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 →

In Between Times

John 18:33-37 – Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday – for Sunday, November 22, 2015

“Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’” (John 18:33)

IMG_3028Cold mornings now.

Fall has decided to stay. Though I write these opening words before dawn, when summer and winter are colored the same, I know a few feet beyond my window are exhausted leaves. Autumn’s arrival represents their departure. The deciduous leaves dazzle with reds, oranges, yellows, as if the trees were spark and flame. But in a few days or weeks I’ll be raking them into piles, less impressed with their last-gasp gaudiness.

Cold mornings now.

Not Wisconsin cold, where I once lived and shivered for winters that stretched to six months. In California, in its Central Valley, the cold is rarely arctic. But there were Novembers (and Aprils!) in America’s Dairyland when the winds chilling my street had started near the frozen top of our spinning planet. Cold in the Midwest meant watching breath crystallize. Here I shiver and shrug. But still I tightly bundle for my morning exercise. I complain. Whether walking or pedaling, I’ll stay reasonably warm. Continue reading →

Flames Shaped Like Question Marks

Acts 2:1-21 – Pentecost Sunday – for Sunday, May 24, 2015

“When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages.” (Acts 2:6)

Flames shaped like question marks . . .
Flames shaped like question marks . . .

They are two spare, stunning, seminal sentences. They occur after the Pentecost verses that cause even dedicated church folk to grit their teeth and before the verses that often inspire giggles and guffaws out in the pews.

The day of Pentecost, fifty sunrises and sunsets after Easter, sparked the traditional birth of the Christian community. God’s spirit—please take it as fact, please take it as fiction, please take it as truth, please take it as myth—roared through a room crammed with Jesus’ followers. The roar was fire and wind, as contagious as a virus, as vivid as gulping for oxygen after nearly drowning.

“They began to speak in other languages,” the writer of Acts enthused. In other words, all could understand God’s ways and witness! Jesus’ followers were suddenly transformed into Christ’s leaders! Continue reading →