The Struggle to Believe12/23/14
At this season of the year we live between two worlds: one is dying and the other is struggling to be born. To live this way is as dangerous as eating wormy figs in the dark. Our scripture focuses on Simeon and Anna, two faithful servants of God who...
The Reality of Christmas
If your house and your life are anything like my house and my life at this time of year, then maybe we should spend these next 15 minutes in silent meditation. It is four days before Christmas. Many of us have family coming into town if they are not...
I Am Not the Messiah
No. No. No. So begins the public ministry of John the Baptist according to the Gospel of St. John. It's not what we have come to expect. Spend much time around Christian congregations during any Advent season, and John tends to come off as loud,...
Beginning Before It Begins
From our booth at the Shoney's, we had a clear view of the Malco Twin movie house. It was 5 p.m. on a Thursday evening in early June of 1977. At this hour, the parking lot of the Malco Twin was still empty. The three of us had all ordered Big Boy...
Waiting in Lag Time
"Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down!" The cry goes up from the prophet and the people of Israel in Isaiah 64, the Hebrew Bible lection for this first Sunday in Advent. This lament has been echoed by individuals and entire peoples...
God Has Left the Building
It's Reign of Christ Sunday, Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Christian year. Today we reflect back upon the mighty acts of God proclaimed every Sunday of this year. We celebrate that, because Christ emptied himself of the authority of...
Wake Up and Believe!
In the movie School Daze, at the end of it the cast looks out at the audience and says, "Wake up!" I remember when watching that movie a gentleman behind me said, "I'm tellin' ya, 'cause I slept through the whole movie!" That remark caused me to think...
Soul-Filling Community of Faith
The gospel of Matthew is anxious for the fledgling community of the church, trying to make its way with new believers in a hostile world trying to tear community apart. Many of those to whom Matthew writes had been excommunicated from the synagogue...
You've heard of Six Degrees of Separation. If you haven't, this is a theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" can be made to...
When you heard today's text was from Leviticus, some of you got uneasy. Maybe you got fired up that the preacher was going to tackle one of the gnarliest books in the Bible. Leviticus is not a benign book. Is there a biblical book with a worse...
Whose Coin Is It?
"Answer the question: yes or no? Keep it simple--just yes or no." The situation in the Gospel this week reminds me of a congressional hearing. We've all heard and seen these carefully orchestrated morality plays. Someone in Congress gets riled up...
Already Called and Also Chosen
If you break today's parable into three parts, you have 1) the obvious, 2) the comfortable, and 3) the uneasy. The first part of the parable is seen in every walk of life, in every community, on every continent. It's obvious what is going to happen...
Trouble at the Festival
It is festival season in Jerusalem and the last thing the chamber of commerce wants is a riot, a scene, a disturbance. During the season of Passover, the crowds--carrying their sacks and luggage and provisions--are gathered from all across the region,...
Is the Lord with Us or Not?
It had been a particularly long day, and I was anxious to get home to put on sweat pants and enjoy a quiet dinner with my family. Our son, David, was only three years old, and he attended the preschool in the basement of the church where I was...
A Wilderness People in the Promised Land
The wilderness experience for the Hebrew children represents a troubling place. It is hostile terrain, and the basic necessities for survival are not present. There is a growing crisis that grows out of a fear of perishing. For Israel the wilderness...
Forgiving from Your Heart
One of the important parts of my life and work involves ministry with police officers. In recent years, this work involves a 3-day conference held twice each year in my state that seeks to provide encouragement, help, and healing for police officers...
From Enmity to Community
Perhaps you have heard the story about the man who was stranded all alone, shipwrecked on a desert island. He had been there for a number of months, trying to survive, hoping some ship would sail close enough and notice him and rescue him. Eventually...
Trusting Your Experience
I want to suggest today that one of the most essential dimensions to the life of faith is finding a way to trust our personal experiences. We may not be able to trust them absolutely, because sometimes what we think or feel or even believe can be...
The Energy That Is Christ
Our Bible reading today from the Gospel of Matthew suggests that Jesus was taking a step-back moment in his life and ministry. A pause. A time of evaluation. He had been traveling with the disciples. Teaching. Listening. Reaching out to people. A...
The Table Scrap Feast
What do you do with table scraps? It's a serious question these days. Think about those fruit peelings, the half-eaten broccoli, the dropped macaroni, the cut-off bread crusts. All of it goes straight into the garbage, wasted. I am certainly guilty of...
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