Texts: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 21:1-11
It was a strange, even surreal event when it happened. What we now call Palm Sunday. But what did the people call it then? A non-local rabbi comes to the city gates, surrounded by a rabble of poor rural folks cheering as if he’s their conquering hero. There’s no word for that kind of crowd, except maybe, deluded…dangerous…ridiculous.
Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-4
Over the past three weeks, with a whole new way of gathering in worship by livestreaming, our liturgy has been different. One very obvious change is that we’re not sharing the Lord’s Supper. Another adjustment, maybe not so obvious since it’s not something we do absolutely weekly, is that we’re not confessing our sins.
Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
I’d like to be the kind of pastor who, upon reading a really great gospel story, is immediately filled with deep spiritual insights about the good news. The bad news is, I’m not. Instead, the very first thought that went through my head was decidedly mundane. I though, Hmm. I wonder if this is the origin of the phrase “Here’s mud in your eye.” Then I set off on a google search.
Texts: Exodus 17:1-17; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42
You can bet that the woman at the well in Sychar didn’t need to worry about social distancing. Staying six feet away or more, was something that people probably preferred to do whenever she was around. Going to the well at 12 noon tells us a lot. All the other women would have gone together, most likely in the cool of morning. Getting water was a social event after all.
Texts: Genesis 12:1-4a; Romans 4:1-5; 13-17; John 3:1-17
When you hear the word “unpredictable”, what comes to your mind? For many of us today it might be health concerns around the rapidly spreading Coronavirus. Or perhaps it is something else related to the virus. Like the stock market’s conniptions just now.
Texts: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
It was at this same time of the year, in the church of two thousand years ago, that people had to decide if they wanted to be baptized into the community of Jesus. It was no small decision. Taking a cue from the gospel story today, when Jesus was led into the wilderness just after his identity reveal as God’s Beloved Son, the earliest process of joining the church involved forty pretty intense days. What we now call Lent.
Texts: Exodus 24:12-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9
The lights go down and the curtain rises. We find ourselves on the side of a mountain, where two men are looking up intently. It’s cold. The mountain is shrouded in cloud and mist. The men have been here a week. Waiting. The rest of the community is down below in the desert.
Texts: Deuteronomy 30:9-14; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37
We all know the game twenty questions, right? People have been playing it since the 1800s. Someone gets to think of an object and the other players get to ask twenty questions for clues to figure out what the object might be. There are variations of course, but this is the basic idea.
Texts: Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16; Luke 10:1-111, 16-20
The mission field. It’s a big place. Jesus sent out seventy of his followers two by two. Seventy is a lot. After all, Jesus wasn’t very far into his own good news mission, so it seems likely that though the level of enthusiasm among his followers was high, maybe their talent for mission work was variable at best. You have to wonder what the standard deviation was. Maybe that explains why Jesus gave such a flurry of last minute instructions.
Texts: 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62
Raymundo was a skinny little kid, maybe seven years old when I first laid eyes on him. His grandmother brought him to church because he lived in her home with his sister and dad. Raymundo’s mom wasn’t in the picture consistently. She was in and out of prison because of drug addiction and lived mostly in halfway houses.
The Rev. Beth Purdum Eden is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. She has served in more than 00 parishes in the Western United States for 20 years.