Wednesday, June 19, 2019



A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 2 - C



Luke 8:26-39 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes,[a]which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn[b] no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus[c] had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons[d] begged Jesus[e] to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes[f] asked Jesus[g] to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus[h] sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 8:26 Other ancient authorities read Gadarenes; others, Gergesenes
  2. Luke 8:27 Other ancient authorities read a man of the city who had had demons for a long time met him. He wore
  3. Luke 8:29 Gk he
  4. Luke 8:32 Gk they
  5. Luke 8:32 Gk him
  6. Luke 8:37 Other ancient authorities read Gadarenes; others, Gergesenes
  7. Luke 8:37 Gk him
  8. Luke 8:38 Gk he

Theodicy

The silence of God
at Auschwitz.

The murders
in our schools.

Rwanda forgotten,
Cambodia –‘never mind.’

Syria
still steaming.

Yemen; UN:
worst for humankind.

‘Legion’ still rules:
2,000 years later
5,000 troops of demons
still around.

Travel, O Christ,
cross all boundaries
shout to our demons
out loud.

Cross you bore
did not end war
and we are still possessed.

Where, O God, is you power?
Forsaken, we get no rest.

Copyright @2019 by Kenn Storck
May be used with permission
kennstorck@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019




The Holy Trinity

It is Holy Trinity Sunday.
Time to dust off the Dogmatics.
Speak of God as H-2-0:
water with three parts -
mist, liquid, ice.

Or a three leaf clover will do
to disclose the Three-In-One.

Why do we bother with
images, icons, projections of God
worthy to be shattered
by the mystery unsolved?

How dare we define the Divine,
Domesticate the Godhead?

Go ahead: Draw your pictures,
Color your triangles,
Speak of the Three-In-One,
And the One-In-Three.

Use the Athanasian Creed litmus test
Of Father / Son / Spirit.
But all the while do not trust
The limit of language,
The confinement of metaphor,
The simplicity of simile.

The Ancients knew
One could not be
In the presence of the living God
And live.

Moses beholds God’s backside,
Jeremiah – God’s fingers in his mouth,
Isaiah God’s robe and a hot coal.

The Christ confined in flesh,
Spirit unmanageable,
Cosmic-Creator.

Expand do not contract God
For God is the Great Iconoclast.

And we at last
With Job
Stand in the Divine Presence
Jaws dropping
In muted wonder.  

Copyright @2019 by Kenn Storck
May be used with permission
kennstorck@gmail.com

Monday, June 3, 2019


Pentecost Prayer


Untamed Divinity:
Cast the chaos of creativity,
The fertility of the feminine,
Across the waters of the deep.

Wild wind:
Blow where you will,
Stirring up the desert,
Seeding the hot sands.

Holy breath:
Penetrate our lungs.
Heed our hopeless sighs,
Bless our birth cries.

Rushing sound:
Break the barriers of silence.
Open all doors,
Engulf us with grace.

Divided tongue:
Unlock our lips.
Turn our babel
Into the language of love.

Flash of fire:
Ignite our hearts
Burning with the passion
Of the risen Christ.

Author ~ Kenn Storck
May be used with permission
kennstorck@gmail.com




Thursday, May 30, 2019


Seventh Sunday of Easter-C
June 2, 2019

“That they may be one…” 


John 17:20-26

20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, [a] so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Footnotes:
[a] John 17:21 Other ancient authorities read be one in us

Rundman’s ‘Closed Out’

Sunday morning Indiana
at the church where i was a guest
they had hymnals and a steeple
and the letters *LCMS
yeah I guess i saw it coming
you could call me a pessimist
but i walked up to the altar
for to share in the Eucharist

and the pastor passed me by
he would not let me take the bread and wine
and my heart froze and tears came to my eyes
closed out of close communion

people stepped down in the quiet
i was shaking i was out of breath
he said "may this body and this blood
bless you and keep you in the one true faith"
so i sat there like a stranger with nothing
it was all i had
yeah, i knew that we were different
but i didn't know it would hurt so bad

and the pastor passed me by
he would not let me take the bread and wine
and my heart froze and tears came to my eyes
closed out of close communion
closed out of close communion

from Sound Theology, released October 31, 2000
Jonathan Rundman: acoustic guitar, vocals


*Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Some Background:

This morning’s Gospel is the prayer of Jesus just before his arrest.  He has just washed the disciples’ feet and had dinner with them and now he is praying for them.  He will lay down his life on the cross.  In John’s Gospel the cross is that glory that the world does not know.  The cross is where Jesus draws all people into a new oneness.

Closed Out – we just heard Lutheran troubadour, Jonathan Rundman, tell us a story of being closed out.  Sometimes even the church caves into the world’s way of oneness.  The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is known for its exclusion of people from the Sacrament – unless those attending affirm the strict LCMS understanding of the Sacrament.  There is a litmus test before being allowed to the table.  That is the official stance of the LCMS. 

I use this as an example of how this Prayer for Oneness is misused and misunderstood.  The world way to oneness is through conformity – that we have to agree with each other to be one.  Often the church imitates the world that uses the color of our skin, our ethnicity, or speaking the same language as the way to oneness.  To be part one of the tribe you must be like us in every way.  Sometimes this is more subtle and less overt. 

We all have been part of being trapped in a false oneness that says our group is right and your group is wrong. 

This morning we are privy to an overheard prayer.  It is as though we stepped into a room and overheard our parents or friends praying for us.  That would indeed move our hearts and our souls.  It may bring some of us to tears as we listen to their deep cries on our behalf.

Jesus is not only praying for the disciples in this immediate tragedy of his imminent crucifixion, but Christ is praying for us – ‘that they may be one.’

Jesus is not asking us to achieve oneness.  This is not a mandate.  It is a gift.  Oneness is a gift to be unwrapped.  Oneness is a surprise package delivered in the midst of division.  Some dare to leave the gift on the table and admire it from afar.  Others want to preserve the package rather than deal with it contents.  Oneness is not a goal to be reached – but a gift to be celebrated.  It is something we are constantly living into in spite of our tribalism and attempts at our own kind of oneness.

This is a story of the bitter irony of the beginning of the ministry of so many disenfranchised and closed out of a church body they dearly loved and had mothered them.

I was raised and mothered by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod attending grade school, college, and Seminary at LC-MS schools.  

On February 19, 1974 – I sat in the crowded field house of Concordia Seminary waiting to hear what would be our next step, not realizing how it would shape my life. 

The Professors at Concordia Seminary were under siege.  The Board of Control had interviewed and exonerated all of them of charges of false teaching (i.e. Adam and Eve are real people…Jonah was swallowed by a whale…the Creation Accounts are to be taken literally) – in other words taking everything literally in the Bible. 

Now there was a new Board that was elected a new investigation and a  Church-wide Assembly led to charges of false teaching—a blanket statement on unnamed professors – "false teachers not to be tolerated in the Church of God."
(By a bare majority vote at 1973 New Orleans Convention)

Double jeopardy – closed out. 

The student body took a stand in solidarity with their professors who were being falsely accused.  We declared a moratorium until we were told on the basis of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions what was the false teaching and which professors were being accused.

Now the crowded field house waited for the judgment and it came hard and fast from the head of the LCMS:  48 professors and staff fired under the guise of blanket charges.

The students and professors had arranged for an option in case of this worst case scenario.  Eden Seminary in St. Louis along with St. Louis University Divinity School and Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago made all our professor adjunct and we created a Seminary in Exile.

We voted to leave the Concordia Campus and form Seminex – a seminary in exile – 400 students and 48 professors walked off campus that day and were greeted by the head of Eden Seminary – a Seminary of the United Church of Christ.  It was not a new Seminary but Concordia Seminary in Exile.  We had been exiled by the LC-MS.

Although closed out by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod – we were embraced and welcomed by the United Church of Christ, the Roman Catholic Jesuits at St. Louis Divinity School and our fellow Lutherans at LSTC.

We had no idea as to the outcome of this venture – but we experienced the gift of oneness in an unexpected way.  Not only did other Christians welcome us – but the Jewish community offered housing for professors being kicked out of their campus housing.

So my career as a Pastor began with a group of people Closed Out but welcome by Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ…and even Jewish friends and neighbors.

Why do I tell you this story?  Because the gift of oneness was being opened up before my very eyes – a gift unopened by the church I grew up in – but a surprise package unfolding before my eyes.  I bear witness to God’s work in the midst of hurt, and division.

By the way – those Closed Out of the LCMS became the catalyst for getting the Lutherans in America together – calling for the formation of the ELCA.

And now I have the privilege of supplying at a congregation that is un-wrapping the gift of oneness – by its open stance on Holy Communion and its Biblical hospitality.

But there is more – GPS has just begun to unwrap and appreciate the gift that Christ gives.  Here at the Sacraments – God gives us the gift of oneness – in our baptism we are made one with Christ and with each other:

Paul writes:  As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.  [Galatians 3:27-28] 

In the Holy Communion – each Sunday – Christ becomes present in us.  We are in Christ – Christ is in us – Christ is one with the Father – the Spirit resides in us .GPS will continue to open this gift given here at the Altar – in the communion where Christ makes us one. 

According to John’s Gospel Christ was lifted up on the cross to gather the scattered children of God:  "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)

At the cross we are made one.  Since Jesus includes each of us it changes how we include others.  Sameness of race, skin color, language, ethnicity, political affiliation, theological positions, gender, and sexual orientation are no longer the criteria by which we divide ourselves.  Nothing can exclude anyone from being included in Jesus.  Jesus is the new measure for including others.

We are empowered to include others by God’s grace, by forgiveness, by hope.  GPS continue to be open into the ways of oneness with faith partners, the community, the nation, and the world.  You are heading into a new pastorate and new opportunities.  This is an exciting and challenging time for this congregation. 

Christ gift of oneness just keeps on giving – let us continue to unwrap it and live into this precious gift.

Amen.

Friday, May 24, 2019


Easter 6 – C
The Advocate
John 14:23-29 – NRSV


Permission to use:
Power-point slides available upon request:
kennstorck@gmail.com

Slide #1
Before we begin the Message for the Day let us take time to remember those Americans who have fought and died to defend our freedom:

Almighty God,  we give thanks with humble hearts for those who have given their lives for our freedom.
We commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils that surround them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Slide #2
23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

Slide #3
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, [a] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 

Slide #4
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

Footnotes:
[a] John 14:26 Or Helper

What does the Holy Spirit look like?  The Biblical witness makes it somewhat difficult to pin the Spirit down.  That divine wind in the Hebrew Scriptures that blew over the dark waters of chaos at the beginning of creation continued to blow fresh breath into the prophets who called God’s people back into the covenant of compassion and justice. 

Jesus speaks of the Spirit early on in John’s Gospel in Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus:  “The wind [Spirit] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Now in the Gospel reading for today – Jesus is giving his farewell message to the disciples.  This takes place before his death – so we are back in the passion story.  So Christ promises that the Father will send the Spirit.  What kind of Spirit – one as wild as the wind.  What kind of Spirit? - A Spirit that is and Advocate – the Spirit of the resurrected Christ.

Slide #6
Advocate:  from Old French avocat "barrister, advocate, spokesman," from Latin advocatus "one called to aid; a pleader, advocate," noun use of past participle of advocare "to call" (as witness or advisor). 

One aspect of the Holy Spirit – one picture is that of an Advocate:  one who takes your side, speaks on your behalf, stands up for you when you when you need it, won’t forsake you when you are down.  The Spirit is like that person who not only stands in solidarity with you – but speaks and acts in your favor no matter how bad things may become.  The Spirit has your back.

So the Holy Spirit looks like an Advocate.  More on that later.

Slide #7
The Holy Spirit is the ongoing Spirit which brought about the Creation,

Slide #8
which birthed the Christ and continues to rebirth Christ in each of us. 

Slide #9
So the Spirit will act like Jesus.  And who did Jesus identify with?  In John’s Gospel alone he stands with a barren woman at Jacob’s well, a man born blind, a cripple at the edge of a pool.  In Luke’s Gospel he is condemned for ‘eating with sinners’ by the religious establishment.  In Mark and Matthew he heals on the Sabbath – goes to the unclean to heal them of demonic spirits – crosses boundaries of race and prejudice. 

Slide #10
This is the Spirit that Jesus promises will come upon his followers.  This Divine presence will be a counselor and embed the heart of Christ in the faith community.  This work is two-fold 1) giving comfort and aid to each of us;  2) calling each of us as members of a faith community to be Advocates on behalf of the marginalized. 

As the Spirit gives voice to our very needs – we in turn give voice to the needs of others – those who have no voice – those who have no seat at the table.  Advocacy belongs to the very heart of the ministry of the Church.

Slide #11
To engage the world’s deep need this faith community and every church is called to engage in both evangelism and social ministry. 

Evangelism is the call to bring all people into a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ.  That entails a spiritual conversion – a turning toward Divine love. 

Social Ministry sets us on a mission to strive for justice and peace in all the earth through concern for physical welfare.

Both are necessary for the fullness of the Church’s ministry and mission.

Unfortunately most Church’s emphasize evangelism and neglect social ministry, in particular – advocacy.

What is social ministry?  We might think of food pantries or soup kitchens or counseling centers – these are indeed part of social ministry.  But a deeper step that parishes shy away from is advocacy. 

Slide #12
There is a helpful expression from our Jewish sisters and brothers that is helpful in understanding the call to social ministry.   The expression is Tikkun Olam.  The origin of the expression goes like this:

Tikkun Olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם) is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world" (or "healing and restoring the world") which suggests humanity's shared responsibility (with the Creator) "to heal, repair and transform the world."

Isaac Luria, a sixteenth century Rabbi, used the phrase “Tikkun Olam,”

Luria taught that God created the world by forming vessels of light to hold the Divine Light. But as God poured the Light into the vessels, they catastrophically shattered, tumbling down toward the realm of matter.

Thus, our world consists of countless shards of the original vessels entrapping sparks of the Divine Light. Humanity’s great task involves helping God by freeing and reuniting the scattered Light, raising the sparks back to Divinity and restoring the broken world.

We are called and empowered by the Divine Helper – the Divine-Advocate to be servants for the mending of the world.  That will involve getting our hands dirty in the messiness of the world’s disease.

That means going after systemic changes.  There are unjust systems at work that keep people oppressed or in hunger.  Yes, we do good work when we feed the hungry and assist those in need.  But we are also called to advocate for just systems that work for equity. 

That means getting involved in the legislative process-using our voice on behalf of those who have no voice.  Churches of our Synod have been invited to enter into this ministry through an offering of letters. 

Each year every congregation in the Northern Illinois Synod is invited to bring a designated “In Kind Offering” to the Synod Assembly. In the past it has been very tangible items – like non-perishable groceries for food pantries, laundry soap, or other items for distribution.

Slide #13
This year the “In Kind Offering” is an Offering of Letters to members of Congress supporting legislation that advances assistance to those in need in developing countries as well as the U. S. The letters on this occasion will be a request to congressional leaders to support Advancing Global Nutrition.

The source of the letters you are invited to sign is an ecumenical non-partisan Christian advocacy group known as Bread for the World.  I encourage you to use your phones and digital devices to look on their web-site:  www.bread.org.

Slide #14
Almost half of all child deaths worldwide are linked to malnutrition. The children who survive remain at high risk of irreversible stunting, which affects their physical growth and brain development. For 151 million children under the age of 5, the majority in Central America, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, stunting is a life sentence.

The letter goes on to request:

Providing $250 million for global nutrition this year could reach more than 10 million women and 7 million children with nutrition programs. Increasing access to nutritious food and vitamins, supporting breastfeeding, and ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation will enable more children to grow and reach their full potential.

Slide #15
Letters will be available for signing on Sundays – June 2 and June 9. The letters will be taken to the Synod Assembly by our Voting Members and lifted up as an offering at worship. Then they will be sent to our Representatives and Senators. This is an opportunity to advocate for systemic change that will ultimately reduce and lead to the elimination of hunger. Your voice and your letter will make a difference. 

Letters have been successful in keeping the SNAP program in the latest Farm Bill.  A major cut ($22 Billion) was proposed but due to advocacy was not part of the Farm Bill that passed.

What does the Holy Spirit look like?  You have probably seen the Holy Spirit this past week when anyone stands up on behalf of another; anytime anyone acts like Jesus (Kendrick Costello – Stem School Hero); anytime someone bears the love of Christ to another.

In fact, look in this mirror – this is what the Holy Spirit looks like – you – the body of Christ continuing to be comforted and empowered by the Spirit to be a voice for those in need.  Amen

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 19, 2019
‘In the Name of Love’


St. John 13:31-35

The New Commandment

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him,[a] God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Footnotes:

  1. John 13:32 Other ancient authorities lack If God has been glorified in him


Grace and peace to you from our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.

Bono and U2 perform their song: “In the Name of Love.” The lyrics are impressionistic – picture words – images that have a story behind them.  U2 – ‘In the Name of Love’


Pride (In the Name of Love) - Bono

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you...)

Early evening, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love...

This sermon is a reflection on this song and how this relates to the Scripture for today.
One man caught on a barbed wire fence…

It is been suggested by music critics that this might be a reference to the historic Great Escape from the WWII – Stalag Luft III Concentration Camp.  Of the 76 that escaped, only two – a Dutchman and a Norwegian made it back to Britain – the others were either recaptured or shot.  Later 4 others escaped from a second Concentration Camp.

One man he resist…

Could be anyone who stood up for a cause – most likely Gandhi.

One man washed on an empty beach…

Critics here see this as John F. Kennedy.  He and 11 of his ship mates wound up marooned on a very sparsely populated island when the boat they were on was destroyed by a Japanese destroyer during WWII.

One man betrayed by a kiss…

Is an apparent reference to Judas and the betrayal of Christ!

The verse "Early mornin' April 4th, a shot rings out in the Memphis sky. Free at last. They took your life but they could not take your pride."

IS without a doubt referring to Martin Luther King Jr.  Bono changed morning to evening in later versions since King was assassinated in the evening.

The song is impressionistic images open to interpretation.  The images are of people willing to lay down their lives in the name of love.  People willing to lay down their lives and take a stand and in doing so effect real change in the world.

In the name of love – could be the title of the Gospel according to St. John.  For Christ acts in the name of love on the night when he is betrayed – this is context of the Gospel reading.  Judas has just left to make arrangements with the Roman and religious authorities.  Jesus had just washed the feet of the disciples and now he gives a new commandment - in the name of love.

Christ’s new commandment is not some sort of legal or military order.  You cannot mandate that people love.  You cannot force people to love one another.

Rather Christ’s new command is a profound plea that his followers live in the name of love.  The command to love is a call to the disciples to abide in Jesus’ way of life and love.

The Song – ‘In the name of love’ - paints pictures of those who indeed have lived out the way of Jesus.

We see how that happened in the early church with the story from Acts.  I call it the ‘pigs in a blanket story.’  The early church was very much limited and confined to it Jewish roots.  Purity laws restricted who could join the movement known as ‘the Way.’  The early church was headed into being a branch of Judaism and a minor blip on the screen of the history of religion.

In the name of love Peter was given a vision that converted him from limiting God’s grace and excluding others to embracing the Spirit and opening the door to Gentiles.

It is a dramatic story of a vision – a dream that Peter had while taking a nap on the roof top of the house of Simon, the tanner in Joppa.  I could have used another popular song:  “Up on the Roof” to explain this vision.

Pigs are lowered in a blanket – unclean – animals trample out of the sheet or blanket and Peter is told to take and eat.  This, of course, was contrary to Peter’s tradition and upbringing.  The vision came to him three times. 

Peter is awakened from his nap and told of Cornelius a Gentile centurion of the Italian Cohort who wants to become part of the movement of the Way.

In the name of love Peter reluctantly learns and lets go of this exclusive tradition that prevents him and the church from embracing others.

This is a major historic shift in the church’s mission.  You and I would not be sitting here had Peter not acted on that vision and in the name of love reached out to the Gentiles.

You don’t have to escape from a Concentration Camp, become a war hero, activist to live in the name of love. 
Writer Barbara Jurgensen tells of thinking how her busy life had kept her from living the kind of Christian life she wanted to live. And so one night, she asked God to help her live a really Christian life the next day.

Before she even got out of bed the next morning, her next-door neighbor phoned, saying she had a terrible toothache. The dentist could see her right away, but her little boy was in bed with the measles. So Barbara went over, gave the child his breakfast and took care of him. That filled the morning.

After lunch, a friend who had been in and out of a mental hospital stopped with a couple of dresses, asking if Barbara would help her shorten them. The two women worked together for most of the afternoon.

Near supper time her husband came in announcing that he’d invited two new acquaintances to dine with them, a married couple. The man was having trouble finding work because of a prison record. “I hope it’s okay with you that I invited them,” her husband said and Barbara agreed.

By bedtime, Barbara wondered how, with all those interruptions, she could live the kind of Christian life she’d like to. (Barbara Jurgensen, You’re out of Date, God?)

What she eventually realized, of course, is that God had been in all those interruptions. One sign of God is that, like Peter, we are led where; we did not intend to go.

Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, writes:

“The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with God-self included in the community as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.”

[Source:  Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home – Richard J. Foster, p. 254]

In the name of love God continues to call us into such a community.  It is community of faith that combines the vision of God’s new creation [in the second reading] with social action. 

In the name of love God calls us today into a community of cross and crown, conflict and resolution, courageous action and suffering love.  God calls us into a community of unselfish love and witness without compromise.

In the name of love Christ gave his all.  What more in the name of love?  Amen

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