June 28, 2021

7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this… Read more

June 24, 2021

In an oft-quoted, but little understood passage, Paul tells the Corinthians: As we work together with Christ, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 His appeal raises three questions, each of which requires an answer, if… Read more

June 18, 2021

If there is any passage in Paul’s letters that illustrates how hard he can be to follow, 2 Corinthians 5:6ff. may be one of the best illustrations.  So, while I try to avoid using a paraphrase, in this case I think it is extremely helpful to use one.  This one relies in large part on Eugene Peterson’s Message, but takes some liberties with it, as well: Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for… Read more

June 7, 2021

[Note: In this third in a series of articles “On Being the Church” it will be clear that I make reference to my own community in Brentwood, TN, but the examples for our own life obviously has application to any other church.]   In what we call our  Friday Friars men’s Bible study at Church of the Good Shepherd in Brentwood, Tennessee, we were working our way through the Gospel of Mark when my wife and I arrived in mid-October… Read more

June 1, 2021

Ministry, like life, takes us to the limits of our strength and our ability. If those of us who are ordained don’t learn what it means to confess our dependence upon the grace of God in seminary, walking with people through the challenges of their lives should complete the task. But no challenge for our parishioners takes us to that thin, fragile place like the neurological illnesses that rob our brothers and sisters of speech, thought and motion, including dementia,… Read more

May 31, 2021

This article continues a series “On Being the Church.”  But allow me to begin by reminding us why we are talking about the church at all. One: Because the church is God’s instrument of salvation. Two: Because the church is the place where our relationship with God and with one another is healed.  Three: Because the church is the body of Christ.  And four: Because we can’t walk away from the church without walking away from Jesus. It’s just that… Read more

May 24, 2021

  This article is the first in a series “On being the church.”  My focus here is from Acts, chapter 2, verses 1 to 21, and the title of this article is “Blessed by our differences.” But before we can turn to that subject, we need to talk a bit about the importance of the church itself, because – if there was ever any doubt that American Christians don’t understand the significance of the church – it is clear now… Read more

May 8, 2021

  With the Covid-19 lockdown of a year ago, we (the staff at the church where I serve) began having some fruitful conversations about the importance of online communities.  It was clear to us that the pandemic had made virtual community-building indispensable.  And, as we exit the strictures we placed upon one another, clearly, our efforts will continue. Ironically, however, the same strictures had a way of underlining the fragility of in-person community.  Our church, like every other church in… Read more

April 13, 2021

  Most of us are aware of the massive cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days last month.  One of the most fascinating images of that event were the satellite photos of the ship and the incredible number of other ships that were blocked from passing through the canal. Inevitably, of course, one wag picked up on the satellite image and created a meme out of the photo, adding the caption, “Don’t worry.  Everyone makes mistakes.  It’s… Read more

April 1, 2021

  Some biblical passages attract more errant interpretations than others.  It isn’t the stories’ fault.  The ones that do are often among the most powerful and vivid of them.  John’s description of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is one of them. There are a lot of reasons for that misunderstanding.  Feet are a big part of it.  So, is the business of washing feet – and neither of them have a part in our public rituals.  So, the… Read more

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