Sunday, July 26, 2015

Stories Can Change Your Life

Although Mr. Spock was a favorite character
of mine growing up, he is not a good model for
emotional health.
There's a lot going on in the world, much of it tragic.

It can be overwhelming if we let all of it touch our hearts.

But it can be just as damaging if we let none of it seep through.  The easiest thing is to feel nothing which then requires me to change nothing about myself.

Do I really want to become an unfeeling robot?

Simon and Garfunkel address this through their song, "I Am a Rock."

They sing:
Don't talk of love,
But I've heard the words before;
It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
As the song unfolds, we see a hurting person that has rejected all others in order to deal with the pain and avoid any future difficulties.

The song becomes an ironic reminder for us not to become islands even as we sing about them.

When tragedy occurs, it is easier for us to deal with the facts and figures.  If we hear the numbers of people dislocated by an earthquake or a hurricane, it can be dismissed.  But when we hear the story of a widowed grandmother caring for her two grandchildren who have all been left homeless, we seek to act if only to make a donation.

This is the power of narrative.  When we hear stories, we engage with the people in need in ways that may escape us otherwise.  When we respond, their story becomes our story.  This is Christianity in a nutshell as God engages with humankind by entering our story as Jesus of Nazareth.

This week's lectionary will continue with the Old Testament in 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13 as we see the prophet Nathan exposing the sin of King David.  He does it in a way that engages David - through the power of story.  Because of Nathan's narrative, David is able to see his own sin clearly and repent.

This Sunday, I hope you'll let God's story break through any hardness you may have developed!

In Christ,


"I Am a Rock" lyrics written by Paul Simon, (c) Eclectic Music, Paul Simon Music 
Picture by Desilu Productions/NBC Television (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Consequence Happens

I was watching The Tonight Show last night and Jimmy Fallon had a joke about Ashley Madison getting hacked.  If you don't know what Ashley Madison is, that is probably a good thing.  It is a website specifically designed for adultery.

People can sign up for a fee like a dating site except that these are not single people. They are married people looking to cheat on their spouses with other married people.  The idea is that this would be more discreet and the unsuspecting spouse would have no idea about the extramarital activity.

Ashley Madison's tag line is "Life is short. Have an affair."
Der fliehende Liebhaber by A Buzzi,
19th Century

Evidently, this website dating service is the second largest among users online next to  It is astonishing that over 37 million people that have signed up to use this website.

Now we see that the privacy that they guarantee may not be so private.  Hackers are threatening to release all of this personal data to the web which has 37 million people nervous right now.

When Fallon made the joke, he said that they had someone in the audience whose name came up on the list and they were going to out them on television.  Then the camera started surfing the crowd.  The interesting thing is how nervous some of them looked!  Fallon then admitted that they were teasing the crowd a little bit.

The whole industry is based upon the idea that if I don't get caught, there are no consequences.  It is a rather silly idea and we see from this news that there are always consequences.  If nothing else happens, at the very least, the anxiety level of a lot of people has risen today.

This Sunday, we will jump to the Old Testament for the lectionary reading for 2 Samuel 11:1-15.  This is the story of David and Bathsheba.  It is a story of a man who believed that he was beyond consequences but we see that this is not the case.

Infidelity is always a weakness.  It is not cute or trendy or fashionable.  It always has consequences even if it is just the loss of one's personal integrity.

But there is also redemption available and the past does not have to define us.

Life is short.  Join us for worship!

Photo by A. Buzzi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wanna Get Away?

This is the famous Southwest Airlines tag line.  I think that Jesus could have answered in the affirmative from time to time.

This week's lectionary passage for the Gospel is Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.  These are two passages broken up by the stories of the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water.  They both emphasize the common people coming in droves to Jesus for healing.

It must have been tiring for Jesus as the passage indicates that sometimes they didn't even have time to eat.  He tried to get the disciples away to a deserted place for a while because they needed rest.

I see in this passage the need for rest after a period of intense ministry activity.  I also see the crowds of people with their need, finding their peace and wholeness in Jesus.

How are these two things related?

As we look to advertising lines, we may find that marketing has spiritualized products to invoke a narrative that gives people an idea that this will deliver more than just a hotel or a flight or a candy bar.

People used to dress up for their flights - do we lose
anything by informalizing travel today?  And if so,
is this related at all to worship?
I think about Motel 6's iconic phrase, "We'll leave the light on for ya" which expresses the idea of a loved one keeping watch for you pulling up late into the night.  I'm reminded of trips to my grandmother's house when we would sometimes pull in after dark and she was there to greet us with warm cobbler and a cold glass of milk.  I doubt if I would find anything remotely like this at a motel, but the catchphrase does conjure up this image for me.

How about "Snicker's really satisfies"?  It may provide a little snack relief but to see the people enjoy it on the ads makes one think that they have found inner peace.

The ten commandments tell us that we are "To remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." Maybe this is how we are to combine the rest that we need with our coming to Jesus for peace.  

This Sunday, I'll be preaching on this passage using the sermon title, "Comfort Ye My People".  My hope is that it will "really satisfy"!  And we'll leave the light on for you!

In Christ,


Photo by By San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive ( [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons