March 13, 2020

I have been meeting once a month over the past couple of years with a group of members from the church I attend. It is an early morning breakfast group that has been assembling for nearly fifty years to discuss issues that affect the church and the world of which it is a part. There are usually 10-15 people who come. It is billed as a “men’s breakfast,” but over the years our church has been ably lead by women… Read more

March 11, 2020

As usual Mark gives us something quite unique in his recounting of the confrontation between Jesus and a “scribe,” more fully understood as a teacher of the law, one who expounds the meanings of the Torah for the Jewish community. Mark sets the dialogue between the two in the context of a disputation between Jesus and the Sadducees concerning the proper interpretation of what happens to a childless widow who marries seven brothers in succession in fulfillment of the command… Read more

March 9, 2020

In spite of all those alliterative “p’s,” of the title, I really do have something serious to say today about the ongoing, seemingly interminable, presidential election season. Let me be clear: the upcoming November, 2020 election is the most important election in my lifetime, both for our nation and for the planet’s future. This is no exaggeration at all. In my 73 years I have witnessed several important presidential elections. The 1960 context between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon was… Read more

March 6, 2020

I write this article at the end of a fascinating political week. This past Tuesday 14 states held their presidential primaries, the result of which vaulted Joe Biden to the head of the Democratic pack. Various adjectives were employed by the pundits to describe Biden’s rise from the ashes of almost certain defeat after his dismal showings in Iowa and New Hampshire; in fact, many of those same pundits had consigned Joe to the dustbin of history and had anointed… Read more

March 2, 2020

As the Markan Jesus becomes increasingly dark with predictions about the coming catastrophe, the disciples grow increasingly dense in their inability to grasp what their leader must face. In reality, the disciples are likely obtuse precisely because they do not wish to understand what his brooding comments may mean; if even a glimmer of insight breaks into their brains, they do not desire to participate at all in what Jesus will undergo. They, like us, wish to bask in the… Read more

February 26, 2020

The idea of Sabbath is a very difficult sell in 21st century America. In the capitalist USA, a place that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the notion of a “day of rest” is well nigh laughable. After all, someone is always working around us, from the night watchman in the building to the sanitation worker in the early morning to the CEO on her way to another overseas meeting. Even those of us who are retired… Read more

February 24, 2020

In this brief section of Mark’s Gospel we find four separate pieces of story and teaching that Mark splices together to again confront the readers with the strict and all- encompassing demands of discipleship. The section begins as “someone” ran up to Jesus, “knelt before him,” and questioned him, “Good teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life” (Mark 10:17)? More famously in Matthew and Luke, this “someone” becomes “a ruler,” hence the more familiar designation, “the… Read more

February 21, 2020

I read just this morning an article in my local paper (yes, I still read an actual hardcopy newspaper, indicating my advanced age!) concerning a series of interchanges that the writer had been having with various of his readers on the subject of single payer health care proposals. This writer was in favor of such a system, but he received no small pushback against the possibility. The article was based primarily on one respondent who was having none of such… Read more

February 18, 2020

The crisis of the Gospel of Mark is looming closer, as this sequence of texts represents the second one that follows the pattern of suffering prediction, the disciples inability to understand what that means, and Jesus’s further teaching. But before that sequence begins, Mark offers to us another healing narrative that emphasizes one of Mark’s central concerns; healing is less the result of Jesus’s power but is rather more based on the trust of those who seek healing and wholeness…. Read more

February 11, 2020

The Narrative Lectionary includes many verses that precede this famous tale (8:27-9:1), but since this Sunday has long been named “Transfiguration Sunday,” it seems appropriate to focus our attention on the scene as Mark depicts it. Besides, no more spooky story may be found in the gospels, with its spookiness spiked with slapstick humor. What better combination can a preacher find? “Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them off by themselves to a lofty mountain”… Read more

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