As I’ve said, today is All Saints Sunday. According to the New Testament, saints are followers of Jesus. They don’t have to qualify in special ways, but are garden variety followers of the Carpenter of Nazareth. Today’s lessons speak of how spiritual life, or following Jesus, is supposed to work out. There is to be a continuity between the worship we do “in here,” and the work we do “out there.” Many people think that it’s, sometimes, easier to see this in the Gospels and the New Testament than it is in the Old. After a lifetime of teaching the… Continue reading
Here we are, almost at the end of October. Of course, here in the Midwest, the weather can be unpredictable, but this year, we’ve had a wonderful, warm autumn season to this point. So, I’m glad to think about Psalm 65 today, which is a public or community confession that it is God who gives the goodness we experience in life. It is good to be reminded that the Bible does not look at the world as “evil, fallen, nature” that exists apart from God, but as a good work of God done for human blessing. It is the very… Continue reading
Today’s scripture texts are about perseverance. Perseverance for us may not seem a very exciting idea, nor very cheerful. There’s an old song that’s entitled “Keep on Keepin’ On,” and, in one sense, that’s perseverance. It can be just trudging along, putting one foot in front of another, day after day. And isn’t that the way our lives sometimes are? Our biblical texts add one further point: they encourage us, in one way or another, to put that one foot in front of another, and sometimes, painfully, slowly, “trudgingly” keep on keeping on in what we think is a right,… Continue reading
I don’t suppose it will do to begin two sermons in a row by saying that the passages are hard and don’t seem to go together well, so, without denying that this is so, I will say, instead, that these passages, especially the Gospel, may easily be misunderstood. It seems to me that where the passages enter into dialogue is about how those who are called to faith in God (and the Gospel adds “in Jesus”) relate, at the same time, to their culture, which is a product of human design and effort. People of faith, through the millennia, have… Continue reading
It seems that, of late, the Revised Common Lectionary is assigning very difficult passages. I am constantly surprised how many difficult things Jesus said. They do seem to make the life of discipleship hard.
I might also add, that at first sight, you may have wondered how the Old Testament lesson fits together with the two from the New Testament. Well, it does, sort of, but through the back door. One of the difficulties in the Book of Lamentations for many people today, is that it’s such a downer. All five of the poems that make it up are sad.… Continue reading
Last week’s sermon tried to make some sense out of the parable of the Dishonest Manager that begins Luke chapter 16. That difficult story is only found in Luke. Perhaps he was the only one brave enough to tackle it, or, perhaps, it was particularly relevant in the community of faith he was addressing. The core-teaching of it was that, while there is a danger to using money and possessions to do God’s work, it is necessary to use them. It is, therefore, necessary that disciples of Jesus have as many street smarts as secular people do about the use… Continue reading
I’d like us to try and think about how today’s scripture lessons for a few minutes this morning, so we can see how they connect to one another. I would suggest that the Old Testament Lesson in Psalm 113 furnishes us with a basic description of God as One for whom nothing is too great to accomplish and for whom no one is too small to lift up and love. Clearly God lifts up the poor and gives the undervalued a home and a significance to show that these are God’s own loved ones. Although the words are not in… Continue reading
Today is September 11th. 9-11. The words will always have a bitter and ominous ring for those of us who value human life and peace, especially in this country. We all remember the television pictures of all the horrendous damage that was done on that day, which, to use FDR’s phrase, that shall live in infamy. We remember. What’s important, of course, is what we remember and how we remember as those who follow the Prince of Peace – which, in Hebrew, which means the sovereign of wholeness and fullness of life, not for some, but for all.
I never… Continue reading
So, therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
Really? All of them? Is that the way it really is? In the early 1960’s a punctuation mark that was a superimposition of the question mark and the exclamation mark came to be called the “interrobang.” The mark was used for a question asked with passion. When many Christian people read Luke’s words put in Jesus’ mouth here as the climactic statement of this passage, at least the hint of the interrobang comes into things
In reality, this saying is made… Continue reading
This was one of those weeks when, after looking at the passages in the Lectionary, I thought, “O no, not again!” These passages are about getting things wrong and being abandoned or destroyed because of it. Even when we get to Jesus in the Gospel it’s about how he has come to bring “fire” to the earth and not to unite people, but to divide, even one family member from another. And these words come into our lives when, in this country, we are under siege to self-centredness, hatred, and just plain nastiness, not the least in the name of… Continue reading