Today’s message arises from the lectionary selection in Luke 23:33-43, which portrays an odd mixture of emotions during three persons’ crucifixion. The scene is Calvary, the place of execution for Jesus and two anonymous men. Non-Roman citizens such as Jesus had fewer legal protections, a second-class status that lowered the threshold for his supposed crimes. Roman citizen or not, anyone instigating a revolutionary insurrection, threatening Roman rule, or insulting the office of the Roman emperor might easily find himself crucified. Add to all this the complication of the Jewish authorities perceiving Jesus as a threat. The result was that Jesus was likely targeted in aRead More →

Today’s selection from 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 is the closest the author Paul comes to a work & welfare ethic. Paul said that “with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you” (2 Thess. 3:8b) and also “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10b). Paul also wrote that people should not be busybodies but that they should earn a living (2 Thess. 3:11-12). Careless interpretations of Paul’s verses can feed the culture wars. The people in Thessalonica who upset Paul may have been lazy, in which case there’s no defending their behavior. Paul usesRead More →

What about Jesus’ return at the end of history? This controversial question has arisen ever since Jesus departed. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 and Luke 21: 5-19 (two consecutive weeks of lectionary readings) address this. The traditional view is that Jesus’ return signals the closing of history (with the unfolding apocalypse), and the final judgment of each person, the righteous for heavenly bliss and the evil for eternal hell. Prophecy about end times swirls dizzingly in the book of Revelation but is sprinkled throughout the Bible. In today’s Luke passage, Jesus outlines a chronology of wars, persecutions, natural disasters, arrests, trials, and betrayals. It’s all worth it,Read More →