March 3, 2013: Lent: Build. Plant. Grow.

Posted on : Feb 28th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we continue our shared Lenten experience with our friends as Westwood Hills UCC.  Rev. Kirsten will be here at WeHo and I will be at Westwood.

The two scriptures Kirsten has selected are “blockbusters!”  The passage from the prophet Jeremiah is both ancient and certainly contemporary – especially, and might I say uniquely, for those of us who are urbanites – city dwellers.  There are not a lot of teachings in the bible about “urbanites or city dwellers” and the few that there are, are not all that positive.  But this one is!

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says your God, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says your God, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

Aren’t those beautiful words?  “Seek the welfare of the city….for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

In the story from the Gospel of Luke, an admirer of Jesus wants to be a follower of Jesus.  This person probably “likes what he sees in Jesus” but doesn’t quite get how hard it is to be a follower of Jesus.  Jesus replies to the inquirer, “Look, I have no permanent home.  No place to really call home.  If you’re going to follow me, you’re going to have to join me in creating home, creating the place that is holy.”

This Sunday Kirsten will be helping us see how we can create what is holy.  Making home – making holy.  And that crazy dichotomy of how we sometimes feel like exiles at ‘home’ and at ‘home’ in ‘exile’

Lenten Blessings,

Dan and Kirsten

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Jeremiah 29: 4-7, 11-14

Thus says the God of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

For I know the plans I have for you, says your God, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says your God, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says your God, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Luke 9: 51-62

As the time approached when Jesus was to be taken from this world, Jesus firmly resolved to proceed toward Jerusalem and sent messengers on ahead.  They entered a Samarian town to make preparations for him, but the Samaritans wouldn’t welcome Jesus because his destination was Jerusalem.

When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Rabbi, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?’  But Jesus turned and reprimanded them.  Then they set off for another town.

As they were making their way along, they met a fellow traveler who said to Jesus, “I’ll follow you where you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have burrows in the earth, the birds of the sky have nests, but the Chosen One has nowhere to call home.

To another traveler Jesus said, “Follow me.”

The traveler replied, “Let me bury my father first.”

Jesus said in return, “Let the dead bury their dead; you go and proclaim the reign of God everywhere.”

Yet another traveler approached Jesus in this way:  “I’ll be your follower, Teacher, but first let me say goodbye to my people at home.”

Jesus answered, “Whoever puts a hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.”

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