The Good (And Dissonant) Shepherd

Psalm 23, John 10:11-18 – The 4th Sunday of Easter – for Sunday, April 26, 2015

“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing…” (Psalm 23:1)

From Colonial Williamsburg . . .
From Colonial Williamsburg . . .

How many blacksmiths do you know?

Have you ever met a cartwright? (Note to baby boomers: I don’t mean Pa, Adam, Hoss, or Little Joe.)

Ever watched a glassblower? Conversed with a falconer? Longed to be a lamplighter?

Some professions no longer exist. If anyone enters “cartwright” on a 2015 IRS form, it’s likely they’re joking or employed by Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg. There, the bygone world of 18th century America is recreated for an adult entrance fee of $40.99. It wouldn’t surprise me if Williamsburg had someone on the payroll skilled at constructing a wagon! Continue reading →

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Adverbial Jesus

John 1:43-51 – Second Sunday after Epiphany – for January 18, 2014

Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” (John 1:46)

Unleash the adverbs!
Unleash the adverbs!

Like the majority of Jesus’ disciples, Nathanael barely received a nod in the gospels. Unlike most of them, Nathanael delivered one of the most memorable questions about Jesus.

But first, another disciple named Philip—who could’ve been Nathanael’s co-worker or neighbor or third cousin or boyhood best friend or maybe even his sister’s husband’s brother’s boss—told Nathanael about a swell fellow named Jesus. Part of Philip’s explanation included Jesus’ hometown: Nazareth.

Nazareth? Nazareth!

According to the fourth Gospel, Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?”


No one knows how Philip knew Nathanael. Their relationship either didn’t matter or was a blank slate to the writer of John. Indeed, the ignorance about the disciples’ various relationships prior to following Jesus appears inconsequential to any of the gospels’ authors. It’s what comes after, right?

As with Nathanael and Philip’s relationship, John’s Gospel remained ambiguous about the tone of Nathanael’s query. In the sparse retelling of Jesus’ ministry chronicled in the four traditional gospels, the ancient and modern believers weren’t overloaded with clues about the emotional reactions of the disciples.

What did Nathanael really mean by his question? How tempting to add a singular word to verse 46. Continue reading →

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Advent 3 – The Usual Suspect

John 1:6-8, 19-28The Third Sunday of Advent – for Sunday, December 14, 2014

“This is John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, ‘Who are you?’” (John 1:19)

90_20_15---Three-Advent-Candles_webThis is John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?”
John confessed (he didn’t deny but confessed), “I’m not the Christ.”


When the “Who are you?” Gospel question is proclaimed from pulpits on Advent’s third Sunday, a few pew dwellers might quietly complain, “How come grouchy John is still hanging around when we’re this close to Christmas?”

Isn’t Advent preparing us for the birth of Mary’s child? And yet here’s a bit from John the Baptist, thirty odd years after Jesus was born, prattling on about who he was not.

Are you the Christ? Nope.
Are you Elijah? Nope.
Are you the prophet? Nope.

 So negative!

Who was John? Well (to extend the negativity), he also wasn’t much of a conversationalist.

However, in today’s preparation for Christmas, the writer of John’s Gospel—no relation to John the Baptizer, aka John the Nope-ster—did offer a powerful Advent question . . . Continue reading →

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