May 19, 2021

In the grand book of Genesis, that ancient record of broken families and grounded hope, the creation of human beings is quite literally rooted in the soil. In the second story of creation, according to most scholars by far the older of the two offered in the first two chapters, “YHWH Elohim formed (employing a verb often used in connection with artistic creation) ‘adam from the dust of the ground, and breathed into its (there is as yet no gender... Read more

May 10, 2021

I offer something quite different this week. What follows is a portion of a novel, “King David,” that I hope someday to publish as a sequel to my 2014 work, King Saul. I hope you enjoy it as a reflection on todays’s text. David began his march toward the throne in the way one might imagine a well-known and well-loved singer would do; he wrote a poem and set the poem to the very finest of his new tunes, “The... Read more

May 7, 2021

The stories about Samuel, Saul, and David, that comprise among the very greatest of tales from the ancient world, are so rich and so detailed that it is frankly impossible to encompass the whole of them in only a few weeks of preaching or teaching. Yet, each section of the vast whole reveals something new and fresh about the characters that drives the plot toward its generally tragic end. 1 Samuel 31 records the sad death by suicide of Saul... Read more

May 6, 2021

Today’s lectionary text is among the most famous in the all of the scripture. It is so well known that it has become a cliche in the contemporary western world. No upset victory in sports or politics is announced without reference to the ancient win by the shepherd boy David over the seasoned and massive Philistine giant Goliath. “Dewey Defeats Truman” became an iconic New York Times headline, famous because the opposite had in fact happened; the underdog Truman had... Read more

May 5, 2021

When moving through the long and rich narratives concerning Samuel, Saul, and David, we are forced to skip great swaths of the tapestry that make up the astonishing tale. I remain very sad as I witness what the collectors of the lectionary feel they must do to give the preacher and her listeners some semblance of the wholeness of the work. Unfortunately, no preacher can address the tale in full, and few listeners would sit week after week to hear... Read more

May 4, 2021

Today’s lection begins a foray into the complex world of early Israel’s changeover from the ecstatic leadership of the period of the Judges (approximately 1200-1050 BCE) to the time of the kingship. It is a rocky change, as the following tales make plain. Its rockiness occurs due to multiple factors, but primarily it has to do with the flawed characters involved in the changes of government. I know well that many read these stories as simple ones, featuring a fully... Read more

May 4, 2021

There is no surprise why this Isaianic text always appears in the lectionary for Trinity Sunday; the lectionary compilers simply cannot resist the infamous “trisagion” (Is.6:3), the thrice repeated “holies” issuing from those hovering seraphim while they zip around the throne of YHWH. This is, of course, imaginative, typological reading at its imaginative, typological best, though how ancient beasts howling “holy” at the top of their lungs should suggest the sacred Trinity of Christianity is well beyond me. What we... Read more

April 26, 2021

The story of King David, found in the two books of Samuel, and the first two chapters of 1 Kings in the Hebrew Bible, is fabulous literature and complex theology all at once. Though the use of the tale has too often been flattened into a simplistic and pious melange of “who is good and who is evil” preacher pablum, the narrative, when read with care, energetically resists such trivializations. The dangers of the misuse of the story have become... Read more

April 21, 2021

The vast majority of preachers will of course revert to Acts 2 as the basis for their Pentecost sermons, and poor old Ezekiel will fade into the background, if he appears in any sermon at all. Yet in many respects Ezekiel may be considered as the springboard or the impetus for the far more famous story from Acts where Peter exhorts the crowd to join the early Christian community in order to join the Spirit’s mighty work among the people... Read more

April 14, 2021

There is something decidedly odd about the ordering of the material in the early chapters of Acts. The dramatic ascension of Jesus in the sight of the apostles is immediately followed by a list of those apostles with the very obvious omission of the name Judas (Acts 1:13-14). And that list, somewhat anticlimactic after the rather hilarious ogling of the apostles watching the departing master, necessitating an angelic rebuke that they should be about the business of actually being Jesus’s... Read more

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