Rev. Jeff Mansfield

What You Bring Forth Will Save You

As Jesus was getting ready for the very first Palm Sunday,

there was a feeling of secrecy in the air.

Do you feel that in the text?

Before the end of the day there’s going to be a big triumphal parade.

But if word of it gets out to the Romans who are occupying Jerusalem,

there’s going to be big trouble.

So, they start things off on the down low.

They’ve made no real plans.

They don’t have a parade permit.

They don’t even have a horse.

So, Jesus sends two disciples surreptitiously to acquire a colt.

If you get caught stealing it, he says, just give them the secret password,

“The Lord needs it.”

It Smells Like Faith in Here

Who here knows the first rule of perfume and cologne?

Anybody? If you know it, shout it out!

The first rule of perfume and cologne is:

A dab’ll do ya OR

A little bit goes a looooooooong way.

You know this rule instinctually whenever somebody who doesn’t know this rule

sits down next to you on the subway.

And the smell of cologne fills the whole car!

And gets inside your clothes!

And up your sinuses!

And—apparently—Mary was one of the people who didn’t know this rule.

Fruit (& Manure)

Beloved, this is a tough piece of scripture. It’s weird, I tell you—Weird! I like the weird stuff. Bit right up front I think we’ve got to get on the same page about what’s happening here.

 So, right before the beginning of our reading this evening, Jesus has been talking about the Apocalypse. By which Jesus means that there’s something a-coming—a great change, a great opportunity, an upheaval of the world-as-it-is of our lives-as-they-are into the almost-but-not-quite-here-yet Kingdom of God—a kingdom not of this world, says Jesus, by which he means that the power dynamics and values of this world do not reign in the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God the last will be first, and the least will be the greatest of all. Jesus says: No one knows when the moment will arrive, but we all better be watching for it, and we better be ready when it comes knocking.

Giving Our Gifts, Part Two

Beloved, as most of you probably know by now, it’s Stewardship Season! That time of year where we talk about the church’s finances and our giving. Next Sunday is Stewardship Sunday, the Sunday we bring our pledge cards with us to church, with our annual commitments of time, talent, and money written down on them.

And, so, to really encourage everyone to dig deep and give till it hurts, I’ve chosen a scripture lesson all about martyrdom. Because what could be more inspirational for generosity than imagining your pledge card as giant cross you’ll have to drag around behind you for an entire year? No? Well, if you don’t find the image of financial crucifixion motivating you to get out checkbook, don’t lose hope just yet. Maybe there’s something more to giving than just “losing our lives in order to save our lives.” I mean, what does that really mean?

Giving Our Gifts, Part One

Here at the beginning of Lent, I have a confession to make, Beloved. It was my freshman year in college, and I needed money to help pay my way through school, so, I got a job… as a telemarketer—for a semester. I know, I know. I’m sorry. But as an 18-year-old kid, they were the only ones who would hire me. So, for months, I sat in a room with a bunch of other young telemarketers who were trying to raise money for the school by cold calling alumni and their parents. Our supervisor was sitting at the front watching us to make sure we didn’t take a break between calls. You just had to keep going.

I was new and untested so the top of the battered and creased multipage spreadsheet I was calling numbers from was labeled: People Who Have Never Given Before. It was hardly an inspiring title to a new recruit. And hang-up, after hang-up, after cursing, swearing, shouting hang-up, in which people reminded us just how much bleepin’ money they had already paid to the school, under the watchful eye and sharp ear of my supervisor, I just had to keep going. And I didn’t want to. The sound of the tinny ringing tone through my headset became dreadful to me. And the only worse sound was the sound of it suddenly stopping and a voice sweetly saying, “Hello?”