Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pentecost 11 - Year A

NB: With help from William H Willimon's Pulpit Resource

“Let’s ask Jane to take on this job,” said one of the members of the committee. “Jane always does such a good job on anything she does.” There was widespread agreement from everyone in the group.

Then Mrs. Schmidt piped up, “Do you really think that’s fair to Jane? She has two or three jobs in the church already. She’s one of our busiest and hardest workers.”

“That’s my point,” replied the chair of the committee. “Everybody knows, if you want a job done right, always ask the busiest person to do it. Busy people always seem to be the ones who are able to find time somehow to do more.”


“I love my family and would do anything in the world for them,” many folks say. But while that’s all well and good; but let’s face it, it’s usually pretty easy to love our families. They typically look like us. We parents have much of our ego needs tied up in our children. But there are parents who are able to look beyond their own kith and kin.”

“Pastor, we have decided to adopt William,” the young couple told me. “His mother can’t keep him and he’s become so attached to us.” William came to them as abused infant, probably with fetal alcohol syndrome. This wasn’t the first child like this they’d taken into their home and adopted as their own.

“Wow, that’s great,” I replied, “But you already adopted three troubled children. Don’t get me wrong, you’re both great parents, but I’m worried that number 4 might tax your limits.”

“When it comes to these children,” the mom said, “I haven’t yet found that there can be limits.”

She was right. Or as Bayard Taylor put it, “The loving are the daring.”


“I’ve got to get back on the road,” the man told me. “I want to be there by supper.”

“Where are you off to?” I asked.

“I’m off to feed my wife,” he replied, “She’s in the lodge in Hamilton.”

“How often do you go?” I asked him.

“Each morning for breakfast and each evening for supper,” he said.

“Wow,” I replied, “She must be happy to see so much of you since she’s so far away from home,” I said.

“Oh, she hasn’t recognized me for years, now,” he replied.

“And still, you drive an hour there and an hour back twice a day, to feed someone who doesn’t know who you are.”

“What else am I going to do,” he said, “She’s my wife.”


Throughout the gospels, Jesus also quietly exceeds expectation. He pushes the borders of acceptable religious behaviour. He tells some crazy stories about how God’s kingdom works.

The story of the prodigal son, for example, where the defiant boy insults his dad, blows his inheritance on alcohol and prostitutes, then skulks home ready to receive the spanking of his life, only to find his dad running down the street towards him with arms wide open, then the old guy throws a HUGE party for this son who behaved so shamefully.

Or the story of the woman with the lost coin who, when she finds, phones her friends, buys some food, hires a band, and has a party all night.

Or Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana – his first miracle, according John – 180 gallons or 819 litres of wine. That’s a lot of wine. He just didn’t want the party to end.

Jesus told stories of great abundance and extravagance because that’s what God is like, then backed up these stories in the way be behaved.

I think, if we were standing next to Jesus when he told his stories and worked his miracles, we’d respond like the disciples, either embarrassed or worried. Jesus doesn’t show us a god we would create if we had the chance.

Really, what we want is a god who will keep people in their place. Like the disciples complaining to Jesus that the people have no food, we want a god we can control – a puppet, whose strings we can pull when times get tough.

I think Jesus came to show us that God cannot be packaged; God cannot be confined to simple categories. That God is not about placing boundaries around lives as much as God is interested in loving us lavishly. That there’s something built right in to the nature of God, it would seem, that tends towards extravagance, bounty, and abundance.

But we need to be careful about the kind of abundance that Jesus was talking about. God couldn’t care less about wealth, status, power, or fame. God doesn’t care of Robin Williams was seen buying coffee at Safeway. God isn’t interested in the air-conditioned dog houses of some TV evangelists who peddle the gospel like its some sort of get-rich-quick scheme. God isn’t interested in our upwardly mobile lives with a two car garage in the ‘burbs and satellite TV. Those things aren’t even on God’s radar screen.

God is interested in how we love each other. God pays attention to compassion and forgiveness. God takes notice when new life springs seemingly out of no where. That’s the abundance that God showers on the world; because that’s the abundance that Jesus lived and told stories about. The abundance of self-giving, suffering love that lives within the subterranean moments of our lives. The extravagance of compassion that heals deep wounds even if no body is looking. As one Lutheran preacher puts it, “Love is a spendthrift, leaves its arithmetic at home, and is always in the red.

