Despite being the closest of friends, Jesus and Peter didn’t always get along. One day there was a disagreement between the two that resulted in a public rebuking of Peter. The situation started when Peter responded to Jesus’ talk about suffering and death. Peter rejected Jesus’ stark topic and pulled him aside to tell him so. Jesus would have none of this and responded with a surprising name-calling of “Satan” against Peter (Mark 8:33). Jesus escalated the situation by calling the crowd and declaring to them that anyone who wanted to follow him must deny self.  Peter must have been grimacing on the sidelines asRead More →

Welcome to Lent, a period of forty days leading up to Easter. Lent need not have anything to do with dietary restrictions or eating fish on Fridays. No, that model of participation is disappearing and for good reasons. The mechanical rehearsing of church liturgical holidays does little to promote personal vitality. Spiritual seekers increasingly realize that reflection and spirituality should occur throughout the year and not simply within a calendar-driven ritual. But whatever you think of Lent, issues in today’s message highlight ongoing challenges and opportunities. A familiar lectionary theme returns today in Mark 1:9-15, which is a version of Jesus’ baptism. This is aRead More →

Welcome to Lent, a period of forty days historically celebrated as a time of preparation culminating in Easter. Lent is sent, but how is it spent? Lent repeats every year, and some folks say that they look forward to the pleasant rehearsal of this tradition. Other folks report that holy days come and go but nothing seems to change and that Lent becomes just another routine leading nowhere. Which outcome do you expect? As always, the attitude empowering your perception determines an outcome. Lent isn’t magic. Whether your view of Lent is more positive or negative, whether you’re skeptical or believing, Lent is an invitation.Read More →

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 biblical tale begins as Jesus was trekking up a mountain with three of his closest friends (Peter, James and John). Once on that mountaintop, Jesus did something extraordinary. The evocative word “transfiguration” describes what happened when Jesus started shining with a blinding light. The biblical writer who narrated this event was accomplishing more than simply advertising or sensationalizing Jesus’ divinity. With the radiance, Jesus shone with his true spiritual energy. GodRead More →

Mark 1:29-39 reveals that no sooner had Jesus finished teaching in a synagogue then he began practicing what he had been preaching. Jesus accompanied the twin disciple brothers (Simon & Andrew, James & John) to Simon’s house, where they found Simon’s mother-in-law feverish. Jesus healed her, and then Jesus continued his role as faith doctor as he spent the rest of the day healing the sick and demon possessed. After hectic visits with all the ill people, Jesus got up before sunrise the next day and went to a deserted place to meditate. An interesting question arises: Does God get tired? Perhaps one of theRead More →

In Mark 1:21-28 Jesus is teaching in a Capernaum synagogue (which is a Jewish house of gathering, similar to a church). Jesus’ message wasn’t simply another ho-hum message: “They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Jesus’ style and substance transformed him into something of a JC superstar. The response to Jesus’ preaching suggests that he was a charismatic powerhouse, even apart from the miracles he performed. We don’t have a YouTube video of what Jesus said that day, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling the effects. Apparently, the manner andRead More →

The lectionary reading from Mark 1:14-20 focuses on another disciple-building day in Jesus’ early ministry. John the Baptist had been arrested and Jesus was moving forward with his mission of gathering a cadre of dedicated disciples. Jesus’ foundational message to the world was stated simply and with gusto: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). The time was right for Jesus to build his spiritual kingdom. Two sets of fishermen brothers (Simon & Andrew, James & John) responded to Jesus’ invitation as they were working at the Sea of Galilee. TheRead More →

Read John 1:43-51 and you’ll discover how Jesus gathered his earliest disciples. It’s not surprising that Jesus needed followers. Founders of successful sects must have a dedicated cadre of supporters to firmly establishment their movement. In today’s verses, Jesus begins by calling Philip, who then went to find Nathanael and rally him to Jesus of Nazareth. Philip was convinced that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah. Duly excited, Philip rushed to Nathanael, whose skeptical reply questioned Jesus’ origins. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Cynicism is not new, and whether ancient or modern, a jaded attitude canRead More →

Happy New Year! Are you ready to learn from the lessons of 2017 as you enter 2018? As the calendar turns, everyone is invited to put away past negativity while embracing new promises and possibilities.  Let’s prepare ourselves for a spectacular new year of blessings.  Think ahead to this time next year and decide now if you’d like to be a different type of person or in a better situation.  Now’s the time to plan for where you’re going and how’d you like to get there. The exercise we’ve prepared as part of this morning’s service is intended to help everyone start the New YearRead More →

Today’s reading from Luke 2:22-40 narrates adoration of Jesus by two elderly persons, Anna and Simeon, who were wrapping Jesus in great expectations. Speaking of Great Expectations, that’s the title of Charles Dickens’ hallowed, 1861 novel, whose central character is an orphan child named “Pip.” Jesus and Pip have something in common, including an adventurous life amid many colorful characters and situations. In some similar sense, Anna and Simeon in the biblical text remind people of faith how wonderful can be the great expectations of God’s blessings, which can bring joy to faithful people of all ages (and despite the hardship of age and fragility).Read More →