Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Then how were your eyes opened?” (3/26/17)
John 9:1-10:21
 Christ the Good Shepherd
The Gospel text for Sunday, March 26th was the story of the man who was born blind, from the Gospel of John. We did something a little bit different with this text. It’s a really long story—it takes up all of chapter 9—so I decided to make it even longer by adding in the Good Shepherd discourse from chapter 10. But instead of reading the whole text, and then preaching on it, I enlisted the help of the adult Sunday school class. We presented the Gospel lesson as a dramatic reading and I offered some brief comments in between episodes of the story. Follow the link below to see the full text.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sacred Conversations (3/19/17)

Qi He, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

On Sunday we heard the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. It's a really long story. The key to understanding the Gospel of John can be found in the Prologue to this Gospel. John 1:1-18 explains who Jesus is and what that means for us. That passage tells us that Jesus was always with God the Father; it tells us that Jesus is God; and it tells us that God entered the created world in the person of Jesus. This is also called the incarnation. The Prologue asserts that the incarnation is as important as the creation of the world. Through the incarnation, God enters into a direct relationship with all of humanity. Keep that thought in the back of your mind as you read the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and the sermon below.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Can These Things Be? (3/12/17)
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Nicodemus and Jesus on a Rooftop

The Gospel of John features many memorable stories and a lot of great quotes, but the Fourth Gospel is challenging to preach. A lot of the stories are very long and the theology is very dense. There's so much going on in each of these stories that it's difficult to offer adequate teaching in the time that's available for a sermon. The story of Jesus and Nicodemus is rich and complex. The danger is that this story is often reduced to one simple quote: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." And that's not even the whole quote! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Alan W. Banaszak: July 8, 1986 - February 22, 2017
Susan and Alan Banaszak

Two weeks ago I officiated a funeral for Alan Banaszak. I didn't know Alan, but I do know his sister, Susan Banaszak; she asked me to officiate the service. Alan died from a heroin overdose. I was honored to be asked to offer a word of grace into such a terrible loss. Alan's mother, Alana Banaszak, gave me permission to speak honestly about Alan's addiction. I have posted this service to my blog with permission from Alana and Susan.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Power and the Glory (3/5/17)
William Blake, The First Temptation: "Command that these stones be made bread."

Over the last couple months we’ve jumped around the Gospel of Matthew quite a bit. Back in January, the season of Epiphany began with the baptism of Jesus, which can be found in Chapter 3 of the Gospel of Matthew. Then a couple weeks later, we jumped forward to Chapter 5, and we heard the Sermon on the Mount, which was the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Then last Sunday we heard the story of the Transfiguration, which marks the end of the season of Epiphany. In both the story of Christ’s baptism and the Transfiguration God says, “This is my son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased.” These readings are presented in this order so that we don’t forget who Jesus is—the living Son of God; the Word made flesh. Matthew’s account of the Temptation occurs right after Jesus has been baptized.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

No Sloth! (3/1/17)
This is a brown, three-toed sloth. It's kinda cute. And baby sloths are absolutely adorable.
Some species of sloth actually grow algae in their fur. I don't want to grow algae. Anywhere.

This year I am giving up sloth for Lent. Seriously. Want to know more? Read on!