To Those Women

Luke 7:36–8:3 & I Kings 21:1-21a – The 4th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, June 12, 2016

“Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them.” (Luke 7:38)

AnointWomen made me who I am today.

Yes, always, thanks Mom. I forever love and miss you. But this isn’t about my mother.

Or my two sisters, one older, one younger, and both have given me trust I value and memories I cherish. The women I’m talking about also don’t include my wife, who has shared love and friendship and encouragement beyond explaining.

I am who I am because of women in the Bible.

I am who I am because of women who ignored the Bible. More fairly, the women who ignored the way the Bible, until just recently, until only in the last few generations, has been misused.

First, let’s journey back to near the end of World War II.

My father-in-law was a Moravian pastor. He died in 2003, almost ten years into well-deserved retirement after a lifetime of ministry. I remember looking through his black and white photos, the snapshots of his life. His wedding. Churches he served. The cute pictures of his kids, which—of course—included my adorable future spouse.

And his seminary days. During World War II, my father-in-law joined other students for an accelerated course of study for the ministry. The world, after all, was torn asunder. Get those clergy out there . . . now! In those old photographs the men had skinny dark ties, starched white shirts, and awkward smiles. And, without exception, they were all men. Continue reading →

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How Did Jesus Know?

Luke 7:11-17 – The 3rd Sunday following Pentecost – for Sunday, June 5, 2016

“When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, ‘Don’t cry.’” (Luke 7:13)

Jesus Resurrecting the Son of the Widow of Naim (oil on canvas)How did Jesus know the widow from Nain was a widow?

As an outsider to Nain, how did he easily and quickly identify her and her situation?

It was real easy to spot her as a woman.

It was relatively easy to see she was part of a funeral procession.

Perhaps from her emotional reactions, most could guess the funeral involved her child.

But how could a “stranger” know she was also a widow?

Her neighbors knew. They also knew that without husband and son, without income and status, she was dependent on Israel’s charitable customs and the limited generosity of other impoverished villagers.

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Last Thursday, I chatted with our only African-American male chaplain before our hospice’s monthly Remembrance Service. I’ve known he was black since the first day I met him.

Last Wednesday, the death-of-spouse grief support group I’ve led since February finished its twelfth and final session. I’ve known since the first gathering that everyone who walked into the room and put on a nametag was a widow or widower. Continue reading →

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Bleeding Ink for Christ’s Sake

Galatians 1:1-12 – The second Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, May 29, 2016

“If I were still trying to please people, I wouldn’t be Christ’s slave.” (Galatians 1:10)

800px-Saint_Paul,_Rembrandt_van_Rijn_(and_Workshop-),_c._1657It’s never easy to craft a note with honest, heartfelt criticism. Especially when it’s to a person, or people, you deeply care about.

When Paul wrote to the folks at Galatia, his intentions were obvious in the opening sentences: confronting their false faith, challenging them to choose “the grace of Christ,” and asserting his claims to authority.

Galatians is the ninth of twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

According to most scholars, it’s indisputably one of Paul’s authentic works.

Along with Romans and the Corinthian correspondence, it reveals Paul’s theology, serving as a benchmark for “Pauline” Christianity.

For believers, it is sacred text and holy verses.

And yet, isn’t Galatians first the most difficult of love letters?

Paul frets. Paul worries. Paul struggles. Paul . . . loves. Continue reading →

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