Count the cost

September 8, 2019; Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 18C (RCL); Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33.

We don’t like this passage of Luke’s Gospel (and similar passages in all the other Gospels). Commentators try to explain it away, saying Jesus didn’t really mean ‘hate,’ but that the Greek misein is translating some Aramaic phrase that means something like ‘ranked lower in value,’ or some such. The problem with that is Luke wrote reasonable good Greek. He would have picked his vocabulary carefully. Continue reading “Count the cost”

Mary and Martha

21 July 2019
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 11C (RCL)

Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

Oh, we don’t like the story of Mary and Martha. Someone has to wash the dishes, right? If Martha doesn’t bang those pots and pans, Jesus will not be welcomed as necessary in her house, right? But Jesus doesn’t seem to give her a pass by honoring the work she is doing. Continue reading “Mary and Martha”

What is it to be human?

30 June 2019
Third Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 8C (RCL)

2 Kings2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

Luke 9:51 is of course a turning point in Luke’s account of Jesus. From this point onward, his narrative is directed toward the events of Jerusalem. Luke immediately connects this turn to four short sayings. The first about a village of the Samaritans. James and John want to imitate Elijah and call down fire upon them (2 Kings 1:10-12). Elijah operated primarily in the Northern Kingdom, so the connection would be obvious. Continue reading “What is it to be human?”

The politics of swine

23 June 2019
Second Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 7C (RCL)

1 Kings 19:1-15a
Psalm 42 & 43
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

Poor Elijah; he’s had enough, enough to be ready to die. He’s just slaughter 400 of the prophets of Ba’al, and now Jezebel promises to make him just like one of them. He runs away into the wilderness (a smart move), and sits down under a broom dry and asks to die. One suspects that the author of the book of Jonah had read 1 Kings. Instead, he takes a nap, and an angel gives him bread and water (just as God gave the Israelites manna and water on their wilderness journey). This happens twice, and then he journeys to the mount of God. Continue reading “The politics of swine”

Each in our own dialect

9 June 2019
The Feast of Pentecost
Pentecost C (RCL)

Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
Acts 2:1-21
John 14:8-17, 25-27

I have often heard it preached (and probably preached it myself), that Pentecost undoes Babel. But I don’t think that’s true. The point of Babel seems to me that God desire diversity, and wants the human race scattered over the face of the earth. God desire a variety of languages and experiences, so that we may learn from each other how others see God. Continue reading “Each in our own dialect”

What is glory?

2 June 2019
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Easter 7C (RCL)

Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, , 20-21
John 17:20-26

I’m sure Luke included this little story as a way of showing that Jesus’s name continues to have power over the spiritual powers of the world, even in the age of the apostles. When things like the theater and the arena were considered the realm of demons, and practitioners thereof who became Christian had to extract themselves from such employment, one could speak of that process in terms of exorcism. I suppose we could use such language today (and I’m sure there are some who do) when speaking of leaving a life of drugs or the sex trade. Jesus’ name continues to have power. Continue reading “What is glory?”

Yet a little while

19 May 2019
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter 5C (RCL)

Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

I think we are a little surprised to hear Jesus say, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” Just a chapter further on, he will say, “In my father’s house are many dwelling places (rest stops). If it were not so, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going, you know the way.” Continue reading “Yet a little while”

Testimony of works

12 May 2019
Fourth Sunday of Easter
(Good Shepherd Sunday)
Easter 4C (RCL)

Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

The Gospel reading for this Sunday comes from that section of John’s Gospel often called the Good Shepherd Discourse. In the discourse, Jesus speaks one of the great I AM statements: I AM the Good Shepherd. In the passage we will hear on Sunday, he does not use this phrase, but says only, “You do not trust me because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.” Continue reading “Testimony of works”

Fish for breakfast

5 May 2019
Third Sunday of Easter
Easter 3C (RCL)

Acts 9:1-20
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19

The Gospel reading this week feels like an appendix to John’s Gospel. The reading last week ended with a statement about all the things Jesus did not written in the book, and that these are written so that we may come to believe, and believing may have eternal life. A good place to end the book. And then we get this, oh, yeah, by the way story. Continue reading “Fish for breakfast”

Fear or faith

28 April 2019
Second Sunday of Easter
Easter 2C (RCL)

Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 150
Revelation 1:4-8
John 20:19-31

What strikes me this time reading the story of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in John’s Gospel is that they are inside the room with the doors locked for fear. We have just seen Church bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Day. We live in an age characterized by fear. Everyone is afraid that what they have is slipping (or being taken) away, so we have settled into so many silos. Continue reading “Fear or faith”