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

"Now a certain man was ill..." - John 11:1

Travel Restrictions

I had made plans to fly out West to see my elderly mother and recently hospitalized brother this Sunday. Then the virus put us all in limbo. My concerns for their health and safety heightened with each news report. The bad fall my brother had taken at the end of February broke ribs and damaged his lungs. The verse, “And Jesus wept,” resonates with me. In this time of travel restrictions, I am thinking that Jesus had been weeping for many days.

Lent 5
In the wilderness of hard choices
John 11:1-35
"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."-Jesus

Disruption

If we learn the lesson of compassion, the coronavirus will reveal to us the glory of God. This disruption to our normal lives, has brought us to the place where we can encounter Jesus anew. Once we know we are blind, the sight-giver will come. 

Lent 4
confront disruption & disability with compassion
John 9:1-41
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

A Well in Wuhan

Social distancing has long been practiced in religious communities. If there is anything that the last three years has taught us, it is how to think like one of Jesus’ disciples before he died on the cross for the world. Fearing others brings out the worst in us.

Lent 3
Our lack of curiosity about Wuhan has put us at risk.
John 4:5-42
'You must be born from above." - Jesus to Nicodemus

Second Half of Life

Most of us are never told that we can set out from the known and the familiar to take on a further journey. To be, as Jesus puts it, born again.

Lent 2
Up becomes down when we are born again
John 3:1-17

With Jesus in the Wilderness

In the spiritual world there is no doubt, all are loved. In this world, however, we toil under constantly changing conditions. Sometimes we are accepted. Sometimes we are scorned. We learn in time to doubt ourselves.

Lent 1
What does wilderness look like?
Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.

Stepping Over a Thin Line

Consider the thinness of the barrier that separates earthly and heavenly things. When Jesus was transfigured, he stepped over that spiritual barrier in an instant. Then he stepped back.

Epiphany 7
Transfiguration Sunday
Faith teaches compassion, compassion teaches us how to vote
Matthew 17:1-9
"See, I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life..." - Moses

Choosing Life

From time to time, we are in situations where we must make a choice. The right choice leads to life, health, and the continuation of the loving relationships we enjoy on earth. Choosing wrong, may result in death.

Epiphany 6
I've been thinking about John McCain this week
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" - Jesus

Already Light

Light was the beginning of God’s creation. God said the word and made light. Called it good. In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus calls us good. That is the over-all theme of his sermon on the mount.

Epiphany 5
put yourself on that hillside... you are invited
Matthew 5:13-20
Isaiah 58:6-8
Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus - Matthew 4:20

Following Jesus

Everyone can be a disciple. Not everyone will. The first people Jesus called “left everything.” I put myself in their sandals and say, “I can’t follow Jesus today, because (fill in the blank).

Epiphany 3
Jesus calls a diverse group to be his disciples (everybody)
Matthew 4:12-23
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" - John the Baptist to his disciples about Jesus

Can I be a disciple?

If we read the Gospels, I think we see what John the Baptist saw. We know that maybe we should follow that Jesus. Maybe we should become his disciples. That leads us to the question, “Who can be a disciple of Jesus?”

Epiphany 3
Jesus' rag tag group of disciples included women
John 1:29-42
"Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him." - Matthew 3:13

Entering the Journey Through Baptism

When Jesus enters into Jerusalem, he is baptized again. This time by his suffering on the cross. He descends into hell and sets loose those who were held captive. Then on Easter he exits by way of the resurrection. This is our road map.

Epiphany 1
Baptism of our Lord
Baptism is an entrance to what is next
Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus says, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."

Perfect like Jesus

Jesus speaks of doing particular things; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, befriending the stranger, clothing those exposed to weather or social cruelty, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Our opportunities to be Christ-like will come in the form of specific people with individual needs.

New Year
The problem is not the meal we eat but the way we treat others
Matthew 25:31-46

Why do the innocents suffer?

When we do Christmas, it is very tempting to skip the story of King Herod's murdering the children of the Bethlehem region. I remember one adroit fool suggesting that we could skip Matthew 2:13-23 in our Sunday lections because the event discribed doesn't appear in the secular histories of the time and could have been made up by Matthew. The only secular histories we have from this period are pro-Roman and okay with Herod's "lock innocents in cages" type of politics.

Christmastide 1
Would Trump or Putin allow their grandchildren to sit in this rubble?
Matthew 2:13-23
"Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly." - Matthew 1:9

Don't wait for an Angel to visit

We, like Joseph, tend to consider the opinions of our neighbors higher than our faith when we are faced with a moral choice. We criticize unwed teens, but do little to make our highschools better enviroments for relational growth. Further, the church does little to transform those neighborhoods where a normal and safe childhood is an impossibility.

Advent 4
What if Maury Povich is the real father?
Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 18:9
"My soul magnifies the Lord..." - Mary the mother of Jesus

The Chosen One

The wealthy pass themselves lavish tax breaks and the 1% deny the the majority a reasonable wage, affordable healthcare, or a decent retirement package. As much as things change, they remain the same.

Advent 3
Mary's Sunday
Mary faces the same odds as Luke Skywalker
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 2:1-14
He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear... - Isaiah 11:3

God's Kingdom: Latent and Invisible

It is possible for a roll of film to go a decade or two without being developed. During that time, the images are invisible. Any attempt to see what is on the film results in erasing the image. Only by carefully processing the film is the photographer’s art brought to light. Often things are hidden away until it is the right time for them to be revealed. A baby is hidden in womb until it is born...

Advent 2
God's kingdom is being processed today, we need patience to see what comes out of the soup
Isaiah 11:1-10
Matthew 3:1-12
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation...

The Mountain of the Lord

I don’t know how to get others to the mountain. I only know that it is where I need to be. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” (Isaiah 2:5).

Advent 1
View from Mountain
Isaiah 2:1-5
"If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"

A Different kind of King

Jesus has a different definition of leadership. It is for him to work with others so that together good things happen. He has commitment to service. He can be the king of love without a crown of gold. Even his thorns and painful death remind us that life is not about the people we lord over but the humility we live under.
Pentecost 29
Mel Brooks as king? What person do you know that you would trust to be king?
Luke 23:33-43
Jesus says, “By your endurance, you will gain your soul."

Living with Chaos

The Rock of Gibraltar for people in Jesus’s day was the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon had built the first temple and it lasted over 400 years. Jesus He says Herod’s temple won’t last 40 years.

Pentecost 23
Why do we think buildings and nations are indestructible?
Luke 21:5-19
James 4:13-14
"Take courage, all you people of the land. For I am with you," says the LORD of hosts.

Take Courage

In this modern era, it takes courage to speak about the reality of Heaven. Our bodies are mortal, from the moment of our birth we begin to die. Yet, our culture idealizes youth and riducules those who are content with the aging process. Often we are told that believing in heaven is silly, only a pie in the sky.

Pentecost 22
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubabbel worshipped in a broken down church
Haggai 1:15 to 2:9
Luke 20:27-38

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