I Hate You

Luke 14:25-33 – The 16th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 4, 2016

“Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

i-hate-you-imageThere is my voice . . .

I hate you! Hear me as a seven-year old kid yelling at my older sister because she did or didn’t do something that seemed unfair.

I hate you! Hear my anguished thoughts about my soon-to-be-former wife (who I no longer loved, honored, or obeyed) as I staggered through a divorce in my mid-twenties.

There are other voices . . .

I hate you! Hear the malicious anger of a white male in 21st century America who is convinced a woman or person of color or gay man received preferential treatment for a new job and/or a raise.

I hate you! Hear the Trump supporter belittle Clinton. Hear the Clinton supporter demean Trump. Hear or read the regular, relentless, roiling, raging voices streaming through flat screen televisions and high-tech phones and tablets, as 24/7 attacks are unleashed on “the other.”

Are you a Christian?

I am.

Oh how I (try, try, try to) follow Jesus. Continue reading →

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The Preacher

Jeremiah 2:4-13 – The 15th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 28, 2016

“. . . the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, going after what has no value.” (Jeremiah 2:8)

pulpitThe preacher lowered his head. The congregation probably assumed he was praying, but he was pondering his scuffed shoes. The left one had a broken shoelace. He didn’t have time to find the stash of used and new laces his wife kept in the bedroom. Instead he’d rethreaded the frayed lace and cinched it as tightly as he could. And then the preacher hurried to the car, late again.

Every day felt frayed.

The thirty-something woman who’d just read the passage from Jeremiah at the lectern returned to her front pew seat. She smoothed her red plaid skirt.

The preacher had watched the congregation when she spoke the verses that had unsettled him as he worried over his sermon:

The priests didn’t ask,
“Where’s the Lord?”
Those responsible for the Instruction didn’t know me;
the leaders rebelled against me;
the prophets spoke in the name of Baal,
going after what has no value.

No one in the pews had stirred at the harsh judgment. No one sat straighter. No one appeared guiltier or humbled. Had the words become merely numbing, numbered sentences from a cranky old prophet kept in a book most claimed to revere but mostly ignored?

Continue reading →

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The Invitation

Luke 13:10-17 – The 14th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 21, 2016

 The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded . . .” (Luke 13:14)

man_aloneThe synagogue leader remained, still reeling from the unexpected confrontation. The words he’d challenged the Nazarene with kept repeating inside his mind, as if a giant muscled an anvil back and forth, slinging it against the sides of his head:

There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day!

He could’ve done better than those sentences. He was, after all, the leader . . . their leader. The one the congregation trusted. The one people looked to for an example. Wasn’t he the one who knew the laws, the scripture, and the difference between right and wrong?

He should’ve kept it simple and ordered the interloper to leave!

Get out of my synagogue. Now!

He should’ve shamed Jesus. Reminded him who really knew the law!

You dishonor God and the Sabbath and all of the laws of Moses and do not deserve to be called one among the Chosen! You are not a teacher, but a charlatan and a disappointment!

He should’ve reminded him who was superior! This wasn’t Jesus’ home, and no one had invited him to be here! Continue reading →

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