The Bible is loaded with the metaphorical use of language through, for instance, the use of analogies, figures of speech and hyperbole. The biblical writers understood the power of rhetoric and the creative use of words. In both ancient times and in the present, the effective use of language can grab attention and make a point with the power of poetic persuasiveness. Today’s message from John 10:1-10 is a case in point, where the writer compares Jesus to a gate through which shepherds and sheep enter. Jesus is not a literal gate, but the suggestion is that Jesus functions as the portal or entrance throughRead More →

Here we are two weeks out of Easter. As time passes, we may face an increasing struggle to maintain our spiritual momentum. Thankfully, today’s lectionary scripture selections remind us that God’s message continues, along with Jesus’ enlivening presence. In Luke 24:13-35 we have the story of the post-resurrection Jesus walking alongside two of his disciples, one of whom was named Cleopas.  A disguised Jesus joined the pair who were traveling to the village of Emmaus.  Neither of the two disciples recognized Jesus as he asked about the tumultuous events culminating in the crucifixion and resurrection. But to their credit, Cleopas and the other disciple respondedRead More →

In Easter’s wake, the Apostle Peter attests to the importance of Jesus. In today’s message text Peter reaches out to those able to hear, the true “Israelites” as he refers to them. Nonetheless, Peter places guilt for Jesus’ crucifixion upon his fellow Jews. Such blame is an ongoing controversy because of the implications and ramifications of anti-Semitism. Many scholars emphasize how the Romans who occupied Judea in the first century were ultimately responsible for Jesus’ death. Whatever is the case, there seems to be sufficient guilt among the various authorities and powers in ancient Jerusalem. Now, brace yourself for a mini-lesson in Bible quotations. ItRead More →

God bless you this wonderful morning and welcome to Easter, the most joyous of all Christian holy days. Join this festive occasion as we celebrate the magnificence of the resurrection. Easter emphasizes life over death and hope over despair. Jesus’ triumph demonstrates how love and light crush hate and darkness. The good news is that God’s eternal message lives within each believer. Jesus’ flesh and blood have since transformed in heaven yet the principles he demonstrated remain eternally active. Easter reminds us that death is not the final word. Through the power of love, we move from soul-slumber into spiritual awakening. We are God’s childrenRead More →

Welcome to the joy ride of Palm Sunday, a time of great celebration as we welcome Jesus through Jerusalem’s gate (and more importantly into our personal life). Jesus’ highly public entrance into Jerusalem encouraged his supporters, who recognized in him a man of promise and possibility. The crowds adoring Jesus might have known him as the populist prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Perhaps these admirers even considered Jesus to be the Messiah who would set them free from Roman-occupied rule. But all was not well. The Jewish and Roman leaders would take notice of a fervent crowd and perceive it as a political and militaryRead More →

Today’s lectionary theme is that of life from death, of the triumph of God’s spirit over desolation and destruction. From Ezekiel to Romans and on into John’s gospel, we’ll explore the pervasive power and promise of spiritual wellbeing. Do you feel that you are a spiritual person? Spiritual health and vitality are at the core of religious faith and therefore of human fulfillment and wellbeing. Ezekiel’s optimism about dry bones coming to life (Ezekiel 37:1-14), Paul’s encouragement (Romans 8:6-11), and finally Lazarus’ raising from the dead (John 11:1-45) form a great trio.  Together, these three Bible sections are tremendous testimonies of spiritual life. There’s oftenRead More →

Today’s message comes from John 9:1-41, a lengthy story about Jesus healing a blind man. What makes this episode strange is how Jesus spat on the ground and made a paste of saliva and dirt, creating some sort of divine muddy salve. Jesus then rubbed the concoction into the blind man’s eyes. Jesus ordered the man to go wash in Jerusalem’s Pool of Siloam, during which his sight was miraculously restored. Just when you’d think that this wonderful healing would be praised, it gets condemned by religious bureaucrats. Rather than accept the healing as a blessing, the critics twisted the healing through cynicism and legalism.Read More →

Today’s message (John 4:5-32) illustrates Jesus’ boldness in speaking with a woman as part of his visit to Sychar, a town in Samaria. Tired from his journey, Jesus sat next to a well and spoke with the Samaritan woman who had come to obtain water. To fully appreciate this situation, it helps to understand that many Jews hated Samaritans. The animosity arose from the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 721 B.C.  The result was that the subjugated Jewish inhabitants had intermarried with the invaders and polluted the pure Jewish bloodline. The second unusual thing about Jesus’ talk was that he was alone with a foreignRead More →

Consider something so obvious as to be almost silly:  everybody who reads this has been born. Sure, we can playfully call attention to something as undeniable as our own existence. But the next topic, spiritual birth, isn’t as obvious. John’s Gospel reveals a great story about Jesus meeting a man named Nicodemus, someone described as “a leader of the Jews” (John 3:1). Jesus spoke with Nicodemus about the necessity of being spiritually reborn, what Jesus described as “being born from above” (John 3:3). Nicodemus was confused at first because Jesus used language describing physical birth. People can be born into two worlds. The first worldRead More →

Jesus’ temptation is quite the scene (Matthew 4:1-11). The up-and-coming Messiah had no sooner finished drying-off from baptism than God’s Spirit led him into the wilderness. The text indicates that Jesus ate nothing for forty days, a feat that would leave most ordinary humans at the point of death. When Jesus was at his weakest, Satan appeared and began a trilogy of tests. The first ordeal came when Satan encouraged a hungry Jesus to turn rocks into bread. Jesus reminded his misanthropic host that “One does not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4a). With the trial of appetite over, Satan then tempted Jesus with worldlyRead More →