November 27, 2015 by jmar198013
Manuscript of my sermon for this Sunday, November 11, 2015. First Sunday of Advent, Year C. Scriptures: Jeremiah 33.14-16 Psalm …
November 20, 2015 by jmar198013
In the exchange between Pilate and Jesus in John 18.33ff, Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king. Jesus says his kingdom is unlike the ones of this world, and he has come to testify to the truth. Pilate famously asks, “What is truth?” This Christ the King Sunday, we recognize that we are in a spiritual battle–a clash of two kingdoms and two truths. Pilate’s truth–the script he lives by, the story he tells–is survival. Jesus’ truth–the story his life bears witness to–is resurrection. Which truth will we tell?
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November 13, 2015 by jmar198013
In Mark 13.1-8, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple would be destroyed. For them, this was the end of the world. But that’s not all–Jesus also warned of opportunistic con-men, world conflict, the shaking of foundations, and widespread hunger. Scary stuff, but Jesus says: “this is the beginning of the birth pangs.” These shake-ups are necessary contractions in the birthing of a new world.
The questions we are left with, then, are: What is there among us—in our lives, in our church, in our world—that will not endure in this new world that is being born? What are we doing about it? What can you and I and we do to help midwife this new creation?
November 9, 2015 by jmar198013
Because I just couldn’t resist addressing the Starbucks plain cup controversy.
November 7, 2015 by jmar198013
If the church wants to learn how to deal with widows–and whatever other vulnerable people we meet–we shouldn’t look to the story of the widow’s mites in Mark 12. That widow was being exploited.
Rather, the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath will provide us with a pragmatic, more just, more organic model of ministering to and alongside the vulnerable members of our communities.
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November 6, 2015 by jmar198013
In Luke 24.13ff, Jesus appears to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. They are grief-stricken and confused, not only by Jesus’ murder at the hands of the authorities, but by rumors that Jesus had been resurrected. At first the two men do not recognize the risen Jesus, but as they walk together, Luke tells us that he “interpreted for them the things written about [Jesus] in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets.” And once they had recognized the risen Jesus for who he was, they said: “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?”
We cannot be sure exactly what he said, but I strongly suspect it had many of the same ingredients as Stephen’s speech to the lynch mob in Acts 7. Jesus opened up the Scriptures to his disciples to show how humans have always been a crucifying people, and God has always been a resurrecting God.
October 31, 2015 by jmar198013
Hebrews 9.11-14 shows that it was not God who needed blood sacrifice to forgive; we humans were the ones who called for blood. Thus, for Hebrews, the blood of Jesus doesn’t change God’s feeling for us, but “washes our conscience clean from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews also makes it clear that Jesus’ sacrifice is the sacrifice to end sacrifice. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus liberates to offer God the only sacrifices he ever wanted from people: wholehearted devotion to God and our neighbors (Mark 12.28-34; Deut. 6.1-9).