The Missing Piece (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

By Susan Sparks.Arno Michaelis has a change of heart after being shown kindness.Life’s difficulties can come in many forms: illness, loss, prejudice, pain . . . and assembling furniture from Ikea. Anyone who has attempted to put together anything from this wonderfully creative, yet maddening, merchant understands the frustration. The box arrives with a zillion pieces and, the best part, instructions in Swedish. After hours of deciphering the directions and gathering together the c … [Read more...]

Looking for Jesus (Luke 2:41-52)

By Jim Kast-Keat.A look at the year 2015.You’ll always find what you’re looking for. Unless, of course, you’re Mary and Joseph, looking for your preteen son on your road trip home from the Passover festival in Jerusalem.This is the scene found in Luke 2:41-52, the Gospel reading for the final Sunday of 2015. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus joined other travelers on their annual pilgrimage. At the end of the festival they begin their trek home. Mary and Joseph assume Jesus is behaving like … [Read more...]

Learning from Mary in Our Age of Endless War (Luke 1:39-55)

By Matthew L. Skinner.Author and activist Shane Claiborne champions a program that turn weapons of death into instruments of hope.National Geographic magazine recently named Mary, the mother of Jesus, “the most powerful woman in the world” as an appraisal of her ongoing influence and popularity. But do Mary’s words and example have a prayer of being heard and effecting change in this time of war?Life during WartimeIndeed, this is war. America has effectively been engaged in co … [Read more...]

The Challenge of Jonah Encountering Radicalization Through Radical Inclusion

By Frances Flannery.Since the Paris attacks, many in the U.S. have drawn deeper boundary lines between “us” and “them” in an ugly way that in my lifetime I only recall seeing after 9/11.  It is true that ISIS is related to Islam in an extremist way, much as the KKK is related to Christianity (think of the burning crosses).  Yet this association has caused some politicians, pundits, and ordinary citizens to become much more suspicious of Muslims in general, despite the fact that far less than … [Read more...]

Ordinary Acts of Grace (Luke 3:7-18)

By Eric D. Barreto.Habitat For Humanity NYC enlists volunteers to help rehabilitate old homes and build new homes that will eventually house the working poor in New York City.John the Baptist is an irritant in the midst of Advent.In the Gospel reading for this week in Luke 3:7-18, he is in the wilderness excoriating the crowds who came seeking baptism and repentance and deliverance. “Who warned you…?,” John wants to know. Who told you to come out here? What did you think you would … [Read more...]

Selective Salvation in a Fear-Filled World (Luke 3:1-6)

By Karoline Lewis.“All flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:1-6). Well, that depends.It depends on where you are from. It depends on your country of origin. It depends on your religion. It depends on those with whom you are associated. It depends on your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual orientation. The list of criteria for salvation, contrived predominantly from our many fears, is long according to the world as we know it today, but not according to the Gospel … [Read more...]


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