A Hard, Simple Truth

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Mark 9:30-37

For the past few weeks my wife, 9 month old daughter, and I have been on the road.  Somehow or other it worked out that September was a month where we had several out of town engagements and we decided that rather than travel back and forth we’d make one month long trip of it, visiting friends along the way, and making a quick beach trip in between engagements.  Traveling is one of those tricky things that depends on your perspective.  On the one hand it can be an incredible experience of seeing new places, embracing the beauty of creation, and catching up with old friends.  On the other it can be a painful disruption of sacred routines, full of stress filled hours finding ones way in unknown places with a crying baby and hours of hellish interstate.  I alternate back and forth, but lately I’ve been on the grumpy side, missing the hard fought routine I’d carved out back home.

We’ve been at the beach for the last few days and while my wife and daughter relax by the ocean, I mostly sit in a coffee shop working—writing, catching up on emails, etc.  The other night, after a day of trying to fit in my writing, feeling stressed over completing a task list without my regular routine, I went for a run on the beach.  I was working hard, pounding out the miles for an upcoming race I’m training for.  I felt tired, my body a little overworked and I started to mourn the bad eating I’d done earlier in the day.  I didn’t feel as fast as I wanted and began to wonder whether I’d be able to really finish the race or achieve the respectable time I had my sights set on.  When I got back to the beach where my wife and daughter were enjoying the wind and waves and sea gulls, my wife said, “God loves us!  Look around at all of this,” she said pointing to the crashing waves, a gathering storm in the distance, the wind whipping across the shore, “We are small in all of this.  God loves us!”

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The Banquets of Two Kingdoms

Proper 10 (B)

Mark 6:14-29

Psalm 85:8-13

This is what repentance is about.  It is a call to renewal—turning from the fallen, petty kingdoms East of Eden to the love, peace, and abundance of the Kingdom of God.  This is a reality that we can begin to live into now, but to do so we must switch our allegiances and become members of another kingdom—the Kingdom of Life against the Empire of Death.

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