Homemaking. The Christian life is a kind of homemaking. To make a home in this world, to make a life together, the routines and practices, the rituals and habits, where a people learn how to belong with one another—to find a home, not as property, not in a building, but instead with each other, a […]
Resurrection is supposed to mean a new world. Easter is supposed to mark a new beginning, a new creation, the old passing away as all things are reborn. But here are the disciples, in our passage from John’s Gospel—here they are, after the resurrected Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, after Jesus […]
I spent four hours this week in the car with Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, and Grandpa Joe. Leo and Julian listen to books on CD, and I recently burned an audio copy of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How many of you have read that or seen one of the movie versions—raise your […]
In the story from John’s Gospel, they are preparing for Passover, the annual festival to remember the liberation of God’s people from slavery in Egypt. The focus of the days of commemoration are the sacrifices in the Temple. That’s why Jesus and his friends are in Jerusalem, to participate in these acts of faithfulness and […]
Nehemiah 8:1-8, Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (VT #187), John 1 (VT #235) In Marilynne Robinson’s novel Lila, the main character asks her husband, who happens to be a pastor, a question about preaching. She asks him, “What do you ever tell people in a sermon except that things that happen mean something? Some man dies somewhere a […]
At this point in the story, Jesus has become a big deal. These verses we heard today are at the end of chapter 6, but we should remember how the chapter began—with that scene on the hillside, where crowds of people from the nearby villages gathered to see him, to hear him speak. After a […]
Why is Jesus so weird? “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” he says. That seems nice. A pleasant metaphor! But he won’t leave it there, he has to go full cannibal. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” […]
This week the Bible passage are all about food again, just like last week. The central story this time is the miraculous provision of manna in the desert. God hears the complaints of the people, their growling stomachs, and sends bread. The Psalmist turns the memory into a prayer, a song, a hymn for the […]
The Bible passage we heard make me hungry. They’re all about food. Psalm 145:15, “We look to you, O God, and you give us food in due season.” In 2 Kings 4 we have a very short story about people having enough to eat during a famine: they share barely loaves and freshly harvested grain. […]
It was still dark when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. If you read the resurrection accounts in Matthew, Mark, or Luke you’ll hear that a group of women came at dawn, or just after the sun had risen. But in John’s account Mary goes to the tomb alone. And she goes when it still […]
I am not sure if the sermon below is a sermon at all, sent as it is from my isolation to yours: not preached but written, not heard but read. There is no communal response, no chance to affirm or disaffirm that the gospel has been preached. CHMF sermons open themselves up to the conversation; […]
Jesus doesn’t pray for himself by himself. Instead he prays for his friends in their company. “I am asking on their behalf… protect them from the evil one” (13:9, 15). Jesus is single-hearted, wholly for his disciples, worried about their future, desperate for God to watch over them. Life seems unbearable, unimaginable, without them.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Jesus offers these words to his friends on his last night with him. Their evening together began with Jesus, taking the feet of his disciples into his hands, pouring water over each one and scrubbing them clean, then with a towel massaging them dry. As they ate their last supper, Jesus tells them that he loves them, that he will miss them, that he will always be with them, in their hearts, in their love, in their lives together, through the Holy Spirit, the divine comforter, the divine advocate, the presence of God.
We hope for a world where he can thrive, where our neighbors and the children of our neighbors experience the fullness of life. We believe in the God of life, in a world held in God’s hands, like Jesus holding his disciples close, Jesus holding us close, washing us with love, refreshing us with peace.
I dream of other worlds, ones like this one, with all of you there, but there’s something different, one difference that changes everything, the collapse of the old and a beginning for the new, like, for example, a world without guns, with no more weapons, without arms manufacturers and dealers, without rockets flying in and out of Gaza, a world without border fences and prison walls, a world without corporations making money off of detention centers and ankle monitors and bail bonds, a world without pollution, without factory waste dumped into rivers, without fossil fuel emissions, without the slow violence of environmental racism, a world without cancer, without disease, without sicknesses that sneak up on the young and lead to their death. I dream of worlds that still have all the people we’ve lost—your people and my people, your friends and mine, all our loved ones, even the ancestors we never met.
After the crucifixion, the disciples had heard the news from Mary Magdalene—that Jesus was alive. That was last week. In our passage for today, a week has passed, a week after Easter morning. A week since Mary saw Jesus outside the tomb. A week since she rushed back to the others to share the good […]
Early on Easter morning, before dawn, Mary Magdalene visits the tomb. She had seen Jesus crucified the day before. She was at the cross—there for his last breath, there when they pierced his side, there when they took him down, there when they carried his corpse away for burial. Mary has lived for far too […]
In the 1950s, a guy named Bill Bright came up with a roadmap for evangelism called, “The Four Spiritual Laws.” This statement of faith became a foundational document for North American evangelicalism. There are a lot of problems with it—and there are a lot of problems with Bill Bright, like that he was one of […]
There’s an old story—it’s probably a legend—about an evangelist who travels to Indiana, to farm country, to share the gospel, to convert people to Christianity. He meets a Mennonite at the general store. The evangelist says, “Sir, are you a Christian?” And the Mennonite responds, “I’m not the best person to answer that question. You […]
“Everything happens for a reason.” That is the title of a book by Kate Bowler, a professor of history at Duke Divinity. Everything Happens for a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved) came out this week and I, like many others, heard her interviewed on NPR. I know that Kate happens to be a friend […]
This is a risky conversation, here at Jacob’s well in the land of Samaria: Jesus, a Jew, and this woman, a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans are kindred peoples, distant relatives, both tracing their lineage to Jacob, the patriarch of Israel. Samaritans and Jews are cousins, but they are not friends. There is tension between the […]
Jesus is a Jew, part of God’s people. And as a faithful Jew, he takes a trip to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover, the festival that remembers Israel slavery in Egypt, and God’s salvation, God’s liberation, freedom from the shackles of bondage, their forced labor, their economic exploitation. When he arrives in Jerusalem, walking […]
Last week we read the opening scene in John’s Gospel. A man named Philip found his friend, Nathanael, and told him about a rabbi, a new one who was passing through town, an itinerant rabbi. This was not unusual in first century Judaism—rabbis would emerge, their ministry gaining a following, then perhaps fizzle out. If […]
A few years ago I worked sporadically as a farmhand down the road in Efland. Most days I helped pick vegetables, gather eggs, and pitch in with whatever chores were on hand. Fickle Creek Farm is fairly small, with a wide variety of crops and livestock and a resulting bevy of tasks that change with […]