Sermons, Proclaim
222 Articles at Lifeissues.net

Proclaim is a leading resource used by thousands of pastors to help them with their preaching ministry every Sunday of the year. Our sermons are freshly written by our renowned staff of writers, based on the lectionary calendar, timed to today's concerns and are always biblically relevant.

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Articles

New! Surprised by God (Pentecost)

Pentecost is, above all else, a gracious surprise.

Date posted: 2024-05-13

New! Pick Me! ... Or Don't (Easter 7)

How do we select leadership in our churches? Do we sometimes overlook one key leader -- the Holy Spirit? This passage speaks of the first church and how it selected someone to fill a vacancy. We can learn a lot from it regarding what is good practice and what is not.

Date posted: 2024-05-07

New! A Happy Mother's Day? Maybe you'll decide that! (Mother's Day)

Often times, in the typical family, the loftiest intentions and hopes we hold fall apart the most dramatically at crucial and significant times Mother's Day can be like that. Set aside the flowers or corsages or chocolates or cards we may present mother on her day - for a moment, and let's spend some down-to-earth moments on what Mother's Day can actually be like, and our part in making that happen. Perhaps, beyond the "Happy Mother's Day" wishes we impart, whether it is or is not happy for her will depend to a large extent, on us - on you!

Date posted: 2024-05-06

New! What Comes Next? (Ascension)

We may feel discouraged in our ministry, as the disciples felt uncertain after the resurrection and discouraged that Jesus hadn't restored the kingdom to Israel. Nevertheless, with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can live out our ministry in hope and expectancy.

Date posted: 2024-05-02

New! Inappropriate Joy (Easter 6)

Jesus is spending time with the disciples to prepare them for his Passion and the trials they will face. During this teaching (John 14-17), Jesus mentions "joy" five times. Is it appropriate to even mention "joy" when the primary source of that joy is about to leave them? Jesus clearly knew about "joy" in ways that made a profound difference for him and his disciples, and we believe, for us.

Date posted: 2024-04-29

New! Threat or Promise? (Easter 5)

In this passage, Jesus defines the disciples' -- and our -- primary responsibility: to abide in him. Any bearing fruit or taking action on our part must be a direct result of our first abiding in him.

Date posted: 2024-04-22

New! So Much More Than a Hired Hand (Easter 4)

The risen Lord is our good shepherd, protecting us with self-giving love and gathering an expansive community into his one flock.

Date posted: 2024-04-15

New! A Ghost Story (Easter 3)

It's not every day that you see a ghost. In fact, you may never see one. Still, judging by numerous cultural examples, ghosts occupy a prominent place in the public consciousness. What's more, this belief goes back thousands of years. The disciples of today's gospel reading believed in ghosts, and for a good reason: They saw one!

Date posted: 2024-04-08

New! Doubting Thomas' Questions Help All of Us See (Easter 2)

The value of doubt is that it can lead us toward a resilient faith that can sustain us in good times and bad. Doubting Thomas proved that by refusing to believe the seemingly outrageous story of the resurrection of Jesus unless he had proof. And Jesus was happy to show Thomas the truth, just as Jesus is happy to lead us to eternal truths.

Date posted: 2024-04-01

Punchlines, Empty Spaces and Desert Places (Easter Sunday)

God surprises us with the news that Jesus is raised from the dead and present in the Christian community. Christ fills the emptiness inside us and leads us into the future that he desires for us.

Date posted: 2024-03-25

Behold the Lamb of God (Good Friday)

There's a looking-glass quality to the arrest and mock trial of Jesus, with its "sentence first -- verdict afterward," by the religious and civil authorities in Judea. The arresting party has both authority and the weaponry to put Jesus in custody, but they are blown over like a pack of cards by two little words. There is nothing, however, amusing about the horrifying death inflicted upon Jesus, although -- spoiler alert -- we know in advance that it's more than a matter of life and death -- it's death first, and abundant, eternal life for all of us afterwards.

Date posted: 2024-03-22

The Two Basins (Holy Thursday)

So often we fail to serve others, but Jesus serves us instead.

Date posted: 2024-03-21

Jesus and the "V" (Psalm Sunday)

So often, the church today seems to be many things, but not very humble. Apparently, this is an age-old problem, made evident in this letter written by the apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. The solution to selfish ambition and conceit is found in the humility of Jesus. But how do we adopt this type of humility? Perhaps it is in examining the extremes that Jesus is willing to take as he empties himself for our sake.

Date posted: 2024-03-18

Expanding Our Vision of Jesus (Lent 5)

Philip and Andrew bring a group of Greeks who have requested to see Jesus. Jesus takes this opportunity to continue teaching the disciples and us about his death and resurrection, and about our need to remain faithful followers. We need to be continually expanding our vision of Christ, so we do not stagnate in our faith.

Date posted: 2024-03-11

Life After Death After Life (Lent 4)

God offers salvation through simple belief. Salvation is God's initiative, not ours. We do nothing to cause it or earn it. It was already there before we knew we needed it. Jesus Christ in his ministry is living proof of this. This is our message to the world.

Date posted: 2024-03-04

Seeking a Sign (Lent 3)

Jesus confronts a hardened religious tradition by tossing it over and replacing it with an emphasis on his death and resurrection.

Date posted: 2024-02-26

The Right to an Attorney (Lent 2)

At first, it sounds great -- almost bragging. "If God is for us, who is against us?" But then, doubts set in. We have experienced life. No one, not even God, has promised us a rose garden. Many things can go wrong, and what's more, we often bring these calamities on ourselves. We feel as though God is not for us, and we stand accused in the highest court of the universe. It's not looking good. And then we learn that we have the right to an attorney.

Date posted: 2024-02-19

God's Job Description: Rescuer (Lent 1)

The famous story of a great flood and Noah's ark reveals a God who is so determined to rescue humanity from itself and from evil that nothing is too radical to consider, including a changing of the divine mind. This same redemptive God later smashes precedent and expectations again at Easter -- and today wants to rescue us, too.

Date posted: 2024-02-10

Come Back to Life (Ash Wednesday)

In the season of Lent, our merciful Lord invites us to return to him so that he can help us. God desires that we come back to life, back to loving and back to our best selves in the community of faith.

Date posted: 2024-02-08

Willing and Able (Ordinary Times 6)

When our Lord reached out to heal a leper, one of the untouchables of his day, he set for us an example by feeling both heartfelt pity and perhaps even righteous anger at the customs of his day, customs that isolated those who needed support and love the most. The leper set for us an example by coming forward boldly in faith -- recognizing that Jesus was able to heal miraculously -- but also acknowledging that it's up to God to decide when healing would take place.

Date posted: 2024-02-04

About Simon's Mother-in-Law (Ordinary Times 5)

Mark's Gospel gets right to the point. In chapter 1, it's clear that Jesus' teaching and healing are the mission. His healing of Simon's mother-in-law challenges us today to listen to the unassuming folks who never demand acknowledgment.

Date posted: 2024-01-29

A Fight on Our Hands (Ordinary Times 4)

Jesus' exorcism of an unclean spirit teaches us about the spiritual dimension to evil and the role of the church in fighting evil.

Date posted: 2024-01-22

God of the Redo (Ordinary Times 3)

Life is unpredictable, and we don't know what's around the next corner. Regardless of what's next, and regardless of our past, God does not give up on us. We will look at Jonah today and see that at the worst times in his life, God was still with him. Jonah had a redo with God's help, and we can have that too.

Date posted: 2024-01-15

The Call and the Failure of Eli and Sons (Ordinary Times 2)

This passage does not deal in the specifics of God's call. It simply speaks of the importance of the call of God, and reminds us, simply, that God does call, and that we need help -- sometimes from less than noble places -- in hearing and responding.

Date posted: 2024-01-09

After the Water Has Dried (Baptism of the Lord)

As Jesus begins the ministry of God's kingdom at his baptism, we are baptized to continue that ministry.

