January 15, 2019

The Bible is a glorious, frustrating, challenging, absurd, delightful book, or a collection of books, or a lengthy, choppy, over-arching narrative, or a hodge-podge of disparate writings, representing nearly 1500 years of human thought. It has been characterized as all of these things, as well as in numerous other ways, by readers over many centuries. Just how one delineates the book will go a long way in determining just how one reads it, as I will discuss in this first… Read more

January 14, 2019

Here is a fun passage from the third section of Isaiah’s prophetic grab-bag collection, a group of oracles and narratives and poems that cover perhaps as much as 300 years of composition. This chapter 62 is certainly from late in the collection, but just when or under what circumstances it may have been written is impossible to determine. Suffice it to say that whoever wrote/spoke this material knew her Hebrew well and was having a right good time playing with… Read more

January 10, 2019

I am a musical snob. Since my senior year in High School, a few more than 50 years ago, I have listened exclusively to one kind of music, generally named classical. I was indoctrinated into this lovely world first by my choir participation and then by my desire to become an opera singer. I was perhaps too soon disaffected of that dream by a rigorous, albeit quite knowledgeable, teacher of voice in my college years who flatly said no, when… Read more

January 7, 2019

We find in this marvelous passage for today one of the clearest statements of the gospel of God as one can find in the Bible. Please note that I said the “gospel of God.” For too many Christians, they assume that unless the name of Jesus is announced there can finally be no gospel. I completely and thoroughly disagree! Unless we find the work of God in the Hebrew Bible, places where God with the name of YHWH acts in… Read more

January 3, 2019

Because I am a United Methodist clergyperson, and have been for nearly 50 years, I am much concerned with the upcoming called session of our General Conference to be held in St. Louis at the end of February. At this meeting only one topic will consume the time of the delegates, namely what to do with our long-debated problems with human sexuality. Since 1972 we have had a contentious phrase enshrined in our Book of Discipline that serves as the… Read more

December 31, 2018

“We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we travel afar…” You of course know the rest of this most famous of Epiphany hymns. I know we have been singing it and hearing it for the past month, in mall and church, but it is only really appropriate for this Sunday, the day of the appearance of the Messiah, his epiphany to the whole world in the persons of the Magi from the east, all according only to the Gospel… Read more

December 27, 2018

The lectionary prefigures the story of Jesus by giving us the origin tale of the prophet Samuel. Just as Samuel will “grow in favor and stature with God and human beings,” so it will be with Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:40). The settings of the two stories are both in temples with Jesus being given the further acclamation of many elders, and the astonishment of his parents, due to his precocious wisdom in the temple. In… Read more

December 19, 2018

My son, Darius, and his wife of 10 years, Caroline, are heading for divorce. That is a most painful sentence to write, but it is all too true. Caroline sued him in June of this year, and the subsequent 6 months have witnessed the usual fallouts from their decision. He has moved to an apartment, about 11⁄2 miles away from their house, while she and our two grandchildren, Saoirse, 6, and Moxie, 3 1⁄2, continue to live in the house…. Read more

December 18, 2018

Micah is a very complicated book, and has engendered no end of attempts to solve its myriad difficulties. We think of it as the work of an 8th century BCE prophet, contemporaneous with I-Isaiah, probably living somewhere in the Judean countryside, just before or just after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians in 722 BCE. He is a crusty fellow, who views the city of Jerusalem and those who inhabit it with an especially jaundiced… Read more

December 12, 2018

I warned you, dear reader, several weeks ago, that I was about to embark on another long road trip with my wife. In the past, such trips have resulted in this blog morphing into a sort of travelogue, a kind of highlights itinerary for my golden years. You may at least be grateful that I do not include any personal photos of me pointing at various signs, clad in red sweater, announcing the entrance to one delightful American high spot… Read more

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