Welcome to Transfiguration Sunday, a time to consider Jesus’ true nature and God’s “fantabulous” transforming power. We’re invited to embrace God’s marvelous Spirit so that none of us remain stuck in life’s pit. The lectionary focuses on Luke 9:28-36, where we find Jesus trekking with three of his closest friends (Peter, James and John). These four were in for a hike up a mountain whose location and name are not certain today. Jesus had taken trips on, around and through all sorts of terrain. On this day, Jesus and his companions would soon be caught-up in something unique. Once on the mountaintop, Jesus did somethingRead More →

Today’s message comes from a section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:38-48. Jesus quotes from the Old Testament Jewish law and then weaves it into a gospel powerhouse. Jesus refers to and then totally contradicts Exodus 21:23-24, the “eye for an eye” section known as the law of retribution. Jesus says that people should turn the other cheek and not destroy the evildoer. Jesus also speaks about giving freely to those who ask, loving your enemies, and being open to redemption for adversaries. All of this is in stark contrast to a primary Old Testament mentality. Jesus’ compassionate tone sounds good untilRead More →

We’re again diving into a significant section of Jesus’ teaching, the venerable Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:21-37. Aside from great spiritual insights, a curious notoriety is Jesus’ handling of the Jewish law with it diverse commands and prohibitions. Jesus noted earlier in Matthew, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished”  (Matthew 5:18). To further pile-drive the point, Jesus doubled-down in the next verse by saying, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments . . . will be calledRead More →

Today’s message combines the lectionary selection from Matthew 5:13-20 and 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. The great themes are the wisdom of God’s Spirit and how Christians should share symbolic salt and light. In Corinthians, Paul talks about a special type of wisdom, what he calls a “secret and hidden” version possessed by spiritually mature persons (1 Corinthians 2:6-7).  The great wisdom of which Paul speaks comes from God’s Spirit (or essence). Receptive individuals are those spiritually awakened people who have struggled to achieve a maturity, arising from their redemption, forgiveness, and illumination. The wisdom Paul cites is not the same as what is widely recognized inRead More →

Paul chats with us through one of today’s lectionary readings, that of 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. The focus is Paul’s view of wisdom, which reveals how our hallowed, cherished and elevated biblical author does not always have the final say. Here and elsewhere, Paul shares wonderful insights and yet even he is not beyond constructive criticism. We must always question other peoples’ perceptions and opinions, testing them against the facts and our own experiences. After all, God designed humans to grow stronger through struggling with challenges, ultimately overcoming anything that will stymie spiritual progress. God wants us to meet life head-on and grapple with tough issuesRead More →

Today’s message arises from Matthew 4:12-23, where we find Jesus in the early stages of his public ministry. John the Baptist has just been arrested and quickly fades from the gospel story. Meanwhile, Jesus begins to wander and proclaim a compelling message as he builds his close-knit band of followers. Welcome to membership recruitment 101 for the kingdom of heaven. Part of Jesus’ message hails the concept of a heavenly kingdom, a realm of both present reality and future possibility. Jesus’ use of the kingdom of heaven terminology becomes a centerpiece of his Gospel message of love and repentance. The kingdom of heaven is enteredRead More →

Today’s message is drawn from the lectionary reading in 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. Here, Paul opens with a characteristic greeting, writing positively to get things off to a good start. Paul’s extended opening is also a way of reminding readers about how great God is. Paul creates a splendid intro by reminding readers of how deep and wide are God’s blessings, encompassing favor in speech and thought as well as in diverse spiritual gifts (which we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, can also strive for today). It’s easy to recite beliefs, but we risk taking them for granted or not knowing why we’ve been toldRead More →