Lent 1 C: Identity Theft

Dear Partner in Preaching, It really doesn’t have to be bread, power, or safety. Temptations, I mean. In today’s reading the devil tries to seduce Jesus with the promise of bread when he’s hungry, the glory and power of all the world’s leaders, and the promise of rescue paired with the suggestion that God is not sufficient to keep Jesus safe. And all Jesus has to do in return is worship Satan. So in this scene, it’s bread, power, and safety. But it could be something else. Which is the key to preaching this story, I think. Because the point isn’t the specific temptations, but rather the underlying nature of temptation itself. In...

Lenten Sacrifice and Self-Denial Mar13

Lenten Sacrifice and Self-Denial

Lent is a time of self-denial and sacrifice. These aren’t terribly popular words in our culture. They seem to many today part of a dark and dingy past when religious superstition dominated all. But what of the rampant self-indulgence that governs today? Is the ability to eat, drink, spend, or have sex whenever you want to – which seem to be the goals lifted by most television programs I see – really an expression of freedom, let alone dignity or meaning? What is strength is you cannot govern yourself? What is wealth if you go to bed each night fearful that you do not have enough? What is power if you are constantly driven by the need...

Lent: Who Needs It? Mar06

Lent: Who Needs It?

Membership in the Christian Church of the first four centuries was not come by lightly. As an underground organization, the church had to scrutinize carefully every prospective member, and a prolonged period of probation was a requirement. This period would normally terminate with reception into the Church by baptism at Easter. The final period preceding baptism, Lent, was naturally the most rigorous. Candidates were required to fast in preparation, and to attend catechetical lectures and periodic examinations or “scrutinies.”    –Edward Horn III Lent. Among many Christian congregations it’s become something of a dirty,...

Coming Soon: Lent Devotions Mar04

Coming Soon: Lent Devotions

I have, as you’ve probably noticed, had of late a hard time keeping up with the discipline of posting day – let alone twice daily! – but I am re-committing to that discipline as we enter into Lent. Two years ago about this time, I started this blog largely from a desire to provide Lenten Devotions for folks whose congregations were no longer doing that, and I enjoyed it so much I just kept right on going. And so I’m eager to return to those roots as well as continuing to work at connecting faith to issues of daily life. So…Lenten Devotions start tomorrow! We’ll be working through the Passion According to St. Matthew and I’m...

Lent, Clean Water, and the Opportunity for Self-Denial Mar22

Lent, Clean Water, and the Opportunity for Self-De...

Lent is a time of self-denial, a chance to remember and identify with the sufferings of our Lord. It is also an opportunity to make do with less and in this way to identify also with all those who have so little, those with whom our Lord identified. That gets increasingly more difficult – and simultaneously more important – in a word that seems to grow more materialistic by the day. It is challenging to watch the ads of television and across the media and not succumb to believing that we just can’t get buy without that new ______________ (fill in the blank). In this light, Lent and its call to self-denial is a gift, an opportunity to...