Pentecost 23 A – The Waiting

Matthew 25:1-13 Dear Partner in Preaching, The refrain from Tom Petty’s “The Waiting” kept coming to mind while reading the parable of the bridesmaids.[1]  You probably remember the plaintive quality of the so recently deceased Petty’s singing, adding at least a third syllable to “waiting”: “The waiting is the hardest part. Every day you see one more card. You take it on faith, You take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.” In her commentary on Working Preacher, Dr. Susan Hylen offers what I found to be a really helpful insight: the point of the parable is not constant readiness. “Keep awake” does not imply...

Advent 1 A: Watching for God Together

Matthew 24:36-44 Dear Partner in Preaching, I am writing this letter to you on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day. In a few hours, stores will open and people will flock to cash in on Black Friday deals. It used to be that Black Friday started on, well, Friday, but as you likely know those shopping “opportunities” have slowly but surely crept back into the wee hours of Friday morning, then to midnight, and most recently into the evening of Thanksgiving Day itself. On the whole, we seem to have a very hard time waiting for things. So did the early Christians to whom Matthew was writing. Keep in mind that Matthew likely writes in the early...

Advent 2 B: Active Waiting

Dear Partner in Preaching, There’s waiting…and then there’s waiting. Do you know what I mean? Some waiting is, well, just waiting, the pointless exercise we all have to endure from time to time. Like sitting in the doctor’s office, just waiting for your name to be called so you can get your flu shot. But other waiting seems to matter. Like waiting in the doctor’s office for the results of the biopsy to come back or waiting to see the ultrasound of your coming baby. I suspect you know what I mean. Some waiting feels empty and pointless, while other waiting is weighty, significant, and really matters. Too often, I think, the kind of...

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the...

Pentecost 22 A: Hope and Help for Foolish Bridesma...

Dear Partner in Preaching, November is a hard month to preach. Part of that is where we are in the cycle of the church calendar, as November draws us toward Christ the King and the lectionary readings anticipate Christ’s second advent even as we prepare to celebrate his first advent at Christmas. And the other part is Matthew, who offers more warnings about hellfire and gnashing teeth than the rest of the evangelists combined. And so this Sunday and those that follow will treat us to exhortations to wait, to make the most of our gifts, and to do good…or else. And while all these parables present their own distinct challenges, I have to...