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Getting Out the WORD - all saints sunday
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 09:35

the PRAYER. . .

Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING. . .

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are. . . ." (Matthew 5:1-12 )

the DEVOTION. . .

 

The Chapel of the Holy Cross.  It’s more a sculpture than a building, built into the cliffs in the Arizona's Red Rock Country. It was one of the first places we visited after moving to Phoenix. Step inside and you're struck by the simplicity.  Plain. Simple. Unadorned.  Stretching from floor to ceiling, the cross overwhelms everything.  Just beyond, on the other side of the glass, are the mesas and buttes along Oak Creek.  And, back then, when we first visited, there was, also, a corpus - a body - hanging on the cross.  More like a skeleton, actually, made of twisted wire.  The figure was gruesome.  Almost grotesque.  A total contradiction to the beauty outside.  But that was the image that came to mind when, this time, I read the words, "Blessed are. . . ."

 

So many times, the words conjure up smiley faces and rainbows, bunny rabbits and teddy bears!  “The Be Happy Attitudes,” someone has called them. But Matthew tells another story.  One of joy, to be sure. But one of sacrifice. . . of sacrifice and suffering, as well. Blessed are the poor in spirit? Those who mourn? The meek? Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? The merciful? The pure in heart? The peacemakers? The persecuted? But, maybe, most of all, blessed are those who take up the cross and follow after. . . Blessed are those who love. . .  just like god!

bob barndt, pastor

 
Getting Out the WORD - reformation sunday
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 15:00

the PRAYER. . .

Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING. . .

 

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free..."                    (John 8:31-36 )

 

the DEVOTION. . .


Allen Welsh Dulles was the fifth and longest-serving director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  He was, also, the son of a Presbyterian minister!  So, when the original CIA headquarters building was being constructed at Langley back in the early 60s, it was Dulles who made sure John 8: 32 (King James Version, naturally) was engraved in the wall beside the entrance.  "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

Truth was important to him.  And it was important to the writer of the fourth gospel, as well.  Matthew uses the word once.  Mark and Luke three times.  John uses it twenty-one times!  The Word becomes flesh, full of grace and TRUTH!  Worship, real worship, happens in spirit and in TRUTH!  Pilate asks Jesus, "What is TRUTH?"  For most of us, CIA included, truth has to do with information...  with knowledge...  with facts and figures...  But to John, truth is not a thing but a person!  "I," says Jesus!  "I am the truth!"

Freedom for us doesn't come from knowing certain particulars.  Freedom doesn't come from discovering specific details.  It comes from knowing - or rather, from being known by - Jesus!  "If the SON sets you free...  If JESUS sets you free...  you will be free indeed!"  Those aren't simply words carved into a marble slab.  They are a life "given" and "shed" for us all!  For us, THAT is truth!
bob barndt, pastor
 
Getting Out the WORD - the nineteenth sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Friday, 28 October 2011 10:00

the PRAYER. . .

O Lord God, you are the holy lawgiver, you are the salvation of your people. By your Spirit renew us in your covenant of love, and train us to care tenderly for all our neighbors, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

the READING. . .

 

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:  What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he? They said to him, "The son of David."  He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
'The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet" '?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?"  No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.          (
Matthew 22: 34-46)

 

the DEVOTION. . .


Well, this past week has been like pulling teeth!  I thought two extra days of thinking might help.  It hasn't!  You see, last Sunday, I preached on the first half of the gospel reading - Matthew 22 . 34-40 - the part about the greatest commandment.  That left the second half - Jesus' question to the Pharisees about the Messiah - for this devotion!  And after a week and a half of reading. . .  and studying. . .  and mulling it over. . .  After ten days of writing. . .  and rewriting. . .  and rewriting some more. . .  I've, finally, given up!

Sometimes, a message springs from scripture loud and clear, without any effort!  The gospel jumps right off the page!  But at other times. . .  times like this. . .  try as you will, you hear nothing at all.  The thing I realized this week is that not all verses are created equal!  And the good news doesn't shine the same through every jot and tittle.  Sometimes what "spoke" to the church at another time. . .  in another place. . .  we just don't "get."  Some verses are John 3 .16s!  Some are Twenty-Third Psalms!  But, then, some are just, plain, old Matthew 22 .34s.

So, what do you do. . .  when you don't understand. . .  when you can't "hear" anything. . .  What do you do at times like this. . .  You read the passage and remember what's important!  You read the passage and remember what matters!  "In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us and for his sake, God forgives us!  Forgives us each and every!  Forgives us one and all!"  And, then, you continue on. . .  reading. . .  and studying. . .  and mulling it over. . .

bob barndt, pastor
 
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