So Jesus teaches on a hillside and looks at the crowd who showed up to hear him speak. “Must be a few thousand out there,” he mutters to himself. “They must be hungry. It’s almost supper time.”

“Send them back to town so they can get some food,” suggested his disciples, “I think we saw a Mickey D’s down the road.”

“But what have you got?” Jesus responds.

“Not a whole lot. Just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.”

I always wondered if Jesus rolled his eyes and shook his head when he found out this crowd forgot to pack a lunch. “What kind of people go out for the day and forget their picnic basket?” he might have thought.

Maybe he was annoyed that the job of feeding all these people somehow fell to him. He was tired, after all. He’d been preaching all day. Now he probably just wanted to collapse and unwind. But he was stuck with a mass of hungry people who didn’t think far enough ahead.

Maybe he saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to illustrate what he’d just been talking about.

Jesus takes this small, meagre meal, blesses it, but in doing so, he wasn’t just blessing the food. This wasn’t any ordinary table grace. Jesus was blessing their shortsightedness, blessing their silliness, and blessing their failures. He broke the bread, and told his disciples to give it away. His disciples looked curiously at each other, not sure what Jesus was up to. “There’s no way we can feed all these people” they might have said.

But as it turned out, it was enough.

Matthew says, “All ate and were filled; and they took over the broken pieces, 12 baskets full.”

So, maybe there wasn’t enough. There was more than enough. Even if it was a just a little more than was needed.

So Jesus was showing us an example of what the God he told us about can do – shower gentle love and soft compassion on a hurting and hungry world. Jesus was showing us that the kingdom of God is just not a place we go when we die; but the kingdom of God is alive all around us, when suffering people receive relief, when hungry people are given food, when dying people receive the promise of new and everlasting life.

And when all have received their fill, Jesus still has a little left over for the stragglers.

May this be so among us.

Children's Message: Pentecost 11 - Year A

Today I’d like to tell you a story about a boy named Roger. One Friday night, neither Roger’s mom nor dad felt like cooking dinner, so they packed up Roger and his little brother David into the car and the family went downtown to one of those all-you-can eat Chinese food restaurants.

Roger LOVED Chinese food. He liked ginger beef and fried rice much better than hamburgers or pizza. So he loaded up his plate with all sorts of fried goodies.

When he finished his plate, he went back again. When he inhaled his second plate, he went back a third time. Each plate of food was just as big as the first.

When Roger was only half way through his third plate, he put his fork down and announced, “Finished.”

“What do you mean you’re finished,” said his dad, “You’ve still have half a plate of food left to eat.”

“I can’t eat it all, I’m full,” said Roger as the server was taking away his plate.

“Roger, where do you think your leftover food is going?” his mom asked.

“They’re probably going to throw it away,” replied Roger.

“Is it good to throw food away? Especially when many people here in Lethbridge don’t have enough to eat?”

“They can have my leftovers,” said Roger laughing.

“Roger, we’re trying to be serious,” said his dad.

“Well, what can I do then to help the hungry people?” asked Roger.

“You can start by taking only the food that you will eat,” replied Roger’s mom, “That is something we all can do better at.”

That night as Roger was getting ready for bed and to say his prayers, he was still thinking about what his mom and dad told him about not wasting food.

“Mom, didn’t we hear on Sunday about how Jesus feed 5000 people with just a couple loaves of bread and some fish?

“Yes,” his mom replied.

“And that afterwards there was a lot left over – 12 baskets full?”


“So, if God can provide food, why do people still go hungry?”

“Let’s go back to the story,” replied his mom, “there were 12 baskets left over. That sounds like a lot, and considering that they started with a whole lot less, I guess it is. But how many people do you think a basket of bread could feed?”

“Maybe a dozen or so.”

“Okay, let’s do the math. 12 people eating from 12 baskets would be 144 people that could be fed after “everyone ate and had their fill” as the story puts it. But there were 5000 men and probably 10 000 women and children in that crowd. That makes 15 000 people. What would have happened if even a small portion of those 15 000 people took more than they needed?”

“There wouldn’t have been enough for everyone?” replied Roger.

“That’s right.”

“So, maybe God gives enough food for everyone to have enough, but if we take more than what we need, others might not have any. So maybe the real miracle was that people only took what they needed.”

