Today, we’re about halfway through the Christian Year. We began with Advent and longing for a new relationship with God in the world, and we discovered it, as Christians, in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, at Christmas (the shortest season of the Christian Year, only 12 days long). Christmas was followed by Epiphany, when we’re supposed to think about how this little baby that was born in a particular time and place (that is, long ago and far away) has meaning for the whole world with all its diversity and chaos. This was followed by Lent, as we prepared… Continue reading
Today is Ascension Sunday, when the Easter season officially comes to an end. Most Baptists I know don’t know what to make of Ascension Sunday or, really, of Jesus’ ascension. Of course, most of us are aware that the New Testament says that this thing “happened,” and, it’s not that we can’t believe it, but most of us aren’t sure what significance it might have, other than marking the point at which Jesus’ disciples didn’t see him physically any more – which happened nearly two millennia ago. Is Ascension Sunday simply a way of marking the end of Jesus’ earthly… Continue reading
What a world we live in! It’s a world that, at the same time, reaches both the heights of beauty and glory, and the depths of degradation and evil. We are greeted with both kinds of things almost every day in the news, and we know of it all instantly. Well, the world is what it is, and, with all its ambiguities, we know that Jesus has called folk like us to go out into that world, just as it is, to be his hands and feet. The heart of the Gospel is John 3:16, which was our call to… Continue reading
In John chapter 13, Jesus gave disciples some crucially important words just before they went out to face Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, all of which will, pretty much, change their lives forever. And, in reality, so will the words. In the earlier part of this chapter, John told the story of Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet. He said to them that they should do for one another what he has done for them. In our passage, he puts what he had already done into the form of what he calls a new commandment to love as he has loved –… Continue reading
Through the years I’ve had the privilege of forming relationships with people who have grown up in church, but for one reason or another, in later years have become distanced from Christian thought and people. My experience is that many of these people have been taught the most simplistic view of Christian history and the Bible, and, when they grew up, discovered that life was more complex than these views allowed. Mistaking that childish form of Christianity to be the only, or true, version of it, they have chosen to sacrifice it rather than sacrifice their intellect in science, history,… Continue reading
I was reading an article in a magazine the other day, and it asked a question that set me to thinking. The questions was, “How do you want to be remembered?” The writer of the article said that a huge majority of people sixty years of age and older are quite worried that people will remember them for the mistakes they made rather than the successes they had. I used to say I didn’t care, but now, I’m at least wondering. What makes me wonder the most is my discomfort at being known for what’s in the past and cannot… Continue reading
“The Road” is both an ancient and a contemporary metaphor for “life as it’s lived.” I have remarked to you a number of times in this year that Luke presents Jesus’ teaching as for “the road.” One of the earliest synonyms for Christian life was “The Way,” and at least one source of that metaphor is the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. The goal of Luke’s “road” is Jerusalem, where Jesus’ journey came to an end and where the Church’s journey began in the Book of Acts.
So, just two weeks ago we came in off the… Continue reading
Many Easter sermons are full of doctrine and argument about the right way to believe in Jesus’ Resurrection. Indeed, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15 gives us much to ponder, and I take what he wrote to be true. But before we get to Paul, let me start with something much more basic from the Gospel reading in Luke 24.
We don’t know exactly when the first Easter was, except that it was probably around the time of the Jewish Passover (which won’t begin this year until April 22, at sundown). We also don’t know, physically, what happened. None of the… Continue reading
Happy Palm Sunday! Today is the joyous entry into Holy Week which will end with the victory of the Risen Jesus one week from today. In between, however, are some pretty sad and difficult times of suffering as seen in the commemorations of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. So, this Sunday has also been designated as Passion Sunday, so that we, in our rush to the end of the story do not forget that to be true to the Gospel and even our own experience of life, we don’t forget that, in Jesus’ life and ours, there’s plenty… Continue reading
This Lenten Season we’ve been thinking about the nature and direction of our discipleship to Jesus, and, I’ve suggested that sometimes this evaluative process leads to course corrections so that we can move on more fruitfully and helpfully in that discipleship. The question is what kind of course corrections might prove the best? There is such a thing as change for change’s sake, which doesn’t do anything but create a flurry of activity, and, activity by itself may only be perpetual motion going nowhere helpful and fruitful. At least twice during Lent, we have run into Paul’s statement that “if… Continue reading