“Spiritual Tofu.” That’s the strange message title today. It may conjure an odd mental image but the point is that we are confronted with a chewy spiritual problem (similar to poorly-prepared tofu—yuck!). Recall last week’s message wherein Jesus had fed a crowd that then tried to force him to rule. Jesus refused such overtures and he and his closest followers fled across the Sea of Galilee. The group then found temporary respite in Jesus’ Capernaum base. Persistent, the insatiable, forceful crowd found boats of their own and sailed to meet Jesus in Capernaum. As you might expect, the crowd was drawn to Jesus, but notRead More →

Today we’re focusing on John 6:1-21, with Jesus feeding hungry folks in the wilderness. Yes, this is a tale of a culinary miracle wherein a small amount of fish and bread were multiplied. The first noteworthy item is that the crowd following Jesus did so because of his earlier healings.  Jesus’ had a wonder-working reputation and this drew gawkers alike. Then as now, spectacular events have an allure all their own. Jesus didn’t seem to encourage a cult of personality, but his miracles drew crowds and that is just how things work. The second noteworthy item is the actual miracle of multiplying the food. Here’sRead More →

As usual, there are numerous themes we can life from the Bible readings. The first one that I’ll focus on for today concerns physical representations of God. Can we construct God? The dim light of ancient human history reveals objects and art with religious themes and purposes. No less today, people make artsy statues and idols with which they invest divine significance. It’s not that God is literally being created but certain objects suggest a divine presence. No less is it the case in today’s passage from 2 Samuel describing King David’s desire to build a house for God. The Almighty replies by saying thatRead More →

Another two-parter today. First we’ll cover Mark 6:14-29 with its story of John the Baptist’s beheading. It started with people wondering about Jesus. Some thought he was a resurrected Old Testament prophet such as Elijah. Others (including the ruler Herod Antipas) thought that Jesus was the man he had recently beheaded—John the Baptist. John was like most prophets in that he proclaimed God’s provocative message. John denounced Herod Antipas’ violation of Jewish law in that Herod had married Herodias, the legitimate wife of Herod’s still-living half-brother Philip. This soap opera was compounded in that Herodias was closely related to Herod and the resulting incest stankRead More →

Mysterious, marvelous, weird describe Paul’s other-worldly adventure in 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. More than elsewhere in his writings, these verses reveal an intensely personal situation in that he shares what is most likely an out-of-body experience (maybe a near-death situation). Some of Paul’s language is stilted, indirect, and confusing. The manner Paul writes about going to heaven (i.e., paradise) is disturbing and leaves us guessing. Once in this “third heaven,” Paul received some sort of fantastic revelation that he was unwilling or unable to share with the rest of us. What are we to do with Paul’s trip and what is the unshared secret? And whyRead More →