the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Year C - Lent 3

Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Year C - Lent 2

Liturgy of the Word:
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17 - 4:1
Luke 13:31-35

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
God had promised Abram that he would be the father of a great nation. But Abram was getting old. Sara was well beyond her years of childbearing. Naturally, Abram had begun to question the promises of God. Are we not the same? Do we not get impatient for God to fulfill his promises to us? We are promised peace, but there is no peace. We are promised Christ's quick return and yet it has been two thousand years we have waited. And Christ does not come. So, we, too, begin to question the promises of God. But God renews his promise to Abram and, the scripture says, Abram "believed the Lord, and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness." Once during Jesus' ministry, he was approached by a man whose son was ill and near death. Jesus told him not to fear, only believe. The man's response is quite like Abram in our lesson. He said, "I believe, help thou mine unbelief." Abram believed but he wanted a sign. He wanted something concrete to hold on to so he would not fall into disbelief. He wanted God to help is unbelief. Again we see ourselves depicted here. How hard it is to believe in that which is unseen, that which is unheard. This is why men for ages have worshiped idols. We need a God we can see, touch and feel. But God is faithful. His promises, though they be long in coming, are real. That is the substance of faith. Abram had faith in God and that faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Psalm 27
The psalmist begins with a word of praise and exultation. He experiences God as light shining in a dark place. Just as he spoke of the valley of the shadow, he is not afraid. He is not afraid of death and he is not afraid of what anyone may do to him. God is his strength. In 4 Maccabees, a widow is forced to watch the torture and horrendous death of her sons. Many times the boys are offered the chance of being spared if they would just renounce God and worship the Syrian god. Each time their mother encourages them to be strong in their faith. Each time, they refuse to renounce their God. God is their strength. God is her strength. Of whom will they be afraid? How different we are. How easy it is for us to compromise our beliefs for the conditions of the moment. The disciples huddled in the upper room with the door locked from Thursday night to Sunday morning. They were struck with paralyzing fear. I can't be too hard on them, however. I keep wondering what I would do in their place. So, I keep on seeking the face of God and waiting on him. I know that he will strengthen my heart.

Philippians 3:17-4:1
Paul knows us almost as well as the Lord himself. We continue to make our decisions based on what is the easy way, not on what is right and just. Self sacrifice and discipline are words that are not in our vocabulary. How many of us, if truthful, would have to admit that our god is in our belly? Our minds are set on things that bring pleasure in this world. How often do we crave something only to become bored with it when we finally get it. Treasure on earth is short lived. It rusts, it gets eaten up by moths or it gets stolen. Treasure in God lasts. He will transform our body of humiliation. So we must stand firm in our faith and trust in his strength and ability to provide all that we truly need.

Luke 13:31-35
It seems that it is only those who stand up and advocate for justice for all who must face the assassin. Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Was it because people reported to him that Jesus was, in reality, John come back from the dead? Maybe. But perhaps it was also because demons were being cast out and people were being cured of their illnesses and others were being set free from the cares that kept them enslaved to a hedonistic world. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life." He called us little children. So often he would swoop us up under the covert of his wings, but we would not. Pie in the sky bye and bye is not enough incentive to abandon the pleasures of the moment. Too bad. The greatest gift of God is abundant life in the here and now. Trusting in him causes us to want his will for us. We actually can become satisfied with what he provides for us.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Year C - Lent 1

Liturgy of the Word:
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Year C - Transfiguration

Liturgy of the Word:
Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12 - 4:2
Luke 9:28-36

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Knowing God

Our discovery of God is, in a way, God's discovery of us. We cannot go to heaven to find him because we have no way of knowing where heaven is or what it is. He comes down from heaven and finds us. He looks at us from the depths of his own infinite actuality, which is everywhere, and his seeing us gives us a new being and a new mind in which we also discover him. We only know him in so far as we are known by him, and our contemplation of him is a participation in his contemplation of himself. We become contemplatives when God discovers himself in us.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation