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Berakah

Text: Psalm 133:1-4 It was the first day in my new office. I organized my pens, situated my absolutely empty calendar, put paper in my typewriter (yes, typewriter!), angled the rotary dial telephone toward my right hand, and adjusted my swivel chair. Then, I nailed my freshly minted seminary diploma to the wall just behind me. I was looking for something, anything to make all this feel real. Up until that day, my life had been one of waiting on parents and teachers, professors and coaches, bosses and supervisors to tell me what to do next, how to spend my days and how to prioritize my life. Now, I was no longer a student or an intern, I was the official pastor of the Bethany Presbyterian Chu

Keys

Text: Matthew 16:13-20 If you want to start a debate, read this story from Matthew 16. For years, Roman Catholics have argued that this is a story that explains apostolic succession. Meanwhile, Protestants have argued that this story is all about the power of testimony, of proclaiming Jesus as Lord. I read this story less from a theological angle and more from the angle of a parent. As a parent, I cannot help but wonder: “Jesus, what were you thinking?!” The one reliable thing about Peter from the day Jesus invites him to leave his stinking fishing nets and follow him is that Peter is unreliable. He is impetuous. He speaks often before he formulates his thoughts. Yes, he gets the right answe

Practice Resurrection

Text: Psalm 133 “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” These words from Psalm 133 nearly dance off the tongue. Listen hard and you can hear ancient Jewish pilgrims in full voice singing this song on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” It is a still a lovely sentiment, centuries later, but it is surely not the first psalm that comes to mind when I think of the year 2020. Quarantined in our houses and isolated to our own national news sources, we live in a time when it is unsafe to gather in close quarters and especially unsafe to sing when we do. Some say schools should reopen in person right on time

Named

Text: Genesis 32:22-31 How did you get your name? Who named you? What is the family lore about how you got your name? If Jacob were asked how he got his name, he might well respond, “Which name?” If anyone did not need another name, it was Jacob. He already had a host of names, all perfect fits: Jacob or The One Who Supplants or The Trickster or the Go-Getter at any cost. Each one is a fitting name for Jacob. From stealing the family birthright from Esau to duping doughty ole Isaac out of the family blessing, Jacob has spent his life taking what is not rightfully his. If you love the moral lesson that cheaters, liars, and thieves never prosper, then you might want to avoid this story. Jacob

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