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Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."

Okay...I thought the seed parable from a few days ago was strange, but these two might be even more peculiar. 

First, if you found the treasure...why are you buying the field?  Most folks would just take the treasure and run.  I know, I know people are going to say that, "Legally and ethically you should own the property on which the treasure is found, so you can own rightfully the contents of said field."  But, how often do we think this really happens? 

Second, I am not sure how precious that pearl was...to sell everything.  Like his house...his bed...his clothing?  Just for a pearl?  Maybe I have too much Midwestern practical-ness in me, but I am thin…

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!”  Matthew 13:4-6

For all that is good and holy, what in the botany is going on here?!

Is this the worst farmer ever?

Guy is throwing seeds everyone...he could have been the inspiration for Oprah's favorite things show..."And you get some seeds...and you get some seeds...everyone/everywhere gets some seeds." 

Why in the world you would plant seeds on a path?  You know they are going to get trampled on by people walking down said path.
Why in …

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.  When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.”  Matthew 12:1-2

Tell me you are laughing out loud right now.
Tell me the image of the disciples walking along, picking some grain for a sandwich, only to have the Pharisees pop out of nowhere!
Seriously, were they hiding behind a few stalks of wheat?
Were they dressed all in amber brown, standing still only to leap out at the last second?
Were they like, "We knew you could never resist the wheat...and you said you were on the Keto diet.  Ha!"

You might wonder, what's so wrong with picking a little grain?  I mean, they should have probably paid for it.  Or maybe it was the corners of the field a faithful Jewish person left for the poor to glean food from to sustain life.  Or maybe they knew Farmer Zechariah and tha…

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

I find it fascinating the different ways people learn.

Some learn through music...the rhythm gets the synapse of the brain stirring and swirling, leaving an impression.

Others learn by visuals...which is why I try to find a catching graphic.

Others learn by reading...which is what this blog is.

Others by doing...and hopefully there are some insights and ideas that speak to your life or something awoken within you as you read.

I think I learn by mistakes...getting it wrong before I ever get it right.

Jesus says, "Come."  It is invitational, especially to those who felt weighted down.  One of the struggles of the church today is the emphasis on what you believe rather than how or ways your belief is evol…

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”  Matthew 11:2-6

If you could ask Jesus any question in the world...what would it be? 

Maybe you would ask about suffering/struggle...pain that is a part of almost everyone's life.
Maybe you would ask him why he wasn't clearer...after all parables are puzzles stuffed into riddles that cause our minds to throb.
Maybe you would ask him how he found the courage to face the cross...which might connect back to the first questions above.

John the baptizer...who when we last met him was out waist deep, wading in the Jordan, baptizing people, now is in prison. …

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

It is only after Jesus slows us down to the speed of our souls...only after Jesus shines a light on prayerfully pondering where we spend our money...that Jesus offers words for us.  Words about the holiness of God's name.  Words about noticing God's realm among us.  Words about letting the melody of God's love be the soundtrack to our lives.  Prayers about daily bread (echo of manna in the wilderness) and forgiveness (which is always a tough, touche subject) and about the stress and strain of daily living.

Every week, in our church, we say the Lord's Prayer.
Maybe for some it is rote or routine, where we go on autopilot while considering what is for lunch.
Maybe for …

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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So...how is it with your soul?

Have you had a few moments so far to move at the speed of your soul?

And by soul...I don't mean some organ that is located to the left of your kidney...I mean that sense of being that grounds your whole mind, heart, and body.  I mean that which surrounds you.  One of my favorite quotes right now is, "God is the One whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."  So, our soul, is to reflect that truth...your center is where you are and your circumference continues to expand and evolve...just like the universe/star dust and soil which is what we are made of and who we are.

Right after Jesus advocates for time to connect and center in God, he starts talking about giving alms.  "So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let y…

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from God in heaven. Matthew 6:1

What images come to mind when you hear the word, "Pray"?

Maybe you think of folding your hands and bowing your head.
Maybe you hear words stacked upon words...often in a monotone voice that lulls you into a sleep-like state.
Maybe you've had a bad experience with prayer that left a lingering awful taste in your mouth.  A moment someone told you to pray for miracle, and when that didn't happen, the person says, "Well, guess you didn't try hard enough."  Because that helps.
Maybe you think of televangelists on t.v.
Maybe you think of prayer as formulaic...first you pray for others, then yourself.

Sometimes I think the life of prayer gets stuck in Sunday School.
Sometimes I think the life of prayer has so much written about it and so few experiences.
Sometimes I think the church has struggled to really help people in this j…

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;  and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.  Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Be perfect,…

Meeting Matthew Anew...Again

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 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.  So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.  Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Great.
Now Jesus has to go and be all specific...with this teaching.  Why couldn't Jesus have …

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.  “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5

After Jesus expands to the very fringe and fray of society how wide the claim and name of, "Beloved" is, he launches into a call/commission to be the salt and light for the world.  For Jesus discipleship is never a means to an end or a cul-de-sac of individuality.  It is not simply that we are, "Beloved" period, rather we are "Beloved" comma.  There is more to the story that simply, "God loves you."  That is the beginning not the finish …

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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Click here to read all nine of Matthew's Beatitudes...

A few years ago Pope Francis proposed these new beatitudes,
— Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
— Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.
— Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
— Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home (earth).
— Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
— Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.

Or I have read this version too by Robin Tanner
Today we share in a blessing for losers, risk-takers, all failures far and wide....

Blessed are they who fall in the mud, who jump with gusto and rip the pants, who skin the elbows, and bruise the ego,
for they shall know the sweetness of risk.

Blessed are they who make giant mistakes, whose i…