Ordinary 32 C – November 10, 2019

Luke 20:27-38

After a long illness, a woman died and arrived at the Gates of Heaven. While she was waiting for Saint Peter to greet her, she peeked through the Gates. She saw that it was so beautiful.

Saint Peter came by; the woman said to him “This is such a wonderful place! How do I get in?”

“You have to spell a word”, Saint Peter told her.

“Which word?” the woman asked.

“Love.”

The woman correctly spelled “Love” and Saint Peter welcomed her into Heaven.

About six months later, Saint Peter came to the woman and asked her to watch the Gates of Heaven for him that day. While the woman was guarding the Gates of Heaven, her husband arrived.

“I’m surprised to see you,” the woman said. “How have you been?” “Oh, I’ve been doing pretty well since you died,” her husband told her. “I married the beautiful young nurse who took care of you while you were ill. And then I won the lottery. I sold the little house you and I lived in and bought a big mansion. And my wife and I traveled all around the world. We were on vacation and I went water skiing today. I fell, the ski hit my head, and here I am. How do I get in?”

“You have to spell a word”, the woman told him.

“Which word?” her husband asked.

“Czechoslovakia.”

Very late entry this week and only a joke to offer. Life intervenes! Hoping that you day is blessed. – Laurin

Ordinary 31 C – November 3, 2019

Luke 19:1-10

Two guys left the bar after a long night of drinking, jumped in the car and started it up.After a couple of minutes, an old man appeared in the passenger window and tapped lightly. The passenger screamed, “Look at he window. There’s an old ghost’s face there!” The driver sped up, but the old man’s face stayed in the window. The passenger rolled his window down part way and, scared out of his wits, said, “What do you want?” The old man softly replied, “You got any tobacco?” The passenger handed the old man a cigarette and yelled, “Step on it,” to the driver, rolling up the window in terror. A few minutes later they calmed down and started laughing again. The driver said, “I don’t know what happened, but don’t worry; the speedometer says we’re doing 80 now.” All of a sudden there was a light tapping on the window and the old man reappeared. “There he is again,” the passenger yelled.He rolled down the window and shakily said, “Yes?” “Do you have a light?” the old man quietly asked. The passenger threw a lighter out the window saying, “Step on it!” They were driving about 100 miles an hour, trying to forget what they had just seen and heard, when all of a sudden there came some more tapping. “Oh my God! He’s back!” The passenger rolled down the window and screamed in stark terror, “WHAT NOW?” The old man gently replied, “You want some help getting out of the mud?”

I have been hindered a little in my updates by other circumstances. Have a great week anyway. – Laurin

Ordinary 30 C – October 27, 2019

Luke 18:9-14

One day God was looking down at earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. So he called one of his angels to go to earth for a time. When he returned, he told God, “Yes, it is bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.”

God thought for a moment and said, “Maybe I had better send down another angel to get a second opinion.”

So God called another angel and sent him to earth for a time, too.

When the angel returned he went to God and said, “Yes, it’s true. The earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good.”

God was not pleased. So he decided to email the 5% who were good, because He wanted to encourage them, give them a little something to help them
keep going.

Do you know what the email said?

No?

Okay, just wondering. I didn’t get one either.

Our text today contains the seven most useful words in the Bible. The Bible is full of sevens: seven days, seven seals. In fact, there are over 850 references to the number seven. And then there are Jesus’ last words, seven of them: My God, why hast thou forsaken me? But today we find the seven most useful words.  They are, in fact, the only seven words that you really need.

God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Have a great week! Laurin

Ordinary 29 C – October 20, 2019

Luke 18:1-8

Sorry, one of those golf/wife jokes:

A golf fanatic had always dreamed of playing at St. Andrews, and finally got the chance. Going with his wife, they teed off and he proceeded to play the best game of his life. After 9 holes, he was 2 strokes over par, and was on cloud nine. On the back nine, he started playing even better, getting back to even by the 16th hole.

