Dangling Over the Edge of #MeToo

sitting togetherIn my early twenties, midway through seminary, I spent an hour or afternoon with a woman who was not my wife.

I’ll call her Sophie, not her real name. (However, I do recall her name.)

She too was married.

We chatted.

About life. About studying. About God (hey, it was seminary). About futures. About pasts. About just about anything is what we talked about.

Side by side, Sophie and I sat on the second-floor balcony of the seminary’s student housing. Though we could have been anywhere. My legs dangled over the edge. Minutes seemed like seconds, with an hour passing in a fast-forward sprint. At some point, which may have been before our spontaneous talk ever started, I was attracted to her. And I think she was to me. But that’s a guess. I just knew my excitement. My wondering. My fancy words on the surface may have been discussing a new twist of theology just learned in a seminar, but my interior thoughts were tinged with . . . lust.

I wanted her. Crude, eh?

Did she want me? Continue reading →

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Between Friday and Sunday

Open doorI know the end, which means I know the beginning.

And yet knowing is only a thin slice of believing.

The most athletic of dates, Easter annually leaps from March to April and back again. Easter represents the end: of Jesus’ earthly ministry, of the disciples having a leader in the flesh to follow, of the religious authorities confident they actually wielded authority, of the empire going about its business as the bully that won every argument. There on Friday, after all, Jesus died. In the end, he was dead and buried thanks to the quick assistance of Nicodemus and an Arimathean named Joseph.

But it represents a beginning, then and now: Easter dawned a morning like every morning and like no other morning. Easter began, long ago before it was dubbed Easter, with those women tramping in the dark toward nothing and everything. Easter, which for every modern Christian preacher has been clearly marked on the calendar for a year, arrives. Once it seemed far away. And then it was next Sunday.

God overcomes death, we preach.

Christ is risen, we preach.

Continue reading →

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In the Safety of the Crowd

nsama paintingOnce—but only once—I preached on Palm Sunday and tried to be funny.

Note the word “tried.”

How interesting, I mused in the sermon, that in Matthew (but not in John, Mark, or Luke) Jesus entered Jerusalem simultaneously riding two animals? I embellished the moment with words and gestures, attempting to help people visualize Matthew 21:6:

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

There you go. He sat on “them.” Mark and Luke only have a colt. John, hedging a bit, claimed it was a donkey’s colt. But that’s still singular! Why did Matthew’s author seem to have Jesus straddling two different animals? An easy answer was Matthew viewed Jesus’ life as the fulfillment of Jewish prophesies. One of those “predictions” came from Zechariah. If you read Zechariah 9:9, with its longing for the coming of a humble king, you’ll run across a reference to . . . one animal. But Matthew, interpreting that ancient verse, conveys it so literally that it’s as if Jesus rode multiple mounts. Continue reading →

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