Jun 29

Surpassing Grace

Twelve years. She had been sick for twelve years. Cut off from her friends, her family, her community. Unable to touch anyone without drawing them into her illness. She had tried everything, this unnamed woman. Doctors, healers: they’d helped themselves to her money, but they hadn’t helped her. After twelve years, twelve long, hard, barren, miserable years, she was spent. Everything was flowing out from her: energy, money, blood. Nothing was being restored to her. Then she hears about this Jesus fellow. He’s healed people, they say. He’s taken on the illnesses and scourges that bind people, that hold them back from living full lives as God intends. Maybe he can help her—word is, he’s back in town. She shouldn’t even be out, but maybe she can just sneak through the crowd. “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Continue reading

Apr 27

Easter People: Children of God

 In this season of Easter we are paying attention each week to the letter of 1 John in order to discover some of what it means for us, the church, to be Easter people. Easter people are those who have received the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are Easter people when we share that gift with others in order to have a common bond with them, in order to be the church together with them. And Easter people are of all ages, because the gospel is for everyone. These are some of the marks, some of the signs, of Easter people.

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Mar 02

Stories and the True Story

In Mark’s gospel, as we have seen over the past few weeks, two major themes dominate. Both show up in the very first chapter. The first one, which we heard about last week, is that baptism sets Jesus and his followers on a course, a journey, a pilgrimage of undoing the damage caused by sin. The damage shows up in many ways, from demon-possessed men to sick elderly women and confused or even unbelieving disciples. The baptismal journey ultimately takes Jesus to the cross. That’s the first theme, and the second is a lot like it: when we try to have Jesus without the cross, we put ourselves on the side of the demons, who can see who Jesus is yet defy him, challenge him, and rebuke him. Continue reading

Feb 20

Remember You Are Dust

You may be feeling a little dizzy after hearing all our Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday. “Blow the trumpet,” Joel tells us. “Don’t sound the trumpet,” Jesus says. “Gather a solemn assembly; sanctify a fast,” the Lord commands in Joel. “Beware of practicing your piety before others,” Jesus chides. And it’s about to get worse: “Whenever you fast,” Jesus teaches, “do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you they have received their reward.” Harsh words to hear moments before we disfigure our own faces with ashes as we begin our Lenten fasting and other spiritual disciplines. Are we also hypocrites? Continue reading

Dec 29

Aging Gracefully

When we hear that someone has aged gracefully, we nearly always think first of her or his appearance. We might say that someone who looks ten or twenty years younger than she actually is has aged gracefully, or that someone who has retained a certain nobility throughout his years has aged gracefully. If we’re not thinking about appearance, we might also say that someone who acts in a dignified way has aged gracefully. Continue reading