Uprooting sin

2 October 2016
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 22C (RCL)
Lamentations 1:1-6
Psalm 137
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

We do not like the ninth verse of Psalm 137, “Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” In the LXX the word for “happy” is makarios, which means something like “how honorable.” I suppose this might make more sense if we had ever been in the position of a vanquished people. Even so, we think, surely God does not desire that kind of vengeance, right? That’s why the psalmist can express it to God and then just leave it there. Reading the Lamentations and singing the psalm puts the word of the oppressed on our lips, and forces us to begin to see things from another perspective. Continue reading “Uprooting sin”

Say their names

25 September 2016
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 21C (RCL)
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

This week, Luke and Jeremiah switch personalities. Jeremiah holds out hope, while Luke speaks a word of condemnation. Zedekiah has asked Jeremiah why he is prophesying destruction against Jerusalem, and not any hope. In the verses we leave out, Jeremiah reminds Zedekiah that there is not point fighting against the Chaldeans, because he won’t win, but then goes on to give assurance that land will again be bought and sold in Judea. Continue reading “Say their names”

True riches

18 September 2016
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 20C (RCL)
Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1
Psalm 79:1-9
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Luke 16:1-13

This is one of the most ambiguous parables in the New Testament — nearly maddeningly so. But I think that is the point of the parable; it allows a number of possible ‘points’ to be drawn from it. No one likes the fact that the master commends the unjust steward for lying (or at least scheming), and, by implication, Luke makes it seems as if Jesus commends him as well. How could Jesus commend dishonesty? Continue reading “True riches”


11 September 2016
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 19C (RCL)
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
Psalm 14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-10

Jeremiah paints and unrelentingly grim picture of Judah’s future. In fact, his picture simple undoes creation. The wind is hot and destructive, not the spirit of God blowing over the chaos. The earth has become waste and void, the heavens are dark, their lights are gone out. The birds of the air have flown away. Jeremiah seeks to remind the people that the land is God’s, and the people have extorted wealth from the land and poor of the land. Jeremiah sees the impending exile as a way of the land achieving its sabbaths. Continue reading “Repentance”


4 September 2016
Sixteenth 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 from Luke: hate father and mother? What can Jesus possibly mean? We associate (in this time and place, at least) Christianity with the nuclear family. The family that prays together stays together. This grates on our sensibilities. But I think Christianity in its original form would grate on more than just our sensibilities about nuclear family. Right now, Colin Kaepernick is in the news for refusing to stand during the National Anthem. Christians of the third century would be stunned that Christians now would consent to stand for the hymn of empire. Many of them would have gone to their deaths rather than sing the praises of the empire. So, what does Jesus mean by hating father and mother, and even one’s own soul? Continue reading “Hate?”