(Lectionary for June 3, 2018) And, as Monty Python were fond of saying, “Now, for something completely different.” As I have announced in this lectionary blog for some time, I have written a novel, King Saul(2014), published by Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock. I doubt more than a handful of you have read it, though of course I hope some of you may have. It is a fictionalized account of the life and death of King Saul… Read more

(Lectionary for May 27, 2018) We are about to enter that long swatch of Sundays that used to be called “ordinary time,” a huge section of weeks that are to be found between Trinity Sunday and Christ the King and Advent, comprising nearly half the year. The preacher usually takes a vacation during this time and hands the reins of the church over to an associate (if she is lucky enough to have one) or asks friends to “cover” for… Read more

I have been privileged to go to Alaska five or six times in my life, but only in September. Though I have no comparisons to make, that month brings yellow trees, snow-capped peaks, and far fewer tourists. In short, I have found September to be a grand month to go. Each time I have gone, I have been asked to preach and teach in one church or conference or another, and that has been a wonderful way to see something… Read more

(Lectionary for May 20) I know full well that the vast majority of you will use the famous Acts 2 passage as the source of your Pentecost sermon, but I have in previous essays suggested my deep distaste for the raging anti-Jewish cast of Peter’s ancient sermon, as constructed by Luke. I know that earliest Christianity was in the business of separating itself from its Jewish roots, urging all of its followers to proclaim Jesus as the long awaited Messiah… Read more

I have always loved Greece. It has been described as one of the world’s largest outdoor archaeological sites. Nearly every bend in the road and every trek up a hill or mountain lead to an ancient significant place of one sort or another. I have been fortunate in my life to go to this fabulous country several times, and each time I find some new spot to delight my historical senses. From Cape Sunion and its wonderful temple in the… Read more

(Lectionary for May 13, 2018) It has long been striking, and quite disheartening, to note the continued male dominance I find in the church. This troubling fact is accompanied by no little irony. It has long been the case, literally for centuries, that women have been the majority of church attendees. The figure has circled around 60-65% in most parishes. Just look around your sanctuary this Sunday and see whether or not your eyes confirm this fact. And yet, the… Read more

“Here his mighty waters play On the organ all the day” Thus did John Keats describe his visit to the Isle of Staffa and its redoubtable feature, Fingal’s Cave, a huge chamber hollowed out by the unimaginable power of the sea over vast stretches of time. For millennia those pounding waters have created a vast cavern that resounds like the largest pipes of a natural organ, as Keats described it so well. Even as I write, I can faintly hear… Read more

(Lectionary for May 6, 2018) My denomination, the United Methodists, has been wracked by dissension for 45 years over questions of sexuality. As a result of our struggle, LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters have been attacked and demeaned as lesser persons, not worthy to be full members of the people called Methodist, and not able to be ordained as our clergy. In our 1972 Book of Discipline, the official repository of the faith and polity of our church, there first appeared… Read more

Nature offers to us one of its most majestic sites when it presents a waterfall. There is something magical about watching water tumble over a cliff and descend thunderingly into a gorge, creating a crack of sound that often deafens, or at least shuts us up with conviction. The grand image of the poet of Psalm 42:7 springs to mind: “Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.”… Read more

(Lectionary of April 29, 2018) This great story of the Ethiopian eunuch has presented fodder for preachers for two millenia, and its superb telling may lead any homiletician in multiple directions— but, I hasten to add, not multiple directions during one Sunday’s preaching event. The fact that the main subject of the tale is a foreign eunuch, a physical condition expressly denying him access to the Jerusalem Temple, according to clear ancient law, but a law apparently now rejected in… Read more

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