December 3, 2019

It has been said that the current programming available on television is the very richest and most interesting it has ever been in the history of the medium. Of course, tastes vary enormously; for every “Game of Thrones” junky (not me) there are more than a few “Jack Ryan” aficionados. The former claims a kind of seriousness (that claim escapes me), while the latter is mere fluff (I binged on that fluff). Still, TV offers a vast array of programs… Read more

December 2, 2019

I am certain that few of you have seldom if ever used an Ezra text as the basis for a sermon on Advent 3. Yet, the Narrative Lectionary offers this text to us. The obvious question is why. Why should I think about a disputed historical text from the Hebrew Bible while the church is hurtling inexorably toward the birth of Jesus? It is always important to remember just what the Narrative Lectionary tries to be, namely a salvation narrative,… Read more

November 27, 2019

In my last blog, I admitted my fears related to aging in general and my upcoming cataract surgeries. I tried to explore why a more traditional acceptance of the numerous biblical references to “fear not” were somehow not enough for me, though I have often enough suggested through my teaching and preaching that they could be. Because I am a decidedly rational and reasonable person—ask anyone who knows me—a rational and reasonable acceptance of what the Bible so often says… Read more

November 26, 2019

I am now 73 years old, and never imagined that I could actually become that old. My father died at 73, though my mother lived until 92, while her two brothers died in their late 80’s, and my Dad’s mother lived until 97. I have long-lived folk in my family tree (my mother’s father died at 96), which, while not any sort of assurance, suggests that I may live quite a bit longer. No one wants to live past their… Read more

November 22, 2019

Perhaps like many of you, I have spent much time in the past few weeks watching the extraordinary impeachment hearings, testing the actions of President Donald Trump with regard to his and our relationships with Ukraine. I am of course old enough to remember vividly the Watergate hearings of 45 years ago into the possible impeachment of another Republican president, Richard Nixon. I “wallowed in Watergate,” as the saying went at the time, when I should have been writing my… Read more

November 16, 2019

Since I have already addressed the narrative lectionary’s choice for Advent 1, Jeremiah 33:14-18, in an earlier essay, I will turn today to the New Testament passage assigned, Mark 8:27-30. This passage will come up again on Transfiguration Sunday next February, but only after we have moved through Mark’s narrative structure from the beginning on December 29, 2019. When the passage is seen through the lens of Advent 1, it plainly speaks an anticipatory word concerning the one who is… Read more

November 7, 2019

Let me begin with a note to my readers. I propose for the next year to use the relatively new Narrative Lectionary as the basis for my essays. I have been writing this blog now for over six years, and have well over 300 separate pieces on my site for Patheos. Thus, I have addressed the Revised Common Lectionary texts for the Hebrew Bible, and on occasion the Book of the Acts, at least twice. My comments on those texts… Read more

November 5, 2019

Though I am in the main a very positive person, seeing the good in nearly everyone and everything (though Donald Trump strains my positivity to the limit!), I do tend to worry about many things. I often wake early in the morning—5AM or so—and attempt to solve all the problems that I know I must tackle when the sun finally does come up. Of course, it is quite absurd to wrestle with these problems that only a hands-on approach can… Read more

November 4, 2019

If one follows the lectionary readings as a basic source for one’s preaching, it is obvious that we Christians are approaching Advent, because the Hebrew Bible texts begin to sound rather predictive of the coming Christ, or at least indicative of what we may expect in his coming. Let me clear at the outset: I do not hear these texts as predictive of the coming of Jesus into the world, though I understand that many believers still do. I simply… Read more

October 31, 2019

Recently, my wife and I attended a performance of Gustav Mahler’s massive Symphony #2, known as the Resurrection symphony. By any measure this is a monumental work, requiring an extraordinarily large orchestra with multiple percussion (including steel rods (!) and a huge bell), 6 French horns (plus two more in an offstage ensemble), and on and on. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of the venerable Zubin Mehta, now 83 years old, played the work beautifully, especially the shattering… Read more

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