Texts: Malachi 3:1-4; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
It was the “A” list of the first century in the Year of Our Lord – AD 26 or possibly 27. Rome’s grand guy Tiberius, the emperor at the very top. Pontius Pilate governing the imposing region of Judea. Herod the minor king of the Galilee quarter, his brother Philip heading up a southern quarter of Syria with regions of fertile farms and rough terrain. Restless rebels and outlaws hid out in basalt caves there. Lysanias ruled still another quarter. Annas and Caiaphas had been awarded the temple’s highest spiritual honors. These were the movers and shakers of the day.
Texts: Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36
What an autumn it’s been! Blustery days and heavy rains that border on being…dare we say it…biblical, in proportion. On any island height, from Lopez Hill to Mount Grant on San Juan, or Mt. Constitution on Orcas wild winds tear at tree branches as the tallest ones creak and groan. They seem to murmur to one another: hold on, hold on. We often get little more than a brief glimpse of blue sky through broken clouds; a sunny morning yielding to a drippy afternoon.
Texts: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
Let’s talk about food for a minute, if you will bear with me. It’s the week of Thanksgiving after all and it’s likely that all of us will share in a holiday meal of some sort. Everyone has an idea of what constitutes a “real” Thanksgiving. Certain foods are expected. Certain ingredients are indispensable.
Texts: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14 [15-18] 19-25; Mark 13:1-8
Remember when you were very small and got startled awake in the dark of night by something, your heart beating wildly? Where was your safe place? Sometimes it was enough to pull the covers over your head to feel protected. But other times the terror was just too great and you would flee to the most secure place you knew.
Texts: Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44
With perhaps a few exceptions, most of us in this room have seen the Hollywood movie version of Frank L. Baum’s epic story The Wizard of Oz. We probably all have some particular memory of it, from the intense technicolor in which it was rendered, to the stormy intensity of the Kansas tornado. So many things became part of our cultural references – the principle characters of the girl, the wizard, the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion. And of course flying monkeys and munchkins.
Texts: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-38
Today is a haunted day. As the dusk gathers and night descends there will be all sorts of spirits on the loose, roaming the streets, demanding satisfaction, and creating chaos for the unwary. It’s the Eve of All Hallows of course – good old Halloween.
Texts: Isaiah 53:4-12, Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
Then, who can be saved and enter heaven?
It’s The Question that is still floating in the air in the tenth chapter of the gospel of Mark.
Texts: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31
One fine day…Jesus set out on a journey. Not just any old kind of road trip, mind you. He had a particular destination and urgent timetable. He was, as they say, a man on a mission. The day was fine, not in the weather-sense, but in the sense of his direction, which was toward goodness.
Texts: Genesis 2:18-21; Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-6
Genesis chapter 1 gives us the lovely refrain, “And God saw that it was good.” But Genesis 2 is very different. The first seventeen verses are mostly taken up with the landscape and geography of the Garden of Eden.
Texts: Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50
One day a preacher in Tennessee decided to make a memorable point with his congregation about hell. He borrowed a skeleton from the local dentist and stood it beside the pulpit. Then he began to describe the shadowy realm of all that is unholy.
The Rev. Beth Purdum Eden is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. She has served in more than 6 parishes in the Western United States for 30 years.