April 3, 2020

As we approach the holist days of Christianity, I have been led to think again about the texts on which these celebratory days are based. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter find their roots in specific biblical texts from the New Testament, themselves rooted in certain texts from the Hebrew Bible. As both pastor and teacher for more than 50 years, I have regularly this time of year turned to these texts that speak to what Christians most… Read more

March 31, 2020

In this extraordinary time of forced isolation, a time that promises to extend longer than any of us first hoped or desired, I have found special joy in the acts of reading and writing. I have long been a voracious reader, learning that wonderful and magical art at an early age, poking my growing nose into books ever larger as I grew, spending hours of fabulous time in libraries from Indiana to Arizona to Iowa to Texas to California. Some… Read more

March 30, 2020

I want to continue my use of the narrative lectionary for a time, since it helps me to see the story of the Bible more continuously, a reality that I think more of our congregations need to hear. Today’s text will closely match the Revised Common Lectionary, since each year after Easter that series of readings shifts to the book of the Acts to trace the growth of the early Christian communities as recorded in that second volume of Luke’s… Read more

March 26, 2020

As I have often revealed in these essays, I am a 50-year United Methodist clergyman, and, though I have long had a love-hate relationship with my denomination, especially with regard to its absurd and frightening rejection of full inclusion of GLBTQIA people, I have stayed on the Methodist bus, in the main, though with a 5-year detour among the Presbyterians. And because I am still a member of the UM clergy, I continue to receive any number of communications from… Read more

March 20, 2020

It is nearly certain now that we in Los Angeles will not be wending our way to any Easter services with our fellow parishioners. The governor of California yesterday asked, with considerable force, that all Californians, all 40 million of us, stay in our homes, venturing out only for absolutely vital reasons—grocery store runs, gas station fill ups, the occasional walk. There is no stated timeline concerning how long these restrictions may last, but since Easter is now only slightly… Read more

March 19, 2020

It appears more and more likely that my church, along with thousands of others this year will not be able to have Holy Week services with assembled parishioners. We will not see scenes like the one to the left. They will all need to be done at distance, using whatever technology those churches have available. My church’s first foray into this brave new world (at least I hope the world we are in is brave!) was checkered at best, with… Read more

March 18, 2020

The frenetic pace of Mark’s story, sprinkled liberally with the word “immediately,” slows down noticeably after Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on the donkey (Mark 11:1-11). The ensuing week, culminating in the empty tomb, consumes fully six chapters, nearly 40% of the tale. After Jesus’s tourist-like and silent observations of the temple compound, and after he leaves the city without any comment, he returns to Jerusalem and falls into confrontation with the religious authorities, as Mark has been predicting from the… Read more

March 17, 2020

My reading of this very famous scene, the root of the centuries old church celebrations of Palm Sunday, carries a particular weight during this decidedly peculiar time in the world’s history. All humanity is under caution due to the worldwide pandemic of the Coronavirus. In my city of Los Angeles, all bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, sporting events, concerts are closed or cancelled until further notice. Even my barber has closed his small shop, where he has practiced his… Read more

March 16, 2020

We are definitely in it now, a real, honest-to-goodness pandemic, birthed by the wide spread of the Coronavirus. Yesterday in my state, California, the governor first urged restaurants and bars to search for ways to keep patrons somehow distant from one another, but quickly decided it was far better to close such establishments completely for at least two weeks until the end of March. It is nearly certain that that period will be extended. The mayor of my city, Los… Read more

March 15, 2020

At the end of Lent, it is common for the lectionary of whatever sort to present the preacher/teacher with the apocalyptic material from whichever gospel is being addressed. This is so, because next week brings the start of Holy Week with Jesus’s immortal donkey ride into Jerusalem that kicks off the tragedies and triumphs of Good Friday and Easter. Mark, as the first gospel writer, set the tone by presaging the end of his tale with this strange and elusive… Read more

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