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I Hate This Shirt

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Sunday, 28 August 2016 12:08.

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost (C) - Luke 14:1, 7-14

I hate this shirt.  The one I’m wearing now, I mean.  Which isn’t to say it’s not a comfortable shirt.  It’s made by R.J. Toomey, a manufacturer based out of Shrewsbury of all places, until they closed a year or two ago.  It’s extremely comfortable, for a dress shirt.  The collar isn’t complicated like most; it’s just a plastic strip that slips in easy.  And the shape of the shirt itself is like it was made for me; just the right size for the slightly-but-not-grossly-overweight upper body I carry around.  So, as clergy shirts go, I love this shirt.

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Sabbath Duty, Sabbath Joy

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Sunday, 21 August 2016 18:25.

Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost 21(C) - Isaiah 58:9b-14, Luke 13:10-17

My mother once told me that when she was a child, growing up in a church near Detroit, she was taught that one should not chew the bread when receiving communion.  This was the real Body of Christ you were putting in your mouth.  It had been transubstantiated into Jesus’ own flesh, whatever the appearance of it was on the outside.  You couldn’t bite into it, because if you did, it would—well, do what flesh did.  It would bleed.  Inside your mouth.  Which, can I be honest?  Is about one of the most disgusting things I can think of.

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Firmin Sillo

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Saturday, 13 August 2016 18:41.

Funeral Sermon for Firmin Sillo - Luke 23:32-43

If I had to characterize my impression of Firmin in one word, it would be, “peaceful.”  That’s not to say that he always was so; I imagine I mostly got to see him at times when he was at his best, in low-key moments.  But Firmin always gave me the impression that most moments were low-key moments for him.  He was one to sit in a meeting, listening carefully, taking in all the information, processing it, and only speaking very occasionally—the kind of person you listened to when he spoke, because you knew when he did that it would be worth listening to.  He had a smile that would put you completely at ease, and his manner was clear, and quiet, and comfortable, and you always felt that even when he spoke about something with passion, he would do it in a peaceful, calm way.  I’ve always felt like he was the type of person that, if he were in the kitchen and a grease fire broke out, he would respond by going calmly to the pantry and taking out a bag of flour, and carefully measuring out about two cups, and slowly shaking the flour over top of the fire until the flames dissipated…

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Prayer Reminders

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Sunday, 24 July 2016 14:16.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (17C) - Genesis 18:20-32, Luke 11:1-13

This passage from Genesis is on the short list of my favorites all across the scope of scripture.  It comes just on the tails of the story of the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah that we had last week.  In the few verses before our reading today, we get a peek into the mind of God, who stops to ask himself whether he should tell Abraham what he’s about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Deciding that, if Abraham is to be the progenitor of his chosen people, he ought not hold back; he spills the beans.  And then Abraham gives us the first recorded instance of back-talk toward God.

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The Hospitality of Listening

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 17 July 2016 10:58.

 Pentecost 9 (C)            Luke 10:38-42

Again this week, our scripture readings keep us focused on the basics – the greatest commandment, the essential will of God for human life: to love God, and love your neighbor; continuing our journey through all of the sub-questions like what does that love look like? Who is my neighbor? Where is God? And again this week, after yet more senseless tragedy and violence and death in our world, we need that focus, including today’s powerful reminder from the letter to the Colossians that even though the world might seem to be coming apart at the seams, all things were created, including thrones and dominions and rulers and powers, and continue to be held together in Christ; in the one who lived out that great commandment, who loved God and neighbor: Jesus Christ the firstborn of the dead, the image of the invisible God.

In other words, the basics that we’re considering this summer as we join Luke’s journey with Jesus toward Jerusalem and the cross, aren’t just religious basics, to be applied to some spiritual corner of our lives. They are life basics; human basics, essential truths for life in community, perhaps the only way that we will ever learn to stop killing one another.

Love God. Love your neighbor. In recent weeks we learned that this love is selfless and cross-shaped: willing to risk all; willing to give everything; willing to bear the cross. We learned that our neighbor is anyone who this world has beaten up and left bleeding beside the road: whoever needs our help and compassion. And today, we get a lesson in love expressed through hospitality - two lessons really: one from Genesis and one from Luke, each in its own way revealing a truth best summed up in a reminder from the Letter to the Hebrews which says: “Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”