Transfiguration moments

A sermon for Epiphany Last – Transfiguration; Exodus 24:12-18, Psalm 2, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9

 

As you may remember, last weekend was The Diocese of Arkansas’ 145th annual Convention. A disadvantage of ending mid afternoon is that it is mid-evening, sometime after 8 pm, when I arrived home. There was no time, and there was no energy, for thoughtful inclusions of the convention’s action in homiletic reflection within the appointed readings. The short sharing of a presentation doesn’t count, no matter enthusiastic it might have been. However, a week to reflect on convention and this week’s Gospel reading of the transfiguration raises such an opportunity.

St. Andrew’s Horseshoe village presented a resolution to close. The bishop had explained the circumstances before the resolution was presented. The resolution included the congregation’s prayerful considerations, thanks to the faithful members, and plans for how they will continue in the body of Christ. St. Andrew’s did close. They did shed themselves of the burden of maintaining things that were consuming too many resources. However, St. Andrew’s did not die. They were transfigured as they became a part of another tradition of the larger continuing body of Christ. It was both a difficult and a glorious action, for the people of St. Andrew’s and for Convention. It was an action that allowed them and convention to let go of what was holding them so they could grasp the future being given them.

St. Stephen’s is in a transfiguration moment. We know what we are, but we sometimes still pretend to be what we were. We know what we are becoming, but we don’t know what that really means. Angie and I are in a similar place, a couple of times.

You know Nugget’s story. That because of sudden illness, he is no longer able to be Angie’s service dog. We know and accept this. And then there are those moments when he is his old self, and we instinctively act like he is until we get to the moment when we realize we can’t, which most often involves getting ready to go somewhere. We know who Nugget is, our pet. But at times, we still act as if he is a service dog.

Last week we acquired Burt, a dog we believe will become Angie’s new service dog. Right now, is he a 120-pound canine toddler. There is name recognition training. There is basic behavior training. There is AKA Good Citizen training. And finally, there is service dog training. We know who Burt is becoming. We know the six-month plan, but we don’t know what that really means.

The other transition place for us is my move to ¼ time about July 1st. There is a general agreement as to what my continuing role with St. Stephen’s will be, but there are lots of details to figure out. There are plans for the other ¾ of my time. But they are not moving as quickly as imagined. There are options, some better than others, all of them have good opportunities, but we really don’t know what that means.

I am sure you have recognized the other ¾ time means there will be changes for St. Stephens. For those things, I’ll no longer be responsible for we must determine what to keep and how, who will be responsible and when. There all sorts of considerations, most every part of our church life is affected. Things like our liturgical life; all the liturgy planning, the scheduling, and the bulletin making. This is important because our worship life informs our mission life. There are ministries like discretionary outreach, our participation in the Ignite backpack and Christmas ministry, our community ministry support; all of these and more will require who, how much, and when decisions. There is also our community life, how are we going to gather, when will we gather, and who will coordinate it. There is the financial aspect of our community life which requires constant thoughtful attention and is both influenced by and influences our liturgy, our mission, and our communal life. And then there all those mundane everyday things like checking the answering machine, checking the mail, checking the email, keeping Facebook up to date, postings to twitter, providing material to our webmaster, and keeping our public google calendar up to date. We know something of what all this will be like, but we don’t know what that really means.

So, in light of St. Andrew’s story and of Matthew’s gospel story of the Transfiguration, I got to wondering, what does the Transfiguration have to teach us about – well – transfiguration – metamorphosis – change?

Let’s begin towards the end. God speaks from the cloud: This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased …. (Matthew 17:5b) God speaks the same words spoken at Jesus’ baptism; only this time everyone hears, well Peter, James, and John hear (Boring). The phrase does end differently as God adds listen to him! Not look at, not admire, not clump together with anything that has come before, but listen to him. ‘Listen’ carries the connotation to obey, to understand or better yet, to live accordingly (Harrelson, Boring). That God tells the disciples, and us, to listen gives us a clue that we are missing something.

