Just in Time: Stories of Gods Extravagance

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They treated hundreds that day while sending hundreds more to makeshift morgues. We visited the now barren beaches, saw how the wave had carried over the palm trees sweeping away homes, shattering the fishing fleet, and hurling children and adults to their deaths. We stood by a mass grave for 97 unidentified victims, and watched a little girl, less than five, point to a board with seventy five pictures of the children of Colachel who were lost.

She pointed to her two older brothers. Where had hey gone she must have wondered. Later in the evening and for much of the next day we spent hours visiting with the over one hundred victims still living at the Hospital six weeks after the tsunami, most not needing treatment but having no place to go or simply too emotionally traumatized to leave.

We heard them tell their harrowing tales of survival and loss in a language we could not understand about a grief we could not comprehend. We listened to their stories, held their hands, embraced, made a sign of the cross. They crowded the wards and rested in the courtyard. They are fed and housed by the hospital without question.

None can offer money, so the hospital manages on gifts from UCC congregations here, from family resources, from aid through the Church of South India, and from donations in the community.

Holy Week lunch sermon: Jesus' death extravagant example of grace, love

As in the welcome to us, they embodied in this care the God who showers weary travelers - strangers - with the rich fragrance and colors of grace. Spongebob seemed a long way away! Yet the witness of that hospital offered an extravagant welcome echoing the words of our own familiar red and black banners. Persons who have been traumatized in very different ways, who have known rejection and exclusion and hurt from the church, found in our banners and in our commercial an extravagant welcome, and they have responded with emails and letters of profound and at times almost incredulous gratitude.

One little girl wrote us this Lent. She has a degenerative spinal diseases that requires her to sit in a wheel chair. Is there an extravagant welcome for me? This is the question before us at a time when extravagant welcome even to each other in the church seems so counter cultural. We vote to leave the covenant when grace is offered in ways that seem indiscriminate or undisciplined. We withhold citizenship, not only in the church, but also in our land, when the stranger is deemed too different, too alien, too strange.

Lectionary Based Stories for Worship

Is there a word for us? In our Puritan and Congregationalist forebears in New England struggled with the question of baptism, of who might be baptized and granted citizenship in the household, the commonwealth of God, of who might appropriately be excluded. The specific question was whether the children of adults who had been baptized, who were faithful in church attendance and discipline, but who had never experienced regeneration in a way that might be testified to among the deacons of the congregation, whether those children might receive baptism and share, as they grew up, in the covenant of grace.

The conclusion of those Puritan divines is instructive: Baptism, which is the seal of membership in the church, the body of Christ. On the other hand, we find in Scripture, that the Lord is very tender of his grace; the he delighteth to manifest and magnify the riches of it, and that he cannot endure any straitening or eclipsing thereof. Hence we dare not exclude the same children of the faithful from the covenant.

Neither dare we exclude the same children from membership when they are grown up. God owns them still, and they do in some measure own him; God rejects them not, and therefore neither may we; and consequently their children also are not to be rejected. The Half-Way Covenant did not extend to all the baptized the privilege of the Table. The same New Englanders who found a way to lower the fences around the baptismal fount in the 17th century, and then around the Table in the18th century, lamented the arrival of the Irish and the Italians in the 19th century with their different culture and their priests and bishops.

Extravagant Gifts | The Spring Glen Church, UCC

The framers of the Chinese exclusion acts in the late 19th century cruelly and, of course, inaccurately described the Asians they had brought to California to build the railroads as sub-humans favoring filthy squalor in opium dens in San Francisco, men and women who would cavalierly offer their children into slavery.

No Chinese. In the middle of the twentieth century Jews seeking to flee the holocaust received, for the most part, a cold shoulder from the United States; many who were refused sanctuary here had to wait years to be liberated from the camps by soldiers of that same nation.

Most, of course, never survived for liberation. During the 's Japanese citizens lost the privileges of citizenship in a time of racist fear, some interned not far from here. Today our southern borders continue to fence out the poor; the fortunate ones who elude the border patrol face dehydration in the desert or abuse in migrant labor camps all across the land. The central narratives of our history, and our deepest shame, is the genocide of those who arguably had the greater claim to citizenship, native Americans, indigenous people, whose surviving descendents now struggle to live with the ambiguity of dual tribal and American citizenship.

And to that shame we add the forced migration of Africans, welcomed as slaves, as two-thirds citizens, constitutionally deemed only a fraction of the worth of white citizens. The Amistad event, battled in the churches, the courts, and the public square, and the American Missionary Association that carried this struggle forward in the face of segregation, separate and unequal schools, lynching, denial of the right to vote, and back of the bus, was all about the pilgrimage from property to citizenship. The journey across the bridge toward Selma was about claiming citizenship.

The March on Washington was about the descendants of property claiming the divine rights of citizenship. Yet even in the face of steps toward a more extravagant welcome, we remain uncertain. At best we have been ambivalent.

www.momentumbusinessloans.com/wp-content/macoupin/3423-site-rencontre.php And too often the church has followed suit. Sometimes not even half way. Could Gentiles extend to Jews hospitality? Could the dividing wall be broken down? Could citizenship be extended? Then Peter turns to the Christian community, aliens in the empire of Rome.


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This summer the United Church of Christ will once again take up this question of citizenship in two emotionally and theologically charged sets of resolutions coming before the General Synod. They deal with citizenship in the church, citizenship in the enduring covenants of the Abrahamic faith, citizenship in the commonwealth of the state. One set of resolutions deals with whether a marriage license should be given to same gender couples by the state and whether the church ought to bless those relationships as they would a marriage between a man and a woman.

The second set of resolutions draws us into the challenging historical and contemporary struggles of Israelis and Palestinians to claim citizenship in secure and just borders in a land they share and contest. The Biblical text is not to be excluded from the debates; the scriptures are the rule of faith and moral practice for the Christian community. And one of the ways we put boundaries around difference is to withhold citizenship.

They signify citizenship, belonging. Think about the meaning of a voter registration card in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in Documents matter. A marriage license is, in a sense, but one more piece of paper issued by the state. How ironic, and how much things have changed, that now the most radical among us make the obtaining of a marriage license a mark of prophetic witness while the most traditional among us seek to withhold it! But is it just one more piece of bureaucratic paper?

Is it not the one, last remaining tangible symbol of citizenship we are yet able to withhold from some among us? Is this really all about clinging to what the Bible says about marriage? And friends, go down that path, particularly in the Old Testament, and believe me, you end up in some very strange places!


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  7. Or is it yet one more example of our deep historical ambivalence over the stranger in our midst, and of our reluctance to extend citizenship? This song promised otherwise.

    Because Jesus had come into this hurting world, there was hope. Her young son wants to help. He goes door-to-door selling all the stuff—in July. The purchased ornaments are returned with enough additional funds to help the boy and his mom pay the rent.

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    In the midst of uncertainty and despair, we can believe that all is well because God is faithful. The story concludes with a look into the future. I was much like that mom. His extravagant love is simply amazing. It changes everything! Your email address will not be published. Deb Kalmbach considers herself an "expert" in not-so-perfect marriages.

    She's the first to admit that she's learned a lot the hard way! Deb is passionate about encouraging and empowering women to take one step forward, then another to find healing and wholeness in their lives and marriages. Real hope for real life is what she strives to communicate to her readers.