The Last Shall be First (Mark 9:30-37)

The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Service is the path to greatness. Welcome children, and people who are the most vulnerable and powerless.  It all makes you wonder what kind of hippie commune Jesus was raised in.  Do you really believe the last should be first, or do you just hope the … Continue reading The Last Shall be First (Mark 9:30-37)

Jesus in Three Hymns – Mark 8:28-37

Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?”  It’s a question of utmost importance, but also elusive.  We are trying to understand an historical person, reading ancient texts, translated from a different language, and sorting through sedimentary layers of previous generation of thought and belief.  I enjoy reading great biographers who seek to encapsulate … Continue reading Jesus in Three Hymns – Mark 8:28-37

Peter’s Rebuke

Mark 8:31-38     I have every sympathy with Peter in this text. He is caught up in a very exciting moment. Jesus just asked, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter is the first to speak the truth. “You are the messiah, the Christ,” he answers Jesus. Peter senses the long-awaited moment when the … Continue reading Peter’s Rebuke

Even Jesus Struggled with Bias

Mark 7:24-30   I can’t believe this is what Jesus said!  Here is a woman in distress, who needs healing for her daughter, who is apparently demon-possessed.  (Aren’t you in sympathy with her already?)  Jesus helps people like this throughout Mark’s Gospel – Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus, ten lepers, a centurion’s daughter.  He heals a … Continue reading Even Jesus Struggled with Bias

“Overlooked and Under-Considered”

Have you ever had the experience of shaking hands with someone and they were already looking for someone else before they let your hand drop, as if you were obstructing their view?  I remember visiting a church on a vacation and as soon as the pastor found out that we were not prospective new members, … Continue reading “Overlooked and Under-Considered”

Jesus Confronts the Propagandists

Mark 3:20-35 Mark’s Gospel lesson today shows us how propaganda works.  Set the terms of a debate by labeling your opponent first, and attach them to something abhorrent.  Here is how Jesus’s opponents do it.  “You are in league with Beezlebul.”   You’re working for the devil, aren’t you, that is where your power comes from!  … Continue reading Jesus Confronts the Propagandists

Trinity: God in Alignment

Today is known as Trinity Sunday.  In talking about God as three persons in one substance, we can get lost in the intellectual challenge of defining how the creator, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are inter-related.  A neglected topic is how more images of God creates a depth and balance to our understanding of God.  … Continue reading Trinity: God in Alignment

Where the Spirit Meets Us

The Pentecost story is supercharged with rushing wind, tongues of flames, ecstatic speaking in many languages as a mass phenomenon.  Pentecost is described like a mass rally, charged with energy, a great outburst.  It’s the Pride March on Holy Spirit steroids. Its tempting to preach this story, especially in this time of rallies, in a small … Continue reading Where the Spirit Meets Us

Psalm 96: Sing a New Song

Preached on a Cantata Sunday, May 13, 2018 My mornings have changed dramatically the last few days.  Since November, the house has been shut tight against the cold, and therefore the sounds of the outdoors.  Now we open our windows a crack for the fresh air, and very early with the rosy, fingered dawn, the … Continue reading Psalm 96: Sing a New Song

Where the Welcome Meets the Road

Sermon on Acts 8:26-40 How did Christianity spread to become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire in the 4thcentury after Jesus?  At this weekend’s Awakening Conference, Bart Erman, author of “The Triumph of Christianity, tried to answer the question.  One school of thought is that Christianity prospered because of its exclusivist and missionary nature, … Continue reading Where the Welcome Meets the Road