“Maybe,” said his mom.

Then they said a prayer like this as we do now: Dear God, thank you for giving us enough food. Help us to take only what we need. Amen.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Pentecost 9 - Year A

After all the recent rain, the tiny weeds in our yard have grown into super-sized pests. The other day I went out with our weed puller and did my best to annihilate those wretches from the backyard. After a half hour I hardly put a dent in the weeds. There were too many of them. But I left dozens of small holes in the grass, so my backyard looks like pockmarked face with a bad beard-trim.

When I was a kid I pulled a lot of weeds. Weeds in the garden. Weeds in the driveway. Weeds in the flower bed. Sometimes my mom would come out of the house yelling, “Not those! Those are radishes!”

Weeds. No one likes them. The first impulse is to yank them out by their roots. To get rid of them before they cause more to grow. But while that may be good gardening advice, Jesus tells us to let them grow. To let them flourish. Because if we are too hasty in getting rid of the weeds we might take out some of the good plants as well.

But, if that’s true, the question is how to live with the weeds. Maybe what’s harder to take in this parable is that Jesus says we’re to let the weeds grow WITH the wheat – not just putting up with the weeds – no, Jesus is saying that we are to live with those we are totally convinced are weeds. Jesus isn’t suggesting a picture of a gardener unsure if those little green plants growing by the rose bushes are primroses he planted or another mysterious weed – but instead, it’s bold and brazen thistles growing in your prize cabbages.

In Halifax we had a guy who was obsessive about two things: finance and proper governance. He’d been at the church for over 50 years and held probably every position there is to be had in the church - except for pastor and ELW president.

He liked things done a certain way – his way. And if you didn’t do things his way, he got angry - VERY angry. When he was treasurer, if he didn’t like what the council decided to spend some money on, he would refuse to write the cheques. If he thought that the church wasn’t following proper procedure, as he understood it, he would stand up at the AGM and with all the sound and bluster worthy of Winston Churchill, would condemn the actions of an “incompetent council” and “ill-trained pastors.” He’d been known to chase people off of church council and out of the church over the smallest financial disagreement.

And then there were the memos. The year that Rebekah was on maternity leave with Sophie, and I was on my own at the church, I must have collected over 300 memos from this man, memos to church council, and every so often, to synod office. Memos on how I didn’t follow proper procedure when developing a new program or project. Memos detailing mistakes he thought the counters had made. He would send memos to the bishop, correcting episcopal mistakes. Memo upon memo upon memo.

This guy was a weed. I was amazed that the church hadn’t yanked him out years ago.

However, this is the same guy who spent his Sunday afternoons visiting shut-ins. This is the same guy who would greet church visitors with a wide smile and friendly handshake, making sure they received the best welcome the church could provide. This is the same guy who sat all night with a long time member who was slowly dying, because, he said, “No one deserves to die alone.”

It’s funny how weeds and wheat can look remarkably similar.

A year after I finished my internship there, a young woman appeared at Zion Lutheran Church in Sault Ste Marie, ON. She was professional, competent, enthusiastic, and willing to serve. So, the congregation did with her what good congregations do – they put her on church council. She said she had an accounting background so she was elected treasurer.

The next year, at the synod convention, Pr. Jim and the delegate were going through the financial statements and they noticed a problem: the number that was reported in Zion’s annual report on how much money they gave to the synod and the number the synod reported as having received were two VERY different numbers.

It turns out that this young woman, so professional, so competent, and so enthusiastic, embezzled thousands of dollars from the church.

A weed thriving among the wheat.

BBT says, “Sometimes it is mighty hard to tell the difference between a good plant and a bad one, especially when it can act both ways. I suppose we have all had the experience of uprooting the raspberries by mistake or protecting something interesting that turns out to be a thistle. I don’t know what makes us think we are any smarter about ourselves or about other people in our lives. We are so quick to judge, as if we were sure we knew the difference between wheat and weeds, good seed and bad, but that is seldom the case. Turn us loose with our machetes and there is no telling what we will chop down and what we will spare. Meaning to be good servants, we go out to do battle with the weeds and end up standing in a pile of wheat.

