Pentecost 16 A: Choosing Joy

Matthew 20:1-16 Dear Partner in Preaching, One of the “life rules” I’ve adopted as I grow older – and try to live by (always harder!) – is that “no joy comes from comparisons.” Have you ever noticed that? Rather than be content with what you have or who you are or what you’ve accomplished, we so regularly look to those around us to decide whether it is enough based on what others have or are or have accomplished. I suspect this is part of being human – being animated by a deep-seated insecurity that makes it difficult for us to establish some sense of ourselves apart from an external reference. And so we enjoy the car we...

Pentecost 15 A: Forgiveness & Possibility

Matthew 18:21-35 Dear Partner in Preaching, I have come to love this passage. The operative words, however, are “have come,” because I didn’t always. And I the reasons I didn’t always love this passage, but now do, are intimately tied together. My difficulty with the passage has quite simply been that forgiveness can be so exceptionally difficult, and never more so than when it commanded. I don’t mean the occasional moment of warm-hearted forgiveness, overlooking someone’s minor slight when you feel magnanimous; nor do I mean the spontaneous forgiveness you feel when someone is genuinely contrite over some accidental – and...

Pentecost 14 A – Christian Community

Matthew 18:15-20 Dear Partner in Preaching, So what do you think? Rules or relationships? I think this may be the central question to answer in our reading and preaching of this particular passage in Matthew. Is he giving us rules to live by or privileging relationships over, well, just about everything else in our life as Christians. If the former, then you have a rather neat little formula for maintaining a semblance of order in the Christian community. Someone offends you, confront them. If that doesn’t work, try an intervention. If that fails, cut them off and kick them out. If nothing else, it’s at least straight forward, which is...

Pentecost 13 A: Can You Imagine?

Matthew 16:21-28 Dear Partner in Preaching, Can you imagine? One moment, Jesus is saying you’re “the rock on which I will build my church” and the next he’s calling you “a stumbling block.” That’s not just great word play – from cornerstone to stumbling block – but such a reversal of relational fortune that it had to be incredibly painful. Can you imagine? And perhaps that’s the difficulty. Peter couldn’t imagine. He couldn’t imagine that Jesus had come not just to comfort people but to free them. Comforting isn’t that hard – just give them a little more of what they already had and tell them it will be alright....

A Prayer After Charlottesville Aug25

A Prayer After Charlottesville

A number of folks have emailed me of late with requests for resources for their congregations during this turbulent time. At this point, it’s hard to answer all emails (though I try!), but I will share when I can things I’ve found or created. Below is a prayer we used in our congregation last week that I modeled after St. Francis’ “Peace Prayer.” Use and/or adapt it as you find helpful and, as always, feel free to share resources you’ve found helpful in the comments.   A Prayer after Charlottesville, based in part on St. Francis’ “Peace Prayer.” Lord God, we pray that you would arm us with...