Today message from Matthew 15: 10-20 is a story of Jesus responding to critics. The issue was ritual purity, in this case a shallow, perfunctory hand-rinsing. Now before you feel that this ancient washing was done for germ reduction, you must understand that there was no such knowledge prior to the nineteenth century. There is no evidence that Jews or any other ancient culture understood germ theory, the science of how microorganisms cause infections. Sure, people in ancient times could see bits of surface dirt just as you and I can. But it isn’t what you can see on your skin that kills you butRead More →

A theme of faith emerges from two of today’s lectionary scripture readings, Romans 10:5-15 and Matthew 14:22-33. The scene in Matthew has Jesus miraculously walking on the Sea of Galilee to join his disciples, who were waiting in their fishing boat. Hardly believing their eyes, the disciples were fearful because they thought that Jesus was a ghost. Then Jesus reassuringly announced himself, after which Peter walked on the water toward Jesus. But the power of the wind and waves scared Peter and he began to sink. Jesus reached out and rescued Peter, saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”(Matthew 14:31b). The vivid situationRead More →

The gist of today’s message is this: One of Israel’s founding fathers, the man Jacob, defeats God in an all-night wrestling match. Go to Genesis 32:22-31 and read it for yourself. As Jacob prevails, God knocks Jacob’s hip out of joint to get loose. Jacob holds fast and won’t let God loose until he receives God’s blessing. Honest, I am not making this up. Before we referee the wrestling, we must raise the issue of Jacob’s peculiarities. Jacob is known as the originator of the nation of Israel, and he supposedly had twelve sons by no less than four different wives (Rachel, Leah, Rachel’s handmaidenRead More →