Let’s Talk About Eunuchs (“Intact Males”)

April 27, 2018

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an invitation to get to work. When we look at what happens in the Bible we see that the resurrection inspires activity on the part of God’s Kingdom. It is not long after the resurrection that Jesus’ disciples go and “start” the church; empowered by Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do so.

One thing that the resurrection is not. It is not an invitation to watch more Netflix. Not that it’s wrong to binge here and there. It is clear however, that the resurrection did not inspire Jesus’s earliest followers to go on permanent vacations. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Eunuchs (“Intact Males”)”

Advertisements

The Look on Jesus’ Face

Preached on Maundy Thursday 2018 at Friends University Chapel.

For some time now, I have used Jesus’ face as one way to help me understand what Jesus is saying. Maybe that seems strange. The Bible really doesn’t tell us anything about Jesus’ face other than the fact that it was human, Jewish, and ordinary. His face was nothing spectacular. Jesus was not the best-looking guy in Jerusalem. Nor the worst.

Many years ago, CBS put out a series on the Bible and of course they had to pick someone to play Jesus. Karen, the wife of one of my closest friends, remarked that she could not watch this mini-series because Jesus was way too good looking. She said “it just felt wrong to be attracted to Lord in such a way.” I hope we all find Jesus attractive—but not like that.

Continue reading “The Look on Jesus’ Face”

Awe-fully Human

Preached at Northridge Friends Church ~ March 18, 2017

Dexion and Rufus

Imagine with me, for a moment, a 2nd Century Roman man named Dexion. In his day, about 100 years after Jesus resurrection, Roman society was marked by deep class divisions. Dexion is a member of the Equestrian class. This means that he is a business owner and has money but he’s not super rich. He is respected among his peers, and, like many Romans of his day, he owns slaves. In Dexion’s case his small number of slaves consider him a good and generous master. Dexion is a good man in the eyes of Rome and in the eyes of all who know him.

Rufus is one of Dexion’s slaves. Rufus’s father belonged to Dexion too, and Dexion was fond of him. The father served his master well but the son . . . not so much. Rufus, known for being lazy and inattentive, ran away when he was a kid. With the aid of his aging father he was brought back into the household but his master never trusted Rufus again.

Continue reading “Awe-fully Human”

Transgressive Nativity Scenes

My mother was an artist. She tried to pass it on to me but it didn’t take. Like so many good things in families, it skipped a generation. She loved Christmas. She took a cracked, hundred-year-old wooden ironing board and painted it so that it looked like Santa Claus.

Together with my Dad, she made a lot of nativity sets. She had a recognizable style. Hers were usually wooden silhouettes tastefully and subtly painted to look three dimensional. She sold most of them to raise money for various projects for her study club. Of all the hundreds of items they made over the years, she only kept a few. One time I noticed that a pig made an appearance in one of her nativity scenes. I commented how that just wouldn’t be the case in 1st Century Jerusalem. She could tell I was missing the spirit of Christmas so she called me a smart-aleck. It was not the first time.

Continue reading “Transgressive Nativity Scenes”

An Apocalypse Song: The Magnificat

We’ve been singing “Apocalypse Songs” this Advent Season. It started our first week of Advent when we heard from the early church, who sang the Phos Hilaron, the “joyful” or “hilarious light”. It was a hymn sung at the lighting of the lamps, at sunset, honoring God for being the only light worthy of being glorified, “through all the worlds.”

We heard from Zechariah, the wife of Elizabeth and father of John the Baptist. Sometimes a long period of silence is just what is needed, silent waiting. Time may not heal all wounds but all wounds need time to heal.

This week’s Apocalyptic singer is Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, the Theotokos, the God-bearer, the mother of God. (Just to name a few of her aliases.) Continue reading “An Apocalypse Song: The Magnificat”

Language matters, always.

We should take care of words. Language matters, always.

We know that what we say informs what we think and what we say informs what we do. How we speak and how we are spoken to has a deeper influence on our lives than we probably realize.

With this in mind, we should be on guard when our Christian vocabulary is used out of context. Not because the persons using it are out to get us; but because they probably aren’t and, as a result, we can be lulled into thinking that what they say doesn’t affect the way we think and live. Continue reading “Language matters, always.”

Snagged

Preached at the Wheatland Mission on July 15, 2017. Text from Genesis 25:19-34.

“Jacob I have loved (but why) and Esau I have hated (really?).

 I am not a boatman. But, I do know, that when you are canoeing or paddling on a river, you want to avoid snags. Submerged tree limbs and sand bars. Am I right?

Reading the Bible is like taking a boat out on a river. As we make our way through the text we often get snagged, not by debris or limbs, but by a theme (such as slavery or violence) or a specific story (think of Jephthah’s daughter or the Levite and his concubine) that is so disturbing, strange, and seemingly un-Christian, that we don’t know how to proceed.

We are thus, snagged. We are stuck in our reading and perhaps in our faith and we don’t know how to proceed. When this happens, we get out of our canoes, wade to the shore, and give up on the river altogether. Getting snagged, for some, means quitting the faith or, at least, moving their faith to the backseat.

One of my snags has been a little verse in Malachi 1:2-3 and later quoted in Romans 9:13: “Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated.” It just seems so unfair. Esau was tricked, mistreated, and ganged up on by his younger brother and his mother! The “snag-story” of Esau begins with this week’s Old Testament reading: Continue reading “Snagged”