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Leaving things in Jesus’ hands (I will be taking July off … See you in August).

Morning: Psalms107:33-43,108:1-13; Numbers 20:14-29; Romans 6:1-11
Evening: Psalm 33;Matthew 21:1-11
It is striking to me that today’s Gospel story is Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the beginning of his final encounter with the powers-that-be, his final humble stand for justice and truth.  We all know the outcome of his work … both that he died because of his stance against unjust power, and that the movement that arose from his life still thrives and grows in the world after 2000 years.  I can definitely leave things in Jesus’ hands … not just for a month, but for life, right!?  

I will be taking July off …See you in August.
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Peter and Paul, apostles of Jesus

Morning: Psalm 66;Ezekiel 2:1-7; Acts 11:1-18
Evening: Psalms 97, 138; Isaiah 49:1-6; Galatians 2:1-9
Today we celebrate Peter and Paul, the greatest leaders of the early Jesus movement.  They sacrificed assumptions, religious prejudices, and even their lives, to be true to their experience of Jesus. We celebrate them still, though they would not have wanted anyone to speak well of them, only to be true. Why do people accept falsehood?  Peter and Paul would probably say it’s because they haven’t found the truth yet.  Peter and Paul died to share the truth about life, as they had heard it from Jesus, and as they had experienced it in him.  I’m glad they did.

Leadership is not about privilege, but sacrifice.

Morning: Psalm 105:1-22;Numbers 17:1-11; Romans 5:1-11
Evening: Psalm 105:23-45; Matthew 20:17-28
Jesus’ leadership contrasts starkly with our current trend towards egotism, authoritarianism and the offering of simplistic solutions for complex problems.  Jesus’ understanding of leadership is simple, but in no way simplistic:  “If anyone wants to be great, he must be your servant.”  Speaking about himself, Jesus says he: “didn’t come to have servants obey him, but to be a servant.”  When a leader says, without consultation, “This is what is going to happen …” I cringe.  When a leader asks, “Tell me how I may be of service to you,” hope springs.  Leadership is not about privilege, but sacrifice.

You cannot earn Love … you do not need to.

Morning: Psalm 101, 109:1-30;Numbers 16:36-50; Romans 4:13-25
Evening: Psalm 119:121-144; Matthew 20:1-16
“The last will be first and the first last”.  In yesterday’s Gospel, these same words pointed to the irony that riches make fullness of life elusive.  Today’s Gospel is a reality-check for any disciple of Jesus who thinks himself more worthy than the Johnny-come-lately who has done much less work.  How easily we fall into making comparisons – Jesus warns us not to.  Love extends gracious generosity to all, without distinction, and in equal measure.  Where Grace is found, there is no lasting human hierarchy of status, or wealth, or value. You cannot earn Love … you do not need to.

Jesus’ great new world

Morning: Psalms 97, 99;Numbers 16:20-35; Romans 4:1-12
Evening: Psalm 94; Matthew 19:23-30
Jesus offers a ridiculously impossible image – a camel going through the eye of a needle – to explain how difficult it is for one burdened by the cares and preoccupations of wealth to experience fullness of life.  In fact, it does not work. Thus, he turns the priorities of the world upside down – the ones now at the back of the line will find they are served first, and the ones now at the front will have to wait until last.  Such is the unexpected newness of the great new world Jesus ushers in on the earth ... something completely different!

Am I so attached to my stuff that I can’t be free?

Morning: Psalm 89:1-18;Numbers 16:1-19; Romans 3:21-31
Evening: Psalm 89:19-52; Matthew 19:13-22
They try to keep children away from Jesus … children should be kept quiet; out of the way … They have too much unpredictable, bubbly, uncontrollable energy.  But that’s exactly what Jesus welcomes.  He relishes the freshness of children, because they are free, not attached to too many things that they can’t let go of.  Jesus tells the young man that he needs one thing if he is to be whole – he must stop clinging to his possessions.  But that is too much for him.  He can’t let himself be free.  So he cannot experience a truly full life.

John the Baptist: The Bridegroom’s Friend

Morning: Psalm 82, 98;Malachi 3:1-5; John 3:22-30
Evening: Psalm 80; Malachi 4:1-6; Matthew 11:2-19
In a lovely wedding yesterday, I witnessed Martin and Lesley pledge their hearts to each another.  How justly pleased the groomsmen were for Martin.  The Hebrew Bible tells that one day the Messiah will make Israel his ‘bride’ … this marriage metaphor shows God’s deep love for humanity, represented by one nation. For Christians, Jesus is this Messiah.  When Jesus the ‘bridegroom’ comes to his ‘bride’, Israel, his friend John the Baptist is anything but the jealous groomsman; John beams with joy as his friend comes to serve the people of Israel and finally to make all peoples his ‘bride’.