July 22, 2018

In the gospels of Matthew, John, and the longer ending of Mark, Mary Magdalene is the first to see the risen Christ, who commissions her to tell the other disciples the good news. In almost all the lists of women who followed Jesus, she is named first. Through the centuries, in the Western church she has been the object of misconceptions about her life and her relationship to Jesus. Now we recover her role as leader among Jesus’ followers and as witness to the resurrection. Like Moses’ sister, she came running with the good news that the one who had been given up for dead was restored to life.


O God, powerful and compassionate, you shepherd your people, faithfully feeding and protecting us. Heal each of us, and make us a whole people, that we may embody the justice and peace of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

            Ruth 1: 6-18
            Psalm 75 23-38
            Acts 13: 26-33a

            John 20: 1-2, 11-19



FIRST LESSON from RUTH 1: 6-18
6[Naomi] started to return with her daughters-in-law [Orpah and Ruth] from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food.7So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
  15So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth said,
 “Do not press me to leave you
  or to turn back from following you!
 Where you go, I will go;
  where you lodge, I will lodge;
 your people shall be my people,
  and your God my God.
 17Where you die, I will die—
  there will I be buried.
 May the Lord do thus and so to me,
  and more as well,
 if even death parts me from you!”

18When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

SECOND LESSON from ACTS 13: 26-33a

26“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead; 31and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. 32And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33ahe has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus.”

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to JOHN 20: 1-2, 11-18
1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

 11Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.









July 29, 2018

Does this scene remind you of a Finger Lake? Most of us probably have many fond memories of swimming, boating, fishing, being at a cabin, eating a meal, having a beverage on/at/by these spectacular lakes created by that retreat of ice thousands of years ago.

This could be sunrise looking east from Taughannock or maybe sunset looking west from Sodus Point or from Aurora near the Inn or near the campus of Wells College.

This happens to be the Sea of Galilee, which the Gospel lesson notes is also called the Sea of Tiberias.  The photo is taken from the town of Tiberias, which lies on the western shore of the Sea.  The perspective is looking east at a gorgeous sunrise in February 2017.

This area is where Jesus called his first disciples and yes, fisherpersons still ply their trade there.  The area up the western side of the Sea between Tiberias and Capernaum still is fertile fishing grounds.  Jesus called those fisherpersons to fish for people.  But the new fishing grounds would be both less-well known and more challenging.

The gospel opens “Jesus went to the other side of the sea of Galilee”.  We can see that the ‘other’ side is not far.  But it is far in another way.  It is not ‘our’ territory.  The Sea was the boundary between countries, peoples, ways, customs.  We can see it, but we do not go there.   Usually.   But Jesus does.

On the ‘other’ side with 5000 of ‘those’ people following him, it comes to be dinner time.  The lesson notes that this occurs near Passover.  One of the traditions of the Seder meal is to open the door of the house to welcome strangers and to feed them.  Jesus takes this tradition seriously.  But, feed them with what?

A boy in the crowd offers to share five loaves of bread and two fish.  But Andrew voices everyone’s concern about the meager supplies, “But what are they among so many people?”

Everyone eats and is filled.  Twelve baskets of leftovers are gathered.  Welcoming and feeding.

Then the disciples set out in the boat, crossing from east to west to return to Capernaum.

What kind of crossings is God nudging us to take to connect both sides of the Sea?   What is God inviting us to share – even though it seems so little – so that others may have nourishment and life?

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth. Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven and share this bread with all the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


            2 Kings 4: 42–44
            Psalm 1 45:10–18
            Ephesians 3: 14–21
            John 6: 1–21

SERMON:  "Fed Up"

WORD OF THE WEEK –  from John 6

11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost."

FIRST LESSON from 2 Kings 4:42–44

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, "Give it to the people and let them eat." 43But his servant said, "How can I set this before a hundred people?" So he repeated, "Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the LORD, 'They shall eat and have some left.'" 44He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

SECOND LESSON from Ephesians 3:14–21
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
            20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


THE HOLY GOSPEL according to John 6:1–21

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?

            10Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."
            15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

            16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.


August 5, 2018

Last week John’s gospel shared the story of Jesus feeding 5000 people on the ‘other’ side of the Sea, thanks to a young boy who courageously shared his family’s dinner with everyone.

This week we see in the verses immediately following that story that the people who had been so fed chased Jesus back across the Sea to Capernaum.  Jesus challenges them not to follow because their bellies are full, but because he is the Bread of life – eternal life.  Do they see?

The first lesson shares a story from what is called the ‘murmuring tradition’ of the years the people wandered between Egypt and the Promised Land.  In other words, the people complained about the journey, like kids in the backseat of the SUV.  Are we there yet?  Did you pack anything to eat?  I don’t like what you packed.  Can we stop and get a burger?  I have to go to the rest room.  We are never going to be at grandma’s.  We are going to die on the way.

Like the feeding of the 5000, God provides food to the people for their journey.  But they do not exhibit a great deal of gratitude to God for saving their bacon.  They don’t know this kind of food; they don't  recognize it as food.  So . . . they complain – again like the kids in the back seat – “what is it?”

Behind ‘what is it?’ is the Hebrew word mannu which gets nudged slightly to name this unrecognized provision from God: manna. 

This story challenges me to recognize God’s provision for my/our life.  I fear that all too often, I am like those pilgrims.  I do not recognize nor appreciate what God has provided to nourish and enhance my/our life.  Instead of offering ‘thanks’, I may be inclined to complain. 

I will try to keep the murmuring down as we get closer to Grandma’s.

O God, eternal goodness, immeasurable love, you place your gifts before us; we eat and are satisfied. Fill us and this world in all its need with the life that comes only from you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  
            Exodus 16:2–4, 9–15
            Psalm 78:23–29
            Ephesians 4:1–16
            John 6:24–35


SERMON:  "What is this Thing?"


WORD OF THE WEEK –  from John 6

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were [beside the sea,] they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

FIRST LESSON from Exodus 16:2–4, 9–15
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
            4Then the LORD said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.
            9Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, 'Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'" 10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11The LORD spoke to Moses and said, 12I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"

            13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat."

SECOND LESSON from Ephesians 4:1–16
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8Therefore it is said,
            "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
            he gave gifts to his people."

9(When it says, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to John 6:24–35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were [beside the sea,] they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."
            28Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." 30So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
            35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."