Matthew 5:13-16: Being Salt and Light

I want to start by giving you some literary and geographical context for the Sermon on the Mount, which is contained in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel. Literary context: In the chapters leading up to the Sermon on the Mount: Jesus is born Herod tries to kill Jesus but his parents escape … [Read more…]

Matthew 5:1-12: Blessed Are You

Take a moment to think about your blessings, to count your blessings, as the saying goes. You might even jot them down in the margins of your bulletin. In the next minute, list silently in your head or in writing in your bulletin all of the blessings you can think of. {Give folks a minute} … [Read more…]

Matthew 3:1-17: The Come-to-Jesus Meeting

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee the wrath that is to come?” John showed up in the wilderness preaching hellfire and brimstone. He has been out by the Jordan teaching people how to confess their sins—how to turn away from their sinful ways. And only then, after they show an acceptable level … [Read more…]

John 1:1-18: Word of the Year

Each year the Oxford English Dictionary issues its “word of the year,” the word or phrase that best encapsulates the mood or concerns of the world. They base their choice on word usage in newspaper articles, radio programs, public discourse, books . . . any place where folks are talking and writing about the things … [Read more…]

Luke 2:1-20: Great Joy for All People

What brings you joy at Christmas? Being with family? Enjoying the delight of children as they anticipate visits with Santa and their exuberance on Christmas morning? Maybe it’s the special treats that we reserve solely for Christmas. In our family those include Chris’s awesome double-barreled eggnog, coconut cake, chocolate covered cherries, and those heavenly, soft … [Read more…]

Matthew 2:13-18: And How Are the Children?

Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai [of Kenya and Tanzania]. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors: “Kasserian Ingera,” one would always say to another. It means, “And … [Read more…]

Matthew 1:18-25: Love that Liberates

By rights, Mary should have been executed. If a man takes a woman for his wife and discovers that she is not a virgin “she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel … [Read more…]

Mark 6:30-34: Oh rest beside the weary road

It was called “The Blizzard of 1996.” It was the worst nor’easter snowstorm to hit the East Coast in decades. It hit Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC particularly hard and at the worst possible time, just as a government shutdown and weeks-long furlough was ending. From January 6 to January 8 it dumped … [Read more…]

Matthew 24:36-44: A Ready Heart

I never had much use for the Rapture. I think it’s bad exegesis, bad theology, and bad Christology. So all those years ago when the Left Behind series of novels, movies, and . . . I don’t know, did they make a TV series out of it? . . . were making Tim LaHaye and … [Read more…]