Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 22:15-22 10/18/2020

It’s a trap.

          As we continue to walk with Jesus through the last week of his life in the Gospel of Matthew, we continue to see the authorities try to trick him and trap him. They want to make him say something that will allow them to arrest him, to take him into custody, to get him off the streets.Continue Reading

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 22:1-14 10/11/2020

When Nora Gallagher, a writer who lives in Northern California, was in the process of discernment, pondering whether she was being called to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, her priest sent her a card with a picture of a shepherd carrying a child, captioned, “Get off my back, Jesus.” Inside, echoing an idea from a poem, he wrote: “Is the Hound of Heaven hounding you?”Continue Reading

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 21:33-46 10/4/2020

Crazy Stupid Love

We have here the third response to the temple leadership’s question about the origins of Jesus’ authority for his actions in the temple.

In last week’s Gospel, Jesus counters with a question about the authority of John’s baptism. That’s one response. Jesus then tells the parable of the two sons and their obedience. That gives us the second response from the temple leadership.Continue Reading

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 21:23-32 9/27/2020

The context of this story is important. Jesus has just made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding in on a donkey and being hailed by the crowds as the Son of David, the fulfilment of their hopes and prophecies and dreams.

Immediately after that, Jesus went into the Temple and overturned the tables of the traders, claiming that space back for God. As a result, in verse 14, he continues a ministry of healing; showing that he has authority not just over the crowds and the religious institutions but authority over nature itself.Continue Reading

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 20:1-16 Sept 20, 2020

From the time that you and I begin to say our very first words, it doesn’t take long to learn one specific complete sentence. That’s not fair! And for many of us, that seemingly inborn sense of fairness leads – in our own ways – our efforts to pursue justice and help bring about the Kingdom. But it also leads to a tendency to be, let’s say, hyper-vigilant about what’s fair for others.

In the classic television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie’s younger sister, Sally, is dictating a letter to Santa Claus, which her brother is dutifully writing. Sally thoughtfully says that if the toys she wants are too much trouble, she would gladly accept cash. “Preferably tens and twenties,” she says.

When Charlie Brown objects, Sally counters with: “All I want is my fair share! All I want is what’s coming to me!”Continue Reading

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 18:21-35 9/13/2020

As it happens, in the last few weeks, we have explored both forgiveness and hospitality, which makes the readings for today something of a challenge. But part of the limitless and eternal mystery of Scripture is that it has never finished communicating what it has to say.[1]

Today’s lessons all seem to center on forgiveness, even under extraordinary circumstances. And especially with the passages from Genesis and from Romans, the focus on forgiveness comes to you and me through the lens of hospitality and welcome. What happens when we put the ideal of forgiveness on the table with the ideal of hospitality in the name of Jesus? What happens when welcome meets the laying down of burdens?Continue Reading

THE FORGOTTEN EPISTLES Jude 1:3-4a, 10, 16-21 8/30/2020

Raise your hand if you have ever slandered someone by gossiping about them; raise your hand if you’ve ever been a grumbler and/or a malcontent. Yeah, me too. I’d like to think that I’ve improved along my spiritual journey – but let’s just say that it’s a work in progress. One of the most challenging issues for me is my tendency to let off steam, to vent, by gossiping and by grumbling and being, well, malcontented.Continue Reading

The Forgotten Epistles 3 John 1:2-11 8/23/2020

What’s Radical About Hospitality?

Some years ago – it might have been within the last five or six years, but I can’t swear to that – Greensboro Urban Ministries tried a social experiment. On December twenty-third, a young couple went into and among various neighborhoods in the city. They were a man in his twenties, a man who worked construction and carpentry; and a young woman who was many months along in expecting a baby. They spoke English, and they spoke it with the accent of their native country.Continue Reading