Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost Matthew 25:14-30 11/15/2020

She has nothing. At least nothing that anybody else would value. At forty-seven years old, she is unmarried and still lives at home. Because of a little oxygen deprivation at birth, she is not quite as sharp mentally, not quite as quick, as most people. Her face is friendly and open, and she is cheerfully self-deprecating, but no one would call her conventionally pretty. When we see her for the first time, she is tall and solidly built, with frizzy dark hair, and wearing a gold lame dress with, oddly, dark stockings and open-toed high-heeled shoes. In response to someone rolling his eyes when he hears that she’s almost fifty years old, she makes a joke. “And that’s just one side of me,” she says, and wiggles her hips. Everyone is laughing at her.Continue Reading

All Saints Sunday Matthew 5:1-12 11/01/2020

The question is the same in every age: how are we to navigate the waters of life? How do we get from the start of the river of life to its end without swamping the canoe, turning the canoe over, or crashing the thing into the bank? You and I and all of us seem to be searching, constantly, for a reliable way to walk alongside life’s challenges and uncertainties and difficulties. We want to know that our lives have some meaning. We want reassurance that our existence is connected to something much larger than ourselves.Continue Reading

Reformation Sunday John 8:31-36 10/25/2020

This day, on which we celebrate the reformation of the church, is not quite arbitrary. It marks the date in the year 1517 on which Martin Luther, a monk and professor of theology, opened an invitation to debate over the question of paying for forgiveness. In short, the day on which he nailed to the church door his Ninety-five Theses, insisting that grace is a gift from God, one that cannot be earned, and one that comes from God alone.Continue Reading

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