“Or else we do not, because we have the good sense to listen to the sower, whose orders sound foolhardy if not downright dangerous. Leave the weeds and the wheat alone; let them both grow together, he says, letting us know that he does not share our appetite for a pure crop, a neat field, and efficient operation, letting us know that growth interests him more than perfection and that he willing to risk fat weeds for fat wheat. When we try to help him out a little, to improve on his plan, he lets us know that our timing is off, not to mention our judgment, and that he does, after all, own the field.”

So, which are you? Weed or wheat? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll know that we are both. None of us is pure weed and none of us is pure wheat, that we have within us the capacity for great kindness and great cruelty.

But God, the great gardener, who sows the wheat, tends the field, waters, lays down compost, looks forward eagerly to the harvest.

In others and within ourselves, weeds abound. But we hope for what we do not see – for somewhere beyond this mixed field of wheat and weeds stands a farmer, with weathered hands, cap over his squinting eyes, tending the field, and looking forward to the day when we will rest in his barns.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Pentecost 8 - Year A

NB: Willimon's Pulpit Resource was a big help with this sermon

“And grant that we may serve you in newness of life, to the honour and glory of your holy name. Amen.”

Those are the words we sometimes use when we pray our prayer of confession, “Grant that we may serve you in newness of life.”

That’s quite a request, when you stop and think about it. “Serving God in newness of life.”

Newness of life. Starting over. A fresh start. A complete overhaul.

But truly fresh beginnings are hard. I think that’s one reason why there is so much joy when a baby is born. You look at that little bundle of newness, at that little life, so fresh, new, untested; no failures, no regrets.

For us, who are all grown up, or well on their way to being grown up, newness of life means the power to start over. It means to have found that way to release the powerful grip upon our lives by the past.

One of the ways we keep people in their place, one of the ways we stifle the vitality of another life is by being reminded of the past.

In Halifax, I used to get together occasionally with fellow who used to be a member of our church. But he hadn’t been to church in years, except for weddings, funerals, Christmas and Easter.

He was a very gifted opera singer and I thought I could recruit him to sing on Sunday mornings.

“Don’t think so,” he told me, “I’m done with church. I’ll go on special occasions to make my mom happy, but I can’t do the Sunday morning thing.”

“Why not?” I asked. After all, his parents were very active members. His aunt was the organist. His sister was the financial secretary.

“I just can’t be ‘me’ there,” he replied.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I left Halifax when I was 18 to get as far away from my family as I could. I worked hard to create my own identity and be my own person. But when I go back to church, they only see the little boy, the troubled child who was always getting yelled at. They still even call me ‘Danny.’ “I’m ‘Dan’ or ‘Daniel.’ I’m not that little boy anymore. I don’t want to be treated like him any longer.”

The Church –capital C – has a long and deep memory. All of Dan’s hard work and life experience was swept aside, so that the past still had a hold on his life. The only way he could release that grip was to walk away from the community that still wants him to be the little boy whom they want to remember.

Through such remembering, we exercise power over peoples’ lives. We keep hurting them by bringing up their past mistakes, sins, or even identities.

Perhaps that’s why a certain amount of amnesia can be a gift. There was a woman who had started forgetting things. Mostly, what she forgot were things that happened a long time ago. Her short term memory was fine. Folks tried to sympathize with her, but she said, “Actually, it’s not that bad. There are a lot of things in my past that I am only too happy to forget. I would rather remember only the good things that happened a few minutes ago, rather than having my memory dredge up things that happened 30 years ago.”

I could see what she meant. There are some things from the past that are not worth remembering. In fact, to remember them, only tightens an unbearable grip upon the present, to say nothing of the future.

There are many of us who, when we look back at the twists and turns of life, youthful indiscretions, cruelty towards others or ourselves, wounds inflicted, poor choices made, relationships needlessly severed, we might pray that God has a certain amount of selective amnesia as well, what we call “forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is not forgetting, although we might wish it was. When we say, “Let’s forgive and forget,” that’s not the forgiveness that Jesus was talking about. He’s wasn’t talking about deleting these events from the memory bank of God’s hard drive, or having our deeds rubbed out from our permanent records. He was talking about something much deeper. He was talking about restoring what was lost. And from that restoration emerges newness of life, freedom from the past, not a retreat from it. As Jesus told his critics, “If the Son of Man makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

This freedom is hard to grasp. For many people it’s impossible. They can’t see beyond their own pain and anger.