He was so excited that he ended up slicing the shot on the 17th tee, and as he walked up to it, saw that his ball was behind a small shack for the groundskeepers.

Now he started to worry that his score would go up, but his caddy came up to him and said “Sir, this may sound like a tough shot, but if you put it through that window, the ball should go through the window on the other side, and if you’re lucky, the ball will roll onto the green. The way you’ve played today, I think you can make it.”

So the guy takes a look and sees that it’s a tough shot, but possible, so he tries it. But his shot just misses the window, hits the window frame, and strikes his wife right in the head, killing her instantly.

Years go by and the man can’t forget that horrible day. People he tells the story to all sympathize with him, but he just has no will to live. But then he realizes what he must do – Face his nightmare!

He travels back to Scotland and plays another round at St. Andrews, and miraculously, he is playing another stellar game. He starts to feel better about himself as the round goes on, but when he approaches the 17th hole, he gets so nervous that he slices his shot to the same spot.

As at his ball lying there behind the shack, his caddy says “Sir, the way you’ve been playing, why not try a trick shot. Some of the other caddies say if you can get it through that window, it will follow through the one opposite it and roll onto the green.”

The guy says “Are you out of your mind? The last time I tried that I got an 8!

Perhaps, a Tom Long story would help:

There’s a famous story about a young boy named Frank who was walking along the bank of the Mississippi River and he noticed in the river another boy about his age wrestling with a homemade raft. He said to him, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m going to take this raft out to that island in the middle of the river. I dare you to go with me!” Well, Frank couldn’t resist the dare so he scrambled down the bank and got on the raft. The two boys headed out to the middle of the river but the current was swift and strong. As they approached the island, the raft broke up and sank and they had to swim to the island. And there they were, abandoned on an island, late in the afternoon. Nobody knew where they were. What would they do?

Right at that moment, one of those paddle-wheel steamers started coming down the river and Frank ran to the edge of the island and began screaming and waving his hands, “Help! Help!” The other boy said, “Don’t waste your breath. They can’t hear you and even if they could they wouldn’t pay any attention to boys like us.” But just at that moment the paddlewheel steamer turned toward the island. The boy said to Frank, “How did you do that?” And Frank said, “Well, there’s something you don’t know. The captain of that boat is my father!”

Well, the captain of the universe is our father and how much more will one who has formed us in the womb respond to our every cry. So pray always and don’t lose heart. Tom Long

I suspect that our difficulty with the parable is that we feel this need to make God the judge. It is useful to remember that the “they” here are the Pharisees, and perhaps the parable is about getting justice in an unjust world.

Have a great week – Laurin

Ordinary 28 C – October 13, 2019

Luke 17:11-19

The pastor was getting down over the results of his efforts for the Kingdom of God. The building was leaking again, attendance was down, the offering collection was just not enough, and he was hearing complaints. He opened a letter he’d just received that morning from his mom. As he opened it a twenty-dollar bill fell out. He thought to himself, Thanks, Mom, I sure needed that right now.
As he finished his meal, he noticed a beggar outside on the sidewalk leaning against the light post. Thinking that the poor man could probably use the twenty dollars more than he, he crossed out the names on the envelope and wrote across the top in large letters, PERSEVERE!
So as not to make a scene, he put the envelope under his arm and dropped it as he walked past the man. The man picked it up and read the message and smiled.
The next day, as the pastor enjoyed his meal, the same man tapped him on the shoulder and handed him a big wad of bills.
Surprised, the young pastor asked him what that was for.
The man replied, “This is your half of the winnings. Persevere came in first in the fourth race at the track yesterday and paid thirty to one.”

As I slowly unfold into my new life, I find myself most frequently in a small community church that is very much the center of what is sometimes called a NORC (naturally occurring retirement community.) If this is true of the community as a whole, it is also true in most churches in the United States. Our children are not here in ever-increasing numbers.

So, our little church in our little community is asking the same question that we preachers ask ourselves, almost every Sunday: what is worship?

Martin Luther answered this question with: the tenth leper turning back. It is an answer worth considering.

