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

"Come over... and help us." - The Holy Spirit in Acts 16:9

Come over here and help

If we ignore the little nudges of the Holy Spirit, we risk losing our awareness of God's mission. What does he want us to do today? Our agenda or His? In a few weeks it will be Pentecost. One of the things we rarely talk about is the most common experience of the Holy Spirit. Not fire and wind, but little tugs on our heart.

Easter 6
How do we respond to society's ambivalence regarding alcohol?
Acts 16:9-15
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 in 2019
Acts 9:36-43
Luke 10:38-42
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." - The voice Saul of Tarsus heard.

When God Speaks to Us

“A church is like a green house. Different plants growing under the same roof. If you go into ministry, you’ll have to learn how to give each plant what it needs.”  What my mentor in ministry, Dick Arnold, said to me.

Easter 3
To tread where we God wants us to tread, we must first be nocked off our horse
Acts 9:1-6
"We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." - the good thief

Thinking about last week

This is the nature of systemic injustice. Everyone knows, but they each accept their given role in the shared lie.

Easter 2
Good Friday
How do we know our neighbor is innocent?
Luke 23:41
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... 

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 two 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

Past, Present, and Future

This Psalm talks about planting seeds. Sowing with the expectation that God bringing about the harvest. Verse 5 says that sometimes you sow those seeds with tears in your eyes.

Lent 5
What are your dreams?
Psalm 126
"For this son of mine was dead and is alive again..." -- a father choosing to forgive his son

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
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish - Jesus

The Randomness of Tragedy and the Richness of Grace

In Luke 13, Jesus is blunt. We must accept the total unavoidability of life’s traumas. Whether you are a good person, who never misses church, or a bad person, who sneers at God, a school shooter may terrorize your kids, or bully like Puttin invade your country.

Lent 3
To this child, the reason for the shelling doesn't matter
Luke 13:1-9
"While Jesus was praying, his appearance changed, and his clothes became dazzling white." Luke's account of the transfiguration

Transformed or Fading?

We have each learned our own techniques for putting a veil over our face and diminishing the good that should come from our mountain top spiritual experiences. Are you ready for an inflection point in your spiritual adventure?

Epiphany 8
Transfiguration Sunday
Transfiguration puts the awe in awesome
Luke 9:28-36
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" - Jesus

The Poverty Connection

This is how Christianity is defined. Not by theology, but by compassion. This is how Jesus is honored, not by merely holding clerical office, but by following.

Epiphany 7
Poor already blessed, we are blessed by doing ministry
Luke 6:17-26
"Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."

Why Fishermen?

Jesus saw hidden potential in the people he invited to follow him. Sometimes so well hidden that even those he called didn't see it. There was something beneath the surface of Peter, James, and John. There is also something hidden in each of us that Jesus knows how to use.

Epiphany 5
Good fishing involves crossing the boundary between worlds
Luke 5:1-11
"See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms" - God's calling of Jeremiah

God's Message Is Political

Jeremiah was called to preach a message that would change nations. In Jesus’ first sermon, he reversed the “our nation first” rhetoric of his day’s leaders by reminding the faithful that Elijah did his greatest miracle on the wrong side of the border, and that Elisha is known for bringing healing to the enemy of Israel. What does God want from our political leaders? Justice, mercy, the fair treatment of prisoners, and a hand up (or hope) for those in poverty.

Easter 4
Solidarity is what Christians owe their neighbors and the prophets
Luke 4:21-30
Jeremiah 1:4-10
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor..." - Jesus & Isaiah

Hometown Blues

We both envy and hate the people who leave town and make it big. Bob Dylan hasn’t been back to Hibbing, Minnesota other than for his tenth high school reunion, where he got into a fight at the local Moose lodge.

Epiphany 3
Hibbin's acceptance of Bob was reluctant
Luke 4:14-21
Isaiah 61
Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee - John 2:11


Mary wants there to be wine. Jesus is at the beginning of a ministry that will lead him to the cross. He will, at the end of that painful road, bring to us the new wine of eternal life and the Holy Spirit.

Epiphany 2
Not everyone sees a miracle
John 2:1-11
…all the people were baptized …Jesus also had been baptized and was praying

One of a Crowd

People gathered each day to be baptized by John for the repentance of their sins and to prepare them for the Kingdom of God. And in this crowd of people just like us, Luke gives us Jesus.

Epiphany 1
The halos were added in photoshop
Luke 3:15-22
At the final accounting, the king "will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left." - Jesus' parable

Closing Out the Books

The only way to credit your spiritual account is to show compassion to strangers, that is, the people who are unable to pay you back. You tally up losses every time you ignore an opportunity to do good in this world.

Are you ready to show compassion to a stranger?
Matthew 25:31-46
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
The voice of one crying out in the wilderness - how John the Baptist is described

Cult Leaders and Voices in the Wilderness

The voice in the wilderness did not ask people to put their faith in him, nor did he expect them to double down. He called them to repent before God, and then return to their lives with the hope of being better people. Religion ought to be about seeking God, seeking to know ourselves, and seeking to  be more compassionate.

Advent 1
It's religion, even if a politician does it
Luke 3:1-20


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