Posts by Lori Leopold
Our scripture passages during Advent remind us about other important and meaningful preparations during this season…the preparation of our hearts and spirits, our individual lives and our world to receive God once again, incarnate – in the flesh – in the person of Jesus. How are we to prepare? According to John we prepare through confession and repentance of our sins. And while that may not sound as fun as hanging Christmas lights or baking cookies or online shopping, it is the preparation that can release us from old wounds and patterns, that can clear a space within us for the gift of God’s presence and transforming grace.
The season of Advent is rich with tradition. However we mark the days of Advent, my hope is that the journey through those days awakens our hearts, minds and spirits to the ways in which God responds to our deepest longings and comes to us anew this season. Our gospel reading from Mark encourages us to “keep awake,” to pay attention because God is about to do a remarkable thing.
This king is not about the crown. This king is not about the power. This king is not about dominion. This king and this kingdom are marked by values that are altogether different.
What is it we’ve been given and what is the end result if all we do is keep it safe? Our scripture reading for this week is the Parable of the Talents. It’s another parable that may leave us scratching our heads in wonder. The master leaves and entrusts his entire estate to his servants. Two of the servants invest what’s been entrusted to their care and one, afraid of the master, buries what he’s received in the ground until the master returns. While the first two servants are rewarded, the third servant is called worthless (ouch) and thrown into the outer darkness.
Our scripture reading for this coming Sunday is all about being prepared. It’s a parable toward the end of Matthew’s gospel and one in a set of three parables that focuses on what’s called the Parousia or the “end times.” We’ve all experienced, and are likely still experiencing, the heaviness of these days that mirror back to us our deep divisions. How might Jesus’ words from this quirky and unsettling parable give us guidance, inspiration…light?
Sunday is a special day in the life of the Church as we will be celebrating All Saints Sunday. The United Methodist Church understands “saints” in the New Testament sense of the word which includes Christians of all places and times. I encourage you in these coming days to spend some time reflecting on the saints of your life. Find some quiet time and invite the memory of those people to return to your heart, mind and spirit. Remember the ways that their wisdom, love, guidance or witness has shaped you and your faith.
Our scripture passage for Sunday is the parable of the widow’s mite. Jesus pointed her out and said that her gift was greater than any other because she gave it out of her poverty rather than out of abundance.
This year we have the privilege and joy of having Caryn Blanton, co-chair of Shoreline Community Services, share the message for Laity Sunday. For those of you who have met Caryn, you know that she has a keen sense of organizing, an unflappable commitment to helping those in our community who are most vulnerable and a deep faith that drives her work. For those of you who don’t know Caryn, I’m glad you’ll get a chance to meet her. She inspires me as I seek to answer my call with faithfulness and integrity. I trust that she’ll be an inspiration to you as well.
We’ll spend some time on Sunday contemplating what it means to think about scarcity and abundance in the midst of a pandemic. How does COVID-19 affect our hopes and dreams, our vision and planning for ministry in 2021? Will we have enough? As individuals? As a congregation? What is God’s call in this unique time and will we be able to answer it?
Our scripture this week can be jolting to those of us who are especially devoted to that which is “fair.” It invites us to ponder the nature of God’s grace.