Today’s message entertains a different impression of Jesus. Just when we think that we’ve domesticated Jesus something threatens to shatter our idyllic imagery. The lectionary text (Mark 7: 24-37) begins with Jesus unable to hide from his own notoriety. Jesus went into a house in Tyre, at the Mediterranean coast, and a mother with a stricken daughter found him. Scripture emphasizes that the woman was a non-Jewish Syrophoenician. The mother was desperate, and she came and bowed respectfully at Jesus’ feet, begging him to cast a demon out of her daughter. Then something completely unexpected occurred. Jesus’ response revealed a harsh, uncharacteristic attitude: “He saidRead More →

You’re receiving the longest Message Supplement of the year because the issues stirred-up by religious rules are enormous, and the lectionary scripture selection contains Jesus’ response to this messy problem (Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23). Let’s prepare ourselves with a refreshing breath and try to grow stronger as we explore some challenging issues. God wants us to cultivate an open heart and mind. To help the discussion, I’m creating a literary device titled Ruined Religion Rules (RRR). As the three Rs suggest, there is a triple-threat: 1) Ruined is how people feel when they are burdened, discouraged or judged by self-described expert critics; 2) Religion represents faith whenRead More →

Paul uses an analogy that helps illustrate today’s message, a lesson about spiritual preparedness and the nature of evil. Paul compares our Christian faith to a soldier’s equipment, complete with armor from head to toe and even a weapon. Paul begins by asserting how we should be strong, with our strength coming from God. Paul tells us to wear spiritual armor for protection against whoever and whatever opposes us. Paul lists the actual, physical armor worn by the quintessential Roman soldier. Paul mentions defensive armor (e.g., helmet, shield) and the sword used for offense. Paul observed how soldiers could function magnificently when they were outfittedRead More →