Date posted: 2024-01-02

Gifts Not to Give a Baby (Epiphany)

Imagine Mary's postpartum experience in scripture, reading as though it were happening today. Bethlehem would be the site of a media storm unparalleled in its history: TV cameramen in the streets, talking heads giving interviews and every social media site lighting up like Christmas trees. Think now of the parents in this story: Total strangers -- priests of another religion -- are in their home giving their child gifts that are -- to say the least -- not age appropriate.

Date posted: 2024-01-01

In With the New (Holy Family)

A first-person sermon for the threshold of a new year, in which the story of Simeon reminds us to be open to all God brings us that's new.

Date posted: 2023-12-23

The Truth About Snowflakes (Midnight Mass)

Every snowflake is different, but they all start out the same. It's only in the buffeting by the wind as they tumble to earth that they achieve their individual beauty. In many ways, we are the same. When it comes to our DNA, we are alike at the level of 99.9 %.1 Yet the buffeting of life makes us very different individuals. Every character in the Christmas story was also shaped by life's varied circumstances. And each of us -- like them -- is individually beautiful beyond belief.

Date posted: 2023-12-20

The Announcement (Advent 4)

The announcement to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Son of God has been the subject of many paintings. Of course, Mary is there, as well as the angel Gabriel who brings the message and a perhaps surprising dove. Mary is surprised that she is to be the mother because she is a virgin, but Gabriel tells her that the Holy Spirit will bring this about. That explains the dove, which is often used as a symbol for the Spirit. The Holy Trinity -- Father, Son and Spirit -- are at work here to bring about the salvation and renewal of the world.

Date posted: 2023-12-18

Showing the Way to the Life-Light (Advent 3)

Like the prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist was not himself the light. He came to show the way to the light. In the same way, we are challenged to share the life and the light of Jesus with others.

Date posted: 2023-12-12

What in (or out of) the World Are We Waiting For? (Advent 2)

John the Baptist, as portrayed in the beginning of Mark's gospel, gives us a model for what active, generative waiting looks like. It's waiting with hope that comes from outside of us, hope that transforms us, hope that points us toward where the spirit of the living Christ is active in the world, asking us to join him in helping to heal the world.

Date posted: 2023-12-05

Judgment Day for Juggers (Advent 1)

Juggers, police say, are thieves who rob you while you're shopping, withdrawing cash at an ATM or filling up your gas tank. Most of us would never consider being petty criminals like juggers. Yet Jesus suggests that unless we're vigilant, we too might be jugging time and our responsibilities in the kingdom of God -- especially if we think we can get away with it!

Date posted: 2023-11-28

They Didn't Know (Christ the King)

This Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is seen by many - in church and out - as a veritable "clobber passage," demanding a commitment to one understanding or another of social justice. But this passage has as much - or more - to do with mercy as it does with justice.

Date posted: 2023-11-26

Are You Sleeping? (Ordinary Times 33)

Whether we are sleeping or awake, Christ will return like a thief in the night. No one knows when that will be, so we have to be prepared at all times. Paul's message to the Thessalonians is to stay sober, rest well at night and don't sleep in the light. Like the first-century church, we need to stay awake so that we don't miss seeing the Lord's work that surrounds us.

Date posted: 2023-11-19

Faith in Christ Answers Ancient Questions (Ordinary Times 32)

As Paul deals with questions from the Thessalonian church, he speaks to us as well. Issues of life and death, faith, heaven and eternal life are all part of this treasured epistle.

Date posted: 2023-11-06

Where Does Humility Come From? (Ordinary Times 31)

Genuine, healthy forms of humility derive from spiritual growth that makes us into "good trees." We become humble out of gratitude for what God has done, and because it brings us true joy.

Date posted: 2023-10-30

How Should We Use the Bible? (Ordinary Times 30)

There are three reliable methods for hearing what God wants us to hear from a biblical passage: seek out preaching and teaching that is faithful and well-informed, let scripture interpret scripture and apply the rule of love.

Date posted: 2023-10-23

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose (Ordinary Times 29)

Jesus was given a stark choice - do we pay the hated tax to the emperor or not? Flip a coin. Both answers are losers. But Jesus answered, "None of the above." And that's one takeaway from this passage. Jesus transcended the trap of people who use clobber verses to "defeat" their foes. We are not to let the world - or the Bible trolls - control the conversation. Jesus is changing the world through the Sermon on the Mount, his parables and the victory from the cross to the empty tomb, and so are we - God's way.

Date posted: 2023-10-16

Two Parables for the Price of One (Ordinary Times 28)

In one parable, Jesus told of a king's invitation to his son's wedding banquet being ignored, with some of the king's messengers being killed. Those guilty of the crime and their city are destroyed, and other messengers are sent to bring anyone they can find to the banquet. In a second parable, the king finds that one of those brought in doesn't have a wedding garment. A living faith in Christ, with the good works that a living faith produces, is the festive garment that the king gives the wedding guests. We should wear it as well.

Date posted: 2023-10-09

Fruits of the Kingdom (Ordinary Times 27)

Jesus presents the church as a vineyard, one in which we can engage in fights or in fruitful labor. When harvest time comes, he wants us to be able to give good produce to God.

Date posted: 2023-10-02

To be Filled with Christ, We First Must Empty Ourselves (Ordinary Times 26)

As we work to rid ourselves of those aspects of ourselves that would compete with Christ for space within our hearts and minds, we can become more authentic followers of Jesus, who himself experienced a self-emptying that left behind his privileges of divinity so he could show us how to live.

Date posted: 2023-09-25

The Fairness Doctrine[1] (Ordinary Times 25)

Unfair labor practices were rampant when Jesus was alive. The story he tells in today's gospel lesson resonated with his listeners. They didn't scoff, and say to Jesus, "C'mon! Be real! That stuff doesn't happen! It can't happen. It's so obviously unfair!" No, the hired hands don't say this. The UFW (United Farm Workers) doesn't have their backs. There is no civil rights legislation to which they can appeal. They cannot submit a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There is no fairness doctrine to protect their right to be heard. They are forced to choose: fairness or following Jesus.

Date posted: 2023-09-18

A Tale of Two Servants (Ordinary Times 24)

Rather than offering a simple message of "forgive or you won't be forgiven," this parable offers a picture of what life in the church should be like, and of what life in the kingdom the church represents will be like.

Date posted: 2023-09-11

Curing Conflict (Ordinary Times 23)

Many people bristle at conflict and avoid difficult or emotionally charged situations. Having strategies for confronting conflict can promote healing and growth.

Date posted: 2023-09-04

Course Correction (Ordinary Times 22)

Our passage is about a time when Jesus showed Peter a "course correction" he needed to make. Had he not made that correction, Peter would have continued "setting his mind not on divine things but on human things." The good news for us is that Jesus is patient and willing to help us make course corrections as we follow him.

Date posted: 2023-08-29

Jesus Trusts the Church with the Keys (Ordinary Times 21)

When Jesus gives the keys of the kingdom to Peter, and by extension to the church, Jesus entrusts the church with the ministry of participating in the redeeming work that God has done and is doing in all creation. This promise sustains us in rough times, and encourages us when we see the fruit of our ministry.

Date posted: 2023-08-22

Encounter at the Border (Ordinary Times 20)

At life's borders, our determination to act in a Christlike way is often tested.

Date posted: 2023-08-15

Fear Not? We Can't Help It! (Ordinary Times 19)

What's in a word? Though some translations suggest the apostles were afraid that they were seeing a ghost, what really caused them to fear was they knew they were encountering the divine! How can we know that? This is the first spot in the Gospel of Matthew where a human being proclaims Jesus as the Son of God! We can call on Jesus and expect help, because truly, he is the Son of God!

Date posted: 2023-08-08

Seeing Ourselves as God Sees Us (Transfiguration)

Jesus is the Divine Presence in the Transfiguration although he was normally hidden within the human form. In our lives together as the Body of Christ, the trick is to see ourselves as we truly are -- a fellowship of immortals, gloriously reflecting the one who is Light of the World. For us to truly appreciate those who share the pew with us we'll have to imagine a little transfiguring in our midst.

Date posted: 2023-08-06

Unexpected Treasures (Ordinary Times 17)

The kingdom of heaven can be small but valuable. Unattractive at times, but important. Old, but still alive and well, and able to guide us and inspire us today.

