiful story from Memphis … how the the Heartsong Church has welcomed and hosted the Memphis Islamic Center… Both communities have found their lives enriched by their neighborly partnership.)
4. The war we tried to prevent (“Our grief does is not a call for war”, the signs said.) has gone on for 15 years. Sadly, there is NO growing protest movement. Isn't because there is NO draft? It’s war by other peoples’ children. It doesn’t touch us. And there are no signs  of ending. It was begun under false pretenses. And the result created ISIS. ( Mr. Trump note: NOT Obama, it began way before that…)

Then gospel speaks of lost coins and sinners…it begins with the courage to face ourselves in the mirror…

The Heart Song community has not been  universally loved and respected. One comment read “Another church throws Jesus under the bus…” Moving interview with a member who had been ready to leave. Angrily confronted his pastor. Told to read the gospels. In tears, he says, I discovered that I was what was wrong with the world. I was the problem…And the joy that has come from hosting the mosque. And his feeling of what he has gained, And of forgiveness. 

“Amazing grace”..indeed.
As Mary Gauthier sang,  “We all could use a little mercy now. Yeah, we don;t desire it but we still need it anyhow..”

Fifteen  years later,we can begin by facing clearly who we are. And be willing to be changed by God’s grace…



Gospel Luke 15:1-10
1Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."
3So he told them this parable: 4"Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.


!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Christopher Bollyn's presentation for Friday, Sept.9th has been cancelled

9/13



It was the phrase “…Zionist partners in crime..” that caught my eye on the poster in the window, I was checking out a poster for a 9-11 event schedule for our church of Friday, September 9th. What first appeared to be just another “9-11 truth” event, you know, it was an inside job, that kind of thing, suddenly looked darker. As I googled and researched the website of the main speaker,Christopher Bollyn, I discovered he had an agenda linking a worldwide Zionist(Jewish) conspiracy to control the Middle East, the US, the media…it was pretty clear. The international Zionists were responsible for 9-11. 
the poster

I wrote an email to my leaders, raising my concerns. The responses covered a number of interesting areas, eg:
  1. The classic freedom of speech issue
  2. The fact that they had a valid contract
  3. The fact that we had previously held Palestinian solidarity events that had been called (anti-Semitic (ironically enough, mainly Israeli films!)
  4. We have also been the venue for the organizing effort of Black Lives Matter and the Stop Mass Incarceration Movements.
  5. Therefore we didn’t want to create a policy that would limit causes, events we did favor. 
  6. Would our turning them away actually give them more publicity? Would we be playing into their hands?
  7.  There was concern about offending our neigh its, but that in itself is not sufficient argument.

Our first conclusions were to take down outside posters and require the group to hire extra security for the event.

Then I got an email from my friend Pastor Elise saying that a teaching colleague of hers, a Spencer Sunshine, had contacted her about getting me to stop the event. He sent me lots more information, confirming what I already knew. As well as about the “progressive” Brooklyn coffee shop, Brooklyn Commons, where a Wednesday event was scheduled. Surprisingly, the person at the Commons saw nothing anti-Semitic on Bollyn’s website. They were not about to budge. Dr. Sunshine asked if I wanted my congregation to be the target of anger and protest. I said that could be perceived as threatening. He said he was just objectively reporting.

By this point, my leaders also wanted to post disclaimers. 
West Park Presbyterian Church and The Center at West Park provides meeting facilities.  Therefore, the content and opinions expressed during the program at today’s event are those of the speaker and should not be construed as representing or reflecting the views of West Park Presbyterian Church or The Center at West Park, nor the respective boards, staff or membership.


We agreed we needed to inform our friends on the Center Board as they needed to know, so I prepared this email:
Friends :

The purpose of this email is to bring our friends from the Center on board regarding a situation I first brought to the Session's attention last Thursday, ( I will forward email string shortly but will summarize all right here. To review: 
1. On Thursday, I read the posters in our boxes for a 9-11 event  to be held on 9/9 at West-Park and became alarmed at a reference to "Zionists" stating a conspiracy. This led me to research the speaker, Christopher Bollyn. His belief is that a Zionist conspiracy controls the government, media etc. He and organizations he has been associated with include neo-nazis and David Duke of the Klan. 
2. We discovered that when booked, Laurie (clearly) had no idea who these people were
3. We carried on an exchange that covered a number of areas including:
A. Free speech. (Although a church is a private institution and has no obligation to allow for presentations that violate its principles.)
B. The fact that we rent to religious groups that exclude the lgbtq community
C. The fact that our Israel-Palestine film series has been accused of being "anti-semitic" by members of the community.
D. Our relationship with the "Stop Mass Incarceration Network" and their perceived anti-police perspective. (We were their location for planing last October's marches against police violence.)
E. Even the issue of "hate speech" is not easy to define according to different people's perspectives
The point to the above is that  while Bollyn is clearly an anti-semite, there was concern about the role of perception in these matters and establishing precedent or policy that would harm us in other ways.
4. There was concern over the fact that a contract had been signed and that we had no legal grounds for cancellation and could open ourselves up for actions regarding cancellation. (Although I wondered if the contract had  been signed under false pretenses.)
5. The initial conclusion was that we:
A. Require them to hire security, given their own reports of violence at other events.
B. Prohibit external advertising
C. Prepare and post a disclaimer that this is a rental that we in no way endorse 
D. Prepare policies that will protect us in future events. 
6. Subsequent to this, I received on 9/4 an email from my colleague Pastor Elise Brown containing a letter/request from a professional colleague of hers. (I will forward that as well...)
7. We revisited the issue again yesterday after church with the following points being made:
A. Don was present for Laurie's conversation with Bollyn's people who made MUCH of the signed contract issue. A question here is whether canceling them can potentially bring them more attention than if we let them proceed at an event that may not be noticed at all. IE, do we play into their hands by cancelling?
B. It was decided we needed to share this discussion with our Center friends. 

