No More Davids! 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

(Lectionary for December 24,2017) I have long loved the brilliant stories of Saul, Samuel, David, and their fascinating friends and enemies as found in the Hebrew Bible’s two books of Samuel. I love them so much as to have published one novel based on them (King Saul, 2015) and to have completed a draft of a sequel, “King David,” I hope soon to be found in a store near you. The author(s) of the vast and astonishing tales that comprise… Read more

The Peripatetic Preacher Goes to Fiji

Though I have relayed something of this story in an earlier blog—at my advancing age, I cannot remember exactly when—I had a very memorable preaching assignment on the main island of Fiji in August, 2004. The request to preach and teach in such an exotic locale was made possible by a former student who has spent nearly his entire ministerial career teaching in international places from India to Kiribati to Ecuador, to mention only a few of his posts. His… Read more

The Eternal Promise Isaiah 64:1-11

(Lectionary for December 17, 2017  Advent 3) Last night (Dec.4, 2017), I attended a meeting with representatives of three California members of the US Congress, two members of the House of Representatives and one Senator. All three of these members are proclaimed progressives, and almost completely opposed to the work of the current administration in Washington. On every issue discussed, from climate change to immigration to the huge tax bill currently having passed the House and the Senate, these professional… Read more

The Peripatetic Preacher: Reassessing Military Chaplains

Very few of my immediate family went into military service—none of my three brothers, nor I, nor my father, who was deferred from WWII due to an important stateside job, entered any branch of the military. I did have two uncles who served, one during WWII, and the other somewhat later, but that is all my contact with things military. I was certainly eligible for the draft during the war in Vietnam, graduating from college in 1968, but I chose… Read more

Male Abusers: Hope When It Counts Isaiah 40:1-11

(Lectionary for December 10, 2017, Advent 2)The text for this second Sunday in Advent is so familiar, so clichéd, that it is easy to pass over it quickly with a sentimental smile. Anyone who is a singer, or a lover of all things musical at Christmas, knows this text as the words of the opening solo in Handel’s ubiquitous and beloved oratorio, “Messiah.” The tenor intones the recitative, “Comfort, Ye,” and many sigh with pleasure as the famous music begins its… Read more

Pay it Forward

I named this blog “The Peripatetic Preacher” some time ago, because I have in my life been very fortunate to have preached and taught in nearly every US state and in twenty foreign countries. I have led services and been inside classrooms in churches from Maine to Hawaii, and from Italy to Fiji to Brazil, not to mention on various ships at sea. When I imagined my contributions to Patheos, which have now spanned some seven years, I thought I… Read more

Isaiah 64:1-9 More Magical Thinking

(Lectionary for Advent 1, December 3, 2017) The days preceding Christmas are often referred to as “days of magic.” Lights go up on houses, the stores are filled with artificial trees, festooned with plastic balls and phony flocking, while shoppers are serenaded with holiday tunes played by 101 Strings or Mannheim Steamroller. And old Bing Crosby lends his dulcet voice while refusing to sing any rhythms as written. Some may not find any magic in this feast of commerce, but the… Read more

A Search for a Good Shepherd

(Lectionary for November 26, 2017) When reading the prophet Ezekiel, an interpreter is often more inclined to diagnose an acute mental illness than exegete the prophet’s words. This man was wild! His imagery is amazing, often pornographically bizarre. His eyes apparently see things no one else sees—whirling wheels and creepy crawly creatures in the Jerusalem temple and valleys filled with dried out bones. But in reality we know very little about the man himself and can only surmise anything of… Read more

We Need No More Of This! Reflections on Zephaniah 1

I am the first one to admit that the Bible has more than its share of appalling and dangerous ideas. In that, I concur with my distant colleagues, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, the so-called new atheists. They are quite right to say that the old traditions can be dangerous; they are quite wrong to say that nothing in the old tradition can be beautiful, life giving, and wonderful. With that caveat, let me urge you never to read or… Read more

Judges 4 “Things Are Seldom What They Seem”

(Lectionary for November 19, 2017) I doubt many of you have preached many sermons from the book of Judges. I have done more than a few studies on this book in churches over the years, and I invariably title what I do, “Crazy, Murderous, and Lusty.” I add the lusty part to insure a good crowd. The stories of Judges are in many cases quite grim. There is Ehud, the left-handed Benjaminite (that tribal name means literally “the son of… Read more

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