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getting out the WORD - the 7th sunday after epiphany
Written by Pastor Bob   
Thursday, 23 February 2017 11:32

the PRAYER...
Holy God of compassion, you invite us into your way of forgiveness and peace. Lead us to love our enemies, and transform our words and deeds to be like his through whom we pray, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

the READING...
[Jesus said to the disciples:] "You have heard that it was said... But I say to you..."

Matthew 5:38-48

Long before the phrase "alternative facts" ever made the rounds on late-night television, we'd been using it - or something very much like it - at seminary to describe one of two competing ways of looking at life. On the one hand, there was the royal consciousness of power and prestige; on the other hand, there was the prophetic imagination of the vulnerable and marginalized. The dominant, prevailing vision of life versus that alternative reality of god's own making.

It's that first vision that Christ describes when he says, "You have heard..." Popular opinion. Conventional wisdom. Love - according to this view - has boundaries, limits. It goes only so far. Restricted, rationed, only to those who love us.

"But I say..." sums up that "alternative" reality. Powerful. Unexpected. Alongside, but separate and distinct. In this world, love is always enough - more than enough, actually! Family and friends, to be sure. But enemies and detractors, as well!

So, there's the dominant religion; but then, there's the kingdom of heaven! There's the world that sees only bread and fish; but there's, also, that "alternative" world that gathers up leftovers!

Bob Barndt, pastor

getting out the WORD - the 6th sunday after epiphany
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 12:15

the PRAYER...
O God, the strength of all who hope in you, because we are weak mortals we accomplish nothing good without you. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

the READING...
[Jesus said to the disciples:] "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not...'"

Matthew 5:21-37

All we have to do is see the number - 6-6-6 - and a tidal wave of images sweeps over us! Dark! Ominous! Foreboding! Fire and brimstone! Hell and damnation! And of course, center and front, the antichrist! More a cartoon character than anything, really, but entertaining, all the same! Entertaining and, more importantly, lucrative!

Strip away the superstition, however, blow away the smoke, and the antichrist is pretty ordinary. More like the person in the mirror, than the one in the movies. He - or she - is just like Jesus... but without the love! That's what the 'anti-' means! If Jesus cares, the antichrist doesn't. If Jesus serves, the antichrist demands. If Jesus forgives, the antichrist bears grudges.

Just like Jesus and just like the seventeen verses in this week's gospel! As I read the words, last Sunday, I realized this is what the antichrist looks like! Just like these four-hundred-or-so words! Hard! Harsh! Unbending! A Jesus of morals and ethics and principles! A Jesus of shoulds and oughts and musts. Somebody just like Jesus... but without the compassion! Someone just like Jesus... but without the cross! Someone just like Jesus... but without the love!

Bob Barndt, pastor

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Today's Bible Reading

  • Psalm 6

    ​O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger,
    or discipline me in your wrath.
    Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
    O LORD, heal me, for my bones are shaking with...

Verse of the Day

  • Psalm 6

    ​My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O LORD — how long? Turn, O LORD, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?

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