Date posted: 2023-07-26

What if Explaining a Parable Is Fatal for It? (Ordinary Time 16)

When Jesus told the parable of the wheat and the tares, his disciples told him they didn't understand it, so they asked Jesus to explain it. He seemed to do just that in a direct way, but what if his explanation was theological "milk" because his followers weren't ready for theological "meat"?

Date posted: 2023-07-20

Farming 101 (Ordinary Time 15)

A young man like Peter Bliss, last year's Star Farmer for Future Farmers of America, knows about the importance of seed. Many factors determine the size of a harvest, but some facts are certain: if the seed has a hard time sprouting or taking root, the harvest will be weak. Jesus understood farming, and one day long ago, he told a story that is still a parable for our times.

Date posted: 2023-07-13

Be Like a Child, Not Like the Children (Ordinary Time 14)

In this chapter - a snapshot of moments in Jesus' later ministry - Jesus confronts doubt and weariness from a people oppressed by guilt, hard work, political occupation - name it! He offers a prescription for doubt and weariness from an unexpected place.

Date posted: 2023-07-10

Welcoming Jesus (Ordinary Time 13)

If you have ever been surprised by the sudden appearance of in-laws at the door of your home, you know that hospitality can be a burden. If we never had to serve another turkey dinner or grill steaks on the barbie for guests, it would not bother us in the least. Yet, at some point, we cannot get away from the fact that Jesus encourages us to be welcoming. Fine. Does that mean anything more than simply being polite?

Date posted: 2023-06-29

A Hostile Environment. (Ordinary Time 12)

The issue of climate change and the impact of severe weather have become a political hot button and a topic that can quickly boil over into fierce arguments, fueling our feelings of impotence and apathy. But we don't have to be trapped in "us-versus-them" binaries. Jesus offers an alternative throughout the gospel: Love each other.

Date posted: 2023-06-22

Master Class. (Ordinary Time 11)

Jesus, after teaching, proclaiming the Good News and curing "every disease and every sickness," called his disciples to that same ministry. We are called to that same ministry as well.

Date posted: 2023-06-15

So you never took a course to become a parent? (Fathers Day)

Many of the people in early North America taught their sons to become warriors. It was apparently a part of sheer survival. Somehow, modern North American parents have adopted that pattern - not out of necessity or survival - but as a way of life. That is not God's plan for parenting or for living or for the values we pass on to our children. God's word talks the language of mercy and gentleness. It's the same model we see lived out in the life of Jesus Christ. It's not an option for those who follow Christ. It is a way of life that God has promised to bless - for families, for parents, and for the children they nurture and bless in Our Lord's name.

Date posted: 2023-06-14

Not Calling for A Show of Hands. (Corpus Christi)

When Jesus referred to Holy Communion as eating his body and drinking his blood, he did not consult a pollster, conduct a focus group or ask for suggestions. He told the rock bottom truth that we share the literal Bread of Life. Period.

Date posted: 2023-06-08

Got Peace? (Trinity Sunday)

True peace is not the product of our own efforts but is a gift from God.

Date posted: 2023-06-01

The Holy Spirit's Resume. (Pentecost)

Christ gives his disciples the Spirit on the first Easter evening, but the story of the Spirit in the world goes back to creation. The Spirit was active among God's people before Christ's coming, and accompanied and empowered Christ in his ministry. Arisen, Christ gives the Spirit to the church, with authority to reprove sin and call sinners to faith in his saving work.

Date posted: 2023-05-25

A Gospel Without an Ascension. (Ascension)

The story of the ascension of Jesus is told in Mark and Luke, and John hints at it in several places. But Jesus never ascends in Matthew. Instead, he gives us new insights into the nature of God, our mission as Christians and his ongoing presence with us.

Date posted: 2023-05-18

Being "One" Doesn't Mean Boring Uniformity. (Easter 7)

In his high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus prayed that his followers may "be one." But what does that really mean? Are Christians all supposed to belong to the same denomination? Should our worship style be the same from church to church? Or is Jesus praying for something richer and deeper?

Date posted: 2023-05-14

Mary Had a Little Lamb. (Mothers Day)

In a rearrangement of the time-honored "Mary had a little lamb" nursery rhyme, we can bring a new perspective to motherhood and mothering. The virtue is not the sole province of women, but a characteristic to be nurtured in all. Christ's embodiment of "nurturing" gives a radical new perspective to the concept of the Lamb of God and by that lamb we are led.

Date posted: 2023-05-12

Your Cheatin' Heart. (Easter 6)

More than 70 years ago, "Your Cheatin' Heart" was released and instantly became a country music classic. Jesus knew something about cheating hearts. In fact, his words to his disciples recorded in today's text were uttered within days of his betrayal and death. Judas betrayed him in the Garden of Gethsemane and did so with a cheatin' kiss. And the cheatin' would continue.

Date posted: 2023-05-11

Troubled Hearts Find the Way. (Easter 5)

These words, from Jesus to his closest followers in his final days on earth, are words of assurance for any who respond to his life in the world. They are not words of condemnation, meant to divide us into those who are "in" and those who are "out."

Date posted: 2023-05-04

Flocking to the Shepherd. (Easter 4)

The good shepherd reigns in Christian imagination as the ideal pastor, though pastoral leaders are human, with human frailties. The Good Shepherd offers an opportunity to be in community together, in spite of our differences and divisions.

Date posted: 2023-04-27

A Way to Holiness. (Easter 3)

Peter's first letter to the churches gives great teaching around his call to holiness. Our task is to let this teaching influence and shape how we live Christian lives among unbelievers.

Date posted: 2023-04-20

How Jesus Used His Wounds. (Easter 2)

The focus in John 20:19-31 should not be on Thomas, but on Jesus' willingness to take initiative to overcome Thomas' doubts. Jesus allows Thomas the most intimate of encounters, exposing the wounds in Jesus' side, to reach out to Thomas to help him overcome his doubt.

Date posted: 2023-04-13

The Tremors of an Old World Dying. (Easter Vigil)

As Jesus was raised, there was a whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

Date posted: 2023-04-06

What Just Happened Out There?. (Good Friday)

We know what happened on Good Friday. It's right there in the creed: Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. But what does it mean? The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wants us to remember Jesus refused the temptation in the wilderness to accept a shortcut to perfection. It is only through endurance while suffering that we truly grow beyond the cross to become resurrected disciples and a revitalized church.

Date posted: 2023-04-05

Proclaiming the Death of the Living One. (Holy Thursday)

The startling message that Jesus died and yet lives is proclaimed every time the Lord's Supper is celebrated. That's true even though it may be hard for people to see how that reality saves us, changing condemnation to salvation. Preaching must use the resources of scripture to expound the "how." And the fact that we share together in the Lord's Supper is a sign that we are not saved simply as individuals but as a community.

Date posted: 2023-04-04

A Week of Light, Shadows and Darkness. (Palm Sunday)

Holy Week is a journey from light to darkness, one that forces us to face our own betrayals, weaknesses, denials and acts of injustice. But Jesus is always with us, as the light of the world.

Date posted: 2023-03-30

What Jesus Said to Lazarus, He Also Says to Us. (Lent 5)

When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus had died, he did nothing for a few days. Not because he didn't care but because he saw in this death an opportunity to show his followers more clearly who he is and was. The story is complex and raises lots of good questions.

Date posted: 2023-03-24

Wake-Up Call. (Lent4)

A salesman staying at a hotel gets an unwanted wake-up call on his first morning in town. Unable to get back to sleep, he browses through the room's Bible. A verse in Ephesians about waking up and arising in the light of Christ catches his attention. His experiences over the next days help him begin to see how to live in the light and expose the works of darkness.

Date posted: 2023-03-17

The Disciples at the Well. (Lent 3)

This story rightfully focuses on the Samaritan woman. But the church would do well to focus on the actions of another "character" here: the disciples. After all, "they" are "us."

Date posted: 2023-03-04

Blessings. (Lent 2)

God calls Abram to a life of potential hardship, rife with risk and hazards. Offering divine blessing acknowledges the difficulty but promises divine companionship.

