The Easter story is so familiar to us that I think we miss the shock, perhaps even the terror, of someone coming back from the dead. Especially when, as we hear in our passage from Acts, this Jesus, back from the dead, is God’s judge. We hear that this Jesus is the one who has […]
On Palm Sunday we stand at the edge of Lent, looking toward Easter. Today, with our story from Luke’s Gospel, with Jesus riding into Jerusalem, the crowds sweep us into holy week. In the story, the people line the street. The air is electric with excitement. The multitudes show up to welcome Jesus, to welcome […]
The story centers on the impatience of the younger of the two sons. He wants his inheritance before the death of his father. I’ll read verse 12: “He said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me’” (Lk. 15:12). When the father dies, the son will get […]
Psalm 27:14, “Wait for God; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for God.” When a bible passage repeats a phrase, that’s usually a signal to pay attention. So I thought we’d pay attention to those words. “Wait for God.” This is a Psalm about waiting. Lent is a season of waiting—we gather […]
The devil quotes scripture. This book that we read from every week can be twisted. Its words can be made to serve evil purposes. That’s not a surprise to anyone, of course. We look around and see the Bible used to harm all the time. We have it in our own Anabaptist history. Let me […]
Numbers 6:24-26 (VT #826), Jeremiah 29:4-11 (VT #783), Isaiah 52:7 (VT #781), Luke 4:16-19, 21 (VT #292), Matthew 28:16, 18-20 (VT #451) This is the last sermon in this series on what I’ve learned about the Christian life, through our worship together. We started seven weeks ago with our gathering, then we moved through the […]
Colossians 3:15-17 (VT #818), 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (VT #785), Luke 24:13-35 (VT #470) We share. That’s what we do here. That’s what church is about for us. Not just here, during worship on Sundays, but with the rest of our lives, too. We share meals together in our homes. We share stories about our lives. […]
Last year when I spent a week helping out at the migrant shelter in Tijuana, I met a woman who was very pregnant, within weeks of her due date. She was from Guatemala, from the mountains, she told me in the best Spanish she could put together. She was Mayan, and Spanish was her second […]
The incarnation. This season is a celebration of the incarnation, of God who became flesh in Jesus Christ. These stories about the advent of Jesus, the stories about his birth and life and death—all of those stories are glimpses of God, they are announcements of what God’s presence looks like in our world and in […]
“What then should we do?” (Luke 3:10). That’s what the crowds say. That’s their response to John the Baptist, when he stands along the banks of the river Jordan, calling the people to repentance. “You brood of vipers!… Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (3:7). The […]
I’ve mentioned before that I used to teach classes in prisons, mostly at one in Durham and another in Raleigh, both of them state prisons. But I also would drive up the highway to Butner where I’d teach at a federal prison. I had more freedom there to teach what I wanted. On the last […]
No lyric has ever stopped a tank. No sermon has ever ended patriarchy, especially a sermon delivered by a man. But here we are, trying again, with some words about a few Scriptures—an invitation to live into new possibilities, a call for change. Because we are in need of reformation, we are in church always in need of reformation, to be renewed and restored. To be healed from the sexism that has plagued the church, that plagues our society, that infects our lives, our relationships.
Part of the power of these pieces of devotional art, these pious images, is that they capture the shock of Christmas—that moment of revelation, the surprise of the story: that God becomes a child, vulnerable to the violences of this world, to the violences that threaten Mary day to day, as a young woman, pregnant out of wedlock, bearing the weight of oppression at the hands of the Roman occupation of her people. Whatever threatens Mary, threatens the life of Jesus, God in Mary’s flesh.
We remember that first advent so that we can learn what to do now—to ask that same question running throughout the Gospel of Luke, “What then should we do?” To wonder what this gospel, this story, this advent of the Messiah, means for us today, as we live out our lives as a form of waiting, waiting for another kind of Advent, the coming of Christ’s peace: the renewal of creation, the restoration of God’s goodness.
In the beginning the earth was without form. In the beginning the darkness roamed and did not hide. The darkness covered. The darkness ruled. In the beginning, there was no light. In the beginning hope was formed with a breath that declared, “Let there be.” And in response to her own voice the earth shifted and moved, and God said “Yes, this is good.”
Leipzig Service for the Shenandoah Bach Festival: June 18, 2017 Jesus must have learned his prophetic ministry from his mother. She was the one who said, “The Lord has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” […]
Ascension Day What did Jesus want? In thinking about this scene from the end of Luke’s Gospel, the ascension of Jesus, I’m wondering if this is what he wanted. This departure, this exit. “Lifting up his hands,” it says, “he blessed them. While he blessed them, he withdrew and was carried into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51). […]
“Stay with us” (Luke 24:32). That’s what Cleopas and the other disciple say to the stranger on the road—the stranger who they finally recognize as Jesus when he takes their bread, blesses it, breaks it, and feeds them in what appears to be a kind of Communion meal. Stay with us. It’s what we all […]
“Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Her heart. We glimpse Mary’s heart in our Bible passage today. A glimmer of her inner life, of what she thinks about, of what will flash through her thoughts over the years, the thirty-three years, as her child grows from infant in […]
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Dreadful portents. Signs from heaven. This part of the Bible, this passage from the Gospel of Luke, is called “the little apocalypse.” The word apocalypse means unveiling, uncovering, revelation, the truth exposed. The day after the election, in the neighborhood up the hill from our house, […]
“As Jesus entered a village, ten lepers approached him, keeping their distance” (Luke 17:12). These ten people aren’t even called people. They aren’t even acknowledged as human beings. They are called lepers. They are known as lepers. Their identity is leper. They are sick with a disease that made them outcasts. But, with Jesus, the […]
Mary Oliver’s poem, entitled Moments, makes me think of this week’s gospel text. Let me read it for us, and we’ll see what we can see: There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.Like, telling someone you love them.Or giving your money away, all of it.Your heart is beating, isn’t it?You’re not in chains, […]
When I looked over the scriptures for this week in preparation to preach, I found that the Exodus passage and the Luke passage presented an astonishing juxtaposition. The Exodus scene has God downright disgusted by the Israelites he led into the wilderness. The Israelites, perhaps out of impatience and boredom, created a golden calf to […]
12th Sunday after Pentecost This week’s texts are forward looking in different, if overlapping ways, and so I attempted to a certain extent to consider them together. In Genesis, Abram laments that he and Sarai remain childless together; he is unhappy with his present situation, and names his discontent before God. God promises a different […]