Luke 14:25-33 – The 16th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 4, 2016
â€œWhoever comes to me and doesnâ€™t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sistersâ€”yes, even oneâ€™s own lifeâ€”cannot be my disciple.â€ (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 didnâ€™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 â€œthe other.â€
John 15:9-17 – The 6th Sunday of Easter â€“ for Sunday, May 10, 2015
â€œThis is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.â€ (John 15:12)
There it was. Again.
That verse . . . This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. Itâ€™s from John 15. Another variation of Jesusâ€™ statement was madeâ€”in the same room, with the same disciples, in the same time frameâ€”back in Johnâ€™s chapter 13.
Regardless of where itâ€™s found or repeated, Iâ€™m afraid of that simple, thirteen-words-in-English sentence.
Since seminary, and perhaps before, Iâ€™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 thereâ€™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 vetâ€™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 wifeâ€™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 worshipâ€”I am a United Methodist pastor and served a congregation thenâ€”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 →