Date posted: 2023-02-24

So Many Ways to be Tempted; One Sure Way Forward. (Lent 1)

No one is exempt from temptation, not even Jesus. Jesus was tempted but did not sin. Instead, he showed us by example how to live a life of faithfulness.

Date posted: 2023-02-17

Chaotic Generosity. (Ash Wednesday)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers us grace and blessing, which comes before the call to deeper discipleship. God's grace goes to the core of our being, so that we act in obedience from the inside out, resulting in generous giving.

Date posted: 2023-02-13

The War Within. (Ordinary Time 7)

Our Lord calls us to resist violence, but not with more violence.

Date posted: 2023-02-10

Saved by the Lawgiver. (Ordinary Time 6)

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states the law's demands quite strictly. Even minor infractions are condemned. But the same Jesus invites and welcomes sinners, and finally dies for them. And the fact that death could not hold him means that he is the one in whom we can put our deepest trust.

Date posted: 2023-02-03

When the Church Is Salty and Bright. (Ordinary Time 5)

Salty Christians show a powerful love that prevents the church from going bad. Bright-light ones act in ways that are good and right and true. When we put salt and light together, people will be drawn to Jesus Christ.

Date posted: 2023-01-30

The Beatitudes Challenge Our Culture on Many Fronts. (Ordinary Time 4)

In some ways the Beatitudes have become so familiar to many Christians that they miss how counter-cultural they are. One way to see them in fresh ways is to read them in unfamiliar translations that can help uncover at least some of how Jesus' first hearers might have received them.

Date posted: 2023-01-25

The Day After Christmas (Christmas - 2022)

The birth of Jesus did not change the outward circumstances of the people in Luke's narrative or of our lives. Nevertheless, the birth of the Messiah brought joy, presence and hope to everyone.

Date posted: 2022-12-17

Our Village, Our Time (Advent 4 - 2022)

We are told that it takes a village to raise a child. We see in this Christmas story that it also takes a village to welcome the Christ child, and to welcome God. May we be that village.

Date posted: 2022-12-08

Truth in the Wilderness (Advent 3 - 2022)

In wilderness experiences, we may find prophets who help us learn who we are and whose we are.

Date posted: 2022-12-07

Fantasy ... or a Vision of Things to Come? (Advent 2 - 2002)

Isaiah's description of "the peaceful kingdom" is a beautiful picture of a world where the Messiah has entered. Peace and harmony and righteousness are in full bloom. Even the animals are at complete peace. However, we all know the work of the Messiah in our world is not yet fully realized. We are called, as God's people, to work toward that vision of things to come.

Date posted: 2022-11-30

Learn, Unlearn, Relearn (Advent 1 - 2022)

Learning war no more, beating swords into plows and spears into pruning hooks is a daunting task and doomed to failure ... without three - maybe, four - vital life skills.

Date posted: 2022-11-17

Immigrants, All (Christ The King - 2022)

When it comes to the reign of Christ, we are all immigrants.

Date posted: 2022-11-10

The End of the World As We Know It (Ordinary Times 33 - 2022)

Keeping alert for the coming of Jesus doesn't mean doing nothing but waiting for the glory to begin. We don't know when the Master will return, but we should know we're expected to keep working hard for the kingdom of justice and mercy, seeking, whether we succeed or not, to set God's world in order. Serve others. Serve Christ.

Date posted: 2022-11-03

Those on Whom the Ends of the Ages Have Come (Ordinary Times 32 - 2022)

A group of Sadducees present Jesus with a challenge to the belief in a future resurrection. While Jesus' answer silences them, it doesn't actually prove that the dead will be raised. Later, when Jesus appeared alive to his disciples after his death on the cross, they began to proclaim the resurrection - not as a doctrine, but first of all, as Jesus himself. The risen Jesus Christ is the reality of resurrection, and all those in Christ will share it.

Date posted: 2022-11-01

Crazy Walls (All Saints 2022)

We don't need a "crazy wall" to understand Revelation. All we need to do is look into eternity beside John the Revelator, take comfort from the peace enjoyed by our dearly departed saint and recognize that we are part of what's happening right now. Hold on. We can do this.

Date posted: 2022-10-18

Will Your Money Put You Outside of God's Love?. (ordinary 31, 2022)

When a Roman tax collector goes looking for Jesus, Jesus already was looking for him. And Jesus had terrific news to give him. In our day, we must find ways to look for that same Savior, who already is looking for us. Finding him will be our greatest treasure.

Date posted: 2022-09-19

Jesus, the Pope and the Tax Collector. (ordinary 30, 2022)

Want to get on God's good side? Here are two strategies, and you won't believe what really works!

Date posted: 2022-09-17

The Absent Adversary. (ordinary 29, 2022)

This is, to be sure, a parable about praying without ceasing. But it is also an exhortation to care, to show up, to simply be present and ready to receive what we claim we want.

Date posted: 2022-09-15

Is It So Hard to Say "Thank You"?. (ordinary 28, 2022)

Grace is freely given even when gratitude is not obviously shown. Gratitude is a response to grace and may not be immediate or ostentatious. More often than not, we may not be aware of gratitude shown for grace that is freely given.

Date posted: 2022-09-12

Putting Our Faith to Work. (ordinary 27, 2022)

Faith is an elusive, sought-after commodity of the Christian life. Putting our faith to work makes it stronger and makes the world a better place.

Date posted: 2022-09-10

A Blind Eye and a Dry Tongue. (ordinary 26, 2022)

We accept faith, or grow our faith, not by dramatic events or fear of punishment, but by responding in our everyday lives through study, devotion and care for others, to the revelation that God has given us.

Date posted: 2022-08-13

The Sure Thing. (ordinary 25, 2022)

If only people of faith could show the same enthusiasm for giving that greedy people show for accumulating wealth!

Date posted: 2022-08-12

Welcome to My World. (ordinary 24 2022)

The stories of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin represent two-thirds of a trilogy of parables completed by the parable of the Prodigal Son. The first and third parables tell us something about God, to be sure, but the middle parable - involving women, a lost coin and living successfully above the poverty line - is set in our world. The Real World.

Date posted: 2022-08-11

Paul's Problem and America's. (ordinary 23 2022)

Paul had a difficult letter to write to Philemon, and today that letter about an escaped slave can provoke debate in the United States, where slavery is automatically associated with race. And while slavery is in our past, it created injustices that persist. Christians can influence the way society deals with those injustices by being a community that really displays the love of Christ.

Date posted: 2022-08-10

Unexpected Hospitality. (ordinary 22 2022)

In the ancient world, hospitality was a mutual exchange of favors. But in the teachings of Jesus, the practice became non-reciprocal. He challenges us to care specifically for those who cannot repay us: the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.

Date posted: 2022-07-13

The Mystery of the Narrow Door. (ordinary 21 2022)

Perhaps there are some things more interesting than doors, but not many. Open doors are welcoming while closed doors are rude and foreboding. Doors represent opportunities, possibilities and challenges. Jesus says that we should "strive" to pass through the "narrow" door. Then he utters an ominous warning: Many "will try to enter and will not be able." What does he mean?

Date posted: 2022-07-12

The Fire of Jesus. (ordinary 20 2022)

After a quick reading of this text, we might dismiss it as being an obvious mis-remembering of what Jesus actually said. Perhaps Luke has injected his own political perspective into a conversation which, many years after the fact, he can only dimly recall. However, a closer look at Jesus' manic outburst is telling a[euro]* telling us that he said what he meant and meant what he said.

Date posted: 2022-07-11

Don't Be Afraid of the Thief. (ordinary 19 2022)

This is a message that challenges our fear, on a couple of levels. It challenges the fear that confronts us now -- fear of plague, loss, disease and death. And it challenges our hidden fear of Christ's return like a thief in the night -- and the loss that that will bring

Date posted: 2022-07-10

The Ripple Effect (ordinary 18 2022)

The parable of the rich fool leaves room to think about the good he could have done with his abundance and the positive ripple effect it could have had. This has implications for our churches.

