EVIL AND LOVE

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost (C) - The Shooting in Orlando - Luke 8:26-39

Terrorized by evil. That’s what we are this week. Not that this is a new thing. Since 2001, we’ve lived in a country where our safety and security has come unbalanced. We knew that other parts of the world—the Middle East, for example, or parts of Africa—lived in constant fear of what other people might do. But that was over there. Here in the United States, we were far removed from those sorts of things. Not so anymore. Oklahoma City was the first hint of it, but since then, the anger, and hatred, and violence have seemed unstoppable. The World Trade Center. The anthrax scare. The Boston Marathon. The Charleston shootings. San Bernardino. And now Orlando.

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UNEXPECTED PLACES

Seventh Sunday After Easter (C) - Acts 16:16-34

In 2002, after my first attempt at college, I dropped out and moved back in with my mother. This meant that I also started attending church again. There was a Lutheran church in the little town where I had gone to school, but it was a Wisconsin Synod church, people who make the Missouri Synod look about as conservative as Bernie Sanders, and so that was right out. I tried a whole bunch of other congregations, but church in Michigan just wasn’t like church back home, and I much preferred sleeping in on Sundays. That meant it was quite exciting to return back home, at least in that respect. It won’t surprise you that my upbringing in the church was very important and meaningful to me. The opportunity to plug back in was wonderful, and I signed up for a whole bunch of ministries right away.

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RESURRECTION JOY

Easter Sunday (C) – Isaiah 65:17-25

If we recognize the opening words of this passage today, it’s usually from another context. John of Patmos, the writer of Revelation, uses this same image of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth in the twenty-first chapter of HIS book. Many Christians hear his proclamation that “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” these words as some description of the afterlife, the life that is to come, either when we die and go to heaven, or else at the second coming, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. But that perspective doesn’t quite work if we start looking in detail at the prophecy of Isaiah.

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THE CENTER OF THE DARKNESS

Good Friday - John 19:1-30

In the beginning was the Word. Words from the opening of the Gospel of John. Words we usually read at Christmastime. They proclaim God incarnate, the Word of God, the Word Made Flesh, coming into this world. But now we are a long way from Christmas. Where is the joy of the child born to us, the son given to us?

And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things came into being; not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of humankind. And light shines in the darkness, and the darkness…

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BEAVER DAM

Fifth Sunday of Lent (C) - Isaiah 43:16-21

I’d never seen Laurel nervous before. Granted, I’d only known her for about seven weeks, the length of time we’d been together at Bear Creek Lutheran Camp as counselors, but in that time, she’d always struck me as a strong, confident young woman of great integrity. Well, strong and confident for age twenty, anyway. It was a very strange experience working on a staff with people who were all a decade younger than I. In any case, we all knew Laurel for being a strong person, with feminist ideologies that were, actually, perfectly suited to help form and empower the young, faithful girls entrusted to her care. She was always the first one leading any hike, especially on the way up Bald Mountain, which meant, well, looking at my figure, we were always on opposite ends of the parade. Laurel was always eager to meet any challenge head-on. So it was a surprise to find her seriously concerned about her ability to face up to the task ahead: Taking on a group of campers in senior high school.

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