First Sunday in Lent Matthew 4:1-11

Two Questions

Few scenes in Scripture give us as vivid a picture of sin. The trouble with sin is not that it is ugly, although we say “ugly as sin.” Rather, the trouble is that it is so often so attractive and appealing. We’re so busy looking out for the figure in the red suit with the forked tail and the pitchfork, trailing clouds of sulfur, that we fall into the easy rut of sin without even realizing it. What Jesus knows, what the Tempter has forgotten, is that “sin comes about because of its middle letter,” as Jan Karon says. “It’s the seeking of our will instead of God’s.” When we put I first, we fall to the sin of Eve and Adam, we decide that we know best, and we desire to become like God.Continue Reading

Ash Wednesday Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

In the Pockets

Who is it for, this ancient ritual, the practice of marking the forehead with ashes? It might make more sense if we held our Ash Wednesday service at 8 o’clock in the morning or at midday, so that we were likely to encounter other people afterward. Then we would function as a reminder of the holy day. But we have this service in the evening, and then, chances are, most of us will go right home and immediately wash the ashes off our foreheads. So what’s the point? Why do we bother?Continue Reading

Transfiguration of Our Lord

Lord, it is good for us to be here. Poor Peter: well-meaning, over-eager Peter, who always manages to say the wrong thing. This is so terrific, can we stay here forever? I’m not at all sure I want to stay perched on a mountaintop surrounded by whirling clouds and visions of prophets past and light so dazzling that it blinds me. I might be the one running for the exits if I saw what Peter and James and John have just seen.Continue Reading

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany Matthew 5:21-37

If you grew up with sisters and brothers, then no doubt you know the joys of being crammed into the back seat of the family car. And of Dad threatening to pull the car over to get you and your siblings to stop bugging each other until finally he issues an edict: “Nobody touches anybody else.”Continue Reading

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany Matthew 5:13-20

It is entirely possible to get caught up in the metaphors and lose sight of the point of this passage. We can distract ourselves thinking up ways to describe how we are meant to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But in this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says something truly extraordinary.Continue Reading

Presentation of Our Lord Luke 2:22-40

The story is about three brothers who, travelling together, reach a treacherous river. Being wizards, they make a magical bridge over the river. Halfway across the bridge, they meet Death who is angry for losing three potential victims of the river. He pretends to be impressed by them and grants each a wish as a reward. The eldest brother asks for an unbeatable wand which will always grant him victory, so Death carves the Elder Wand from a nearby tree.Continue Reading

Third Sunday after Epiphany Matthew 4:12-23

In Matthew’s account of the call of the first disciples, we don’t really learn anything about these four men except that they are fishermen by trade. Their social background would be humble and definitely working class. And we see these men respond immediately to the call of Christ, so immediately that they are willing to abandon their trades and families to follow him. What could be so compelling?Continue Reading

Second Sunday after Epiphany John 1:29-42

What does “Come and see” look like in your life? If Jesus were to “come and see” in your daily living, what would he see? And what do others see in your encounters with one another?

It is possible, even easy, to go through the day without having a single face-to-face exchange. How do we live in relationship to others when our everyday lives are so isolated and all our encounters are at a remove? What would happen if, for one day, we went through the day with a resolution to ensure that every action was face to face? Instead of going through the drive-through ATM, park and go into the bank and speak with the teller. Instead of going through the drive-through at the restaurant and the pharmacy, park and go in. See how many people you encounter. And when they encounter you – what do they see? Do they see someone who is approachable, someone who is friendly, someone they would want to greet? Do they see Christ in you? Or do they see someone who gives off a vibe of “stay away”?Continue Reading

Baptism of our Lord Matthew 3:13-17

Once again we find ourselves in the wilderness, where John is preaching a gospel of repentance. And people are responding to his message, as fiery and apocalyptic as it is. “Turn around,” John is saying, which is what repent means, it means to turn around. Turn around, and the landscape changes. Turn around, and gain a new perspective. Turn around, and suddenly you are on a different path, and nothing will ever be the same, and that’s actually okay, because God is walking with you.Continue Reading

Second Sunday of Christmas John 1:[1-9] 10-18

How was your Christmas? It is a question I have asked and been asked over the last few days. While I understand what is being asked I also hear an underlying assumption that Christmas is over. It is the reason why in at least a few homes the tree has already been taken down, the decorations packed away for another year, and the leftovers thrown out.Continue Reading