Weekly Word Blog - Bill's comments on the coming weekend's scriptures posted each Tuesday

Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.

Non-anxious Jesus

Jesus is always busy doing good, but he’s never in a hurry. Obstacles are placed in his way, but he remains calm. He also remains compassionate. The 8th chapter of Luke describes a really stress-packed week for Jesus. Yet Jesus isn't stressed.

Pentecost 2
Be the cat, not the box
Luke 8:26-39
God’s love has been poured into our hearts.

Therefor Grace

There’s a vicious circle that I often get stuck in; I think that because I am a Christian, I should always have the right answer, never have any doubts, and in practice, be a model of perfection. Guess what? I’m not perfect yet. 

Pentecost 2
The Love of God has been poured into our hearts
Romans 5:1-5
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Freedom 2.0

We have not received a spirit of restrained language, rigid rules, repeated practice with fountain pen and paper; we have received fire.

Pentecost
Slavery is outdated - much of what we do in church may be too
Romans 8:14-17
Acts 2:1-21
Paul and Silas are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

There are many people today who once they become Christians, become less valuable to their employers, because they aren’t willing to lie or do things that are unethical at work anymore. Christianity is a dangerous thing. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas went to jail because of the gospel of truth and justice.

Easter 7
Today we model our Christian witness after the abolitionists of 1800s
Acts 16:16-23
“Come over to Macedonia and help us...”

How are churches made?

Wherever we can get people together to pray, study the Bible, and worship, we can do Church. We do well to remember that local churches are supposed to reproduce. They are supposed to send their best out into the field to help other people have a congregation of their own. Does your church have sufficient charity and spiritual passion to give away its best leaders and start new congregation elsewhere?

Easter 6
Suburban home houses a new congregation
Acts 16:9-15
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."

LOVE first; Abide in Jesus Always

In too many governments around the world, and perhaps even here, the competitive spirit of partisanship and winning overtakes the basic task of government, that is to be in a healthy and positive relationship with the people. In too many churches, perhaps your own, the routine of being churchy has buried the joy of being in fellowship with each other and in love with Christ.

Easter 5
The will to sacrifice always depends upon relationships
John 13:31-35
She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.

A Funeral Dinner for Dorcas

Each of us have been blessed by people who day after day did "good works and acts of charity." Shall I name Margaret? Shall I name Suzy Q? These people live on in our memories. They also live, which is the point of the story of Dorcas, because of the power of Christ's resurrection over death.

Easter 4
Mother's Day
Funeral dinner on subway for Dr. Pirogov
Acts 9:36-43
Luke 10:38-42
"...for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me."

A Psalm for Going the Next Round

What does it mean to us? It means that Christ's resurrection was for everyone. Even those who are broken in the pit, can be drawn up.

Easter 3
Holy Saturday vigil
God is my coach
Psalm 30
The disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” John 20:25

Don't Bury the Lead

We live in a era in which it is not proper to speak about the deep mystery of Easter. Okay, Jesus' resurrection gets one day. Why can't we be more like Mary and the disciples, who keep saying , “We have seen the Lord” until even Thomas believes it.

Easter 2
Francesca Resurrection
John 20:18-29
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb...

How did you come to Easter?

We receive on Easter morning the blessing that Jesus spoke to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen, but believe.” Reflect upon all that you see. Come to faith, like Peter, or Mary, or John. Just come to faith.

Easter Morning
Demons flee and Christ is triumphant -- but this is what the artist sees
John 20:1-18
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?

Palm and Passion Sunday are not in opposition. They are Acts in the same drama. The story of Palm Sunday provides two of the five reasons for Jesus going to the cross.

Lent 6
Palm Sunday
Drama allows multiple interpretations
Luke 19:28-40
But Judas Iscariot said,"Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"

Would You Betray Jesus?

If you were a friend of Jesus in the first century, could you see yourself behaving any differently from Judas? If we value money, security, and always having ourselves come out on top, then we will betray Jesus. It is only a matter of time.

Lent 5
Judas isn't that different from you or I
John 12:1-8

Where the Real Sin Lies

Young people grow into an ever-widening circle of people for whom they must show love and compassion. First it is their siblings and parents, then their playmates, then the people at school, especially those who are being bullied or ostracized. As we enter into adulthood, our calling to compassion must extend to those who are poor, or subject to abuse.

Lent 4
We are invited to look from the window on grace
Luke 15:11-32
Psalm 32

Lent as Process

Lent, is a process. A process is any series of sequential events that are guided by a master, in this case God, to take raw material, or people, from one way of being and transform them into a more useful end product. A process always involves some experiences that break down the raw material, or us.

Lent 1
Just as wood is processed into paper, so are sinners transformed to saints
Luke 4:1-13
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

Doorways and Empty Space

A beautiful vase is made mostly of space. Without the emptiness inside it, a tennis ball won't bounce. We tend to think that religion is about what we do; the songs that we sing, the offerings that we bring, and the words that the preacher says. Religion is really about the meeting space, the doorway, the emptiness, the wilderness, and the mountaintop where people and God meet.

Transfiguration Sunday
Epiphany 8
Being abstract is helpful. Each transformation looks different.
Luke 9:28-36

Enemies are not problems to be solved

Jesus doesn’t distinguish between type one enemies and type three enemies. He doesn’t distinguish between moderate enemies and total jerks. He doesn’t have one response for those who are merely annoying and another for enemies who are dangerous. He says, “Love them all.”

Epiphany 7
MLK is one of the best modern examples of doing what Jesus teaches
Luke 6:27-38
Psalm 37

Putting Yourself in the Right Position

Because we aren’t there, in the same place as those crowds, we are reluctant to consider Jesus’ promises of blessing as something that is already happening. Those who were blessed in Jesus’ sermon were the same people who saw the blessings of his healing touch and his compassionate lifestyle. We tend to put these blessings up in heaven. Those who encountered Jesus looked for his blessing to be right now, on this earth.

Epiphany 6
Are we in a position to see God's blessings?
Luke 6:17-26
"Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."

Why Fishermen?

Jesus didn’t start with a blank slate when he called disciples. He started with natural gifts that could be spiritually transformed. May it continue to be so in our lives. May we each become fishers of men.

Epiphany 5
Good fishing involves crossing the boundary between worlds
Luke 5:1-11
No prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown.

Jesus Goes Over the Wall

In Luke 4, Jesus goes over the wall between us and those we consider foreign or different. He does this in two ways: First, by physically placing himself where he encounters the foreigner. Second, Jesus used the scriptures to show that all of the great people of the Old Testament went over the wall and lived with foreigners. Jesus' own stories, which have become our scriptures, always showed foreigners in a good light.

Epiphany 4
We can learn to love those who are different from us
Luke 4:21-30
...he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

Jesus and the Wall

Since the beginning of time, those with means have shown little restraint in screwing over those who are born poor, or on the wrong side of a border, or to the wrong family. What is different about the current government shut down, is that our rulers have decided to go one step further and screw over middle-class people. What would Jesus do?

Epiphany 3
A thin wall separates wealth and poverty
Luke 4:14-21

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