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5th Sunday after Pentecost (Luke 8:26-39)

Today’s gospel story is strange and frightening.  Jesus and his disciples meet this horrifying person possessed with thousands of evil spirits.  He was robbed of every dignity in life, even his name.  He was so dangerous that he was banned from his town and wandered among the caves where dead bodies were buried.  To exist in such a state had to be worse than death.  It must have been a living hell. (more…)

4th Sunday after Pentecost (Luke 7:36-8.3)

Jesus often ate and drank with those we would consider white trash.  He soon developed a reputation of being like them.  There’s an old saying that illustrates that:  “Birds of a feather flock together.”  And another, “You’re known by the company you keep.”  Luke tells a story of Jesus being invited to eat at the home of a prominent religious leader.  He was a Pharisee.  The Pharisees were known for their high moral character.  They interpreted God’s laws for the common people.  Pharisees were considered the best people in the community. (more…)

3rd Sunday after Pentecost (Luke 7:11-17)

For a long time in history many people believed there was a direct connection between sin and tragedy.  If something awful happened to you, it was the result of your sinful life.  The widow in our first reading believed she must have committed some terrible sin and that’s why her son died.  Elijah the prophet also believed it and accused God of killing the widow’s son.  Most people believed then and even now that God rewards evil with evil and good with good. (more…)

2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Luke 7:1-10)

Today’s gospel story is full of surprises and some shocks.  The story is bookended with power and authority and involves a surprising trust in Jesus from a centurion, an enemy of the Jewish people.  A centurion was a military officer in command of one hundred soldiers.  He had the authority and power to keep order granted to him by the Roman emperor.  He was under the command of the emperor and in command over his soldiers.  When he issued a command, the soldiers under him obeyed without question. (more…)

7th Sunday of Easter (John 17:20-26)

It is customary for most people to respect the wishes of those who have died.  When written down and signed in what is called a “last will and testament,” these wishes become a legal document.  In a will, the heirs of the deceased receive gifts or inheritances of varying amounts depending on the wishes of the deceased. (more…)

6th Sunday of Easter (John 14:23-29)

All three scripture lessons appointed for today’s worship are about vision.  Visions come in all sizes and shapes.  Some are good for us and the world community, some are self-centered and wrong.  The ones I want to emphasize today come from God. (more…)

5th Sunday of Easter (John 13:31-35)

In the resurrection of Jesus, God has reached beyond the limits of space, time, evil and death.  Today, our risen Lord walks with us toward the time when God will live on earth with all people as pictured in today’s Revelation text.  This is just one of the ways God is making all things new.  We looked at newness last Sunday in the words of Jesus.  There in the Jerusalem temple he declared that all who hear his voice and follow him will never perish.  He gives them eternal life.  No one can snatch them out of his hand.  Then he declares that God and he are one.  You may remember Phillip asking Jesus to show God the Father to the disciples.  Jesus answered – those who have seen me have seen the Father.  The Father and I are one.  What Jesus says and does is exactly what God says and does.  This is very advanced thinking read back into the mouth of Jesus after his resurrection by the writer of John’s gospel.  However, things were not so clear before Jesus’ death. (more…)

4th Sunday of Easter (John 10:22-30)

God has forever been promising to make all things new.  Jeremiah the prophet said it long before Jesus:  “The days are surely coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”  We believe that promise was fulfilled in the man Jesus who was so much like God that we call him Son of God.  The name “Jesus” means God saves. (more…)

3rd Sunday of Easter (John 21:1-19)

The resurrection of Jesus is so difficult for us to grasp that we need to hear the story again and again in different ways and at different times in our lives.  Children and youth perceive the risen Christ differently from young, middle and older adults.  None of us actually sees a body before us.  I’ve often wondered if one of the original disciples had an iPad and took a picture of the risen Christ what he would have seen. (more…)

2nd Sunday of Easter (John 20:19-31)

We’ve all known someone whose appearance has changed so drastically that we didn’t recognize them.  It can happen if you remember someone as a child and you don’t see them again until they are an adult.  It can happen through the aging process after a long illness.  Or it can happen if you’re not expecting to see a friend in a remote place. (more…)