Pentecost 16 A: Choosing Joy

Matthew 20:1-16 Dear Partner in Preaching, One of the “life rules” I’ve adopted as I grow older – and try to live by (always harder!) – is that “no joy comes from comparisons.” Have you ever noticed that? Rather than be content with what you have or who you are or what you’ve accomplished, we so regularly look to those around us to decide whether it is enough based on what others have or are or have accomplished. I suspect this is part of being human – being animated by a deep-seated insecurity that makes it difficult for us to establish some sense of ourselves apart from an external reference. And so we enjoy the car we...

Easter 3 A: Dashed Hopes and Surprising Grace

Luke 24:13-35 Dear Partner in Preaching, Notice that it’s a road. Not an upper room or garden or mountain top or any of the other places we expect revelation to take place. It’s a road. And it’s not a pronouncement or discourse, but a conversation. I think these details are important. Sometimes, it’s enough just to see Jesus, or to hear of his resurrection, or to be promised his presence. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes the move from doubt, fear, and grief to faith, hope, and love takes both the time it takes to walk from one town to another and the opportunity for an open and honest conversation. Can...

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 17 C: Joy!

Luke 15:1-10 Dear Partner in Preaching, I apologize for the late post. It’s been one of those weeks! So here’s what I’ve got. Actually, two things. First, this story is about joy. We understandably focus on issues of being lost, of being found, of the Pharisees and scribes displeasure, of avoiding judgment, and so forth. But what we often miss is the common denominator of both these stories is joy. “Just so, there will be more joy in heaven….” Repeat twice. And here’s the thing: I get that. Shortly after we’d moved to Minnesota, I took my then four year-old son out to the Mall of America, an enclosed shopping center so large...

John 20:19-21

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples...