Adv 4B/Christmas Eve: God’s Surprising Choic...

Luke 1:26-38 Luke 2:1-20 Dear Partner in Preaching, Martin Luther loved Mary. You may already have known that. As a life-long Lutheran pastor, I have regularly been surprised by how few Lutherans know that. I suspect that’s because, while Lutherans often know too little about their Roman Catholic kindred, one of the things they do know is that Mary has a significant place in Roman Catholic piety and so assume Luther would not have been a fan. But he was; indeed, he was a huge fan. To Luther, Mary represented the typical pattern of God’s interaction with humans. Indeed, not just interaction, but election. That is, it wasn’t Mary’s...

Lent 5 C: The Unexpected God

John 12:1-8 Dear Partner in Preaching, For many years I have very much enjoyed reading this passage because of it’s vivid imagery and dramatic introduction of the passion story that is about to commence. But I have also struggled to preach it. Not only is there the scene of Mary washing Jesus’ feet with her hair, so reminiscent of the scene of an unnamed woman in Luke 7, but also the undercurrent of suspicion about Judas, the significance of the perfume in relation to burial customs, and Jesus’ widely misinterpreted line about always having the poor with us. Lots to talk about, most of which needs first to be unpacked and...

John 20:14-16

When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where...

John 2:3-5

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 to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” I have heard more than a few people over the...

Advent 4 B: Blessed Like Mary

Dear Partner in Preaching, Notice one thing: before Mary says “yes,” she is blessed. Why does this matter? Because I think it captures not only the important role Mary plays in the Gospel story but also reveals a central dynamic of the Christian life. First, to Mary. She is regularly hailed as a model of faith for her acceptance of the role God invites her to play as the mother of Jesus. And for good reason. Throughout Luke’s Gospel, the willingness to trust the promises of God is the mark of discipleship. And so Elizabeth believes that in her old age she will nevertheless bear John, and the disciples believe they will fish for people,...