Words Become Flames

Luke 12:49-56 – The 13th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 14, 2016

“I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze . . .” (Luke 12:49)


On the morning I started writing about Luke’s hot passage, the outside temperature was 75 degrees.

My clock read 4:05am. Yeah, I start working in the darker part of the morning.

According to the weather-guessers, the heat here in lovely Fresno, California will reach 99 degrees by noon. Within a few hours past midday, as the earth lurches around the sun, 108 degrees is the predicted high.

I read Jesus’ warning:

I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze.

Come to Fresno, Jesus. You’ll get your wish.

Here, in the middle of the golden state’s Central Valley, sidewalks can serve as short order cooks for fried eggs.

Here, between the cool ocean beaches to the west and the cool higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada to the east, we bake. We broil. We wither and wilt. With the sun slamming Fresno during the summer, I wonder if some residents wear Ray-Bans to bed. I don’t take my dog out for a second walk of the day until 8:00pm or later when it’s “cooled” to the high nineties.

We are ablaze. Continue reading →

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Jesus and the World’s Last Gasp

Luke 12:32-40 – The 12th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 7, 2016

“You also must be ready, because the Human One is coming at a time when you don’t expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

John.TeddyWhat is the best idea born and bred on American soil?

I’ll usually first say the national park system. I’m proud that Yosemite, in my geographic back yard, was where Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir schemed to radically protect wilderness.

What about Thomas Jefferson and his co-conspirators scribing the Declaration of Independence?

Jazz? Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis . . . cool!

Mormons? Joseph Smith’s divine revelations and discoveries were in western New York, and led to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Continue reading →

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Why Not Ask Him?

Luke 12:13-21 – The 11th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, July 31, 2016

“Someone from the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’” (Luke 12:13)

Ask.2The guy elbowed through the crowd to the front. He had to ask his question; it had been burning in his gut for days.

At the first opportunity, he shouted the question. He didn’t need to shout, since Jesus stood a few steps away. And it hardly sounded like him, with his voice hoarse and shaky. Blame it on adrenaline. Blame it on the crowd’s noise. Blame it on his fear that this might be his only shot for an answer.

“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

The guy, fist closed, the thumb angled right like a flag blowing in a strong breeze, gestured toward the person next to him . . .

His brother. Continue reading →

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