The word for Jesus’ transfiguration is metamorphosis. You remember from school this is what happens to a caterpillar when it becomes a butterfly. Change is important, and the past is still important, even if it is not visible as It no longer is in the butterfly (Lewis). I suspect the divine command to listen is a divine nudge to not get all caught up in the incomprehensible grandeur, which for Peter is the presence of Moses and Elijah, and for many of us is Jesus all aglow. Either way along with Peter we are to beware of distractions and listen to, live as Jesus lives.

While there is respect for the past in the story, there is still that warning to beware. When Moses and Elijah appear, Peter immediately wants to build three dwellings. Again, words point the way. The word skēnai means dwelling or tent, also means tabernacle, the home of the Ark. The Shekinah is the fiery cloud that symbolized the continuing presence of God among Israel, and that was over the ark of the covenant (Boring). As we navigate the changes in our individual lives,  family and as St. Stephen’s we should honor the past for what it is; but, we should beware and not misunderstand it and do as Peter wants to and build something because of some reminder of the past. If we pay attention that after the majesty dissipates, all that glowing goes away, Jesus is alone, and that reveals to us that Jesus is the true tabernacle, the skēnē, the reality of God’s abiding presence with us (Boring). It is also the assurance that you, that we are not alone, never have been, and never will be; we are never alone in the journey into a new and different future. The final thought or vision is that Jesus really is God with us, Jesus was with us yesterday, he is right here right now, he will be with us tomorrow.

As we head into Lenten reflection, and the process of our own metamorphosis, our own change, let us envision ourselves rowing a boat – looking at the shore that is opposite of where we are going to find the vision that grounds us in where we were and trust, that even though we cannot see it our future is secure. Let us envision who we might be changing into as Peter, James, and John saw glimpses of the glory to come. We can see glimpses of how God continues to be present to us, we can see glimpses of how God will be present through us, as heirs of Jesus, so that the presence of the Kingdom of God will continue to be proclaimed.


References

Boring, M. Eugene. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of Matthew. Vol. VII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols. App Olivetree.

Carter, Warren. Commentary on Matthew 17:19. 26 2 2017. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 26 2 2016. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly&gt;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Helmer, Ben. “Transformation, Last Sunday after Epiphany (A).” 26 2 2016. Sermons that Work.

Hoezee, Scott. Last Epiphany A – Matthew 17:1-9. 26 2 2017. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/advent-3c/?type=the_lectionary_gospel&gt;.

Lewis, Karoline. Change Matters. 26 2 2017. <workingpreacher.org>.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

 

 

 

A Perfectly Holy Story

A sermon for the 7th Sunday after the Epiphany; Leviticus 19:12,9-18, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23, Matthew 5:38-48

 

We don’t read very much from Leviticus. We know, or think we know what Leviticus says, it is the book people cite when any question about human sexuality pops up, and it does speak to that issue, and many, many more. The book is divided into sections; first, there are the rules and regulations about the cultic sacrificial system, which are sort of like the prayer book’s calendar and rubrics. Then there all the rules about our bodies, that messy, uncomfortable stuff we don’t like to talk about (Howard). After that, the rituals that the priests are responsible for, and all their other duties. And then the Holiness Code part of which we read today (Sakenfeld). We know we are reading something different because of the phrase, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy (Leviticus 19:2).

For a while, it sounds like it is going to be something like the 10 Commandments,  and then we get to verses 9 & 10

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10).

 

We know something has changed because it is not so much about us anymore as it is about the someone else, and how we treat them (Bratt). We suddenly find ourselves in the midst of an ethical primer. We’d rather go back the yucky bodily stuff; because it is easier than ethics. And the ethics is hard because it is grounded in God’s opening gambit; You are holy because I am holy.

To be clear God is not saying humans are holy the way God is Holy. God is holy because God is wholly other, separate from everything else in the cosmos. We are holy because we are God’s (Gaventa and Petersen). God is prompting us to order our social lives in ways that draw us closer to God (Howard), to be the kind of community “that takes seriously God’s gracious presence” in our midst (Bratt).

