We emphasize Jesus’ final week on earth, the beginning of which is heralded by Palm Sunday, a time of great celebration before the typically dour Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Cultivate joy as we welcome Jesus through Jerusalem’s gate (and ultimately into your heart). Palm Sunday marks the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the fortified city of Jerusalem. Jesus knew that his entrance would be the last time entering the capital before his arrest and crucifixion. Jesus’ highly public entrance into Jerusalem encouraged his supporters, who recognized in Jesus a man of promise and hope. The word on the street was that the crowdsRead More →

April Showers Bring . . .   It’s that wonderful time of year again. No doubt about it. We’re hopeful that warmer weather will help us catch-up to spring’s calendar. Yet, there’s no need to wait for our capricious weather to move us forward. With or without April rains we can receive a refreshing shower of God’s Spirit.   As we think about cultivating our gardens let us also consider opening our hearts and minds. Spring reminds us of how the abundant signs of life return to our bleak landscape. Don’t allow the pall of somber, browned grass discourage you. Before you know it, vividRead More →

Today’s lectionary text includes a key theme of life from death, nicely illustrated by Jesus’ parable of the grain of wheat. “Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Jesus makes a curious claim in this verse. A literal problem emerges in that grains/seeds don’t die before they germinate. A grain may appear dull and lifeless, but locked within is the marvelous chemistry and biology of life that, under proper conditions (e.g., light, temperature, water) will result in growth. Okay, grantedRead More →

Today’s message first arises from Ephesians 2:1-10, where we find the author discussing spiritual death: “You were dead through the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Then the text expresses how deep we were once mired in the mere physicality of our existence, driven by distracting and harmful attitudes and behaviors leading to destruction. The good news is that God recognizes our plight and offers a rescue plan wherein redemption comes through God’s gift of grace. In this formula we don’t earn our way to heaven as much as we receive faith-power from God. The result of this process is magnificent in that we are restoredRead More →

Today’s scripture highlights one of the most controversial biblical narratives about Jesus. All four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—reveal this startling story about Jesus turning ballistic. Jesus wasn’t simply mad, he made a weapon and attacked. What we’re about to learn today is the only recorded incident that depicts Jesus as physically violent against both people and animals. With an introduction like this, you’re probably wondering where we’re headed. I agree with you that this topic isn’t easy, and is best avoided by those who don’t want to share an uncomfortable exposé. Despite the temptation to ignore trouble, we must not run and hide. We’reRead More →