Pentecost 6 C: God’s Alternative

Luke 9:51-62 Dear Partner in Preaching, As is true of all texts, there are any number of interpretive directions in which you can go this week. Having said that, however, one simply jumped off the page for me and demanded my attention: why is it that when the James and John meet resistance to Jesus’ mission, their first instinct is to call down fire from heaven that will consume those they see as opponents? Let’s set the scene for a moment before trying to answer this question. Chapter nine is a pivotal chapter in Luke’s story about Jesus. It is, in a variety of ways, the hinge of the story, as it provides the pivot point between...

Pentecost C: A Spirit of Courage

Dear Partner in Preaching, It’s been another hectic week – probably my new normal! – and another late post, so I’ll keep this relatively short. But goodness, I felt my spirits lift immensely when I read this line from Paul to the faith community in Rome: “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.” Not a spirit of fear, but one of adoption. And I understand a “spirit of adoption” to mean the confidence and courage that comes from knowing that you have been chosen, accepted, and loved for who you are. Not fear, but courage. I think part of why this struck me...

Advent 1 C: Stand Up and Raise Your Heads!

Luke 21: 25-36 Dear Partner in Preaching, The persistent temptation in preaching apocalyptic texts like the one before us this week is to try to address the question, “When?” As in the disciples’ question earlier this chapter in response to Jesus’ words about the Temple: “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” It’s an understandable question, given that the whole passage is both future-oriented and foreboding. When we read the passage this way, we often look back, naming the destruction of the Temple or some other historical event that prompted this passage. Or we may instead...

John 19:38

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Joseph of Arimathea is described in each of the four...

John 18:2

Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. One final introductory note setting the stage not just for this scene but for the whole of the passion narrative: What happens next is no accident. Notice that Jesus goes to a place he knows, a...