Draining the Swamp?

I Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

Our willingness to read Scripture and to be read by Scripture is a sign of humility that we take our place as small players in a huge story, the general shape of which can’t be determined or ruined by us.
—Sam Wells

It is difficult to hear this week’s Gospel reading without the current catchphrase “drain the swamp” ringing in our ears. For me, that phrase has a face. Bob Murray is the CEO of Murray Energy Corporation. In a recent televised interview, he spat out his contempt for EPA employees while celebrating the appointment of Scott Pruett as head of EPA and rejoicing over his own newfound influence to roll back environmental regulations. “This is a wonderful victory,” he beamed. Narrowing his eyes at the interviewer, he continued, “I have fought this fight every day. And now I’m going to bury the sons of bitches.” Read more

The Next Step in the Churches

First Sunday After Christmas
Galatians 4:4-7
In these days following the joyous birth of Christ, we consider the world’s response and, in some cases, its terrible pushback. In many traditions, this week’s daily Bible readings focus on Stephen (Deacon and Martyr), John (Apostle and Exile), and The Holy Innocents (Martyrs).
Jesus’ entrance into the world provokes intense reactions. Read more

Dreams and Nightmares

Chapters 12-50 of Genesis contain the stories of four generations of ancestors: Abraham/Sarah (chapters 12-24); Isaac/Rebekah (25-26); Jacob/Rachel and Leah (27-36); and Joseph (37-50). Walter Brueggemann raises a startling, but obvious question: given the four sets of ancestral stories in Genesis, why is God revealed, for example, in Exodus 3 as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? Why does the shorter version, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” remain throughout the Scriptures as Israel’s theological summary? Where is Joseph in this list? Read more

A Chain of Resurrections

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14a, 36-42
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

Years after he had read Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, C. S. Lewis saw the film version. Lewis’ most vivid memory from the book was a scene near the end in which the heroes were entombed in an underground rock chamber, surrounded by mummified kings, and slowly starving to death. The movie director didn’t think that would play well on the screen, so at that point in the film, a subterranean volcano erupted, followed by an earthquake.

If the intent was sheer excitement, Lewis reasoned, the film version was perfectly understandable. However, what Lewis missed in the movie was “the whole sense of the deathly (quite a different thing from simple danger of death) – the cold, the silence, and the surrounding faces of the ancient, the crowned and sceptered, dead…The one lays a hushing spell on the imagination, the other excites a rapid flutter of the nerves” (“On Stories”).

It’s a valid question to ask whether Easter has converted our imagination or merely fluttered our nerves. Read more

The Day the Circus Left Town

Micah 6:1-8
Psalm 15
I Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-12

Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward [human beings]. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?

Deitrich Bonhoeffer, “After Ten Years” Read more