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It's Not About You

Like you, I am very familiar with this story from the Gospel of Mark – I have heard it many, many times. Each time I hear that line, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” I cringe, at least a bit. And then as a preacher in a middle to upper-middle class, suburban church, I think to myself – “do I have to preach from this one again?” At the same time – it is a great piece of scripture that is rich and ripe for our daily living. It is one of those scriptures that never gets old and can easily span the distance of time – issues of wealth and what it means to be a follower of Jesus are as pertinent and challenging as they were 2000 years ago.

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The Scandal of Enough

There’s a feeding story that dates back about two thousand years to the first century. A man named Jesus from the Galilean town of Nazareth was in front of a crowd of people. Some accounts say it was four thousand; some say five thousand. This man Jesus was treating the gathered crowd with compassion and kindness, healing the sick, and loving the needy. But then came time for supper. Now Jesus was on the eclectic side – a little bit eccentric, a little bit homespun, and not one for logic as most people saw it. And so when his disciples rounded up five loaves of bread and two fish, he said, okay let’s feed the people. The disciples were astonished. Is he crazy? Is he stupid? Five loaves plus two fish is only seven, and we have five thousand people to feed. “We have almost nothing here,” they said. There is not enough

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For a Time Such as This

Every year in late winter Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim to commemorate their deliverance from those in a position to destroy them. The story of Esther is the story of how that feast came into being. The Jews, already living in exile in Persia in the 4th century BCE, are first threatened with extermination and then granted vindication thanks to the heroic efforts of Queen Esther. (The Spiritual Formation Bible) The story of Esther is not very well known in Protestant circles and is often critiqued for its lack of specific religious content. God is not named in the story except in the Greek version which was written later with additions that specifically refer to how God is evident in Esther’s actions.

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Divine Wisdom

I imagine that most of us here are familiar with the famous painting by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel of God touching Adam. If I were more techno-savvy and had all the right tools I would have loved to project it on a big screen in front of you right now! But I don’t. So perhaps you can try and picture it in your mind and trust me when I say that in the painting, tucked under the right arm of God is a woman. God and the woman are surrounded by chubby cherubs, angels who float with God and this woman in the clouds. It is thought that the woman in the painting is Wisdom, the Wisdom who is spoken of in Proverbs – Lady Wisdom, also known as “Sophia” in Greek.

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