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication. She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car.

She didn’t know what to do, so she called home and told the baby sitter what had happened. The baby sitter told her that her the fever was getting worse. She said, “You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door.”

The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time or other had locked their keys in their car. Then she looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.”

So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. Within five minutes an old rusty car pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head. The woman thought, “This is what you sent to help me?” But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful.

The man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. She said, “Yes, my daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”

He said, “Sure”. He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was opened. She hugged the man and through her tears she said, “Thank You So Much! You are a very nice man.”

The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour.”

The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!”

Have a great and true worship – Laurin

 

Ordinary 27 C – October 6, 2019

Luke 17:5-10, Psalm 137

If you had faith the size of a mustard seed…It begins so nicely, we smile and begin to imagine a great sermon that just rolls off our fingers to the screen in front of us. If we could just stop right there.

So what reassuring word do we find in our Psalm? Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!

Here is a new word to describe this week in lectionary. The word is paraprosdokian

  • War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
  • Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Life is often paradrosdokian. I got some really good, really late, advice recently. If you have some things that you really need to get done, do them when you have time: before your retire!

And something longer, if you need it:

Moshe was nearing death. He was extremely old, and he had seen much suffering during his days. Golda, his wife, sat on the edge of his bed and wiped his forehead. They had been married for more than 70 years. Moshe looked at his wife and said, “Golda, do you remember the horrible pogrom/the devastation in our village in 1905?” She replied, “Of course I do. I was right there with you.” “Do you remember when the Communists beat me up in 1918? Were you with me then?” Golda answered, “Certainly I was with you.” “Were you with me in the Lemberg ghetto?” “Yes, dear, I have always been with you.” Moshe lay silently for a few moments and then looked at his wife and said, “Boy, Golda, you’ve been bad luck for me.”

Have a great week, sincerely, no punch line! – Laurin

Ordinary 26 C – September 29, 2019

Luke 16:19-31

There were 2 business partners, who were a little shady. They died and went to hell…. The one was miserable, with feet in boiling water and flames about his head. But he knew that it would be even worse for his partner. But when he looked out,  there was his partner, and being served tea by a butler in tails. So when Satan was making his rounds, he pointed at them and asked why.
And Satan responded, Who are you to judge the butler’s punishment?

Ok. I changed the joke. Rather than the butler in tails, the original joke was a beautiful woman in a red dress sitting on the shady business man’s lap. It seems too offensive. Perhaps, you would prefer a politician, a lawyer, a stock broker. It does not matter, except that however we tell it, it probably should not be a person who represents the least of these. And, it just won’t do to tell the story so that it strikes too close to home. You may actually have a politician, lawyer, or broker sitting in the pew who will be offended. You may actually rely on these to pay for the budget, your budget. And the parable will already have many on edge. So, to misquote a line from the Matrix: if you like the woman in the red dress, I can help.

Chapter 16 is about money. Indeed, much of Luke-Acts is about money. BUT, both the ministry of Jesus and the burgeoning church are reliant on the generosity of people with possessions. There is a message here that needs to be heard, but I do not think that in the kingdom to come, the Lazaruses of the world will be waited upon hand and foot by the those who have possessions in the present age. As the great divide between us becomes set, the intolerant mindset pervades both sides.

Respected baseball umpire Bill Klem weighed more than 300 pounds. He was also flamboyant.  He invented the chest protector. Whenever he was behind the plate, he maintained control. Few dared challenge his calls.  But in one game things got out of hand. At the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied, with two outs and a runner on third. The pitcher hung a curve ball over the plate. The batter hit a shallow single just over the third baseman’s head. The left-fielder raced toward the ball, scooped it up, and made a one-bounce throw to home plate. The runner and the catcher collided at home plate in a cloud of dust. The players poured out of the dugouts screaming, “He’s safe!” and others yelling “He’s out!” Amid the confusion, Bill threw off his mask, held up his two massive arms, and shouted, “He ain’t nothin’ ’til I say he’s something!”

Have a great week – Laurin