Saturday, September 10, 2016

Can we finish the job?


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’s strange argument…hating father, mother…even life itself? But I’m drawn to the part about finishing a project, a 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.


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