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Showing posts from March, 2016

Even so, and forevermore

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Mark 16:1-8
They fled from the tomb terrified and bewildered and said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. This is it, folks. This is how Mark tells the story. It’s so awkward and jarring that some time around the second century a few other endings were created for the book that smoothed it out - made it more clean and palatable, with the disciples and the women on board with it all, and Jesus appearing so it could be validated that he had indeed risen. But it is nearly universally agreed that originally, this is just how Mark ended not just the passion narrative, but the whole book of Mark.They fled from the tomb terrified and bewildered and said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.
Alleluia!
I actually love that Mark does this. And that it makes future Christians so uncomfortable. We like to read the bible for how we’re supposed to be; we compare ourselves and think it is meant to tell us what we should believe or should do, but Mark doesn’t really let us do that, because i…

Being seen

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The past few weeks, at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church, we've had a reporter and photographer hanging around. It's a little bit intimidating to be watched, and even more unnerving to trust that someone else will tell your story in a way that feels true to your own experience of it.  So it's been good for me to let go of control a little bit and let their encounter with us speak for itself, and it's been interesting to see ourselves through someone else's eyes.

Here is what came from their investigation:
Duke Journal of Faith and Leadership

They also linked this sermon to their article.

Mostly what I take from this experience is a renewed sense of enormous gratitude for this congregation, these people, who want with all their hearts to follow Christ and live in God's way of love instead of the way of fear. For all our quirks and foibles, our life together really is grounded in love and hope, and I feel so blessed to be in this with them!

Telling the truth by accident

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Mark 11:1-11
Yesterday we threw a funeral for Norma Shannon. It was like that too, throwing a funeral. She was 93 when she died, and there was joy in the midst of the sorrow.Death took Norma, as it will take all of us, and even though it was sad, it felt like life gave death a run for its money yesterday. I think every one of us left there a little more grateful to be alive, a little more aware of what a gift it all is.
Earlier this week I told Andy that I first had a funeral sermon to write for Norma and then I’d be working on one for Palm Sunday, and he answered, “so you’ll write a funeral sermon for Jesus too, then.”
I’ve never thought about Palm Sunday like that before, but this might be why it’s a strange one for me. Because in the midst of this celebration of the crowds who think things are just getting started, we know death is coming for Jesus. And he knows it too. He’s been trying to tell his disciples for some time, but they wont listen.
This is a bit of political theater that …

The Dismantling of Illusion

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Mark 10:17-31


As a kid growing up in church, I heard this story a lot.  And probably from some Sunday school book I have burned into my memory the image a ridiculous cartoon camel with bulgy eyes trying to stuff its head through the eye of a huge, shiny sewing needle. I remember one particularly memorable sermon from my high school days where the pastor explained that “the eye of the needle” was the name for one of the city gates of Jerusalem that was so narrow, and low, that the traveler’s camels had to be stripped of all their packs and baggage, and even sometimes kneel down on their knobby knees to scootch through the opening – in a vivid illustration of both the humility God demands, and the principal that you literally can’t take it with you.
So, the rich man was putting too much stock in his stock, and needed to get humble before God would accept him into heaven.  Plausible, and tidy.  But then Jesus shifts the script from this human conception of heavenly reward to God’s reality …