Date posted: 2022-07-05

Prayer That Makes Sense (ordinary 17 2022)

Luke's telling of the "Lord's Prayer" is shorter than the account found in Matthew. Here, Jesus includes a couple of illustrations that help us to understand. Making sense of prayer is easier some days than others, but it should always be an important part of every believer's life.

Date posted: 2022-07-04

In Defense of Just Sitting and Listening for a While (ordinary 16 2022)

Sandwiched between the parable of the Good Samaritan and Jesus' teachings about prayer, the narrative about Mary listening while Martha works teaches us that study prepares us for our devotional life and for serving our neighbors. All of these things form a part of our struggle against evil.

Date posted: 2022-07-03

Get Dirty (ordinary 15 2022)

Jesus told a parable about our ability to receive a seed from God and produce an abundant harvest. If we are good soil, we'll be amazed by what is created.

Date posted: 2022-07-02

Our Limited Minds, Our Weary Souls (ordinary 14 2022)

Even though Jesus teaches us that we can never fully understand God, we can use our intellects to gain a deeper perspective on what God reveals. All people, despite education or sophistication, can find rest for their souls in Jesus.

Date posted: 2022-07-01

The Middle Way Isn't the Easy Way (Ordinary Time 13)

Having told his disciples for the second time what would happen to him in Jerusalem, Jesus sets his face decisively for that city. We're told about three people who want to follow Jesus "but" - but want to put their own conditions on discipleship. As he is starting out with the Twelve, Jesus has to rebuke two of them who want to punish a city that refused to receive him. Those two extremes, of halfway commitment and fanaticism, are to be distinguished from a total commitment to follow the way of Jesus.

Date posted: 2022-06-04

It's Difficult to Be a Father! (Father's Day)

It's easy to become a father; it's hard to be a father. As Christ loved and led the church, so fathers must love and lead the family. The path to such a worthy position is a serious pilgrimage of growth and development from self-focus to selfless focus. There need be no apology for such fatherhood - it is of God.

Date posted: 2022-06-03

Good Bread (Corpus Christi)

Of all the aromas that emanate from a kitchen, none matches the nostalgia-inducing scent of a freshly baked loaf of bread. Yet, many people avoid bread today because of health concerns. Bread is bad, say many nutrition experts. Today's gospel text takes another view, and even goes so far as to advocate for what the reading describes as the "Bread of Life."

Date posted: 2022-06-02

The Triune God is Calling, Calling, Calling (Trinity Sunday)

The Christian idea of the Holy Trinity is derived from a careful reading of the Bible, and it's not just theological inside-baseball talk meant to confuse outsiders. Rather, it's an important way to understand who God is and what God is calling us to be and do.

Date posted: 2022-06-01

Planting Forever (Pentecost 2022)

The church has already been planted. We need not wait for it to happen again. We have been given what we need. May we go forth and proclaim it again, and again, and ....

Date posted: 2022-05-28

The Love of Divine Prayer (Easter Sunday 7)

Jesus's final act is to pray for his friends and disciples. We are invited to the kind of intimate relationship Jesus has with God, not as eavesdroppers, but as active participants in a lifestyle of divine love.

Date posted: 2022-05-26

Jesus Sends Us Into the World (Easter Sunday 6)

Jesus sends us out to do ministry in a world that can be anything from hostile to apathetic towards our work. Jesus has sent the Advocate or Holy Spirit to guide and teach us. Despite the problems we might face, Jesus offers us peace.

Date posted: 2022-05-20

Standing Around Doing Nothing (Ascension)

Jesus taught the disciples that the kingdom of God was at hand, and they all had a part to play in it. The kingdom continues to this day, and we all have a part to play.

Date posted: 2022-05-19

Love's Daily Choice (Easter Sunday 5)

Loving others is a choice we must continually make.

Date posted: 2022-04-19

Parents -- Partners with the Lord (Mother's Day)

Even though Mother's Day is not a religious holiday or spiritual observance in origin, the Bible certainly gives evidence that motherhood and parenthood are God's training ground for Christian values.

Date posted: 2022-04-18

Sheep Get Like Shepherds, and Shepherds Like Sheep (Easter Sunday 4)

There's no question that those who encounter Jesus in the Gospel of John are transformed, but the gospel also seems to show that Jesus, God's presence on Earth, is transformed as he comes to understand what it means to be human. Say what you like, but this is good news!

Date posted: 2022-04-17

Why Praise the Lamb? (Easter Sunday 3)

This text consists of two hymns of praise to the Lamb, Christ and God by the heavenly hosts, but no reason for these praises is given. If we put these hymns in the context of the whole of Revelation, we see that the Lamb will open the scroll that reveals God's "game plan" for the world, a plan that ends with the defeat of evil and the heavenly city coming down to earth.

Date posted: 2022-04-16

Seeing Isn't Believing (Easter Sunday 2)

When we cannot see the future clearly, we are challenged to make a leap of faith. But Jesus will support us when we believe his words and trust his instructions.

Date posted: 2022-04-15

From Dark to Dawn to Light (Easter Sunday)

Today's reading tells us that Mary Magdalene awakened on Easter morning "while it was still dark." As the text goes on to explain what she does next, the reader learns that her actions and those of Peter and John are a template for how we often journey from dark to dawn to the full light of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. This is where we are today: in the light of Easter morning!

Date posted: 2022-04-14

Jesus Saves Us Even From Ourselves (Good Friday)

Because many people have heard the Good Friday story so often, they may think they know it through and through. But what they overlook in the story can be as important as what they think they already know.

Date posted: 2022-04-12

Follow the Muddy Footprints (Holy Thursday)

Jesus sets a simple example of service -- not only of giving service, but of receiving it. He shows those who claim his name how to treat one another. In this tableau of enacted love, the church and the world are shown what it is to live in anticipation of the kingdom of God coming amongst us.

Date posted: 2022-04-11

Never Forget (Palm Sunday)

The memory that binds a community together is not necessarily a photographic representation of the past. Remembering often means reliving the ways in which a community came together to support each other to create a new way forward.

Date posted: 2022-04-10

Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord (Lent 5)

Psalm 126 is a historical psalm, probably related to the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian exile. Having experienced the release from captivity, the people need God to restore them once again. What God did for them, he can do for us.

Date posted: 2022-03-10

Rolling Away Our Disgrace (Lent 4)

The disgrace of Egypt lasted for decades among the people of Israel. After they crossed the Jordan, God directed Joshua to roll away the disgrace. God heals us of such things as addiction, unhealthy religion and damage from racism, even though the effects can be long-term.

Date posted: 2022-03-06

What Have We Learned? (Lent 3)

God speaks to us -- maybe even especially so -- in the midst of disaster.

Date posted: 2022-03-04

Look to the Skies! (Lent 2)

If we begin our Lenten journey in a spirit of discouragement, it is good to remember Abram and Sarai's discouragement when God's promises were not quickly fulfilled. The signs of God's faithfulness are all around us if we but look. More importantly, taking part in God's great promise may be the first step to believing God and having it reckoned to us as righteousness.

Date posted: 2022-03-02

Spitting at the Devil (Lent 1)

Luke's account shows that even after Jesus had rejected the devil's offer of world power. Jesus' temptations continued all the way to the cross. As we begin Lent, we're reminded that temptations will continue through life, that we will sometimes fail and that because of Christ's faithfulness we can get back up when we fall.

Date posted: 2022-02-26

Instructions for Lent (Ash Wednesday)

The prophet Joel offers guidance that fits Ash Wednesday perfectly: Return, learn, gather and pray

Date posted: 2022-01-18

Is Jesus Just Stringing Us Along? (Ordinary Times 8)

After Jesus describes the values that should be in operation in the reign of God on Earth, he offers his followers several specific rules for living that should result in a world full of compassion, wisdom, mercy, generosity and love. Each one is a pearl of great price. And each one is a gift of grace.

Date posted: 2022-01-16

... To You That Listen (Ordinary Times 7)

Jesus aims these hard teachings at ... you who listen. Are we listening? What shall we who are listening do? How shall we "be," in this increasingly polarized world?

Date posted: 2022-01-14

Be a Blessing (Ordinary Times 6)

The Beatitudes demonstrate God's commitment to valuing the people he created. Will we hold up our responsibility to show love to each other?

