Our family once had a neighbor who sometimes wanted to stay inside her home with peace and quiet for herself — unless there was a real emergency. She would put her three small children into the backyard, which had a good fence around it, and give a simple instruction.  “Don’t call me to the door unless you’re bleeding.”  She was serious.Continue Reading

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 9:51-62

Jesus is ready for the long walk to Jerusalem where he will risk rejection, defeat and death. But he will rely totally on God even when there is no hope. There will be no turning back. He will cast absolutely everything into the hands of God without knowing what God will do.  Jesus is about to make it obvious that following him has a price.  Who will go with him to Jerusalem?  Would we have said, “I’ll go?” The way will not be easy.  The Samaritans didn’t receive him because they were not prepared for his exclusive call.Continue Reading

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 8:26-39

The people at the nightclub in Orlando thought the party would never end. It was almost closing time, but they could continue elsewhere.  There would be another time, another place.  Little did they know.  Some people would judge them, saying they didn’t deserve to live because so many of them were sexually mixed-up, even deviants. Or their party had already lasted far too long.  If they intended to go to church, they should have left the party by midnight. Continue Reading

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 7:36-8:3

The pastor found a hand-written note on the pulpit. It said, “We know about sin and guilt.  Tell us about God’s love and forgiveness.”  All we need to know about sin, pain, guilt, and how God loves us, is in this story of the woman with the ointment.  Simon the Pharisee gave a fancy dinner for Jesus.  In such an event today, men would wear a tie; the women, long dresses. There would be good wine.Continue Reading

Third Sunday after Pentecost Luke 7:11-17

Stories in the Bible give us a mirror.  That is, we can reflect on our own human condition and ask whether that particular story can speak to us.  For instance we all know the big story of how the Lord delivered the children of Israel led by Moses from their slavery in Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land.  The story is so instructive, so meaningful, that we call it to mind in the Great Thanksgiving: “through Abraham you promised to bless all nations.  You rescued Israel your chosen people.”Continue Reading

2nd Sunday after Pentecost Luke 7:1-10

We live in a time of profound disillusionment and despair. For instance, can we just mention North Korea, schools and shopping centers under attack, suicide bombers in the Mideast, refugees flooding in Europe.  Every newspaper screams the political chaos in our beloved country. Continue Reading

Holy Trinity John 16:12-15

Sometimes I imagine being in the pulpit of any of the congregations I served either full-time or part time. I remember their Sunday clothes and their Sunday faces.  I also remember seeing behind their faces, seeing  their burdens, their troubles.  In one particular congregation there were so many personal tragedies that I called them “walking wounded.” They had relatives in prison or headed there, family members who were alcoholics but would not try sobriety; some had been hurt, torn, damaged beyond repair — but they would not despair. Continue Reading

Pentecost John 14:8 –17, 25 – 27

The Spirit has been in the world, and with us, long before the Day of Pentecost.  Our Gospel reading is from a conversation most likely in the Upper Room during the week before Jesus was crucified.

Jesus was looking to the time when disciples in every age would wonder about his presence. Continue Reading

Seventh Sunday of Easter John 17:20-26

We go once again to the upper room in Jerusalem where Jesus is with his disciples on the evening of his betrayal and trial. Whatever he has to say to them, he must say quickly. He expects them to continue what he has started, living out his mission and message.  Jesus knows that his time is short.  He looks ahead to the time when he will no longer be bodily present, the time when the completion of his mission will depend on the disciples.  He prays for their unity, that the world may “know that you have sent me.”  That’s a big expectation.Continue Reading

Sixth Sunday of Easter John 14:23-29

Some of the stories in the New Testament make me wonder about the disciples. Were they any more religious or spiritual than we are?  I mean, these were handpicked people who spent three years with Jesus.  But I wonder about them.Continue Reading