Plowing for the Present

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Well, if we were hoping for a comforting word from Jesus this morning, it seems that we have come to the wrong place.  The gospel reading this morning provides us with little comfort in the words that Jesus gives to those that either volunteer or are asked to follow Jesus along the way.  Each of them seems to give Jesus a fairly reasonable response to his call only to get some rather discomforting words back from Jesus as he sets his face towards Jerusalem.

When we get readings like this, it is tempting to twist things up enough until we are able to be a little bit more comfortable from the reading of the text.  It is tempting to try to read it as simply a call story versus a challenge to us in the contemporary era.  It is tempting to take the text and to make it say something other than what it says.  It is tempting for us to hunger for the nice, warm, smiling Jesus instead of the Jesus that challenges us to go further in our acceptance of Christ’s call on our own lives.

The three different sayings that we get at the end of the gospel lesson today are all meant to draw out what it is going to mean to be a follower of Jesus in different ways.  Each saying is meant to convey some aspect of truth about being a disciple of Jesus, and each saying holds a unique challenge within it as we seek to live out a life of discipleship that is in keeping with Jesus’ life and ministry.   Continue reading

Unexpected Hope: A Small Town Gay Bar

IMG_0426The events of the past week have left many people reeling in pain, confusion, fear, and grief.  The shooting at Pulse in Orlando has launched many to decry the fatal shooting (although not all of them could actually do so while also recognizing that the LGBT community was the target).  It has left a community with questions that it has to answer for itself, and it has marred a month that is often a month of celebration for LGBT Americans across the country.

Of equal import is the fact that this deadly attack happened in a place that has served (and continues to serve) as a place of hope.  The attack happened in one of few venues in which LGBT persons can be who they are without getting sideways glances from others. It is a place where it is normal to see two boys or two girls holding hands or even giving each other a peck on the cheek in between chatting with friends.  It is a place in which you can do all of these things and be understood as completely normal.

With all of this in mind, I share with you a story of my own trip to a small town gay bar many moons ago.  I share this with you now because it is the story of how a gay bar helped me to become happy with who I am, and I share it because I want others to know that a gay bar is not simply a place that LGBT go to drink or to engage in casual sex.  It is a place in which many LGBT people end up discovering their own community.  It is a place that we discover that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not something to be ashamed of.  It is a place that we discover hope. Continue reading