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Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Samuel 11:1-15; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21 “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine …” I see Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, potentially today, encouraging us to use our imaginations a little more in our walk with God. We may be suffering, as a world, from a profound lack of imagination these days. We truly need to let our creative minds run free if we are to learn to live more fully into the reality of God’s gift in Christ, who can accomplish more in and through us than we can even begin to ask or imagine … So, our challenge as humans in the world is not necessarily one of doing or believing but of inhabiti

Why we follow Jesus

A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. John 6: 2 One of the favorite places that I visited, during my first trip to Israel-Palestine, was the Church of the Multiplication of Fishes and Loaves in Tabgha, Galilee. I am always reminded of this moment, when we read one of the Gospel stories of Jesus feeding the crowds with five loaves of bread and two fish. There is an altar there with a rock under it that legend says was the boulder Jesus stood on to bless and break the fish and loaves. I was in my final year of seminary and was only able to make the pilgrimage through the generosity of the Seminary who gave me a grant for the journey. After

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Samuel 7:1-14a; Psalm 89:20-37; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 I was recently captivated by a story that was made into a film called Risen which follows a tribune, a soldier in charge of a garrison of Romans in Jerusalem at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. Pontius Pilate calls in the tribune and tells him to go and oversee the end of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, already underway. When he arrives, Jesus is already dead, but he takes a careful look. Someone claims the body of Jesus so that he is not cast into a common pit for the victims of crucifixion and lays him in a tomb. The next morning the tribune is once again summoned by Pilate. The religious authorities are worrie

By the blood of Jesus the Shepherd

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6: 34 In Mark’s Gospel, by Mark 6, Jesus was becoming so well known that he couldn’t go anywhere without being mobbed by people. Kinda like Bono (a little secret; I really want to meet Bono). And remember Jesus was a wonderful healer and teacher. Bono never healed anyone but he does sing the heck out of ‘Beautiful Day’. And he gets out of this boat after he and the disciples try to get away by themselves for a while and there the people are, just waiting for him. And while his disciples roll their eyes and maybe mutter under t

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29 This story of John the Baptist is a bit curious, isn’t it? It is dramatic, full of tragedy and confusion, and foreshadows in a very obvious way the passion and death of Jesus Christ. He was the voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of Jesus. He identifies Jesus (in John’s Gospel), as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He baptized Jesus and may have been related to Jesus, too. And he preached a message like Jesus to repent, as we discussed last week: to reorient our lives around God thorough the mercy of Jesus. And, interestingly, the story of John the Baptist’s martyrdom is the only story in

Lavish love

In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1: 7 How often do we have the opportunity to use the word lavish in a sentence? Not nearly enough, am I right? Lavish is “sumptuously rich, elaborate…” or “luxurious; to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.” Do we consider God’s love on us as lavish? Extravagant? Or the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ as a lavish gift, rich and unending in substance and grace? Love, in fact, should always be lavish, unrelenting, and overflowing in its quality. Lavishly is truly the only way that our God knows how to love. And

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

There is a great paradigm or paradox in scripture (what else is new, right?). In the Old Testament those that have much are generally the ones that God seems to favor: kings, particularly, or other religious leaders like Samuel, even while the prophets call those people in power to remember the poor and the stranger or foreigner among them. In the New Testament witness, those who have are often seen as selfish or not ones to be imitated; Jesus speaks a lot about economic balance and the righteousness of the poor. But there is one message that is constant throughout scripture: no matter who we are – rich, poor, or something in between; foreign born or native – we are all called to 1) repentan

Jesus sends us out with...what?

Jesus sends the disciples out with essentially nothing. No extra food, clothing, no money (in case they get into a financial bind). They are only to take a walking staff to steady themselves along the way. They are, it would seem, at the mercy of the world. Jesus is not physically going with them; they are going to practice being disciples on their own, a trial run for the real thing, when Jesus is physically away for good. And we contrast it with the story of King David (2 Samuel 5), who has power and a royal see in Jerusalem. David, after becoming King of both Israel and Judah, has it all, including God’s favor. Jesus’ disciples are being sent out with the clothes on their backs. Sometimes