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)
There 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.”
John 15:9-17 – The 6th Sunday of Easter – for Sunday, May 10, 2015
“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
There it was. Again.
That verse . . . This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. It’s from John 15. Another variation of Jesus’ statement was made—in the same room, with the same disciples, in the same time frame—back in John’s chapter 13.
Regardless of where it’s found or repeated, I’m afraid of that simple, thirteen-words-in-English sentence.
Since seminary, and perhaps before, I’ve known the Greeks had at least four distinctive words for love . . . eros, philia, storge, and agape. Eros, the love that ranges from the lustful to the romantic. Philia is treating friends like a favorite brother or sister. Storge is linked to the life-long affection and connection within families. Then there’s the final understanding of love, which is the one I fear, which is the one Jesus frequently used. Continue reading →
On October 4, 2014, we entered the vet’s office to help our fourteen-year-old dog Hannah peacefully take her final breath. On a cold linoleum floor, nestled between my wife and me, the vet injected her with the medication. Hannah died on my wife’s lap in the blink of a teary eye.
I have regrets.
Several years after Hannah entered our lives, a person shook my hand while leaving worship—I am a United Methodist pastor and served a congregation then—and told me that she was tired of the Hannah stories in my sermons. Like too many weak-willed preachers, desirous of pleasing every church member, I tried to reduce my dog tales. Continue reading →