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Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Righteousness of Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25
The version of the birth story of Jesus that is told in the gospel of Matthew has a tender depiction of the person of Joseph as he wrestles with how to respond to Mary's unexpected pregnancy. With numerous options of how to respond, on a spectrum from brutal to kind, he chooses the kindest option he can think of: to separate himself from her. But it turns out even the most righteous option in Joseph's mind at that moment is not the most righteous option in the mind of God. The Holy Spirit is working in this whole story, bringing Joseph to a place where what it means to be righteous is something he could not have imagined. Righteousness as the story unfolds is for Joseph to embrace this child as his adoptive father, as he reconciles with Mary, the child's mother, and to become the one who will bring the child Jesus and Mary into safety in Egypt. This new righteousness comes to Joseph in his dreams, even as it did to the Joseph of Genesis.

As an adoptive parent, this year upon reflection on this tiny story that begins the gospel, I am particularly moved by the fact that Joseph and I share this same calling- to embrace, nurture and support a child who came into my (our) life through means other than my/our DNA.

Christmas blessings,

Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Reflection On Matthew 24:36-44 for Advent

Ready or not, hear I come!
Am I ready?
What am I ready for?
For my room to be inspected?
For my children to go out into the world?
For my professor to grade my paper?
For God to find me?

Would God recognize that I have been sorting through, sorting out,
or would it look to God like I had been piling up ideas and courses of action like a pile of newspaper clippings and pages torn out of magazines –ready for some future use?
Is that recipe for a redwhiteandblue jello mold even relevant any more?
Is that 1970s advice column on parenting toddlers of use to me in the world now?

Can what is needed of me from God merge with this moment now?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Your God is too big.

My Sermon at Meeting of Mission Presbytery October 25, 2013
Text: 2 Corinthians 4: 1-12

In1961 JB Phillips wrote a little book that many of you have probably read along the way, called “Your God is Too Small.”

He suggested that we tend to make God into various small and limited images:
resident policeman, heavenly bosom, pale Galilean, and parental hangover.

What if we also have the opposite problem, of having a God who is too big?

I guess what I mean by “too big” is a God who is distant and removed, hovering disinterestedly above the fray.

What about a God who has the capacity and interest in wedging God’s way into our very specific lives: A God small enough to show up in our pews, our offices, our living rooms, our conversations with enemies?

A couple weeks ago I retrieved a voicemail from my office phone. It was a man who had felt a calling to offer prayer to pastors throughout the city. Since I wasn’t there when he called, he asked for my voicemail. When I first heard his voice I thought to myself “Oh no, he’s calling because he thinks I’m a ‘wacko preacher lady leading her congregation down the road to perdition.’ "

In his very Texas drawl he spoke into the answering machine: “God I pray that Kelly would have your eyes to see, your ears to hear, your heart to love, I pray that you would help her to love you more each day, and that you would give her a holy boldness………”
I saved the prayer –I listened to it again…

Here was a small enough God to show up in the space between my ear and a phone ………
I felt sought out –named again as one called and empowered to bear the
gospel into weary and fragmented lives.
The prayer came at a significant moment.
Two days before this, a vibrant, friendly, generous woman, whose 3 children had gone through the church’s children’s center –and who had befriended fellow parents, teachers and church staff took a gun, went into a closet when no one was home, and shot herself.

We were left with little to know to do besides open the sanctuary and drag our bodies into pews and our heavy hearts into prayer and our cracking voices into wishing out loud that we had seen or known or been more trusted with her pain. We looked to God’s small hands to collect our tears in God’s bottle.