What Will I Learn Today?

Luke 10:38-42 – The 9th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, July 17, 2016

“One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Long before Lycra . . .
Long before Lycra . . .

“Good morning!” the helmeted babe said as she sped by me.

Her blonde hair spilled from the underside of the slick, plastic headgear. With legs pumping the pedals, and her shoulders bent over the handlebars, she settled in ahead of me. I kept pace. We were moving north on a flat Fresno street, our bikes in the middle of a generously wide designated bike path.

I admired the view. Here’s the truth. I’m a happily married guy. But I have base, primal, male, heterosexual instincts. And so, for long seconds, I stared at the young lady in front of me, admiring the way high-tech Lycra helps bike shorts snugly fit her body. Spandex forever, I say!

Then, something deeper than Lycra-spawned-lust scratched at an itch in my primitive brain. How dare that cornstalk slender, proclaimer of cheery greetings, youngish female pass me! How dare she casually relegate me to second place! I dug deeper and increased my speed, committing myself to providing Ms. Good Morning with a view of my XXL-sized, Lycra-stretching lumpy derriere.

Competition trumped lust. I huffed and puffed and put a good city block between our two bikes. Take that you uppity blonde biker! Gray-haired old guys rule! Continue reading →

I Was Better Than Jesus

Luke 2:41-52 – The First Sunday after Christmas – for Sunday, December 27, 2015

“His mother said, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!’” (Luke 2:48)

e ticket
Ah, the famous “E” ticket!

Compared to Jesus, I was a good kid.

On a trip to Disneyland as a twelve-year old, give or take a birthday, my parents presented me with an extraordinary opportunity. Unlike the sneaky, smarty-pants, turn-your-back-and-he’s-gone kid from first century Nazareth, I didn’t give my parents a panic attack as payback for their trust.

Once, when Jesus was twelve, he went missing. Bad Jesus. We’ll delve into the indiscretion of the carpenter’s son’s in a moment.

For now, please enter Walt Disney’s famous park with yours truly. My family had visited Disneyland several times. Once, my grandparents joined us! What fun to have parents and grandparents pampering the kids. Those were the long-gone days of the famous “E Ticket.” Back then, rides were identified as A, B, C, D, and—drum roll, please—the E ticket. An “E” provided entry to the popular rides, like the Matterhorn bobsled run and (eventually) the Pirates of the Caribbean. As a young whippersnapper, my parents always kept a tight “leash” on me in the magic kingdom.

Then came the vacation where my parents told my older sister and me that we could explore Disneyland on our own. Just meet us at the Mickey Mouse made of flowers by the clock at a designated time.

Alleluia! For hours, I did what I wanted when I wanted. Continue reading →

Advent Cessna

Luke 1:47-55The Fourth Sunday of Advent – for Sunday, December 20, 2015

“He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.” (Luke 1:52-53)

"The Annunciation" - He Qi (And yes, I know the annunciation doesn't happen on Advent-4, but I felt an emotional tug for this He Qi painting...)
“The Annunciation” – He Qi (And yes, I know the annunciation doesn’t happen on Advent-4, but I felt an emotional tug for this He Qi painting…)

The preacher turns the page or ponders the screen and there it is: And Mary said, my soul magnifies the Lord.

What can modern proclaimers of Mary’s good news announce that will be relevant for this year, for this moment?

Advent has obligations. Christmas is habit. Here comes Mary again.


Does the preacher quietly consider these words in the heat of a fading summer, diligently outlining the sermons she’ll proclaim four months later? It’s good to be organized, and Christmas obediently arrives on the same date every year. Might as well organize for the inevitable.

Does another preacher desperately scan Luke 1:46-55—also known as Mary’s Magnificat—on the night before facing his congregation? His Advent days have been frantic, the church demands relentless. Next year he’ll plan better.

Whether in the calm of an August day of long-range sermon preparation or a panicked gaze at those holy nouns and verbs, both share a nagging thought: What to say? Continue reading →