Epiphany 7 A: Telos

Matthew 5:38-48 Dear Partner, Ahh, the temptations we preachers are going to feel as we read this difficult passage! I’ve preached it enough, and you probably have to, to be familiar with at least two of them. The first will be to not take it seriously. I call this the “Lutheran temptation” simply because when Lutherans get to really difficult says from Jesus, we tend to assume that Jesus didn’t really expect us to do these things, only to remind us of our inability to satisfy God’s commands so that we might flee to Jesus for forgiveness and grace. While I’m not sure this actually reflects Luther’s thought, some of his...

Lent 4 C: The Prodigal God

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 Dear Partner in Preaching, I found our exchange in the comments last week kind of fascinating. You probably don’t read the comments, so I’ll recap briefly. The exchange centered on how we understand the cross and was prompted by a statement I made that “the cross is not about punishment for sin.” Several folks questioned that, referencing Anselm’s substitutionary theory of atonement and the attendant Scriptural passages associated with it. I’ll say up front that I appreciated the conversation and the spirit in which we engaged. And I want also to say that Anselm’s view – echoed later by Thomas Aquinas,...

Epiphany 2 B: What Grace Looks Like!

Dear Partner in Preaching So this is what grace looks like! Grace, of course, is one of those words that, while central to our theological identity and vocabulary, is often hard for us to define, let alone describe in a concrete and meaningful way. Consider, for instance, how some of the more recent and sometimes paraphrased translations have worked with “grace” as it appears in a verse like Romans 3:24 – “They are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (NRSV). J. B. Phillips describes it as God’s “generous dealing” with us, while Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” talks about...

Charis & Colleagues Jun12

Charis & Collea...

I spent the better part of yesterday in a four-and-a-half-hour long faculty meeting. Yes, you read that right: 4.5 hours, 270 minutes, 16,200 seconds. But before you start feeling sorry for me (at least those who know faculty meetings well enough to generate sympathy), let me hasten to...

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that...