Pentecost A: With, not From

  John 20:19-23, Acts 2:1-21, I Corinthians 12:3b-13 Dear Partner in Preaching, Have you ever noticed that the arrival of the Holy Spirit doesn’t remove the disciples from challenges and hardships, but rather equips them to persevere, even flourish, amid them? And that this seems to be the unified witness across the New Testament about the Spirit’s work? In John, for instance, the disciples are hiding in the upper room out of fear that those who crucified Jesus may come after them. And what does Jesus do as he breathes the Holy Spirit upon them? He doesn’t take them away from Jerusalem or fortify the room in which they’re...

Pentecost 11 C: From Isolation to Community

Luke 12:13-21 Dear Partner in Preaching, What if this parable really isn’t about money? Or about wealth? Or about the need to give to the church? I know, I know, if that’s true, it robs this parable of its value as the fodder of a great stewardship sermon. (If it makes you feel any better, no one really was expecting to hear a stewardship sermon the last Sunday in July anyway.) Yet I think we move too quickly to assume the issue here is about this farmer’s wealth, when rather I think it’s about his isolation. Consider the little conversation he has with himself. Except it’s not just to himself, it’s also about himself…and only...

Pentecost 19 B: Communities of the Broken and Bles...

Dear Partner in Preaching, Let me suggest a totally different way to approach this text. I’ve written it on it from the perspective of how Mark’s “divorce text” relates to questions of marriage before, and there are certainly excellent commentaries available on this theme. But what strikes me this time around is that perhaps we don’t need to read this as addressed to individuals but rather as something descriptive of, and helpful to, a community. Bear with me a moment while I explain. When this passage is read at church, we tend to hear it in an intensely personal way. This is particularly true, of course, if you have gone through...

Matthew 18:15-20

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence...

Luke 10:13-20

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum,
will...