I must say that last night as I lay in bed the thought crossed my mind, as valid as all these points are and as valuable as the conversation has been, and your concerns are real, perhaps it is this simple, as long as we are in charge, the facilities of West-Park shall never be used for the propagation of what we know to be anti-semitism. Period. And let the chips fall where they may.

Thanks for all your  thoughts on this concerning matter...



My middle of the night thought was it was very simple…I would never allow our property to be used for the promulgation of anti-semitism or anything denigrating any group. That’s all. So we scheduled a conference call.

Many people anxiously awaited that call, including Dr. Sunshine (his real name, from the Yiddish Sonnenshein) and colleagues to now even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. With only one dissent, we voted to cancel. We had a clause in the contract about events that contradict the mission of the church, And as a private institution, we have no obligation to any other party.

Of course, the Bollyn folks accused of bowing to Zionist bullying. In email and on  facebook. And the Commons lived through an awkward and painful night. We had a few angry phone calls and a few confused people showing up at Open Mic looking for the event. That's it. Progressive groups ae pulling out of the Commons. We knew our decision was the right one. 

It was probably predictable that the 9-11 “truther” movement would slide into open anti-Semitism. And then seek to move into progressive circles committed to Palestinian solidarity. We learned that we had been targeted because of our denomination’s commitment to Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS). As I commented to a rabbi friends mine, there’s no shortage of assholery in the world. Sadly, there’s a left vulnerability to anti-Semitism. 

Threats of being charged with anti-Semitism are not valid in trying to silence anti-israeli policy discussions. And likewise, charges of being afraid of being labelled anti-Semitic are not valid to promote anti-Semitism. Put another way, just because you’re anti-Israel doesn’t make you anti-Semitic. But just because you’re pro-Palestinian doesn’t mean you’re not. 

We in the progressive community have much to  talk about here…

Here’s how Haaretz reported the story:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Can we finish the job?

 9/4





Our scriptures today have so many different possibilities…theres Jeremiah and the potter imagery. It reminds me of our baptismal font ….and the Occupy days..When the artist was finishing it, the lid cracked. She thought of starting all over again, then she said, No, thats what they do theyre fixing the cracks in the world..
The inside of of our font cover

Psalm 139, is of course a  classic with its intimate images of us being known by God from the womb.

In Philemon, there is a wonderful appeal for accepting a slave as a brother….as in the second verse of the Christmas classic, “O Holy Night”:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name, all oppression shall cease.

The English translation from the original French is by John Sullivan Dwight, of Brook Farm…he was a Unitarian Transcendentalist pastor in a19th century intentional community. ….Hmmm…hold on to that thought for a moment….

And then another scene of a  challenging Jesus in Luke…that’s where I’m headed..it’s strange argument…hating father, mother…even life itself? But I’m drawn to the part about finishing a project, a building..how it takes planning…and determination..and sacrifice…but first planning…

On today’s bulletin cover we have Wangaari Maathai…have you ever heard of her? She was the Nobel peace prize winner for 2004. The founder of the Greenbelt movement in 1977. Climate change and environment, women’s rights and democracy. She was a Kenyan. And for me, theres even Pittsburgh connection. There is garden in her name on the grounds of  the University of Pittsburghs Cathedral of learning, where she studied…hers is a project that is far from over…but a course has been set for future generations..

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been in the news this week. Not standing for the national anthem before games. (Why do we do that anyways? No other countries do that..) And there have been fascinating responses. Anything to avoid the real conversation about why 50 years after 1968, Muhamnad Ali refusing induction to the military, Tommy Smith and John Carlos with their black power salute (and Australian Peter Norman with them in solidarity) we are still having the same conversation. Or should I say, needing to have this conversation…as the hymn says,
And in his name all oppression should cease..thats what Colin Kaepernick is trying to call our attention to.

Our project had to do with a building.  We have had much success. Restoring ceilings, walls. But what is the project? What is the building we are trying to build?

Environmental justice, international equality for women, racial justice…these are all long term projects that we will not see concluded. The issue for us is whether we have the capacity to be faithful in following Jesus. In the transformation of this community, can we finish the job? Take the next step?

We finish our service with communion...bread from our new neighbor Kirsch bakery....they leave fish bread for us every day...


The communion is ready.....




First Reading Jeremiah 18:1-11
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2"Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words." 3So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
5Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. 9And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. 11Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
1O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
O LORD, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
13For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18I try to count them-they are more than the sand;
I come to the end-I am still with you.
Second Reading Philemon 1-21
1Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, 2to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 5because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.
8For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love-and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. 12I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. 15Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother-especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Gospel Luke 14:25-33
25Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them,26"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. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For 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? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' 31Or 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? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.