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Is the Bible Fake News?

Powerful, Jake!!! Thanks for sharing… had a discussion along these lines after church with some members…

Looking for God in Messy Places

“So what about the Noah story? Do you really believe that there was flood that covered the earth and that God crammed two of every species into a big boat?”*

That’s the sort of question I get when I talk to some of my friends about the authority of the Bible. They assume that the Bible is true only if the Bible accurately reports facts about the world.

For instance, I would have to accept that the world was created in six day (with an extra day of divine rest thrown  in). The entire human race issued from two people. Every existing species on earth can be traced back to a pair of passengers on Noah’s ark.

Some people spend so much time trying to prove that the Bible isn’t fake news that they utterly ignore the meaning of the stories contained among scripture’s many texts.

Scripture’s authority derives…

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Sermon – What Kind of Word Do You Share? – 16 July 2017

First Scripture Reading – Isaiah 55:10-13

Second Scripture Reading – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Sermon – What Kind of Word Do You Share?

Evening Prayer – 15 July 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

The long day is completed

A day filled with reflection and service

A family says goodbye to a loved one

Stories and memories are shared

Words of comfort, hope, and faith are shared

Blessed are those who mourn

For they shall be comforted 

Anticipating a full day tomorrow

Lord, grant a peaceful night’s sleep 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Dona Nobis Pacem 

Grant Us Peace 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

What Kind of Word Do You Share?

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A couple of weeks ago I was heading to the mailbox in our complex when I felt like someone was watching me. I looked around and didn’t see anyone or anything when I reached the mailbox. However, on the way back, I saw this fellow laying down in between two condos across the road from our condo. He was contentedly munching on bushes and grass while keeping an eye on me.

Many of the pictures that I take of our four-legged neighbors almost seem to capture the Elk or the Mule Deer talking to me. I know, they are simply chewing their cud… or are they? As I look into their eyes it feels like I am making a connection with them and I can simply (and carefully) be in their presence. Two times of the year when you have to be careful about doing that are during calving season when the Mamas are very protective of their young and during rut when the Bull Elks are less than patient with not only their herd but with any two or four-legged intruders! However, the rest of the time I have often found myself simply being still in the presence of these majestic creatures. They teach me to speak quietly (or speak less) and listen more intently. How often we need to learn that lesson over and over and over again.

As I have pondered the readings for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost I have thought long and hard about the current situation in our nation and world. Words… words can heal… words can kill… words can build up… words can tear down… These words from Isaiah resonated with me as I reflected on the passages in the midst of this busy week.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

How does God’s word go out? The parallel which Isaiah offers reveals how God’s word goes out. Rain and snow water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. God’s word is meant to bring forth life! Yet, far too often we pervert what we call “god’s word” (lower case on both is very intentional) and use it to destroy.

Just as floods can cause tremendous destruction, damage, and loss of life; so too can misguided and misdirected words damage and destroy when they come out of our mouths. It is even worse when we use Scripture to bash others into submission. Far too often I have seen and experienced situations where so-called christians (again, lower case is intentional) use the Bible to figuratively or literally slay others whom they disagree with.

What would it be like if our words (and our actions) did what Isaiah described in the remainder of the reading? “For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:12-13)

Do you remember the lesson Thumper learned from his father and mother in the movie Bambi? After picking on the young prince for his unsteady legs and inability to walk straight, Thumper’s mom asked him a question. “Thumper, what did your Father say?” The reply from our chastened little fellow was this: “If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Can you imagine what it would be like in this nation and world if we took the advice of Thumper’s father more often? As I often remind folks when I am preaching, if there is one finger pointing out at the congregation, there are three fingers pointing back at the Padre!

Well, Jesus takes this lesson from Isaiah and puts it into a teaching moment with the parable of the sower and the seeds. This parable is very familiar to many and can easily be brushed aside. Yet, especially in today’s world I think we need to re-examine it.

Jesus talks about seeds falling on the path where they had no hope of taking root but were instead taken up by the birds and eaten. Next he talks about seeds falling on rocky soil where they sprang up quickly and then died because they were not nourished. Then we hear about the seeds which fell among the thorns where they were quickly overwhelmed and choked out. What do these seeds all have in common? How often do our words get thrown out without thinking? What good are those words in the end? They can hurt, harm, and destroy!

Finally, we hear about the seeds which fell on good soil flourished. They brought forth an incredible crop! Think about the times when what you have said or done has made a difference in a positive way. Your words and actions can and do encourage, sustain, support, and give life!

I have been really struggling in this current political and national/international climate with how to respond. I readily admit that my default response is not a good one. I am more liable to reply with anger, hatred, or judgment than with love or compassion or peace.

We are called, dear reader, to be the difference in this world by our actions and through our words. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace… thus begins the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. I am currently reading a book about the meeting between Francis and the Sultan during the Fifth Crusade. Where the church leaders and the military leaders sought to destroy the enemy (who, by the way, was willing to negotiate a peace but the high and mighty bloodthirsty churchmen refused), Francis wanted to figure out a way to bring peace through this encounter with the Sultan (here is a review of the book: The Saint and the Sultan by Paul Moses: A Review)

What sort of word do you want to share, dear reader? In a world filled with hatred, fear, ignorance, and every phobia under the sun; what do you want to be? I can tell you first hand that it isn’t easy to go against the baser nature. But it is crucial if we are to sow good seeds… seeds of love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control in a world gone mad. Otherwise, in the words of Dr King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

So, how shall we sow the seeds? How shall we speak? In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Evening Prayer – 14 July 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

The simple prayer of my heart

Lord, make us instruments of your peace

Lord, may your Spirit transform hearts and lives

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer for all of your creation

Dona Nobis Pacem et in Terra

Grant Us Peace on Earth 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Verse & Voice – 14 July 2017 – Sojourners

verse of the dayBut anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. – 1 John 2:11

voice of the day

Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy.  – Liu Xiaobo

prayer of the day

Lord, you know our hearts. Keep us in love, we pray. 

Evening Prayer – 13 July 2017

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow 

When we don’t know what to pray

Lord, look into our hearts

Where we see so much darkness and hate 

Lord, shine the light of your love upon us

Transform our fear into understanding 

Transform us and this world, we pray

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace 

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…