Pentecost 10 A: Something More

Matthew 14:22-33 Dear Partner in Preaching, I notice that I’ve fallen into something of a pattern over the last few weeks and months of wanting to emphasize God’s grace and activity lest we receive the Gospel primarily as good advice rather than as good news. I suspect that’s a core part of my own theology – the primacy of God’s grace – and perhaps it’s a result of just finishing up a “Making Sense” book on Martin Luther’s theology where God’s activity is so central (I’ll share a little more info. about that once I know when it will be available). But I suspect it’s partly also a reaction to Matthew’s Gospel...

Easter A: Proclaiming an On-Going Easter

Matthew 28:1-10 Dear Partner in Preaching, Here we are again: the climax and conclusion of Lent and Holy Week, the pinnacle of the Christian year, the very peak of the Christian story and, we confess, world history itself. And here’s the thing: while I believe that each of those statements is true, I also believe each is insufficient. Too often, I think, we see Easter as a conclusion, when I suspect that in the Gospels and, for that matter, in the early Christian community, the resurrection of Jesus was meant to be only the beginning. The very fact that we have Matthew’s scene of the resurrection supports that assertion. Assuming with...

Pentecost 12 C: What Would You Do…?

Luke 12:32-40 Dear Partner in Preaching, One of my favorite questions to ask in visioning work or counseling sessions is as follows: “What would you love to try if you knew you couldn’t fail?” You may have heard that question, or asked it, yourself. I like it because it prompts us to cast our gaze beyond our present circumstances and challenges, elements in our lives that, while perhaps real, often cast a larger than necessary shadow. We are evolutionarily wired to overestimate risk and danger because, well, in a harsh environment underestimating risk and danger can be deadly. But one might argue that in our relatively civilized world,...

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 3 C: God Sightings

Dear Partner in Preaching, Hey – I know it hardly helps to get these reflections so late in the week. And I apologize. My work at LTSP, and particularly our efforts to unify the Philadelphia and Gettysburg seminaries, has been pretty much all consuming of late and it’s getting harder to find time to write. Again, my apologies. I’ll try to do better. In the meantime, I’ll keep this week’s reflection relatively short. So….what strikes me most about this story is not the miracle itself. This is Jesus we’re talking about after all. But rather the reaction of the crowds. Luke tells us that after Jesus gave life back to the widow’s...