. . . to follow me.

1 March 2015
Second Sunday in Lent
Lent 2B (RCL)
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:22-30
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

I have no doubt that I have preached a sermon (or two) on this passage, in which I’ve said something like, “We’re lucky to live in a time and place where we won’t be asked to die for our faith.” After learning of the deaths of the 21 martyrs of Lybia, I don’t think I’ll be so glib anymore. It isn’t happening here quite like this, but Christianity is becoming more and more a counter cultural movement in Europe, and the assumption of a cultural Christian background no longer holds in the US the way it used to do. So, what does it mean to take up one’s cross? Continue reading “. . . to follow me.”

Temptation and renewal

22 February 2015
First Sunday in Lent
Lent 1B (RCL)
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-9
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

Most of us have heard ourselves say, “If I were king/queen (or boss, or mayor, or president) . . .” We would know how to fix the world, or the department, or the city. A friend will tell me of some intractable problem, and my response (at least in my head), is “If I had a magic wand . . .” I believe the ancients would have seen in this the sin of pride.

Our readings for this Sunday bring us face to face with this temptation. Continue reading “Temptation and renewal”

Back to the beginning

15 February 2015
Last Sunday after Epiphany
Last Epiphany B (RCL)
2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

I have often heard (and probably preached) sermons about the transfiguration being in the lectionary on the last Sunday before Lent as a way of giving us a glimpse of what is to come, and steeling us for the journey ahead. The collect for the day certainly points in that direction. I think, instead, the transfiguration stands at the center of Mark’s Gospel as a way of interpreting the two halves of his narrative: the first half shows Jesus as the man of power, announcing God’s kingdom, and the second half shows Jesus as the victim of the plot against his life. The transfiguration is the hinge. Continue reading “Back to the beginning”

Proclaiming the kingdom

8 February 2015
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 5B (RCL)
Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-12, 21c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

In this short little passage from Mark’s Gospel (10 verses), three distinct actions take place. Mark is nothing if not urgent. Immediately after leaving the synagogue, Jesus and his four disciples enter Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Jesus takes her by the hand and lifts her up (the word that will be used of his resurrection), and she serves them. After the dramatic exorcism in the synagogue, this episode seems almost homey. Plenty of people react to Simon’s mother-in-law waiting on these five men after she has just been in bed with a fever. But later in Mark’s Gospel, after Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter, he will instruct those present to “give her something to eat.” I think Mark is establishing the theme that healings and table-fellowship are connected. It would have been a shame for her not to be able to serve them, so she is being restored to a proper place in the household community. Continue reading “Proclaiming the kingdom”