Texts: Isaiah 55:1-9: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
On late Sunday afternoons when I finish with my preacher’s day I like to settle down with the Sunday paper. One of my favorite parts is where people write in with thorny questions about human character and behavior. They look for guidance and wisdom; for validation of their views, or for condemnation of others. The reason why I like these Q&A columns so much is that I don’t have to answer the hard questions!
Texts: Joshua 5:9-12; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Luis came into my life one day by way of an intercom message from a church staff person. “There’s a man here who wants to see a pastor. Are you available?” When I answered that yes, I was available, the administrative assistant told me that the man was waiting in the church courtyard. I laid aside the materials I was preparing for a bible study the next day, and went out.
There’s a saying that real estate agents have, “location, location, location.” The point is that if you have a choice between a really great house in an awful location and a pretty awful house in a great location, go with the awful house. Because, bad houses can be improved but bad locations are unfixable.
Texts: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Lent, who needs it? This isn’t everyone’s favorite season. The weather is fickle. Snow, wind, rain, with intermittent pale sunshine. Flowers on the altar are forbidden. The color is deep purple, if there’s any color at all.
Texts: Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2; Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]
You know what it’s like to go on a trip with your family, and then to recall it many years later. Perhaps pulling out old photographs and reminiscing about all the things that happened… the places you stayed, the sights you saw.
Texts: Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11
If you listen to the Bible, I mean really listen, you realize that pretty much no one is ever prepared for, or worthy of, God. No one in our cast of bible characters today is ready, that’s for sure. Pretty much every time the Holy One shows up people suddenly remember how desperately unready they are for an up close and personal visit.
Texts: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
December can be a colossal struggle. For people with depression, for people in poverty, for people in the midst of personal struggles. And so in this month, this season, we often hear stories about how to reach out and help. But not everyone gets press coverage, though their struggles in December are monumental. Jenny, a Lutheran minister recently told this story, about her son, an upper elementary school age boy named Ian.
Texts: 1 Kings 17:8-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
Is it right to call God an unrepentant meddler? Technically to meddle means to interfere in other people’s matters without right or invitation. You could argue that God, as author of…well… everything… has every right, and needs no invitation. Furthermore, God answers to no one, so could God ever even be repentant?
Texts: Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44
If you take a walk in the forest of the Pacific Northwest and pay attention, you’ll see graves everywhere. Not that people know what they’re seeing most of the time. No, most of us will walk right past a forest grave without so much as a brief pause of quiet reverence.
Texts: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36
Yesterday, on the Jewish Sabbath, another act of violence was perpetrated against a community of Jewish people gathered to worship God. No one knows yet what precipitated the synagogue shooting, and no explanation will ever speak comfort to the deaths of innocent people. We can only hope that this won’t turn out to be another instance of hatred toward Jewish people that is justified by invoking Martin Luther’s teaching. Especially today, as we mark the great Reformation of the Church that Luther helped initiate.