Lent.11: Commanded to Love

Palm Prints

Mark 12:28-34

One of the legal experts heard their dispute and saw how well Jesus answered them. He came over and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[dThe second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself.[eNo other commandment is greater than these.”

The legal expert said to him, “Well said, Teacher. You have truthfully said that God is one and there is no other besides him. And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one’s strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered with wisdom, he said to him, “You aren’t far from God’s kingdom.” After that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

[d] Deuteronomy 6:4-5   [e] Leviticus 19:18

Mark 12:28-34, Common English Bible (c) 2011

The greatest command: LOVE.  Love God.  Love others.  (Yes, that implies love yourself.)  Love with everything you are, with everything you are, in every moment wherever you may be.

But what is love?  Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 writes about love.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Not jealous.  Doesn’t brag.  Not arrogant.  Not rude.  Doesn’t seek its own advantage.  Isn’t happy with injustice.  Is happy with the truth.  He goes on, but you get the idea.  Love is an action as well as an attitude.  It has everything to do with how we treat one another whether we are together or apart.

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 11

Note:  These reflections were written for a ministerial colleague to use in his congregation during Lent as a way to invite church members to read and reflect on scripture every day.  I was writing in February about the same time I was blogging about 1 Corinthians 13 in these posts:  Without Love,  Love is … loves is not…Love does not … Love does …, and Love Never Ends.

Wind Turbine Blade on the Road

We often see wind turbine blades being transported down Iowa highways.  But they’re usually going the other direction.  Last weekend, we were passed by one.

The photos aren’t great – after all they’re through the windshield – but it’s fun to see just how long the blades are.  We both thought it looked like a fish out of water from behind!

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Lent.10: Resurrection

Palm Prints

Mark 12:24-27

Jesus said to them, “Isn’t this the reason you are wrong, because you don’t know either the scriptures or God’s power? When people rise from the dead, they won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. Instead, they will be like God’s angels. As for the resurrection from the dead, haven’t you read in the scroll from Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God said to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?[c] He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living. You are seriously mistaken.”

[c] Exodus 3:6, 15-16

Mark 12:24-27, Common English Bible (c) 2011

The Sadducees deny that there is a resurrection, but they’ve just asked Jesus a question about marriage in the resurrection.  It’s a “gotcha” question which Jesus ignores by going straight to the heart of the matter:  resurrection is not what you think (or, in their case, what they don’t think).

God is the God of the living, including but not limited to Abraham (and Sarah), Isaac (and Rebekah), and Jacob (and Leah and Rachel). These ancestors in faith may no longer be alive as we understand earthly life.  Yet they live.  And our God is (not was) their God.

“In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone. Thanks be to God.”  (From “A New Creed” by the United Church of Canada, 1980, included as #887 in The New Century Hymnal)

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day XX

 

Photo Challenge: Sunrise

When I read Frank’s photo challenge Tuesday I just laughed.  It was a dark and stormy morning with more rain than sunshine.  Wednesday rolled in with dense fog.  A sunrise on Thursday didn’t look promising – more dark clouds and plenty of wind – but I looked out after breakfast and decided to walk down the street in search of the sun.

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Woodland Reserve Pond.  Photo: TLClark, 3/14/19.

After weeks and weeks of snow and cold, it felt good to be walking outside!  It was still chilly but the sidewalks were mostly clear.  I imagine the bike path (on the other side of the pond) still has a few icy sections.  Between melting snow and heavy rain Fourmile Creek is FULL and flooding low-lying areas.

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Fourmile Creek Flooding Briarwood Golf Club, Ankeny, Iowa.  Photo: TLClark, 3/14/19.

While I didn’t get a spectacular sunrise picture, just being outside was good for my spirit.  Being outside near sunrise reminded me of this Bible verse:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, [God’s] mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3:22-23 NRSV

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No Parking Anytime.  Photo: TLClark, 3/14/19.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  – Psalm 90:14 NRSV

May you know steadfast love and mercy every morning – whatever the weather!

Teressa

Lent.09: Marriage

Palm Prints

Mark 12:18-23

Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a widow but no children, the brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.[b] Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman; when he died, he left no children. The second married her and died without leaving any children. The third did the same. None of the seven left any children. Finally, the woman died. At the resurrection, when they all rise up, whose wife will she be? All seven were married to her.”

[b] Deuteronomy 25:5; Genesis 38:8

Mark 12:18-23, Common English Bible (c) 2011

As a pastor I have had the great privilege of working with couples as they plan their wedding.  When I ask a couple to define marriage they inevitably talk about the relationship between two people: mutual caring, wanting to be together through the ups and downs of life, having a partner who brings out the best in them.  Without exception, the couples described marriage in terms that apply to any couple – LGBTQ included – thoughtfully, lovingly preparing to say “I do.”

Unlike the Sadducees in this reading, the couples do not define marriage in terms of possession.  The wife is not the property of the husband to be passed along to the next of kin when the owner dies.  At best, the law Moses gave was to ensure that a widow was not thrown out of family, left to fend for herself in a patriarchal society.  At worst, it teaches the idea that women are “owned” by men (which was the custom in that time and place).

How do you define marriage?

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 9

 

Lent.08: Taxes

Palm Prints

Mark 12:13-17

They sent some of the Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you’re genuine and you don’t worry about what people think. You don’t show favoritism but teach God’s way as it really is. Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay taxes or not?”

Since Jesus recognized their deceit, he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a coin. Show it to me.” And they brought one. He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” His reply left them overcome with wonder.

Mark 12:13-17, Common English Bible (c) 2011

I believe I am to be a good steward of what I have because it all belongs to God.  We are, like Abram and Sarai (see Genesis 12:1-3), blessed to be a blessing.  In my better moments I live that way: aware of the abundance in my life, on the look-out for opportunities to share, erring on the side of generosity.

Tax day is a month away.  It is a reminder that we live in community and are called to care for each other.  In my better moments, I pay taxes with gratitude for public education, for police and fire protection, for good roads and road crews.  What would you add to the list?

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 8

 

A Photo a Week Challenge: Colorful

This week’s photo challenge from Nancy Merrill Photography is the word “colorful.”  She says, “I’m looking for the most colorful thing you can find to photograph.”

The most colorful thing in my house is a quilt currently under construction.

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Every block is made with scraps from other quilts.  There are 35 blocks, each one will finish at 12″ square; the sashing between blocks is 2″ wide.

The idea for the quilt goes back to when I was playing with the number of squares needed to make a square block.  A 6″ block (finished size) easily made with

  • thirty-six 1″ squares (6×6) or
  • sixteen 1.5″ squares (4×4) or
  • nine 2″ squares (3×3) or
  • four 3″ blocks (2×2).

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The squares in on the outside edges of the blocks pictured above began square and will be square once the blocks are completely sewn into a quilt top.  Quilters know you need an extra 1/4 inch on each side for the seam allowance – so an unfinished 6″ block measures 6.5″ square.

Here’s my first 144-patch 12.5″ unfinished block; it may be my last.

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