Have you ever thought about Jesus’ return to earth at the end of history? This question has proven itself a popular one ever since Jesus departed our round rock in the first century AD. Indeed, in one of the first letters written by the New Testament writer Paul (cf. today’s reading in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5), the issue of Jesus’ second appearing looms large. “What’s up with it all?” you may ask. Quite a bit, actually. A popular belief is that Jesus’ return hails the final age and the final judgment of each person, the righteous for heavenly bliss and the evil for condemnation. What happensRead More →

Greetings folks, The recent passing of my mother calls to mind how important is God’s constancy. Within this vast and beautiful universe we are faced with the ironic constancy of change. Not so with God our redeemer, whose loving embrace is constant and ever-ready to hold and comfort us. The stress of a passing, especially of a beloved mother, can leave us feeling torn asunder. I know that such a loss has brought sorrow to me and many others touched by my mother’s life and witness. I am thankful that the support of my wife, son, and many family members and friends have helped meRead More →

Remember Zacchaeus?  He’s the little man, in terms of physical stature, who wanted to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was fortunate to have Jesus strolling by one day amid a crowd of onlookers. Sadly, the diminutive Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus because of the crush of taller people lining the path. Undaunted, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get that sweet view. The spectacle of this wealthy but small Zacchaeus climbing a tree prompted Jesus to stop and call him down. “I will stay in your house,” Jesus told Zacchaeus. So the little man slid down the tree trunk (I wonder if he got splinters in some inconvenient places).Read More →

Jeremiah’s continuing message from today’s lectionary highlights a new relation between God and the Jewish people (Jeremiah 31:27-34). Jeremiah reflects on his understanding about what God wants from the people. “The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31: 31). They captive Jewish people were to continue living, while also letting the old ways die in the wake of a new covenant. Okay, let’s back-up a bit and provide some cultural context. The situation in Jeremiah’s day was that the Jewish people had been taken prisoner toRead More →

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah initiates his presentation by giving unexpected advice (Jeremiah 29:1,4-7). Jeremiah encourages the Jewish exiles in Babylon to settle down and live as normally as possible in their captor’s land. There was a disturbing new reality in the wake of the Israelites’ exile from Palestine (587 B.C), and Jeremiah’s message was to make the best out of an otherwise bad situation. In this way, Jeremiah told the people to get over their complaining and to live in an optimistic and pragmatic manner. Fast-forward to the present and we can feel like we face our own exile as pilgrims in an unholyRead More →

The Faith Fitness topic for the past couple weeks has been that of love, including the pivotal biblical verses attesting to this greatest of Bible themes.  The Faith Fitness study meets each Tuesday and I provide written handouts that help organize the topical discussions. We may finish one topic a week or, as is more common, take two-to-three weeks to comprehensively cover an area. It is helpful for every participant to read and speak, to share and to listen.  Often, we ask more questions than which there are satisfying answers. That’s entirely okay. The value of discovering and discerning is such that easy replies to tough questionsRead More →

Each week I prepare a written sermon summary that is printed in the Sunday bulletin. Known as the “Message Supplement,” the writing is intended to help people know the chief issues in that Sunday’s lectionary text. The Message Supplement  for this coming Sunday (October 6) is listed below. Today’s message will center on one of the lectionary readings, that of 2 Timothy 1:1-14. Paul’s letter of 2 Timothy shares enthusiasm for a rekindled faith. The letter arises from concern for a friend and disciple, Timothy, to whom the letter was written. We may not be the original addressee of Paul’s letter, but we can stillRead More →

Greetings faith friends. I am pleased to consider the season that has dawned upon us. Yes, fall is here. The last bit of fruits and vegetables are being harvested and we can be thankful for our tasteful bounty. On the one hand, we Michiganders can look around and see just how pleasant a peninsular is our state. On the other hand, we can’t ignore the fact that extreme weather often accompanies the inexorable march of the seasons. The blessings on our table and in our stomachs are grown in an environment of challenging conditions, a  situation where changing patterns contribute to a climate where good foods nonetheless abound. As we look ahead, we knowRead More →

I have a thought that I’d like to share with you about our daily faith walk. I have found it helpful to keep connected to God through focused thought. Even when I cannot sit and read scripture, I can almost always think about spiritual topics. I ask myself if whatever I’m experiencing at the time can relate to my Christian faith and, if it does, how can it illuminate principles of better living. It is not easy to cultivate spiritual awareness because of the many distractions vying for my attention. Despite the challenges, I find it rewarding to push against the resistance. Struggling to letRead More →