Date posted: 2022-01-12

Change: of Occupation, of Direction, of Life (Ordinary Times 5)

Jesus calls Simon Peter from fishing for fish to fishing for people. This remarkable exchange illuminates how there is hope for everyone, especially those who, hailing from the margins of society, see themselves as sinful and worthless. Jesus is looking for exactly them ... and he's still looking today.

Date posted: 2022-01-10

God's Infuriating Grace (Ordinary Times 4)

The fact that God loves all people has not always been well received. But because of God's love for us, we have a responsibility to grow into maturity, including healing our emotions.

Date posted: 2021-11-22

This Blessed Day (Ordinary Times 3)

In matters of the spirit, we can get lost in the past or the future; it's only in the present that we encounter God.

Date posted: 2021-11-19

Like It Matters (Ordinary Times 2)

The first sign Jesus performed in the Gospel of John is invisible. Only the servants whom no one is paying attention to really see what Jesus is about. What's this to you and me? Well, maybe God doesn't have to call our attention to every divine action in our lives, but rest assured, God is involved, God is among us and God cares not only that we find a way through troubles, but that we enjoy ourselves on occasion as well.

Date posted: 2021-11-17

Like Us in Every Respect (Baptism of the Lord)

It seems at first that Luke downplays the fact that Jesus received a baptism of repentance for sins. Christians zealous to defend Christ's divinity haven't always stressed his genuine humanity strongly enough. But the Bible is clear about him sharing our vulnerability and suffering, and his fellowship with sinners. In reality, Luke doesn't downplay Jesus' baptism but emphasizes that the sinless Jesus was baptized with sinners as part of his saving work. We're invited now to reflect on who Jesus is for us today.

Date posted: 2021-11-15

Defusing Unexploded Bombs (Epiphany)

Many forces in human life can shatter families and ruin friendships. But we can defuse explosive situations by showing gentleness and patience, speaking the truth in love, and forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us.

Date posted: 2021-11-13

Setting Expectations (Holy Family)

Holidays, celebrations and traditions set our expectations for who we are and what we will experience. If we can pause and ask ourselves what we need, perhaps we can see ourselves and the season in new ways.

Date posted: 2021-11-11

In the Beginning (Christmas Day)

If you were asked to tell the story of Christmas, you'd probably mention a long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, shepherds and sheep, a sky full of singing angels, the wise men from the east, the inn with a "No Vacancy" sign and of course, a very pregnant Mary and a concerned Joseph. But today's gospel reading doesn't mention any of these events. What's going on?

Date posted: 2021-11-09

The Gifts Given Before the First Christmas (Advent 4)

Two remarkable women, each carrying a miraculous child, meet. That meeting leads to prophecy and joy and blessings. God's word and blessings come to us in many ways, and when we are faithful and obedient, God uses us to bring his message to a world desperate for hope and peace.

Date posted: 2021-11-07

The Lord's Bright Blessing (Advent 3)

It's difficult to be cheerful when there's so much left to do this holiday season, especially when we're trying to make up for all we missed last year due to the pandemic. The last thing we need is someone telling us not to worry - unless it's the apostle Paul, writing to Philippi from death row in Rome - whose message of joy should serve us as well now as it did 2,000 years ago! Don't worry. Rejoice!

Date posted: 2021-11-05

Begin With the End in Mind (Advent 2)

Peak performers are visualizers who see, feel and experience things before they do them. In Christian life, God offers us a vision and then helps us to achieve it.

Date posted: 2021-11-03

The Advent of Hope (Advent 1)

Many self-proclaimed prophets have predicted the end of the world and the date of the Second Coming. But that's a fool's game. The job of Christians is to watch with Christ and respond to the wounds and needs of people, trusting that we can leave the ultimate fate of the world to our loving God.

Date posted: 2021-11-01

Now and Then and on the Way (Christ The King)

For the writer of Revelation, there is One who is God today and was God yesterday and is the God who is coming - coming from the future. God's future, the resurrection of the dead on the last day, has already begun with the Easter resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who know that Christ is king form a community to call all people into God's future.

Date posted: 2021-10-30

Who Needs Sacrifice? (Ordinary Times 33)

These passages, remote as they may seem to modern and postmodern ears, reflect a reality about the human condition that speaks as insistently to us, today, as it did to the early church finding its identity in Christ.

Date posted: 2021-10-29

Jesus the High Priest Who Offers Forgiveness and Purification (Ordinary Times 32)

In both the sacrificial system of the Hebrew Bible and the sacraments of the Christian faith, God works to bridge the broken relationship between God and humanity.

Date posted: 2021-10-27

Open the Gates of Glory (All Saints)

Psalm 24 invites us to join the processional through God's holy gates into the living temple. The call and response of the psalm invites us not only to witness, but to take part in the glory of the Lord. We don't need to pack a suitcase.

Date posted: 2021-10-26

Ten, Two or One? A Scribe, the Kingdom of God and You (10/31/21 Ordinary Time 31)

In this exchange with an earnest and well-meaning scribe, Jesus teaches the scribe, and us, not only what is the greatest commandment, but what is the one overarching purpose of every commandment.

Date posted: 2021-09-18

Sightings (10/24/21 Ordinary Time 30)

In this exchange with an earnest and well-meaning scribe, Jesus teaches the scribe, and us, not only what is the greatest commandment, but what is the one overarching purpose of every commandment.

Date posted: 2021-09-17

A Race to the Bottom (10/17/21 Ordinary Time 29)

James and John ask Jesus to "do whatever they ask of him." Jesus uses their asking for places of honor in the kingdom as an opportunity to talk about true discipleship, which is seen not in positions of glory, but in places of service. Indeed, for followers of Christ, it is a "race to the bottom" - not seeking to be recognized so much as to be in service for God.

Date posted: 2021-09-16

Be Careful What You Ask For (10/10/21 Ordinary Time 28)

Rather than teaching us that we can buy our way into heaven, that we can keep our money as long as we don't love it or offering a message about grace, Jesus calls us to take a risk to build up treasure in heaven.

Date posted: 2021-09-15

Welcome the Child (10/03/21 Ordinary Time 27)

Jesus welcomes children: both literal children and the inner child in all of us.

Date posted: 2021-09-14

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (9/26/21 Ordinary Time 26)

When the apostle John catches others healing others in the name of Jesus, he tries to put a stop to it, but Jesus will have none of it. We are on the same side. God's audacious aim is to save the whole world. Therefore, whoever is not against us is for us. Isn't it just like God to be merciful and hopeful about everyone? Including us.

Date posted: 2021-09-13

Wisdom From Above (9/19/21 Ordinary Time 25)

Our text contrasts a false self-seeking "wisdom" with "wisdom from above" that leads to good relationships. The whole letter of James focuses on right behavior, and says little about Jesus by name. But in light of traditions about wisdom in the Hebrew scriptures that Christians used to speak about Jesus, we can see the letter's encouragement to live with wisdom as another way of speaking about following Jesus.

Date posted: 2021-09-12

What Makes Us Sick? (8/29/21 Ordinary Time 22)

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) strongly believes that junk food is dangerous to one's health. You don't need to be a foodie, the agency says, but you shouldn't be a junkie either. But in today's scripture reading, Jesus seems to disagree. He has a radical theory about what truly makes us sick.

Date posted: 2021-08-24

How to Answer Peter's Question (8/22/21 Ordinary Time 21)

Some followers of Jesus began walking away from him in response to something he said that they found difficult and confusing. But Peter said he and others of the Twelve would stay because they knew Jesus is the Holy One of God. Followers of Jesus today are challenged to follow Peter's example and commit themselves fully to Christ.

Date posted: 2021-07-23

Running on Time (8/15/21 Ordinary Time 20)

The Bible speaks of four dimensions of time: past, present, future and eternity. But it is in the present where time most closely touches eternity.

Date posted: 2021-07-22

Imitating God (8/08/21 Ordinary Time 19)

The life of faith is not just a matter of awe and reverence for God and Jesus and the Holy Trinity; nor is it only a matter of having the correct answers to theological questions. The life of faith, Paul tells us, calls us to do the hard work of imitating God.

