Is Anything too Wonderful for God? – Br. Todd Blackham

Gen. 18:1-15
Ps. 123
Mt. 8:5-17

Is anything too wonderful for God?  It’s a worthy question.  How are you disposed to answer?  Is anything too wonderful for God?

It’s hard for me to give an unqualified response.  Is anything too wonderful for God?  No, but…

There are ways that I am inclined to protect my hopes and expectations from disappointment.  Ways that I may choose to limit God’s ability so that God conform to the pattern I have ostensibly observed.  Perhaps I’m like Sarah in that regard.  Laughing in the face of an irrational proposition.  After a long life had taken its natural course, Sarah was aware of the typical pattern of women ceasing to bear children after a certain point.  She had not been able to conceive while she was in child-bearing years, let alone now that the time had passed.  We might excuse her laughter but her mysterious interlocutor didn’t.  With a childlike simplicity he challenges her settled assumptions.  Is anything too wonderful for God?

The centurion in our gospel passage today also had a life of experience that had inclined him in a particular direction toward the wonderful acts of God.  But his posture of faith and trust was such that it amazed even Jesus.  After so frequently being doubted, challenged and question for a sign, for proof of his power and authority, Jesus seems to be refreshingly shocked that some pagan Roman occupier was willing to approach with open expectations and trust.  “You mean, you’re willing to just believe?”  And more than that, the Centurion doesn’t even want to micro-manage Jesus into doing it his way, dragging him to his servant’s bedside, making sure that Jesus uses the right gestures, the perfect phrases, maybe a dramatic shout to ensure that the servant is healed.  Rather, he simply trusts that Jesus has the authority to accomplish his request.    Read More

The Radical Practice of Giving Thanks in All Circumstances – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Read by Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE

I Thessalonians 5:18
Luke 17:11-19

I have a memory of my 5th-grade teacher asking us to write a short paragraph describing the things in our lives for which we were thankful.  I don’t recall any of the specifics of that assignment, but I do recall having a terrible case of “writer’s block.”  I sat for the longest time just staring at that piece of paper.  I couldn’t think of a thing for which I was thankful.

Recalling it now, it seems shocking to me that a 5th-grade boy growing up in suburban America, with plenty of food and warm clothes and a comfortable home and a loving family, couldn’t think of anything for which he was thankful.  I was surrounded by gifts, but I didn’t recognize them as gifts, and so I couldn’t begin to express my gratitude for them.  I suppose I naively assumed that everyone had food and clothing, a loving family and a comfortable home.  I was unaware of how privileged I was to enjoy these things on a daily basis, and simply took them for granted. Read More

For God so Loved the World – Br. David Allen

John 3:16

When I was about 9 years old the Sunday-School I attended offered an incentive for memorizing Bible verses; a Bible with imitation leather cover.  One of the first verses I learned was the opening verse of today’s Gospel reading; John 3:16.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” I am not sure how much of it I really understood at 9. I knew at least that God loves the world, and he gave his only Son.

I had some idea that believing in Jesus would save us from perishing and give us eternal life, whatever that meant.  At least it was an important promise that someday I would come to understand. Read More

How We Love – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031Have you ever had a moment in your life when suddenly some concept has become deeper, wider, and clearer?   My understanding of the first verse of today’s first reading, “We love because he first loved us,” was such a moment.

It was in my first year of Seminary in a class on the New Testament in Greek.  We were reading the First Letter of John, and had come to Chapter 4.

For most of us The King James Version was deeply imbedded in our minds. Read More