Christmas 1 A: Just in Time

Matthew 2:13-23 Dear Partner in Preaching, Too soon. This reading, I mean. It comes too soon. We have, after all, just celebrated Christmas. If your Christmas Eve was anything like mine, it was filled with songs about the “holy infant so tender and mild” and the “little town of Bethlehem” that sheltered him. The story you heard was most likely Luke’s depiction of a young mother giving birth to her firstborn child and angels greeting shepherd with words of peace on earth and good will to all. It was, I’m sure, a beautiful and hope-filled evening and celebration. Which is what makes the transition to this harrowing reading from...

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...

Christ the King B: Not of this World

John 18:33-37 Dear Partner in Preaching, As I read the Gospel of John – and, indeed, all the Gospels – I am increasingly convinced that I have missed the more radical nature of the message of and about our Lord. Today’s reading offers a perfect example, as of late I’ve come to suspect that I have misread a key, and perhaps central, portion of it. Here’s the verse in question: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here’” (John 18:36). For most of my interpretive...

Matthew 26:55-54

Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my...

Luke 12:41-48

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will...