Monthly Archives: May 2008

July 13

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matthew 13.1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

 

(the disciples do not understand, so Jesus explains…)

 

 ‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’

 

In reading this well-known parable, I am struck the fact that the sower doesn’t first check his soil—he sows his seeds indiscriminately, scattering the word wherever he goes, regardless of whether it’s good or rocky soil he’s walking by.  Since this text comes up on the day we will commission 16 youth and adults for a mission trip in the inner city, that seems like a message we will want to note:  whether the soil is deserving or not, the seeds are sown.   (TCP) 

what are you reading?

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Have you ever wondered what your pastors are reading?

Well, sometimes we’re reading theology, sometimes Christian living or ethics, sometimes books on spirituality or youth ministry, and we’re also often reading a novel or two apiece!

Right now, Teri is reading two books (click the titles for the amazon.com pages):  Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne, about the political and ethical implications of the gospel, and Take this Bread by Sara Miles, about her conversion experience and how important food is to our faith.  She also just finished a novel made up of short stories called What the Thunder Said, about two sisters who grow up in the dust bowl during the depression and about what happens to them and their families.

Would you be interested in reading a book along with your pastor, then discussing it?  We’re contemplating the possibility of a “read with the pastor” book group–where we tell you what we’re reading and invite you to read along and then meet to talk about the book.  Leave a comment if you might be interested!  What are you reading right now?  Share with us in the comments!

has politics paralyzed our prayer?

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Last night we had a wonderful Taize service–our last one until fall, actually, as we plan to take a summer break–and I once again noticed something odd during the prayer time.

At our Taize service we have a time where you are invited to simply say the name of a person or place that you want to pray for. We organize the prayer into “categories”–things we are grateful for, people we want to pray for for various reasons, places in the world we pray for (especially to receive peace/healing/etc), and then a time when you can pray for anything you like. In those first three, people generally just say the name of the person/place/thing–it’s not a long beautiful prayer, just a mentioning of things on our minds.

For several months now I have noticed that people are not shy about praying in the first two categories, but when we get to the third (praying for the world), everyone is silent. I find this surprising since we are a congregation with such a mission focus–we have ministries in/with Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Colombia, and more. Plus we are a well-informed congregation, I’m sure we know what’s going on in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Afghanistan, Darfur, and the streets of Chicago and even of Crystal Lake. So why aren’t we praying for these situations and places?

It has been suggested to me that we don’t want to sound political by mentioning these things–that bringing up political “issues” can disrupt prayer for some people.

Well, I suggest that then politics has paralyzed our prayer when really it should be motivating our prayer. Whether or not there is a “side” to be taken, there are people and situations that need prayer. If we are unwilling to pray for the people of Zimbabwe or the situation in Darfur or the people experiencing food shortages here and abroad or the people who are homeless at a time when PADS shelters are closing for the summer, simply because we are afraid of becoming “political”, then I’m afraid of what Jesus might have to say.

Remember, “politics” is simply how we live together as a community, a polis (city). Partisanship is different, it’s taking sides. I might argue that Jesus does sometimes take sides–with those no one is willing to pray for, eat with, be friends with, touch, or even see. But in any case, prayer is not partisan, though it may be political (because it can be about how we live together as a global human community).

So the next time you have the opportunity, remember to pray (even out loud!) for these situations and the people in them. We aren’t going to be judging your political party based on what you pray for–instead you are helping us to remember all of God’s people, around the world, and to pray for God’s peace and justice and grace to be known throughout the world.

As we gather together, even in this virtual space, I invite us all to pray for God’s people who know violence, fear, hunger, anxiety, and grief, and for those places like Iraq, Darfur, Egypt, Afghanistan, Kenya, Israel and Palestine, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Chicago, and even Crystal Lake that need to know God’s presence, peace, and love. And to pray also for ourselves, that we might be bold in prayer and in action. Amen.