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Showing posts from February, 2020

Giving Up & Giving Away for Lent

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about the three great acts of devotion that were recognized and practiced in some way by all first century Jews. Those three acts were: giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting. 
We often talk about fasting during Lent or giving something up. But sometimes we forget that we give up in order to have more room to give. When we give to the needy, we are of course giving to other human beings. When we pray, we are giving ourselves to God. So as we enter i…

Lessons from the Transfiguration

Mount Tabor is the traditional site of The Transfiguration of Jesus.  It is a large round hill in the central Galilee region.  I have read that if you go there today you have to get out of your bus and take a taxi to the top. People say that God is especially happy with the Mount Tabor taxi-drivers because more people pray during the few minutes in those taxis going up the narrow mountain road than they do during the rest of their lives put together! While Mount Tabor is the traditional site of the transfiguration, it is probably not the place where the event took place which we are going to read about in Matthew 17. It is much more likely that this took place on Mount Hermon, close to Caesarea Philippi where the immediately preceding events in Matthew’s Gospel took place. From either Mount Tabor or Mount Hermon there are beautiful views of Galilee. But Jesus, Peter, James and John didn’t go there for the physical view.  The spiritual viewpoint they gained was worth far more than that. …

Four Signposts

On the night of February 6, 1996, three young men drove the country roads east of Tampa, Florida, committing acts of vandalism. The three friends pulled about twenty street signs out of the ground and they removed one stop sign at an important intersection.
The next day three eighteen-year-olds, who had just come from a fun evening of bowling, sailed through that intersection where the stop sign had been uprooted. Their vehicle ran directly into the path of an oncoming 8-ton truck. Those three teenagers were instantly killed.
Within a year the original three “pranksters” were brought to justice and convicted of manslaughter.  In June 1997, the three young men stood in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs in front of a judge in a Tampa courtroom, crying their eyes out as they were each sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
It is obviously a dangerous act to remove a signpost on a highway. But it also seems as though human beings try to remove the moral signposts that God has placed in this worl…

Salt & Light

Our Gospel reading for today is from Matthew 5:13-16. Listen for God’s word to you…
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In Jesus’ day salt was highly valued and it was associated with at least three important qualities. 
First, salt was associated with purity. The Roman world thought that salt was the purest of all things because it came from the sun and the sea. Of course, the glittering whiteness of salt caused people to think of purity. Salt was often used as an offering to God, even in the Jewish religion. And so, when Jesus s…