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Showing posts from July, 2016

The One Thing We Need Most

Today in the Church calendar is the Feast of St. Martha. Thus, the Gospel lectionary for today is from Luke 10:38-42....
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
We live in a very busy world where we are often judged by others, and judge the value of our own lives, by the level of our activity, productivity, and busyness. This is true even in the Church. As some Christian wag once said, "Jesus could be returning at any moment, so look busy!"

The Parable of the Trawling Net

The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 13:47-53. Jesus said....‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.In this parable Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a trawling net that fishermen would often use on the Sea of Galilee. Such a net would take in many things when let down into the sea. Later on, the fishermen would s…

Two Parables

The Gospel lectionary reading for today is fromMatthew 13:44-46. Jesus said,
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.Jesus' parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value illustrate two different ways that people discover the kingdom of God.

The treasure hidden in the field was discovered by a poor man going about his everyday work. He was digging in a field when suddenly his shovel hit something hard. Digging further, he uncovers a chest. Unearthing it and opening it, he finds a pile of precious jewels pouring out.

How would you feel in the same situation? The man was elated, just as a man named Michael Sparks must have been elated when he discovered an early copy of the Declaration of Independence…

The Parable of the Weeds & the Wheat

"Wheat Field with Cypresses" (1889) Vincent Van Gogh
The Gospel lectionary reading for today is fromMatthew 13:36-43....
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!This parable is part…

Crossing the Road for One Another

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, ha…

The Parable of the Sower, Part 2

Matthew 13:10-17
Then the disciples came and asked him, 'Why do you speak to them in parables?' He answered, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that "seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand." With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:"You will indeed listen, but never understand,and you will indeed look, but never perceive.For this people's heart has grown dull,and their ears are hard of hearing,and they have shut their eyes;so that they might not look with their eyes,and listen with their ears,and understand with their heart and turn-and I would heal them."But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. T…

The Parable of the Sower, Part 1

The Sower with the Outskirts of Arles in the Background by Vincent Van Gogh
Have you ever tried to start a lawn from scratch? I did once. We had just bought our first house. It was in a housing development in a nice suburb. Included in the price of the house was a small amount of sod which some men came and laid in our front yard shortly after we moved in. But the back yard was completely unfinished. Our lot had been in the midst of a forest which had been cleared for our house, and others, to go in. The lot was leveled as much as possible. In fact, the back yard, though it was just dirt, looked nice.
But then the rain came before I had a chance to plant grass seed in the back yard. The contours of the yard completely changed. One corner fell off precipitously. I figured I better get working fast. I bought some grass seed and went to work.

I was amazed, however, on closer inspection, to discover how many rocks were still there in our back yard. So I went to work with a metal rake and ot…

The Bible & Same Sex Marriage

I am currently offering a teaching series at Stowe Community Church entitled The Bible & Same Sex Marriage. You can listen in by clicking here: http://willvaus.com/same_sex_marriage

Follow the Clues

The Gospel Lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 12:38-50.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it…

Where to Find Rest

The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 11:28-30.Jesus said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."One thing we can learn from this passage is that Jesus invites the exhausted to come to him. Is your soul exhausted today? "What is soul exhaustion?" you may ask. It is the weariness that comes from running. Until we run to Christ we are running away from so many things. We run away from deep relationships because we are afraid of being hurt. We run from problems created by our wrong way of living. We run from quietness and solitude into busyness because we are afraid that if we pause for a moment we may be reminded of how empty our lives are. We run because we think it is we who sustain our own lives and not God.

Columnist Herb Caen once…

True Humility

The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 11:25-27.At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."Jesus began a movement, not with the seemingly wise and intelligent of the earth, but with simple people, a group of fishermen and people of the land. Perhaps he did it this way because he knew that God's power works best through human weakness. As the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians12:9)

The second half of our reading for today reveals something of the intimate relationship between Jesus and God the Father. Jesus tells us that…

The Final Judgment

The Gospel lectionary reading for today comes from Matthew 11:20-24. Here we read the words of Jesus....
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”In these verses, judgment seems to be based upon one thing: our response to Jesus. This reminds me of C. S. Lewis description of the final judgment of Narnia in his children's book, The Last Battle....

The …

Trust & Go!

Rathvinden House, County Carlow, Ireland
The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 10:7–15 ....As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.Can you imagine missionaries functioning this way today? Most …

Holy Places, Holy People

Today's Gospel lectionary reading comes from Matthew 10:1-7....

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.'"A friend sent me today an entry from his diary about a place that is dear to both of us: The Church of St. Margaret of Antioch at Binsey, Oxfordshire, England. You can learn more about the …

Pray As You Go!

For some time now I have been using this blog to provide some daily devotional thoughts on Scripture. I don't manage to post something every day of the year, but I try to do this as often as I can, Monday through Friday.

One great resource for listening and thinking about the daily lectionary reading is called Pray-As-You-Go. Like Sacred Space, Pray-As-You-Go is maintained by the Irish Jesuits. However, the latter provides a daily devotional thought to listen to, rather than to read. And it provides a beautiful variety of music as well. I have found it to be a great addition to my prayer life. I hope you will too.

You can access the site by clicking here: Pray-As-You-Go. Then click on today's date and the devotional will begin. Enjoy!

The Calling of Matthew

The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 9:9-13....
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Matthew was, perhaps, the most unlikely person to follow Jesus. Matthew was probably the name this man was later given by Jesus. It means: "Gift of God." But his original name was Levi. So he was, quite obviously, a Jew. Was he a Jew of the tribe of Levi, one who should have been serving in the temple? No one know…