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In the Light

Wisdom from Ronnie

Ronnie McBrayer

sunriseNinety-three million miles away from our planet is nature’s most perfect nuclear reactor: The Sun, the center of our solar system. Eleven thousand degrees at the surface and double that at its core, it squashes atoms like we squash bugs.

If you could capture a pinhead’s worth of that glowing hydrogen and helium, it would radiate enough heat to eradicate everything for 400 city blocks. And yet, after the eight and a half minutes it takes for that energy to reach the earth, it arrives as light, warmth, and life.

What you grow in your garden; the beauty of the changing seasons; every bite of food you put in your mouth; the water that you drink; the fossil fuel you put in your car; the wind that cools the planet: The life and energy of all things originates with and is sustained by the sun.

Your personal health is no…

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Evening Prayer – 27 June 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

Tonight’s walk was an opportunity to reflect

This Mallard was snoozing along the path

Yet while he snoozed, many are concerned

It seems that healthcare is the realm of the few

It seems that profits are more important than people

Lord, my heart is heavy tonight 

Jesus calls us to stand for the poor and the oppressed

Yet some who say they are christians, don’t seem to care

Help those who are Christ-followers to speak

To speak in the spirit of Jeremiah

“But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.” (Jeremiah 28:7-9)

“Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:3)

Lord, help us to preach the Gospel as Francis calls us to do

At all times, preach the Gospel

If necessary, use words

Lord, in your mercy, hear this prayer

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Evening Prayer – 26 June 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

Hospital calls

Emergency Rooms

Communion, prayer, fellowship

Hope and concern wrapped up together 

It is in the trenches where your work is done, Lord

How can people in positions of power forget that

When faces and names come together

Can’t those in power see sisters and brothers?

I am thankful this night for your call to serve

I am thankful for your presence in our midst

Lord I offer this prayer for all

May hearts be softened and transformed 

May eyes be opened to truly see

Lord in your mercy, hear this prayer 

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Evening Prayer – 25 June 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

Another Lord’s day complete

Worship and Fellowship, what a blessing

Sabbath rest after an incredibly busy week

And now, Lord, a time of rest

Be with those who work this night

Be with those who watch this night 

Be with those who weep this night

Give your angels charge over those who sleep

Tend the sick, Lord Christ

Give rest to the weary

Bless the dying

Soothe the suffering

Pity the afflicted

Shield the joyous

And all for your love’s sake

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Dona Nobis Pacem 

Grant Us Peace 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Sermon – What Do We Love More? – 25 June 2017

First Scripture Reading – Romans 6:1b-11

Second Scripture Reading – Matthew 10:24-39

Sermon – What Do We Love More?

Evening Prayer – 24 June 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

A day of fun, family, travel, and work

Thank you, Lord, for our time with family

Thank you, Lord, for safe travel home

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings of this life

Thank you, Lord, for your renewing love

Thank you, Lord, for responding to this prayer

Dona Nobis Pacem 

Grant Us Peace 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

What Do We Love More?

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On our way back from an all-day drive along the Cache de Poudre River valley and Arapaho National Forest that took us nearly to the Wyoming border and then back around through the Rocky Mountain National Park from Grand Lake to Estes Park, we spotted this Mama Moose and her calf. The calf was bouncing about and really quite cute as it tried to nuzzle mama. This picture was taken from a distance using my telephoto lens. One thing that I have learned over the past two years living with our wild neighbors is that you don’t mess with Mama or come between Mama and her baby!

That goes for Elk and Bear and Deer and other creatures who share the neighborhood with us. I have seen people (typically tourist types who don’t live here) be, frankly, quite stupid and nearly pay the price for their stupidity! Whether it is a Bull Elk during rut or a Mama and her baby, they want that cute photo up close and before they know it, they are running away as they get chased. Every year, it seems, somebody tries to do something stupid and they end up in the local ER! Let’s face it, you don’t mess with Mama when it is calving or birthing season and you don’t mess with the guys during mating season. If you follow those rules and respect your four legged neighbors, you can truly enjoy living in this beautiful slice of paradise we call home.

