Pentecost 5 A: Where We Least Expect God to Be

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 Dear Partner in Preaching, There’s something kind of funky going on here. I’d call it sinister except it’s just too incredibly human, and for that reason understandable, to attribute motives to it. But human or not, understandable or not, it can have devastating consequences. And so it’s worth talking about. It’s actually something of a two-step waltz. The first step is to decide what you think God should be (and that is usually something that affirms what we already think, feel, believe and/or have done). The second is to judge all others – and that includes their beliefs about God – by this same...

Pentecost 4 A: “Even”!

Matthew 10:40-42 Dear Partner in Preaching, “Even.” It’s such a small word. You use it only when you want to make a point. A point about something surprising or unlikely. And usually it’s a point about something surprisingly small or extremely unlikely. It’s functions a lot like the word “just” – as in “it takes just a little” – but intensified. Which is exactly how Jesus uses it here. Chapter 10 in Matthew is all about discipleship. He commissions the twelve disciples, empowers them to cure those who are sick and drive out evil spirits, sends them out to proclaim and enact the coming Kingdom of God, receives them back...

Pentecost 3 A: Two Timely Truths

Matthew 10: 24-39 Dear Partner in Preaching, There are two words here, both important for our people to hear. Division and discord are an inescapable part of our life in this world. Trust me, this won’t be news to your people. Every headline or news caption seems to blare this reality. Every family experiences the pain of this reality at one point or another. Every person in your congregation has been marked by this reality. No, this won’t be news. Much of that discord is avoidable and unnecessary. That’s the tragedy, but also the truth, of our condition, and we can commit ourselves to healing it where possible. But some of that...

Pentecost 13 C: Pursuing a Faith That Matters

Luke 12:49-56 Dear Partner in Preaching, What does it cost us to go to Church? I’ve been wondering of late what our people would say if we asked them that. A free Sunday morning? A chance to sleep in? The ten or twenty bucks they put in the offering plate? Odds are, if we stop to think of it, it costs us very little to be a Christian today, as even in an increasingly “post-Christian” culture, going to church, if no longer quite the norm, at least occasions little comment. Not so, of course, in Jesus’ day. As Jesus indicates in this complicated and, if truth-be-told, somewhat off-putting passage, those who followed him were regularly...

John 21:6b-10

So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other...