Good Friday

Tonight we will gather for a time of prayer and solemn remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus.  We will begin at 7 in the Sanctuary at 5265 H Street.  There is childcare for children 10 and under.  All are welcome.

7:00 pm Good Friday Worship The Table at Central UMC

The sky peels back to purple
and thunder slaps the thighs of heaven,
and all the tears of those who grieve
fly up to clouds and are released
and drench the earth.
The ones who see and hear
know
that all is lost.
The only One named Savior
died
upon a cross.
The ones who believed and loved
huddle together
stunned.
All night long
the angels weep.

(from Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems)

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Trust in the face of uncertainty

 

 

photo  by Betty Loumoli

photo by Betty Loumoli

         Some Pharisees came and said to him,
“Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me,
Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures
today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.”

—Luke 13.31-32

Jesus looks at the forces of death,
geared up for the raid,
the jaded dealers of oppression and fear
with their swords and their guns,
the powers, who own the jails
and write their laws
on the backs of the poor,
he looks the powers in the eye
and says to them, “Today,
in this present moment,
and the next day, that follows without fail,
I am doing my healing. And on the third day,
it is already too late for you.
You will already have failed to stop me.”

He looks at his rejection and suffering,
his dying, his death, his being dead,
he looks it in the eye and says,
“Today and tomorrow I am giving life.
On the third day, it is too late for you.
I will have accomplished it.
You have already failed.”

Lord, grant us the courage to confront evil
in whatever forms it presents itself,
the faith to trust the miracle of compassion,
the ability of powerlessness,
and the arresting power of your grace.
Grant us the love to follow the little man
with love and a death sentence.

For even now he goes about
raising people up,
and what he has done is done,
and it can never be undone.
Amen.

~by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

After the Storm

 The parable of The Prodigal Son

The son:

And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won’t rot, I won’t rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won’t rot.

God:

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

The son:

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That’s why I hold,
That’s why I hold with all I have.
That’s why I hold.

And I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I’ll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.

God:

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

The Father:

So I was lost
Go count the cost before you go
To the Holland Road
With your heart like a stone
You spared no time in lashing out
And I knew your pain and the effect of my shame

But you cut me down
You cut me down
And I will not tell
The thoughts of hell
That carried me home
From the Holland Road
With my heart like a stone I put up no fight
To your callous mind and from your corner you rose

To cut me down
You cut me down

So I hit my low
Little did I know
That would not be the end
And from the Holland Road
Well I rose and I rose and I paid less time
To your callous mind and I wished you well
As you cut me down
You cut me down

But I’ll still believe
Though there’s cracks you’ll see
When I’m on my knees I’ll still believe
And when I’ve hit the ground
Neither lost nor found
If you’ll believe in me I’ll still believe

And I’ll still believe
Though there’s cracks you’ll see
When I’m on my knees I’ll still believe
And when I’ve hit the ground
Neither lost nor found
If you’ll believe in me I’ll still believe

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re all in this together.

Elie Wiesel is known to have said:  “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

In our efforts to resist being actively self-righteous like the Pharisee, may we also pay attention to the self-righteousness of our blindness to others.
Remember — we’re all in this together.

Toward Sunday

Lent FB Cover

The parables of Jesus take everyday experiences from the time of Jesus and turn them upside down.  By showing us ordinary elements and experiences, parables provide a transparency to see the whole of our live and the holy in our lives in a new way (from John Indermark, Parables and Passion, Jesus’ stories for the days of Lent, page 11).

This week our worship will be rooted in Luke 18.9-14 Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

It is hard to avoid interpreting this parable in simplistic terms. It is a very predictable parable! Even if you know very little about the Jesus you often have heard that Pharisees are regularly in opposition to him. Therefore it is easy to judge the Pharisee to be a self-righteous hypocrite and assume that the moral of this story is be humble. We might even catch ourselves thinking: “Lord, we thank you that we are not like other people: hypocrites, overly religious, self righteous, or even like that Pharisee. We come to church each week, listen to Scripture, attend our Kitchen Table and practice doing good, doing no harm and staying in love with you.”
David Lose commented on this in an article he wrote: “In order to avoid the kind of self-congratulatory reading of the parable that the parable itself would seem to condemn, it may help to note that, in fact, everything the Pharisee says is true. He has set himself apart from others by his faithful adherence to the law. He is, by the standards both Luke and Jesus seem to employ, righteous. So before we judge him too quickly, we might reframe his prayer slightly and wonder if we have uttered it ourselves. Maybe we haven’t said, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like other people…”, but what about, on seeing someone down on his/her luck, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’? It isn’t that the Pharisee is speaking falsely, but rather that the Pharisee misses the true nature of his blessing. As Luke states in his introductory sentence, he has trusted in himself. His prayer of gratitude may be spoken to the Lord, but it is really about himself. He locates his righteousness entirely in his own actions and being.

Where do you see God’s action in this parable? When was a time you trusted in yourself rather than trusting God?
What is an area of counting less on yourself and more on God that you might like to try this week?

Laborers in the Vineyard

vineyard

“Matthew’s perspective calls for Christians to understand themselves as belonging to a community, so that no decision is purely personal and individual. Matthew’s perspective calls for Christians to understand their lives as being lived in the light of the present and coming kingdom of God, which represents a reversal of cultural values rather than their confirmation. Thus the individual teachings of Matthew’s Gospel cannot be understood on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, unless and until one is converted to the Gospel’s ecclesial and eschatological perspective.”
(from the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary on Matthew 20.1-16)

How would it be for you to understand your life as “linked” to the survival of all
as opposed to “ranked” in a certain order in which the outcome is certain to reveal winners and losers?

Parables

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 9.59.46 PM

“Maybe Jesus is saying: … Throw yourself into what you love or simply what you do. Let God sort out the rest. It’s not your problem, and that’s a gift unto itself. And if you should happen to find yourself on the wanting end of what’s deserved, God’s loving hand extended is gift indeed.

But even more radical than this message of God’s generosity, perhaps, is a quiet, secondary message of these parables, as understated as their responsible characters. Namely, we who are trying and doing and being as well as we can, already have it all at our fingertips. All the time. Our rightful wages (in the language of today’s parable) are an absolute certainty. Our inheritance (in the language of the Prodigal Son) is ever before us, for the asking and for the taking, any time, anyhow. Is it possible that by looking at what others get, we are blind to what we have? In critically contemplating God’s grace for others, we stub our toes on the grace that is ever before us. What exuberant lives are ours! Right now and evermore.”
( from Kristin Swenson who is associate professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time)