One of the things I have appreciated throughout my ministry is how many of you are amazed that I can stand up here without looking at my notes. Please know that this doesn’t make me special – many pastors do not bring their notes with them into the pulpit or what I call “the Holy Circle” – but it is part of what makes me who I am.
There is a lot of work that goes into this 20-25-minute time of deep discipleship each week. In fact, a good rule of thumb is that for every minute of a sermon, there is about 30-60 minutes of prep. That includes prayer, studying, reflecting, writing, and, of course, banging my head against the wall.
Among my favorite aspects of sermon prep is examining the context surrounding a specific passage. By context, I mean looking at what takes place within the story beyond just the words written on the page. We forget sometimes that the Bible was written in real time, focusing on real people, who lived in real space. Studying the situations, history, and ways someone would write at the time helps us to understand more about what is going on in a verse or passage of Scripture. Continue reading “Healers Wanted”
There are passages of Scripture where we find ourselves uncomfortable. It could be a scene that describes something we find difficult to understand. Stories, as well, where we are left wondering if God’s holy love could be seen. There are also moments in Scripture we find uncomfortable because we wish Jesus had not said what we did.
We find ourselves, this morning, looking at one of those uncomfortable passages. Not because the story’s outcome is uncomfortable. Indeed, it is a wonderful and powerful moment where Jesus heals a Canaanite woman’s daughter who was demon possessed. What we find uncomfortable is how Jesus interacts with this woman. He ignores her. At first, he seems to dismiss her concern. He even goes so far as to call her a dog.
It is difficult to read these words and reconcile it with the Jesus we know to be the author and giver of unconditional love and grace. Because of this we have spent centuries trying to analyze Jesus’ motives and interactions. Some have argued Jesus was only testing the woman to determine her level of faith. Some have said Jesus was simply following the customs of the day. Others have said he wasn’t dismissive of the woman’s concerns at all. Continue reading “Persistent Faith”
This week, we are all mourning the loss of comedic legend Robin Williams. Words cannot being to describe what we lost in his passing. He made generations laugh and, as one friend said, was beloved by all corners of society (which is saying something in our polarized climate).
As we reflect on Williams’ career and share our favorite movie moments from his many movies, I hope we will reflect on his passing in a way that allows us to look at our own hearts. What I hope we see is that what we we often see on the outside is often not always a reflect of what is going on inside a person’s heart. Continue reading “Learning from Robin Williams”
Healing is the act of bringing health or wholeness to someone. It means to restore someone, or a community, to … Continue reading Sunday’s Sermon: We Can Be Healers
A woman sits along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a warm day. The sun was shinning. … Continue reading Sunday’s Sermon: Who is Jesus?: The Healing Touch