How can we know if we are responding to the divine prompt? Well there are some simple questions, and some will be familiar:

  • what in your relationships with other people is getting between you and God?
  • what in our community’, nation, state, local communities, and / or with other people, is getting between us God?
  • what has become more important to us, individually and or corporately than loving God with all our hearts, minds and souls and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Howard)?

Also being honest about our behaviors is another source of clues. And remember this is not only our individual behavior but also includes the behavior of everyone, every business, and every government entity in all our communities.

  • Do we provide generously for the poor and the aliens living in our community?
  • Do we treat those with disabilities as equals or do we make fun of them or take advantage of their impairment?
  • Are we honest? do we always speak the truth plainly without obfuscation?
  • Do we use trickery and or complex structures to take money or property away from anyone?
  • Do we pay those who work for us correctly and on time?
  • Are we just in all our actions?
  • Do we leave vengeance to the Lord?

Notice the emphasis on the poor and those with disabilities.

 But also, notice there is equal emphasis on just treatment for the rich who are not to be slandered, tricked, or defrauded any more than the poor, the alien or disabled (Walter C. Kaiser)

In short, we are to see each other as the image of God as we are all made; and we are to be for each other the stewards God made us to be (Farr). It is perhaps easiest to think of this as common decency in everything we think, say or do as individuals or together.

A last thought on all this. Some years ago, Phyllis Tickle spoke to the Arkansas clergy, in which she mentioned the bits of scripture that condemn certain behaviors, of interpersonal relationship, to wearing blended cloth, to eating shellfish. She noted we cannot un-write those passages; they are there, and we must deal with them. She is right. However, I do think that the Holiness Code ethics blunts the default thinking of brunt enforcement by providing a different vantage point, and that is that everyone, rich, or poor, disabled or enabled, native son or alien, regular or of a different persuasion is made in the image of God and is holy because God is holy.

And so, we are done all this ethics stuff. Right? Well not exactly.

Jesus is up to God’s business in influencing our behaviors towards each other. As we have heard for the last couple of weeks, Jesus’ interpretation, of Old Testament laws, seem to be much harsher than the originals. The truth is Jesus is twisting them to expose how those laws were being misused to take advantage of someone else. As challenging as they are, one can make sense of Jesus’ reinterpretation. And then he goes and says Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). Trying to be ethical is hard enough, to be compared to the divine as the standard is not fair.

Is Jesus serious? Well yes, he is; just not exactly like we think. The word for perfect here is better understood as completeness or having accomplished an intended goal, to achieved one’s intention (Lose, Lewis, Be Perfect, Pankey, A call to perfection). Just as God is holy in a way different than humans are holy, God is perfect in a way different than the way we are called to be perfect. God is the complete God. We are called to be a complete person, wholly committed to serving God (Walter C. Kaiser). We are to persist in proclaiming that the Kingdom of God right here, right now (Lewis, Be Perfect). We are to trust God enough to be able not to demand all our legal rights when we can empower someone else (Walter C. Kaiser). We are to act and live like we believe that Jesus is still actively bringing the Kingdom right here, right now (Lose). Jesus has taken ancient Jewish, ancient gentile and ancient pagan laws that define ethical behavior towards one’s neighbor and reinterpreted those ethical tenants as love and then makes love of neighbor, all of our neighbors, even those we don’t like, the basis on which everything else stands (Walter C. Kaiser).

And yes, I know that we immediately think Jesus lived in a much simpler time. There were no international terrorists there were no mass shootings there were none of the evil threats we face today. Really? Remember Israel was occupied by the Roman Empire, with oppressive taxes, and brutal local co-conspirators. Remember that Herod killed all the two-year boys in a vain effort to try to kill Jesus. And by the time Matthew was writing his Gospel, Jerusalem had been burned to the ground; the Temple had been totally destroyed, there was nothing left of Israel’s secular and religious life it was all gone. The Good News of Jesus emerges in a post-apocalyptic world (Lewis, Commentary on Matthew 5:3848). Little of what Jesus says makes sense in the face of such stark evil, until we realize Jesus takes evil seriously, only he proclaims that God, not evil, is ultimate. It is as the Psalmist says:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:2).