Date posted: 2021-07-21

Healing Our Hungers (8/1/21 Ordinary Time 18)

As in other places in scripture, John draws a connection between food and faith. Jesus came as the bread of life, who feeds our spiritual hunger. One way to respond is to heal our relationship to physical food.

Date posted: 2021-07-20

No Crowd-Funded King (7/25/21 Ordinary Time 17)

Our tradition refers to Jesus as "king" ad infinitum, and that is fine and good and certainly not ad nauseam - but this passage offers us some surprising insights about the kind of king he might be. What kind of king is he - and what kind of subjects are we to be?

Date posted: 2021-07-06

The Labor of Compassion

Compassion is a way of seeing, of feeling, of seeing again, and then of doing.

Date posted: 2021-07-05

The Big Picture

During the past century, scientific investigations have revealed the vast extent of our universe in both space and time, raising questions about the significance of our lives on this single planet. Our text from Ephesians is about the meaning of our lives and the whole creation from a different standpoint, that of faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God's plan is for "all things" to be united in fellowship with Christ.

Date posted: 2021-07-03

Good Trouble

Christians face rejection when they work for justice on behalf of the powerless. But Jesus found, in his hometown, that his own words and work caused offense.

Date posted: 2021-06-22

Taking Jesus at His Word

In this account of Jesus healing two people, we see two common threads: taking Jesus at his word and admitting that one's need is greater than one's resources. Regardless of how far medicine and science and knowledge advance, we should never keep Jesus out of the picture.

Date posted: 2021-06-22

The Question Game

It's annoying when someone repeatedly responds to a question with another question. Try it sometime, but only if you want to be considered an irritating and egotistical boor, or evasive and non-responsive. Yet, in today's gospel reading, all of the spoken words between Jesus and his disciples are questions! What's going on?

Date posted: 2021-06-08

A Most Extraordinary Ordinary Time

We are confident that we have access to something greater than the body, in this life, even though the body and physical reality are really all we can see and really know, because "... we walk by faith, not by sight." Faith is a walk, not just something we claim to see. We claim life beyond physical reality by way of how we walk while in the body.

Date posted: 2021-06-08

Who’s Your Daddy?

By grace we are all adopted into God’s family.

Date posted: 2021-05-18

Holy Spirit Ears

Experiencing the Holy Spirit is a community event, not a moment of private spirituality. Communication requires community participation, both of speakers and listeners. Speakers need listeners if they are to be understood.

Date posted: 2021-05-17

Rolling the Dice

After the death of Judas, the disciples met, nominated two candidates to replace him, prayed and then cast lots. That seems like an odd way to go about the work of the Lord. But regardless of what method we use to call leadership in the church, prayer is essential, as well as faith that it is God who strengthens us and makes us equal to the task.

Date posted: 2021-05-16

Filled to the Brim

Jesus wants us to be completely flooded and fulfilled with joy. Such filling happens when we practice self-giving love."

Date posted: 2021-05-03

It's Always Pruning Season

Using metaphorical language, Jesus describes himself as the true vine and God as the vine dresser. And he insists that his followers stay connected to the vine so they can produce good fruit. What this requires is pruning away whatever gets in the way of that vital task.

Date posted: 2021-04-28

The Hired Hand

Summary: The hired hand as a heroic, perhaps mythic figure, is ingrained into the fabric of American's history, especially in the West. Often, hired hands were nomadic, working on a ranch in Wyoming in the summer and Arizona in the winter. Jesus mentions the hired hand in today's gospel reading, so the concept is worth another look. What we find out is that possibly Jesus himself was a hired hand. Or does he really fit this definition? Perhaps there is, as Jesus suggests, a crucial difference between himself as the "Good Shepherd" and a hired hand.

Date posted: 2021-04-19

Bearing Witness to the Resurrection

Just before his ascension Jesus had some last words for his disciples. One statement, "You are witnesses of these things," had special significance for the disciples, and it has special significance for disciples today. Being a witness is not optional. We ARE witnesses; we need to consider how we bear witness to the Resurrection.

Date posted: 2021-04-13

The Encouragers

Life includes plenty of sources of discouragement, but encouraging others is a true Christian ministry. We can encourage others by building them up, praying for them, stating the vision and offering direct words of encouragement.

Date posted: 2021-04-10

The Last Word (Easter Sunday Homily)

In this passage we see how people react to the Resurrection, to the knowledge that it's true, it really happened, Jesus really is risen ... risen indeed! And it is not the reaction that we ourselves have come to take for granted.

Date posted: 2021-03-31

God Never Finishes (Good Friday Homily)

Of all the gospels, John's is the most descriptive regarding Jesus' suffering during the Passion. When Jesus announces that "it is finished," he speaks those words in relief and faith in what God does in the Cross. After Jesus' death, the blood and water that come from Jesus' side represent God's grace from a desolate situation.

Date posted: 2021-03-31

Do You Know What He Has Done to You? (Holy Thursday Homily)

Humble service is at the heart of Christian discipleship.

Date posted: 2021-03-31

Memory Aid

Our favorite hymns not only speak our faith but are also memory aids. In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul includes a Christ hymn to help them remember that God not only took human form but also adopted the outlook of a slave to descend into misery and then was elevated to the highest height.

Date posted: 2021-03-23

Jesus the Priest

According to Israel's tradition, Jesus, from the tribe of Judah, couldn't have been a priest. But our text is about his preparation to be a high priest "according to the order of Melchizedek," as the preceding verses make clear. Through the trials and challenges of his ministry, he was able to make the perfect and final sacrifice, giving up his own life and rising again to reconcile sinners to God.

Date posted: 2021-03-16

Not-So-Secret Formula

God's formula for salvation includes grace and faith. When you put the two together, the result is good works.

Date posted: 2021-03-09

What Breaks God's Heart Should Also Break Ours

When Jesus overturned the money-changing tables in the Jerusalem temple, he was showing us how to be angry about the right things. He didn't focus on individuals there but, rather, on entire systems that oppressed and cheated people. Our work to fix what's wrong in our world also should be aimed at unjust, broken systems.

Date posted: 2021-03-03

Jesus Teaches Discipleship

Jesus understood our need for instruction. He offers himself as a model and teacher. But are we willing to follow someone who tells us we must "lose our life"?

Date posted: 2021-02-23

The Facts and the Acts

Today's reading comes from the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark. If you haven't read the Gospels before, Mark is a good one to start with, in part because it gets to the point so quickly.

Date posted: 2021-02-18

The Healing Touch

Jesus touched a man with leprosy and healed him, and then instructed him to say nothing to anyone about who had healed him. But the man proclaimed it to everyone he saw. This man who could previously go nowhere now moved about freely; Jesus, who had been going anywhere he wanted, could now no longer go into town openly. Jesus paid a price to heal, and he paid a greater price when he went to the cross for us all.

Date posted: 2021-02-10

That Subversive Sabbath

Sabbath time is a different quality of time - and that's subversive!

Date posted: 2021-02-01

End the Isolation

In the story of the demoniac in the Capernaum synagogue, we are shown someone who can be found in the midst of the community of faith, yet who is isolated and all alone. When Jesus heals, Jesus restores the relationships between God and all of us. It may not occur to us that people in our midst feel isolated even when they're sitting in our midst. But it happens. For that matter, some of us may not have figured out we're the ones who feel apart and lost. We have a part to play in the healing, in the restoration and in the salvation.

Date posted: 2021-01-30

And Now the News

Mark doesn't waste words in getting to the heart of his message. The Baptist's arrest reminds us of dangers as Jesus comes proclaiming God's kingdom. Because the reign of God comes near, people are called to change their thinking and become part of that movement. And Jesus calls four fishermen to be the first of many to be instruments of the reconciliation that he brings.

Date posted: 2021-01-20

Unexpected Calls

Over half the calls that Americans now receive are unsolicited messages from spammers and scammers. But such annoyances should not prevent us from answering the call of God.

Date posted: 2021-01-12

The Breaking News of Jesus' Baptism

Jesus didn't explain why he felt he needed John to baptize him, but the act revealed who Jesus was and what his mission would be. Although Christians have shed blood over how to do and understand baptism, the important thing to remember is that baptism marks our individual entry into the communal mission of the church to spread Christ's good news.