As a pastor I’ve noticed that if there’s one thing more tragic than a marriage that ends in divorce, it’s a divorce that never becomes a true divorce. They go to the lawyers, they sign the papers, and they are legally divorced. One of them hangs on to the relationship with two hands; perhaps never taking off the wedding ring, re-living the pain of the relationship; the injustice of the divorce. There can be no newness of life in the midst of a broken-down relationship without forgiveness. Forgiveness is the great healer.

Maybe that’s why, throughout the gospels, Jesus goes from place to place, constantly forgiving people. Sometimes it seems as if everybody Jesus encounters is met with “Your sins are forgiven.” Sometimes, they don’t even have to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus understands that there are some pasts that shouldn’t be remembered; that love demands the humility to let go, to be free, to embrace the newness of life that God wants for each one us.

Maybe that’s why God was so persistent in forgiving us, because God knows that forgiveness, wiping the slate clean is the only way for our relationships to be the strongest they can be – our relationships with each, and our relationship with God.

In one of [St. John] Chrysostom’s sermons on Divine Providence, h asks us to ‘Imagine someone without the least notion of agriculture, he says ‘observing a farmer collecting grain and shutting it in a barn to protect it from damp. Then he sees the same farmer take the same grain and cast it to the winds, spearing it on the ground, maybe even in the mud, without worrying anymore about the dampness. Surely, he will think that the farmer has ruined the grain, and reprove the farmer.’ The reproof comes from ignorance and impatience, Chrysostom says; only waiting until the end of summer, then the observer would see the farmer harvest that grain, and be astonished how much it has multiplied. So much the more, he adds, should ‘we await the final outcome of events, remembering who it is who ploughs the earth of our souls.”

This indeed is part of the harvest that good soil produces abundant seed for the sower to sow once again and grain that is more than enough for all who hunger for newness of life. Amen.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Pentecost 7 - Year A

East Liberty Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, PA, is, shall we say, an odd congregation. From the outside they look and sound like your everyday, garden variety, Lutheran church, but they have a unique way of living in their neighbourhood.

Well, maybe not unique by their neighbourhood’s standards. Located in the inner-city, they have some pretty odd folks coming through their doors. Folks smelling up the back pews. Folks babbling incoherently. Some folks have even been know to run naked through the halls, running away from the police. Folks coming to worship armed to the teeth (Yes, we’re talking about guns). Because the neighbourhood they live in is pretty violent. And the church has a “come as you are” policy.

Instead of moving to the suburbs when the neighbourhood changed, they chose to stay and change with the neighbourhood. They decided that these new neighbours needed to hear the gospel just as much, maybe even more, than the good, hard working, German immigrants who founded the church.

The church placed a sign on their front lawn: “Sinners Welcome.” A little pious, perhaps, but it was certainly the message they wanted to get to their neighbours.

Other churches in the neighbourhood, however, weren’t quite as gracious. The pastor received an earful from the other local pastors about how “wrong” their sign was. It turns out, people are supposed to clean themselves up before coming to church to hear good news.

Someone forgot to tell the church that. And someone definitely forgot to tell Jesus that. Because from today’s reading, it looks like he was fed to the teeth with all the self-righteous religious leaders that sat back and passed judgment on a harassed and hurting people while not lifting a finger to help them.

First, some of the religious leaders complained about John the Baptist. They accused him of having a demon. They said that he wasn’t preaching God’s truth and that he was deceiving people. But people knew what John was REALLY up to. Folks knew that John was giving people a fresh start with their lives and with God. He showed them that God was a God who believed in second chances. And he gave away those second chances like Mardi gras beads.

Then along comes Jesus seeking out those who knew they were far away from God. The worst of the worst. The bottom of the barrel. Society’s throwaways. He goes to them. He doesn’t wait for them to come to him. That means he had to go to some pretty sleazy places. He found himself in the hotel bars downtown chatting with people who probably felt like God wasn’t interested in them. He chatted up the prostitutes who stood outside those bars, showing them a genuine love and compassion that they hadn’t felt in a long, long time. If ever.

And again, the religious leaders sat back and passed judgment, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners; he hangs out in bars and hobnobs with prostitutes. A good man of God stays away from those places.”