So, what does this have to do with the lectionary passages for this Sunday? To be honest, as several bloggers/pastors I follow have said, the readings for Sunday are not at all pleasant and we are all wondering if we can get someone else to preach or start a new sermon series! But, as I have told my present and previous congregations before, the lectionary forces you to deal with the difficult passages of Scripture instead of avoiding them. So, here we go!

When I read Romans 6:1b-11 and Matthew 10:24-39 to Denise, she said that she was glad she wasn’t preaching! What do you do with such difficult passages… good question, dear reader. Especially when some of the following gems are involved:

The Romans reading begins with the famous “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who die to sin go on living in it?” (Romans 6:1b-2)

Matthew 10:34-38 – “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Frankly, I have been struggling with these passages even though parts are quiet marvelous, such as: “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:8) Yet when I come to the second half of the gospel where Jesus talks about bringing a sword and not peace and dividing families, I frankly cringe!

At that point, I need to remember the context of the passage. Last week’s reading from Matthew immediately preceded the reading for Sunday. Jesus is preparing the disciples to go out on their first missionary endeavor and he tells them that it won’t be easy. In case they didn’t get the message about the difficulty, he gives them some graphic and over the top details. Peace? No! Sword? Yes! Families fighting? Yes! The life he was calling them to was not easy and would not set well with the religious authorities at all.

On the flight to Minnesota to see my parents and my son, I was reading a book about St Francis of Assisi and his mission to bring the gospel to the Sultan (“The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace” by Paul Moses). In preparation for the title event, the author provides background on Francis and his life. It hit me all of a sudden that when he decided to follow the radical call of Christ to poverty and service, he ticked off a bunch of people, including his own father!

Before Francis became the itinerant servant of Christ, he was the son of a wealthy merchant in Assisi. He was also swept up in the martial fever as Assisi went to war against Perugia who was a neighbor and rival. Francis bought (using his father’s money) the finest livery and armor a knight could buy and rode off to glorious war. Well, he soon found out that war was Hell (he was taken prisoner and spent over a year languishing in a nasty prison before he was exchanged for a substantial sum of money).

After his experiences of warfare (he again went to war for Assisi after his release), he finally heard the voice of the Lord calling him. He ended up selling all of the equipment that his father’s money had purchased and in a grand act of humility, gave his father the very clothes off of his back and walked away from that exchange naked! Needless to say, his father was not at all happy with his son and there was a rift in the family. That is when I realized that Jesus’ words about division happened in Francis’ life.

Sadly, it is also happening today in the fractured and hate-filled environment of today’s political and religious landscape. Whether it be a former religious fundamentalist who realizes that God has called him or her to love ALL of God’s children, including members of the LGBTQ community or breaking with political tradition because they believe that what they have been told for so long by family and the church is dead wrong; they find themselves cast out of their family. Why are they cast out? Because, as they seek to follow Christ, they find out that Christ calls us to do some pretty radical things. Francis stripped naked and walked away from his family… he also embraced and kissed a leper! He saw Christ in that leper!

There have been times in my own life when I have spoken out in the face of injustice and hatred to the detriment of relationships. When I told my Dad that the striking union workers at Hormel in the mid 80’s had a justifiable grievance, it strained our relationship. Yet, thankfully, later on, he told me that even though my words had been pointed and cut to the quick, I was right and he saw where I was coming from.

That was nothing compared to the scale of division that many people I know have faced when they have chosen to speak prophetic words to their family. The simple hash tag phrase, #LoveWins has created tremendous division in families that I know. Why? Because some don’t believe that love is for all of God’s children… to borrow a phrase: “you know you have made god in your own image when your god hates everyone that you hate…”. They have become the guardian of their own version of god and there is no room for grace, love, reconciliation, or peace unless it is on their terms!

This leads me back to the beginning of the reading from Matthew for Sunday… God knows us to the detail of every hair on our head… God knows the sparrows so how much more will God know and care for those created in God’s own image? What are we called to do? “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)

What are we to proclaim dear reader? Love God with your entire being! Love ALL of your neighbors as you love yourself! Do Justice! Love Kindness/Mercy! Walk Humbly with God! Only by loving God in such a fashion can we love others as we are called to do.