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

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

Bias to Belief

Not everyone sees the same thing. In each of the Gospel of John’s miracle stories, two people stand side by side, one believes and the other doesn’t. Like the wedding of Cana, the servants who pour the water that has become wine, believe and see. The master of the feast doesn’t.

Epiphany 2
If you were on the stand, would you witness for Jesus?
John 2:1-11
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you... Do not fear, for I have redeemed you...

Hand in High Water

Each of us have been created twice. On the one hand, we have been birthed into this world as unique individuals. God has a plan for each of us. Unfortunately, everyone else does too. We pray for our creator to help us discern what He has created in us. On the other hand, we believe that God has both created and owned our nation.

Epiphany 2
We find God in both the still water and the storm
Isaiah 43:1-7

About Herod

One key difference between Jesus and Herod the Great was that Jesus had a succession plan. Herod the Great seemed oblivious to the fact that he would die. Jesus came into the world in order to die for sinners. Herod considered anyone who challenged him to be disloyal and a threat. Jesus forgave his enemies and invited them into his kingdom.

Epiphany 1
I don't care who sits on the Iron Throne
Matthew 2:1-10
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Rules for a Good New Year

You can live 2019 with the peace of Christ in your heart. Always be compassionate.
Always try to understand as much as you can. Never let the ends justify the means, that is, don't forsake your principles or good behavior to get your own way.

Christmastide 1
God with us is God being compassionate
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:41-52
God has filled the hungry with good things

What Mary Sang

Jesus came at Christmastime to a world where religion no longer served the people. Mary sang her hope of a different order. What about today? We live in a time of social upheaval and political polarization of equal magnitude to that of the first century. 

Advent 4
In Bible times, widows had to glean to find grain to eat
Luke 1:46-55
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice

Rejoicing in Difficulty

This Christmas learn to rejoice, not because things are going well, but because Jesus is near. He promises to be near as we face difficulty. He is also near in terms of his coming kingdom. 

Advent 3
Remember those in Prison
Joyful words written from Jail
Philippians 4:4-7
Isaiah 9:2
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.

Guess Which Jesus is Coming

How is Jesus like a refiner's fire or the fuller's wash-tub? In my own life Jesus appears as the refiner's fire when my problems and misdeeds have become too great for me to ignore. It is like what they say at AA, "I've come to believe that it will take a power greater than myself to restore me to sanity." That's when Malachi's Jesus becomes good news.

Advent 2
Will we see the Refiner's fire this Advent?
Malachi 3:1-4

Watching for Jesus

Instead of being afraid by what we see happening in this world, we are supposed to be watchful. We are supposed to be ready. When we act like Jesus would act, we don't have time to be afraid.

Advent 1
World fell apart in 70 AD, temple destroyed... Jesus seen in his people, though
Luke 21:25-36
Jesus says about his kingdom, "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth."

Who wears the crown?

Jesus' Kingdom of God is real. 1) God has chosen a process that involves our participation. For now, we have to choose Jesus to be the king of our lives. Where Jesus is loved, he is king. 2) Transparency and truthfulness are core values in the Christian gospel. 3) The justice of God's kingdom involves embracing even those who believe differently, are of a different ethnicity or national origin, or choose their life-partners differently than we do.

Christ the King
Pentecost 29
Pilate is skeptical and pragmatic, so are our neighbors
John 18:33-37


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