 

Today’s readings are well suited for today’s world. They remind us that we are holy because God loves us. They remind us we can persist because God in Jesus and the Spirt is already restoring the world to its created perfection. They remind us we are not alone. And perhaps most importantly they remind us we have a perfectly holy story to share, The Kingdom of God is right here, right now. So, relax, go do the righteousness that needs to be done that you can, and as for the rest trust God for you are the divine’s beloved.


References

Adam, A. K. M. Commentary on James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17. 6 9 2015. <workingpreacher.org>.

Bouzard, Walter. Commentary on Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23. 6 9 2015. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Bratt, Doug. Epiphany 7 A Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 . 19 2 2017. <cep.calvinseminary.edu>.

Ellingsen, Mark. Lectionary Scripture Notes. 19 2 2017. <http://www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com/&gt;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 6 9 2015. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly&gt;.

Farr, Curtis. “Flawless, Epiphany 7(A).” 19 2 2017. Sermons that Work.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. Epiphany 7A Matthew 5:38-48. 19 2 2017. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/advent-3c/?type=the_lectionary_gospel&gt;.

—. “Old Testament Lectionary Text: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23.” 6 9 2015. Working Preacher.

—. The Lectionary Gospel Mark 7:24-37. 6 9 2015.

Howard, Cameron B.R. Commentary on Leviticus 19:12, 19 2 2017. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Jacobson, Rolf, Karoline Lewis and Matt Skinner. Sermon Brain Wave. 6 9 2015.

Kiel, Micah. Commentary on Mark 7:24-37. 6 9 2015. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Lewis, Karoline. Be Perfect. 19 2 2017. <workingpreacher.org>.

—. Commentary on Matthew 5:3848. 19 2 2017. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

—. God Said Yes to Me. 6 9 2015. <workingpreacher.org>.

Lose, David. Epiphany 7 A: Telos. 19 2 2017.

Mast, Stan. Lectionary Epistle. 6 9 2015. <http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermonstarters/&gt;.

Metz, Susanna. “Learning from Proverbs – Proper 18(B).” 6 9 2015. Sermons that Work.

Pankey, Steve. A call to perfection. 19 2 2017. <wordpress.com/read/feeds/333491/posts/1310831034>.

—. Preaching Pithiness. 19 2 2017. <wordpress.com/read/feeds/333491/posts/1312346053>.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

The Associated Press. “Here is the oath of office taken by county clerks in Kentucky.” 3 9 2015. abc news.go.com. web. 6 9 2015. <http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/oath-court-clerk-now-jailed-gay-marriage-33516278&gt;.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. New Interpreters’ Bible Commentary The Book of Leviticus. Vol. I. Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols. Olivetree App.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time to Choose

A sermon for 6th Sunday after the Epiphany; Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8,
1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37Epiphany 6,

In 1985 I worked for a small software company, and it was my job to coordinate all our interactions with existing customers. When the owner decided to move offices, I was tasked with keeping us available to our customers through the entire move. But remember in those days there were no cell phones, there was no internet, we did everything by land-line which meant we had to have an office. I arranged to have the existing lines left on after the new lines were turned on. I arranged for one desk and chair to stay behind and another to go on ahead. The plan for the move was to start Friday afternoon, move Saturday, finishing setting up on Sunday and be open for business as usual on Monday morning. It was a good plan. There were no obvious difficult places in this short journey.

And so, we started. Friday afternoon everything except one desk was packed and ready to be put on the truck. Then the phone rang. The contractor spoke to our boss, and everything had to be delayed to Monday. There was some sort of delay involving the paving, which kept the building inspector from doing the final inspection, which kept the fire inspector from issuing the certificate of occupancy, which meant we could not have the keys. Without getting into all the details, in a miniature Exodus style, we journeyed in stages. What was to take 3 days, took an entire week. The next Friday evening we were finished.

Moses is almost finished. His task of leading Israel out of slavery in Egypt is almost finished. His task of leading Israel through the wilderness is almost finished. His task of bringing Israel to the Promised Land is almost finished. Moses’ life’s work is almost finished.

