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Of Rugrats, Thumb-Sucking, and the Kingdom of God

Sunday, September 23, 2012 — Pentecost 17 B Lectionary 25 B — Mark 9:30-37

Our society has an ambivalent attitude toward children. On the one hand we sentimentalize them. They are tender creatures of innocence, pure, pristine and unspoiled by the grimy adults of the world around them. On the other hand, they are demanding and inconvenient. They are rug rats crawling around the house tasting everything they can stick in their mouths and destroying anything that they can get their hands on. Comedian W.C. Fields, well known for his disgust with children, once said, “Any man who hates dogs and children . . . can’t be all bad.”

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Taming the Tongue

Sunday, September 16, 2012 — Pentecost 15 B Proper 19 B — James 3:1-12

The playful sounds of an afternoon recess are broken by angry shouts. Two little boys have squared off against each other. One hurls insults at the other hoping to puncture the others’ pride. Suddenly, one of the boys just walks away. However, after a few steps he stops, turns and defiantly fires back one last volley: “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me.” There is no bigger lie. Words can injure and wound with devastating power. The passion that filled this boy’s angry response betrays the wounds that the words of his critic have inflicted on him.

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Wasting Time

Sunday, August 19, 2012 — Pentecost 12 B — Ephesians 5:15-20

We live in a world where the tick-tock-of-the-clock constantly reminds us that time is running out. The tick-tock-of-the-clock feels like an enemy stalking us, waiting for us to make a mistake and daring us to be late. The tick-tock-of-the-clock measures everything. It calculates our goals, designates boundaries, sets our deadlines and reminds us that we live our lives under the gun.

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Breaking the Cycle

Sunday, August 12, 2012 — Pentecost 11B — I Kings 19:4-6 and John 6:35, 41-51

There is one cycle that afflicts us all: depression. We fail. We feel terrible. Someone tells us to try harder. But that only makes us feel worse because their encouragement is only criticism for our not trying hard enough in the first place. Once you feel bad about yourself, everything looks bad. The great reformer, Martin Luther, actually suffered from severe and chronic depression. For the last decades of his life he was unable to break the cycle of self-doubt. You think that the comfort and liberation that Luther experienced in the Gospel would have completely freed him from the misery of headaches, ringing in the ears and the attacks of despair that continued to nag him. The deeper he got into his work, the more deeply he felt under attack.

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Square Peg in a Round Hole

Saturday, August 4, 2012 — Pentecost 11 B — John 6:24-35

Have you ever seen small children play with a set of blocks? They manipulate the different shaped blocks trying to fit them into a board filled with different sized holes. They discover that a square peg will not fit in a round hold. Neither will a round peg fit in a square hole. The shape of each block determines into what shaped hole it will fit.

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