In our Old Testament scripture for today, Moses is telling the Israelites how to remember something that hasn’t even happened yet. God is going to do something terrible and something wonderful. God is going to kill the firstborn of the Egyptians, the people who have enslaved the Israelites and whose King will not let them go. That’s terrible. It’s awful. It’s hard to understand. Even though the Israelites have suffered terribly—even though Pharaoh had murdered the firstborn of the Israelites himself—somehow it’s different when it’s God who instigating it.Read More »Remember
By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
October 7, 2012
World Communion Sunday
Job 1:1, 2: 1-12
Yaffa Eliach, a highly respected Jewish historian who is herself a survivor of the Holocaust, tells the story that in 1979, she was a member of President Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust. The commission, who would ultimately lay the groundwork for the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, had visited sites of countless atrocities and collected stories from Holocaust survivors. After visiting Auschwitz, the commission held evening services at the ancient Rema Synagogue in Cracow, Poland. In the middle of the worship service, “Miles Lerman, a former partisan and sole survivor of a large Jewish family,” stepped forward, banged his fist on the bema, the pulpit, “and declared that he was calling God to Din Torah—summoning God to court!” Read More »God on Trial
By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
St. Stephen Presbyterian Church
Communion Sunday and the Baptism of Eunice Kang
Mark 7: 31-37
James 1: 17-27
Today we’re baptizing Eunice Kang, the daughter of JC and Jung Kang. JC is the seminary student we’re sponsoring at Columbia Seminary. But we’re also performing the Lord’s Supper, which means we’re performing both the sacraments that Presbyterians believe in.
Now when yours truly was in seminary, I was taught that one of the main purposes of the sacraments is drama. When I heard that, a little light went off in my head. See, I was an actor for quite a while myself. The sacraments are dramatic—of course! When we do the sacraments, we are actors in a play. Read More »Sacramental Drama
By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch, St. Stephen Presbyterian Church
Fort Worth, TX
The Lord’s Supper
July 15, 2012
Jesus’ disciples want to send the crowds home to get something to eat. Instead, Jesus tells his disciples “You give them something to eat.” He has them organize the thousands present in groups of hundreds and fifties, as were Roman army units, and they pass out the bread.
And somehow, everybody has enough.
We call this the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s a miracle. Scholars will argue forever about whether the food somehow multiplied like bunnies or if in fact people there really had brought food with them, and decided that rather than hoard it, they would share it with the members of their group. We aren’t going to solve that mystery today, and that’s not what I want to focus on.
What’s interesting is that Jesus tells the disciples to give the crowd something to eat, but the disciples don’t really do anything special. They organize the people and they hand out the food. That’s it.
And then, they gather the broken pieces.Read More »Broken Pieces–Mark 6: 35-44, Part 1