Nobody in this scene comes off looking good. Especially not Jesus, although the portrait of Jesus in Mark’s gospel shows a far more human figure, perhaps because this one is the earliest of all gospels, written perhaps seven years after Jesus’ death. Mark’s Jesus gets angry. He gets fed up with his disciples. And in this exchange, he is flat rude.Continue Reading
This instruction from Jesus seems so clear and so obvious that it is tempting simply to point to his statement – it is what comes out of us that defiles – and say, “Don’t say unkind things,” and sit down.Continue Reading
If at first the man’s response to Jesus’ question seems bewildering, it might be because we think we know how we would answer. Do you want to be healed? Yes, of course. But what is Jesus really asking the man at the pool – what is he asking each of us in turn?Continue Reading
She had a choice.
We can hear this familiar story and let is brush right over us, because clearly we are nothing like this scarlet woman. Caught in adultery. In the act. Dragged from the mattress into the bright and unforgiving light of day and the unnerving stares of the crowd.Continue Reading
Many popular movies give audiences the pleasure of an epilogue. A chance to look in on the characters later in their lives, as evidence that the redemption we have witnessed is, in truth, still holding.
It’s widely agreed among biblical scholars that the Holy Gospel according to St. John, the twenty-first chapter, is an epilogue. That a later author tacked it on.Continue Reading
We may with good scholarly reason question Jacob’s motives. Remember that Jacob was born a twin with his brother Esau, that he was so desperate even then to claim the blessings of the firstborn that he was reported to have been grabbing Esau’s ankle on the way out of the womb. The name “Jacob” translates as “ankle-grabber.”Continue Reading
We begin this sermon series with what might be called the mother, or perhaps the father, of all forgiveness stories: the prodigal son, or the reluctant older brother, or the overly-permissive father. Names and titles are important. What if The Grapes of Wrath had been called The Long and Desperate Cross-Country Drive? What if Gone With the Wind were called The Deluded Gentleman and the Obsessed Stalker?Continue Reading
Isn’t it interesting that the Gospel portion for today’s reading cuts out what is normally the center of the narrative: the feeding of the multitudes, followed by the episode in which the disciples – after the dinner party – go to cross the Sea of Galilee in the boat and find Jesus walking along the water toward them and they are afraid. Big, sweeping stories with big sweeping lessons for us: the extravagant abundance of God’s provision, and the abiding presence of God in the midst of our fears.Continue Reading
Today we get to see King Herod’s response to the uncomforting action of speaking love to power. And we also see the tragedy that unfolds when we are so focused on ourselves and our own concerns and circumstances that we cannot see or hear anything else.Continue Reading
The idea of prophets and prophecy runs strongly through the readings for today. From Ezekiel (2:1-5) we see the very beginning, sort of the commissioning, when God calls on Ezekiel to serve as a prophet to God’s people. The psalm for today (123) finds us praying: Have mercy on us, O God; for we have had more than enough of contempt. Give us what we need, not just what we want. And Jesus himself allows himself to be disappointed in the reception of his old neighbors, those who knew him all his life: A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.Continue Reading