Jesus teaches in parables. Mark says he only talked in parables. These parables typically used metaphors to open the meaning of something deeper – the kingdom of heaven or the meaning of neighbor, for example – and, as parables do, they often had a surprise twist at the end. Many of the metaphors used by Jesus involved agrarian images, shepherds and sheep, vines and vine branches, and, today, growing grain and mustard seeds. The Bible, as a whole, is dense with agricultural images: the psalms sing with references to plants, forests, cattle, sheep, birds of the air and fish of the sea. Our lesson today from Ezekiel talks of a great, thriving tree, a huge cedar with great boughs that produces fruit and offers shelter to birds of all kinds. (more…)
This morning I want to talk a bit about God’s family. Desmond Tutu once said, “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” In the best of all possible worlds we are born into families where there is lots of love, kindness, support and care. If you have ever witnessed the birth of a child, you have hopefully experienced what it is like to be part of such a joyous occasion. One in which there are hopes and dreams for a good life for this new person and a commitment on the part of the parents and caregivers to do their best to provide all that is needed for the child to thrive and be healthy. (more…)
“Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy Holy Name”
Jesus told the disciples,26 “The Helper will come—the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send him to you from the Father, and he will speak about me.27 And you, too, will speak about me, because you have been with me from the very beginning. (Good News Translation).
There are, in that passage, two very important ideas. One is that Jesus will send to his followers a spirit that will help us understand the truth of who God is. The second idea is that we are expected to share our experience of Jesus with others. (more…)
Today we celebrate what is commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Good Shepherd Sunday is one of these unofficial church holidays we get each year that isn’t listed on the calendar exactly, but which comes with the same regularity as Christmas and Easter each year.
Good Shepherd Sunday can sound a little cuddly and fluffy. You might think of this like the beautiful window behind me. (more…)
The posse comes for Jesus in the dead of night. He is dragged away like a common bandit in shackles to be mocked, tortured and killed.
His most courageous follower, Peter – the one who Jesus calls “the Rock” because he is so steady – follows at a distance. Peter – the rock – makes his way in the cold darkness to a fire in the courtyard where Jesus is taken. He is near enough that he can see Jesus interrogated and hear his words.
Then suddenly fear grabs Peter by the throat. (more…)
Warning: This sermon contains adult content and violence.
Let’s see if that holds your interest.
+ + +
It is hard and risky work being a prophet. It is not a job you volunteer for. The people you thought you knew and trusted may not want to hear you words. When they do hear you, they might want to kill you.
Being a prophet can get you thrown into a dungeon or a deep well. (more…)
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Have you ever wondered what the world would have been like if humans had never sinned? What would it be like now if the world said, “We are done with this sinning thing. What if, having recognized the destruction and devastation that comes from violence, resentments, jealousies, lies, wrongful use of power, domination, false superiority, errant justifications, and anger, the world said, “Enough. We have done this enough, and it is long since time to stop.” (more…)