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The truth about Jesus

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free…So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8: 31b - 32, 36) Pilate famously asks Jesus, during Jesus’ trial before the Roman prefect, “What is truth?” I have mused about Jesus’ truth for a long time. Jesus does answer Pontius Pilate nor does He necessarily define what His truth is for us, in so many words. But for those who follow Him and are willing to sacrifice to be His disciples, the truth grows in us and through us. Jesus speaks in a very cryptic way, sometimes, and not only in John’s Gospel. Yet, we mere mortals cannot afford to speak quite so symbolic

Wisdom, grace, and compassion

For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3: 17 John 7:53 - 8:11, our reading for today with the Good Book Club, has the story of the "woman taken in adultery." A woman has been "caught" cheating with another man and is hauled by a vindictive crowd before Jesus. The prescribed punishment is stoning (death, in other words). Jesus amazes the crowd (and us) with His calm, wisdom, and grace. He famously challenges anyone who is without sin to throw the first stone. They realize their hypocrisy and, one by one, they leave the area and only the woman is left with Jesus. Jesus says, "I do not condemn you; go and sin no more

Something about the man from Nazareth

Over and over again, John tells us that the authorities wanted to arrest Jesus. In John 7: 37-52, the Temple guard come to arrest Jesus but “no one laid hands on him.” The guard who came to arrest Him found they could not, so astounded were they with his teaching. The Temple authorities continued to scoff, they had already made up their minds (sound familiar anyone?), and goaded anyone who even expressed any sympathy for Jesus’ message. But those who opened their hearts to Jesus, even a little, even amidst their fear, began to see that there was something to this man from Nazareth. “Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, 'Our law does not judge people withou

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Isaiah 9:1–4; Psalm 27:1, 5–13; 1 Corinthians 1:10–18; Matthew 4:12–23 I am intrigued by today’s message of light in the darkness, being called to be that light and, on top of it all, standing as the light amidst division and challenge. I am mindful of our Easter Vigil liturgy … if you have never been part of that liturgy here, I encourage you to consider coming this year, on the eve of April 11th. The liturgy powerfully reminds us of not only the centrality of Jesus Christ in our lives, in our worship, but of how Christ actually acts as a light that chases away the darkness of sin, division, and all of the things that hide in the shadowlands of our spirits. The service begins as the great V

Give me this bread always

“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’” (John 6: 33-34) Jesus refers to himself often, in John’s Gospel, as “living bread,” the food that gives life and feeds the world. He tells the crowds that they follow him (see John 6: 22-34) because he fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. What they should be seeking, he counters, is the bread that feeds for spiritual life and satisfies our true hunger for something that saves. What if, when we come to receive the Body (and Blood) of Jesus, we prayed and focused on actually receiving Jesus, which is what we lay claim to? Jesus is the life of the

Take up your life and walk

I am going to cover two days in the Gospel of John (John 5: 1-29), as we begin week three of the Good Book Club's exploration of John. Over the course of twenty-nine verses Jesus heals a man paralyzed for thirty-eight years. He continues by making bold claims: not only is He Son of God but He has the powerful of life and death, bondage and freedom, and speaks of resurrection of the dead, among other things. The ruling authority wants Jesus dead and out of the way; often the way of powerful people when somoeone speaks words of life that are for all, not just the monied or powerful. On this day we commemorate the life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. We would do well to remember why he w

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-12; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42 “Go, tell it on the mountain ...” Come now, sing the chorus with me. “Go tell it on the mountain; over the hills and everywhere. Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That is Chloe’s favorite Christmas hymn and each year, as we get into late Advent, she always asks, “Will we be singing Go tell it on the mountain this Christmas?” And I always say a resounding, “Yes!” Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born. Go, tell it! We are in the season of the Epiphany. The feast day has the arrival of the wisemen and their important visit: revealing Jesus to the gentiles. And the, last Sunday, the feast of th

Waters gushing up to life

Last summer, on our first afternoon in Wales, Tracey, the girls and I went on a hike. I cannot even remember how we got to the place, but we drove up a very narrow path, up a mountain; so narrow a road that we had to find a way to back up when we met another car coming down. We parked near a waterfall that splashed down a windswept hill. There were very few trees around. We decided to climb, on that chilly day, up the hill, wondering where the water came from. We finally arrived at the top and, on one side, were the ruins of an old mill of some sort, a fun shell of a thing from time gone by. But what took my breath away was a very serene, glassy, and shallow little lake that ran off down the

John, a different kind of Gospel

John 2: 13 – 25 Jesus turns over the money changers table and drives them out of the Temple area. “the zeal for your house has eaten me up.” They ask Jesus for a sign but he only cryptically said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. John 3: 1 – 10 Nicodemus visits Jesus “at night” and they have a (again, another) cryptic conversation about being born from above and the “wind goes where it chooses but we know not where it comes from or where it goes.” The above is just a highlight of what happens in Sunday’s passage from John and the one for today. I am going to leave you with some questions to consider today, instead of a lot of commentary. Jesus drives out the money

Feast of the Baptism

Isaiah 42:1-9; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17 I stumbled across a video earlier this week of a 70’s TV show, All in the Family. And, in the episode, things have gotten pretty tense, even more than usual, between Archie and his daughter and her husband, Michael, who Archie calls “a dopey atheist,” and worse. You see, Gloria, Archie’s daughter and Michael have just had a baby, Archie and Edith’s first grandchild. And the grandparents, like nearly all grandparents I have ever come across, are completely in love with this new baby. But Michael, Archie’s son-in-law, with whom Archie is nearly always in conflict, mostly because of the older man’s racist and narrow-minded tendencies, is a self-prof

A wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled th em up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the stew

Here is the Lamb of God!

The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ John 1: 29-34 T

Being a voice in the wilderness

John 1:19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”[a] 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah,[b] n

The life was the light of all peoples

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1: 1-5 I promise that my daily posts, as we read our way through John’s Gospel, will not typically be this long. I hope that you will think of today’s post as an introductory note on what John might mean to and for us. I truly love John’s Gospel, sometimes called “the maverick Gospel.” It is often dismissed as too “gnostic,” too etherea

Epiphany

Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 On my first ever trip to the Holy Land, on my first day in the Old City, I should have worn a sign that said, “Clueless American tourist. Rob me, kidnap me …” Luckily, I survived. I finally came out of the other side of the old city, having run the gauntlet of ridiculously aggressive merchants (by American standards) which included a strange, semi-harrowing encounter with a man selling rugs (story for another time). I found myself finally at the Lion’s Gate – one of the four main points of entry to the Old City - and seeing the Mount of Olives on the other side of the Kidron Valley. Unfortunately, in the part of my brain that simply doesn’t see

Speaking always in love

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. Ephesians 4: 15-16 There is no denying we are in particularly polarizing times. I do spend a little time on Facebook and, occasionally, follow those threads on political adds for those running for President. I am always disheartened at how quickly comments dissolve into terrible name-calling, the intentional giving of offense, the questioning of the intelligence of others, etc. But it also sometimes happen