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…]

Luke 23:33-43: A Rugged Cross, A Ragged King

When Jesus left Nazareth, where his parents lived, he “made his home in Capernaum by the sea” (Matt 4:13). When Chris and I stepped off the tour bus in Capernaum, I expected to see many familiar sites: The Franciscan monastery where the monks who care for the ancient ruins of this town live. The rocky … [Read more…]

Philippians 4:4-9: The Peace of a Thankful Heart

Those of you who worship regularly at Butner Presbyterian Church know that I occasionally ask the congregation to participate in the sermon. I don’t think I’ve ever asked folks to do anything particularly difficult, but it does take a little practice. Folks—especially we Presbyterians who sometimes refer to ourselves as God’s “frozen chosen”—are not generally … [Read more…]