Showing posts from May, 2012

Reflections on the text: Ezekiel 37:1-14 - "Boneyard Lives"

Read the text here: Ezekiel 37:1-14 - The Valley of Dry Bones Boneyard Lives Whenever I hear this vision of the valley of the dry bones from Ezekiel I think of the scene from “The Lion King” where little Simba and Nala are tricked into wandering into the elephant graveyard.  It sounds like such a cool place, until they actually get there and then they realize that there is more to that place than just a bunch of old bones.  There is danger and they are in risk of loosing their lives in this place! There is a sense of danger that pervades this well-known text as well.  But it is a different kind of danger.  Simba and Nala faced physical danger in their valley of dry bones, but Ezekiel’s valley holds a different kind of danger: the danger of giving up; the danger of despondency; the danger of accommodation; the danger of hopelessness.  Let me set the scene.  Ezekiel is perhaps one of the most difficult prophets to read and understand in the entire Old Testament.  He certa

Why Worship?

The following is a portion of my 2012 Annual Report to the congregation and is inspired by my attendance at the Valparaiso Liturgical Conference and a workshop sponsored by the Lutheran School of Theology in St. Louis presented by Thomas Poelker. Why Worship? Why do we worship?   More specifically, why do you worship?   There are probably as many answers to these questions as there are Christians who worship, and I think it is fair to say that there really can be no “correct” or “incorrect” answer to these questions.   Even so, over the past 50 years or so there are two approaches to worship that I think deserves some reflection. The first approach casts God as an audience.   The point of worship is pleasing or entertaining God. What is important then is our performance, our sincerity and enthusiasm.   If there is any benefit that comes to the worshipper in this understanding it is a secondary concern and happens because the Spirit is reflecting back in a way th

Reflections on Ascension – Acts 1:1-11

Read the text here: Acts 1:1-11 Footprints Have you ever wanted to escape?   Just get away from it all?   Probably.   There are times when we all think about wanting to get away from the stress and struggle of our day-to-day lives.   This is particularly true for us when we are confronted with something really difficult – the death of a loved one, a significant loss, health troubles, loss of a job and so forth.   What do we do? Well I suppose most of us continue on and try to move forward the best we can.   But perhaps some of us may give in to the temptation to dream about a heaven that is completely removed from our earthly lives.   Well, we are not alone in this.   For centuries going back to the early church conflicts believers have envisioned a heaven (and a hell) that was very, very different from earth and one that was, for all intents and purposes, an escape.   Some great literature has taken great pains to describe a heaven that was very rem

Reflections on the text – Acts 8:26-40

Read the text here: Acts 8:26-40 Measuring Up             Does it sometimes feel as though life is nothing but a series of evaluations?  From the time we are young we are constantly being evaluated and compared with others.  It seems like we are always preparing and dealing with auditions, try-outs, competency exams or competitions of one sort or another.  Even into adulthood we often find ourselves being compared with and evaluated against others.  In the last few years there have even been a whole slate of reality TV shows that are nothing but intense competitions.  We simply cannot get away from it.  Do you measure up?  Or not?             Our story this morning of the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is also a story about measuring up.  But it takes on a different approach than we might expect.  For, in a way, both of our main characters are outsiders to one degree or another.  First we have Philip. Now this is not the Philip from Bethsaida who wa

Lessons from Acts

Have you ever noticed how sometimes the weekly lectionary – that is the schedule of lessons which are read at worship each week – kind of jumps around a lot.   This year in Advent we started with Mark 13 and then jumped to Mark 1 and ended up have the same Mark 1 passage in the lessons somewhere around 5 times as we made little run-outs to other parts of the Gospel here and there.   Because of this it is sometimes difficult to get a sense of the flow of the story.   And having a sense of the stories of the Bible, especially the story of Jesus life, ministry, passion and resurrection, is important to us. Well in the coming months we will be preaching on stories.   Through the season of Easter we will be preaching on the Acts lessons that tell the story of the Early Church.   The mini-series is called “Lessons from the Early Church.” What happened to the Disciples after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension?   Jesus charges them with the work of proclaiming God’s love and grace in