Sep 06

Homeless Discipleship

It’s not just about money. It’s about money, but not just about money. And it’s not just about stuff, either—although it is about stuff. It’s also not just about honor and prestige and merit, as important as those things are, too. Turns out, it’s about everything: money, stuff, honor, status, merit, relationships, family and friends, even life itself. It’s about everything; nothing is left untouched: no allegiance, no loyalty, no close-knit tie, no beloved thing of this world. Discipleship is about everything, because the way of discipleship is the way of the cross.

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Aug 15

Do Not Be Afraid

Jesus tells his disciples, gently, “Do not be afraid, little flock,” and that, I think, is a good word for us to hear this morning. Despite the technological and social progress made in the last century or so, we still live in a world dominated by fear.

Our emotions, our “feelings,” are, like our minds and our desires, things that we can use, by the grace of God, to follow Jesus more closely. The Psalms are full of examples of people giving voice to the full range of human emotions, from love and sympathy to fear and hatred. I’m not sure we connect our emotions to our discipleship as much any more, but that’s too bad. Emotions are a part of who we are as human creatures, and we are called to love God—to follow Jesus Christ—with all that we are, our bodies, our souls, and, yes, even our emotions. Continue reading

Aug 01

The Gospel for Money

Let’s start with this, shall we: there’s a difference between moralism and the gospel. Moralism says, “Do this. Don’t do that.” The gospel says, “In Jesus Christ, you are free from this. In Christ, you are free for that.” Too often, money, if it is discussed at all, is discussed in terms of moralism: do this with the money you have; don’t do that with the money you have. But today we have a parable from Jesus about money, and today we need to hear the gospel, not another moralizing lecture on money. Continue reading

Nov 09

Wealth and the Poor Widow

The pursuit of wealth dominates our culture like no other fascination. Nearly all of us want to be wealthy. Those of us who already are wealthy by global and national standards do not consider ourselves rich—and, in general, we want more wealth. Wealth gets us nice things, it’s true: more cars, bigger houses, nicer television screens. Having a nice savings account is a source of comfort. Storing up our riches, we’re told, is a responsible thing to do, especially if we ever want to retire (because, after all, who else is going to take care of you when you’re no longer able to work?) or if we want our children to go to college (which we refuse to guarantee to children, even though it’s the best chance for them to avoid extreme poverty). Continue reading

Mar 09

Money without Ownership

The clearing of the temple may be the single most important event in Jesus’ life. Almost all scholars now agree that this one act, Jesus coming into the temple and chasing away the money changers and the merchants, is what led to Jesus’ crucifixion. And that’s how Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell the story. In those gospels, Jesus clears the temple right after his Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. And his accusation is that the temple has been changed into a “den of robbers.” “Den of robbers” doesn’t mean the temple has become a hideaway for some first-century version of Ocean’s 11; it means the temple has become a tool for people like Barabbas, people who violently oppose the Roman Empire. But what really gets Jesus in trouble is that his actions are like a performance; when Jesus clears the temple, he’s really condemning the whole temple system of his day. Continue reading