Date posted: 2021-01-04

John's Christmas Story

John's message that the Word became flesh matters to us because God has identified with our human weakness, made a commitment to us and stands in solidarity with the ways the world harms our bodies.

Date posted: 2020-12-21

The Mystery of the Incarnation

The apostle Paul's letter to the Romans was written to Christ-following Gentiles who had attached themselves to Jewish congregations in Rome. Paul wants them to know that the incarnation means the reign of God has dawned - and not just for them but for the whole cosmos - and that they can live in the Kingdom of God today.

Date posted: 2020-12-16

Am and Am Not

The "I Am" statements in the Gospel of John define who Jesus is. In this passage John the Baptist, a witness to the light, defines himself with a series of "I Am Not" statements. These should lead us to consider who we are and who we are not, and help us become better witnesses to the light.

Date posted: 2020-12-09

Comfort!

Having lived through the 2020 pandemic, and as we continue through Advent, we are reminded through the ancient words of Isaiah that God is bigger and stronger than anything we may face in our lifetime. Add to that the knowledge of God's desire for us to be comforted, and we find hope in new and unexpected ways.

Date posted: 2020-12-05

Waking and Watching

Jesus concludes his discourse to his disciples about the future with a brief parable and the lessons they are to draw from it. We are to be alert, knowing what is going on in the world and thinking God is there. We know something that those first disciples didn't realize at the time: that God's work of new creation has already begun with the cross and resurrection of Christ. Knowing that, we are to watch for the signs that God is completing that work.

Date posted: 2020-11-23

Did I Do That?

What is striking about this tale of sheep and goats is that neither of them know Jesus. Neither sheep nor goats recognize him when he comes to them.

Date posted: 2020-11-18

When the Church Doesn't Make It to the Church on Time

In the parable of the bridesmaids, the church does not fulfill its identity as "salt and light." The foolish bridesmaids miss their chance to be the church in the world.

Date posted: 2020-11-03

It's What's Happening Now

Some Christians look to Revelation as a roadmap to the future that only they understand, despite what our Lord has told us about the futility of guessing about the end of the world. But on All Saints Day, we recognize that Revelation is about the present. In this present and eternal now, God's saints are gathered around the throne, encouraging us, interceding for us and celebrating God's triumph with us, as we all strive for the prize by living according to the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount.

Date posted: 2020-10-27

Gotcha Questions

A question about taxes was designed to damage and discredit Jesus. But he slipped out of trouble and revealed a new understanding about what belongs to God.

Date posted: 2020-10-17

An Invitation*

God is gracious. God is just. We often emphasize the first and ignore the latter. This parable includes both grace and justice. The good news is that God's grace is offered to all. We do a disservice to God and to God's grace if we believe there are not consequences for rejecting that same grace.

Date posted: 2020-10-06

Whose Church?

It's natural for Christians to refer to the congregations they belong to as "my church," but thinking that we really "own" the church can be a problem. In our text from Matthew, Jesus tells a parable directed at the religious authorities of his time in Jerusalem who acted as though they owned the temple and the community associated with it. Even though he was rejected by those authorities, Jesus has become the foundation of the church that is called to proclaim him.

Date posted: 2020-10-01

A Vignette From the Vineyard

Jesus uses a family drama to offer some hard teachings about faithfulness, and he gives us a snapshot of life in the church and the world that is just as applicable now as it was then.

Date posted: 2020-09-23

Measuring Success

In this parable, a landowner recruits workers throughout the day to work in his vineyard, but pays everyone the same daily wage regardless of the number of hours they worked that day, which angers those who labored the longest. How do we measure human value? Can human worth be measured in time or money? The parable warns against allowing one's self to be reduced to a reward for one's work and indicates that the kingdom of God has other metrics.

Date posted: 2020-09-16

Forgiveness Reps

Summary: Jesus wants us to get stronger and healthier by making the decision to forgive. He then challenges us to turn that choice into an ongoing process, based on a willingness to forgive others because God has forgiven us.

Date posted: 2020-09-10

The Other Presence in the Room

We cannot avoid conflict in the church. In our conflicts we allow our egos to do damage to the church and its witness. If we imagine the risen Christ with us in our disputes, would we treat each other in better ways?

Date posted: 2020-09-01

You Win Some, You Lose All

The cross of Jesus has a hard but necessary lesson to teach us: that, although life inevitably ends in death, it is in death that eternal life has its beginning.

Date posted: 2020-08-25

In the Midst of the Storm

Summary: Jesus is with us in the storms of life. We need to keep our eyes on him and trust him in everything.

Date posted: 2020-08-04

Tripping Over Treasure, Knowing Your Pearls

The queasy feeling we may have that a new reality is about to break through is justified. Jesus unabashedly announced that he was the forerunner of a new age. These three parables give us hints as to how this new reality will break through, and how we can prepare ourselves for it.

Date posted: 2020-07-21

Into the Weeds

Our prayer each week, the very reason for us to gather to do this liturgy, which means "work of the people," is to create the conditions so that we, like Merton, can come to realize the fullness of the beauty of our own humanity in concert with those around us. We gather to facilitate an environment where each person shines like the sun and the kingdom of heaven becomes ever so much clearer.

Date posted: 2020-07-16

Get Dirty

Summary: Jesus told a parable about our ability to receive a seed from God and produce an abundant harvest. If we are good soil, we'll be amazed by what is created.

Date posted: 2020-07-07

Our Limited Minds, Our Weary Souls

Even though Jesus teaches us that we can never fully understand God, we can use our intellects to gain a deeper perspective on what God reveals. All people, despite education or sophistication, can find rest for their souls in Jesus.

Date posted: 2020-06-29

Like Water for Strangers

Hospitality is among the most ancient of human traditions. On the most basic level, it's about providing the essentials of life for another person, especially another person who's on a journey. Food, water and a roof over the head: the essentials.

Date posted: 2020-06-22

God Likes Sparrows - But Loves You and Me

As Jesus prepares his disciples to proclaim the Good News to the world, he reminds them to always remember that each human being is precious in God's sight. That truth should inform how we live today, how we do ministry and how we encounter every person we meet, including people we don't much like.

Date posted: 2020-06-18

All Together Now

Sometimes the desire to take all the credit means we're not good collaborators. No one was more qualified to take all the credit than Jesus, yet he made his disciples collaborators in the work of the kingdom, and even called out twelve apostles who would assume great responsibility for making choices as collaborators. If Jesus could share the credit with these ordinary people, shouldn't we do the same?

Date posted: 2020-06-10

From Death to Life

Our Christian celebration of Pentecost - remembering the Holy Spirit and the infant church - turns a harvest of death, the old way of living, into a harvest of life, an alternative way to live and love.

Date posted: 2020-05-29

The Sermon I Wish I Didn't Have to Preach

When we face suffering, we reject the prosperity gospel - the understanding of suffering as punishment for sin - as well as a martyr's complex. We seek God's strength in the midst of our suffering, and we hope for the resurrection.

Date posted: 2020-05-13

The Fulcrum of Our Faith

Our confession of Jesus as God's Son provides the firm foundation for our faith. It is to place ourselves in the position of having to make a decision, one way or the other, for him or against him - not so much to decide between competing medical theories of his birth, but to decide whether we are ready to stake our lives on him. Are you ready to do that today?

Date posted: 2020-05-04

Metaphors Galore: A Shepherd, a Gate, a Lamb

To the people who heard him, sometimes Jesus seemed to speak in riddles they just didn't understand. But even if Jesus' listeners were metaphor-challenged, we don't have to be. We can figure out the message of grace, love and abundant life that Jesus wants us to grasp.

Date posted: 2020-04-27

What Are You Worth?

We may wonder about how other people in our lives and in society in general evaluate us. A more important question, though, especially because of our sinfulness, is what value we have for God. Our text tells us that we are so valued in God's sight that the Son of God gave his life to restore us to fellowship with God. This was, in fact, God's plan "before the foundation of the world."

Date posted: 2020-04-22