This morning we heard the end of Moses’ 26-chapter farewell sermon (Ellingsen) (Clements). In the very next verse, Joshua assumes leadership of the camp, the leadership of the people of Israel, as they begin to take possession the Promised Land. Moses’ final words are a challenge. Israel has a choice; they can choose to follow God and thereby choose life and prosperity, or they can choose to follow something else and thereby choose death and adversity.

If you recall the story of the Exodus journey, it is not at all an obvious choice. It is a choice that is complicated with Israel’s history of choosing not to follow God, and as a result suffer all sorts of death and adversity.

This is not the only time Israel faces this choice. Scholars teach us that all the Pentateuch was actually written down while in captivity in Babylon in sometime in the 6th century BCE. In returning from exile, they are entering the Promised Land again (Bratt). It is as awesome a challenge as the journey from Egypt, and thus, they chose to re-enact the choosing liturgy. They call upon what many consider a discredited faith, after all, they are in captivity in the land of another god. They call upon the God who shepherded them through their meta-journey to shepherd them once again as they struggle to break the bonds that bind them to a strange land, as they struggle to cross a wilderness to cross the Jordan and repossess their land. And they can only do this by acknowledging their prior failures, confessing their complete dependence on faith in God, and recommitting to divine loyalty through a new wilderness journey (Clements).

But would it surprise you to know, this is not the first time Israel has been asked to make the choice Moses challenges the to make. Twice Joshua requires Israel to choose: be loyal to God and have life, or be loyal to another god and face death (Howard). Nor is this the last time. All the post return prophets put the same choice before Israel. And finally, Jesus, the Son of God, put the same choice in a different form, before Israel, before all humanity, they can choose to believe in me, as the Son of Man, and live in God’s gracious presence, or not and know darkness and chaos.

When we are honest with ourselves, we know that Jesus’ challenge to choose is not the last time we have faced Moses’ challenge. Through the first five or six centuries, there were varying versions of Christianity and the early Church faced the challenge choose God/Jesus/Spirit and life or choose darkness, chaos, and death. In the 16th century, the Church was faced with the upheavals of the reformation, and all must choose how to follow God/Jesus/Spirit, or another way. We see it as a choice of styles; then it was much closer to choosing God/Jesus/Spirit and life or choose darkness, chaos, and death. This time of choosing flows into the 18th century when some people chose to journey to a new promised land where they could choose God and know life in the presence of God’s grace.

In this country in the 19th century, after the Civil War people in the former Confederate States faced a great anxiety. There had been a surety that God was on their side and would assure their victory. Defeat, put them in a bind similar bind as Israel, in captivity. Again, it was a time to choose God and life, a time to acknowledge their failures, not only in war, but in the oppression of a peoples, and by accepting God’s redeeming work, they could accept God and know life (Bratt). Some did. But, some decided to abandon any larger issues of faith and national destiny; they chose their self-interest and gave no attention to the larger fate of the nation. That choice has led many into darkness and chaos. In the 20th century the sordid brutality of those who chose to keep oppressing a people because of the color of their skin, or their gender, or their nation of origin persisted.

Since 1790 when only male property owners had the right to vote there have been 28 legal changes affecting the right to vote. Since 1870 when the 15th amendment gave the right to vote to former slaves and protected the voting rights of adult males of all races there have 23 legal changes affecting the right to vote (Rowen). In the 21st Century, we have faced more choices; some have chosen to make a stand of non-discrimination against those differing sexual orientation and to continuing to fight for racial and gender equality, and religious equality.

In the past two years, we have seen how we are asked to choose life. But have you ever wondered what this looks like this time? It looks like it was before, choosing life looks like

  • Loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and to keeping his commands, decrees, and laws.” (Deut 30:16)
  • tilling and keeping creation’s gardens (Gen 2:15) (Howard)
  • nurturing leading causes of life (Gunderson)
  • loving our neighbors – all of them
  • doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8) (Bratt)
  • feeding the hungry, dressing the naked, and tending to widows and orphans
  • releasing the oppressed
  • allowing a voice for the silenced
  • showing deference for the disrespected
  • finding the image of God in those declared un-human, humanizing the objectified, and sharing Solomon’s song with those made sexual objects (Lewis).

