Our last service of the summer is this Sunday, Sept. 4, at 10 a.m.!

We will re-open on Christmas Eve

To Give or to Grab

To Give or to Grab

“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

August 28, 2016 – 15C Pentecost

Many people will tell you that one of the most thought-provoking commencement addresses ever given was delivered by the late novelist David Foster Wallace in 2005 at Kenyon College. Wallace began his address with a little parable: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

“The immediate point of the fish story,” as Wallace explains, “is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see” because they are so close to us and so taken-for-granted. For fish, that reality may well be water. For human beings, that reality, Wallace argues, is egocentrism, or the fact that all of our experience of the world is filtered through the lens of “the self,” which often gives us a distorted sense of our own importance and of what really matters.

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Baptism by Fire

Baptism by Fire

“I came to bring fire to the earth. . . .” Luke 12:49

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

14 August 2016 – 13C Pentecost

The great composer Ludwig van Beethoven sometimes would play a cruel trick on his salon audiences, especially when he thought they were ignoring the serious side of his music. According to one account I read,[1] Beethoven would perform a piece on the piano, a slow movement from one of his sonatas perhaps, which would be so gentle and beautiful that everyone would be lulled into thinking the world was a soft, cozy place, where they could think beautiful thoughts and relax into a comfortable slumber. Then, just as the final notes were dying away, Beethoven would bring his whole forearm down with a crash across the keyboard, and laugh with maniacal glee at the shock he gave to the assembled company.

Impolite and a bit petulant, perhaps, but one of the characteristics of genius is an uncompromising insistence on artistic truth. One of the truths that I suspect Beethoven was getting at with this little stunt, and that he expressed more profoundly and maturely in the rest of his music, is that the world is full of pain as well as beauty, and that the human condition embodies a struggle between darkness and light, between truth and deceit, between evil and goodness. Indeed, I would go so far to say that one of the lessons of Beethoven’s music, as well as his life, is that real and enduring joy can only be experienced through such struggle, through the crucible of human suffering.

You can think of our gospel text today as Jesus slamming his forearm down on the keyboard, desperately trying to get our attention. This is no meek and mild Jesus. The Jesus we meet in our gospel reading today is, in a word, angry. “I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled! . . . . Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”

How on earth do we square these words, this picture of an enraged and divisive Jesus, with the more familiar ‘Prince of Peace’ we know and love?

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Answering the Call

Answering the Call

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

 The Rev. Luther Zeigler

12C Pentecost – August 7, 2016

Heavy rains inundate a small town.   A man who lives in town climbs onto the roof of his house to escape the torrents of water.  As the waters rise, a neighbor in a rowboat pulls alongside the house, and tells the man to get in. “No,” replies the man on the roof, “the Lord will save me.”  As the waters continue to rise, a firefighter shows up in a speedboat. “Climb in!” shouts the firefighter. “No,” replies the man on the roof, “The Lord will save me.” Finally, a helicopter appears and the pilot shouts that he will lower a rope to rescue the man on the roof. “No, thank you,” replies the man on the roof, “the Lord will save me.”

Eventually the man drowns. When he goes to heaven, he asks God why He hadn’t helped him.  God pauses, and says: “I sent a neighbor, a firefighter, and helicopter. What more do you want from me?”

As corny as the joke is, it nevertheless teaches one profoundly important lesson: God is hard at work trying to save us in ways that we often fail to recognize. We laugh at the man on the roof for failing to use his common sense; we laugh at him because he has a naïve and simplistic image of God as a superhero who appears magically out of the sky; and we laugh at him because his self-righteousness blinds him to the very mundane ways in which God is trying to help him. The comedy is not that the man’s faith is misplaced; the comedy is that he has neither the eyes to see nor the ears to hear the ways in which God is already at work in his life, calling him to safety.

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