Jesus snaps. “What do you know about it?” he bursts, “You guys think that with all your fancy degrees and snooty titles that you are better than everyone else and closer to God. You think that obeying the rules, and condemning those who don’t, make you more righteous. But YOU have NO IDEA what God wants. You’ve lost the longing, the burning heart of searching out God’s love. You’ve forgotten that God’s greatest strength is God’s power to cleanse, heal, love, and forgive. But you’ll never listen to what I have to say. Your life is too easy. Maybe you need to spend some time back in the wilderness to remember what it’s like to be in pain.”

Then Jesus turned and looked at the crowd, “Don’t listen to these guys,” Jesus pleaded, “They don’t speak for God. Come to me all you who are tired of struggling day after day trying to do good, trying to be the best person you can be, and you still fail. Come to me all you who are weighed down under the heaviness of life; trapped in situations that keep you from being who God wants you to be. I will give you rest. I am gentle. I am humble. My chains aren’t heavy. My load is light.”

A cool breeze came out of nowhere. The prostitutes on the corner breathed deeply. The drunks picked themselves up and looked into Jesus’ eyes to see if he really meant what he was saying. They hadn’t heard words like this coming from folks who said they knew God. They’d been lied to so many times before. They wanted to know if he was the real deal.

It’s easy to pick on the religious leaders. In a way, its kind of fun. But I’m guessing that Jesus didn’t enjoy saying what he had to say. I’m guessing that he was more interested in seeing what people do right, than what they do wrong. I’m guessing that Jesus would like to hear about where people are unexpectedly changed by God’s love.

A young woman slips into the back of the church, finds a pew far away from anyone else, and weeps. She cries silently but forcefully. The usher, a woman whose life experience lined on her face, hands her a Kleenex. She blows her nose and wipes her eyes.

The usher asks if she could sit beside her. She does. The young woman leans against her shoulder and whispers “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“For what I did to my baby.”

It turns out that this young woman, just barely 17, recently had an abortion, and she was grieving the future that’s been lost with her child. The older woman sat with this young woman, cradling her against her chest, and weeping with her. No judgment, no harsh words, no mention of sin. Just two women weeping together in a house of prayer, forgiveness, and healing.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

It was his third heart attack. His doctor warned him to cut back his hours at work - and to lay off the scotch. He didn’t listen. Now he’s lying in a hospital bed worrying if his boss will think he’s damaged goods. He could still hear the young punk in his office bragging about how he was going to beat the old man’s sales record. He was probably right.

He was sick. Probably out of a job. He hadn’t seen his ex-wife in months and he didn’t know who his kids were.

Alone in his hospital bed, he cried for the first time in 30 years. “My life is over,” he quietly said out loud; a quiet prayer to anyone who would listen, before he fell asleep listening to the rain outside his window.

He felt a touch on his hand. Familiar, but far away. He opened his eyes, and his daughter was standing over his bed holding a baby.

“I thought you might want to reintroduce yourself to your grandson,” she said passing him the little bundle. He smiled. The baby burped. He swore that things were going to be different now. He was going to cherish the love the surrounded him. He’d said this before. But this time he meant it. This will be a new challenge, learning again how to enjoy love’s commitment, but the payoff will last forever.

Jesus said “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I find that those who think they have it all together are the ones Jesus comes down on the hardest. Its smugness, arrogance, and self-importance that Jesus had no time for.

Jesus went after “the little, the least, the last, the lost” so that they may find the love and forgiveness that the world denies them.

So where are you in all this? For me, I can see myself in the religious leaders, because it is so easy to criticize peoples’ personal or moral failings, even though I also have many. But such criticism doesn’t honour Jesus or advance his cause. Maybe you’re the same way. Criticism can be a deadly drug.

Or maybe you’re feeling weighed down; that despite your best intentions, life just seems to get in the way of real living. Maybe you feel like you’ve failed at life. And maybe you have. Maybe you’ve fooled everyone else into thinking that you’ve got it all together, but you haven’t fooled yourself and you certainly haven’t fooled God. You know your life isn’t working. You know you need help.

But today Jesus wants to give you a second chance and a fresh start. When you receive the bread and the wine, the body and blood of Jesus, you receive the food of forgiveness in the meal of freedom. Come; receive the bread of healing and the wine of forgiveness in the sacrament of new life and the supper of the second chance. God has placed a sign over the altar – Sinners Welcome.

Come, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and he will give you rest. Amen.