What have we, as a nation, chosen? I suspect we have chosen economic prosperity. We have commoditized or monetized:

  • agricultural products
    • and seen small local farms collapse
  • retail business
    • and witnessed far too many local stores and business close
  • airlines, car manufacturing and seen all sorts mergers lead to bigger profits
    • at the cost of millions of jobs, and decline of the related families
    • corporate citizenship as many leading US corporations, have chosen to go overseas for tax benefits
      • a move that also deprives our nation of revenues, which could be used to help those in need; and it also, deprives stockholders of dividends, which are important to those living on 401ks
    • housing
      • you know the continuing story of 2008 collapse
    • education
      • and are seeing school loans that are so large they are delaying graduates from buying cars, starting families, and buying houses
    • medicine
      • there has been merger after merger of pharmaceutical companies and medical suppliers sometimes to improve business but often to eliminate a competitor and rarely, if ever, to get a badly need product to the people who need it
    • hospitals
    • and now insurance companies.

As a nation we have not chosen to live in the presence and service of God.

I believe that as a nation we are standing at another border. Once again, we are being asked to choose:

  • life and prosperity, or death and adversity (Deuteronomy 30:15)
  • life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or the tyranny of false hope
  • living in the presence of the Lord God or the formless void, darkness and the chaos of waters (Genesis 1:2).

It is not an easy choice (Lewis). To choose God is messy (Howard). It is not a majority decision no matter what we hear people say. It stands over against many cultural values revealed in decisions, that so many others make. It may be costly, just ask the prophets. It requires true trust in God/Jesus/Spirit. It is the subtlety of what Paul is talking about: choosing God/Jesus/Spirit not Paul or Apollos or whichever religious leader is popular today. It is what Jesus is doing when he is saying “you have heard … but I say,” and then lays out choices that emphasize the values of relationship (Howell).

I believe that as a nation we are losing our ability to choose God as seen in our relationships with other people, especially those who we disagree with. Watch Facebook and social media carefully, and you will see it. More and more frequently I see people defriend another, or just give up what has been a value to them. More and more I hear leaders not arguing about diverging views of this or that policy but about the quality of a person who holds a dissenting view. We are losing our ability to disagree and still be in a relationship that reflects the image of God. And that is death.

Today is set before us life or death, being and seeing the other as the image of God or being and seeing the other as less than, which means as not human, and this is death for both. Today is set before us life or death, trusting the power of God who raised from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep or the all-consuming formless void, darkness and the chaotic waters of nothing.

I know you are a good and generous people; you give of your time, your considerable skills, and your money to supports Jesus’ ministry to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now. Which is a measure of choosing. I know that all of us are all free to: continue living into that choice, are free to make the choice for the first time, or free to renew a choice gone fallow.

As for me and my house we will choose (Joshua 24:15) to continue the journey and follow the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) loving our neighbors as the image of God in whose image we live and breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28).

References

Bratt, Doug. Epiphany 6 A Deuteronomy 30:15-20 . 12 2 2017. <cep.calvinseminary.edu>.

Clements, Ronald E. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Book of Deuteronomy (NIBC) Numbers 36:13. Vol. I. Nashville: Abingdon, 20151. XII vols. OliveTree App.

Ellingsen, Mark. Lectionary Scripture Notes. 12 2 2017. <http://www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com/&gt;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 12 2 20127. <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/author/bruceepperly&gt;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Howard, Cameron B.R. Commentary on Deuteronomy 30:1520. 12 2 2017. <http://www.workingpreacher.org/&gt;.

Howell, Miguelina. “The Gift of Reconciliation, Epiphany 6 A.” 12 2 2017. Sermons that Work.

Lewis, Karoline. Choose Life. 12 2 2017. <workingpreacher.org>.

Rowen, Beth. U.S. Voting Rights. n.d. 12 2 22017. <infoplease.com/timelines/voting.html>.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.