The Patron Saint of the Tongue-Tied

Psalm 118:1-29

Acts 4:1-20

Healing the lame (last week’s text from Acts 3) may lie far beyond our abilities. But is Peter and John’s courageous speech to the authorities any less miraculous for us?

The church’s speech in our pluralistic setting is increasingly muted and indistinct. Read more

Taste and See


Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 3:12-19

Psalm 4

1 John 3:1-7

Luke 24:36b-48

The cover story for the April 16, 2012 issue of Time Magazine was entitled “Rethinking Heaven.”  In the article, the author contrasted the popular conceptions of heaven (as most recently found in the popular book “Heaven is for Real”) with more full bodied accounts of the afterlife as recently put forward by N.T. Wright and others.  Most people within the average congregation think of the afterlife and heaven as a realm filled with disembodied souls all hugging and congratulating each other on their arrival.  This is the place where we walk down streets of gold with our long deceased Aunt Sally and where God sits in a “reaaally big” chair (this according to Colton Burpo, the child author of “Heaven is for Real”). 

This week’s lectionary text from Luke challenges our common conceptions of life after death. Read more


“My Lord and My God”

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 4: 32-35
I John 1:1 – 2:2
John 20: 19-31

Wow! The texts for this second Sunday in our most important, celebratory season are powerful and their theme is easy to detect: testimony, declaration, proclaim, witness. Read more

Easter Icon

Risen Indeed

Easter Sunday

John 20:1-18

Death is the peak of all that is contrary to God in the world, the last enemy, thus not the natural lot of man, not an unalterable divine dispensation. … Peace cannot and must not be concluded just here in such a way as to establish a spiritual-religious–moral Kingdom of God on earth, while forgetting the enemy. There is peace only in prospect of the overcoming of the enemy.

-Karl Barth

I recently accepted an invitation to write an encyclopedia article on death and dying, and I wonder if I am up to the task. In particular, I wonder if I have it in me to tell the truth about death. The fact is death intrigues me even as it scares me. I think about it all the time. I read books and essays about it. I have my students read and talk about it.

And yet, I find that I rarely tell them or myself the truth about death. That truth, if Barth is to be believed (and I think he is), is that death is an enemy, one with which we are never to make peace. More importantly, death is a defeated enemy, defeated by God’s raising Jesus from death. Read more

Palm Sunday, too

A Token Performance

Palm Sunday
Passion Sunday

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 11:1-11

Hang on to the wheel
for the highway to hell
needs chauffeurs for the powers that be
– Mark Heard, “Rise from the Ruins”

Early in my years as a pastor, I was conscripted to be in a pageant as part of a gathering of area churches. Several of us chosen ones wore either a crown of rejoicing, a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory, or a crown of life. As the appropriate Scripture passage was read, each one of us, dressed as royalty, processed down a long auditorium aisle and placed our crowns on a stage altar. The producer/director/stage manager/costume designer (the sister had a lot invested) was as earnest as the day is long in wanting to portray visually a Revelation-like casting crowns before the throne. My wife hesitantly had to admit afterwards that the overall visual message was more like “Elvis impersonators are in the building.”

I think of that night as another processional draws near. Read more