This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 8, 2014.
A quick glance at many congregations’ prayer life might lead one to think that Christians believe the major goal of life is to get well, to stay well, or to be safe. According to many of our prayers, the goal is to stay out of harm’s way. I imagine that as the disciples sat huddled in that room behind locked doors on that first Easter Sunday (20:19), they offered up similar prayers to ours, “Lord God, keep us safe.” They had reason to pray such prayers. Their leader, Jesus, had been crucified just a few days before. That alone was enough to make them think they might be in danger, too. Now there were other reasons to be afraid. That very morning a handful of the disciples had seen Jesus’ empty tomb. While Mary Magdalene claimed to have seen Jesus alive, the other disciples remain unsure! The talk of resurrection was all about town, and the Jewish leaders were in a huff. They had killed Jesus to quiet the crowds. Now the talk was louder than ever. The disciples could only imagine what the Jewish leaders’ next move would be. Our imaginations often get the best of us. Did the disciples imagine crosses and stonings and all sort of torture and abuse? Is this why the doors were locked and the prayers were fervently offered for safety and deliverance from harm? Notice that the disciples weren’t out looking for Jesus, were they? Their primary concern seemed to be their own necks. Continue reading
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 1, 2014.
John’s gospel lingers in the upper room the day before his crucifixion by spending four chapters on Jesus’s farewell address to his disciples (John 13-16). Jesus is acutely aware that his departure from this world is imminent (John 13:33), and he spends his last hours with the disciples giving them a final, vital set of instructions and words of encouragement. Like many other faithful goodbyes, Jesus concludes this discourse with prayer. The prayer can be divided into three sections. In the first, Jesus prays for himself (17:1-5). In the second, he prays for his disciples (17:6-19). Lastly, he prays for all those who will believe in him through the disciples preaching (17:20-26). Continue reading
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 25, 2014.
Luke’s gospel begins in Jerusalem with faithful followers of the one true God receiving a message from God that he was about to make the boldest of moves. It ends in much the same way. In Luke 1, we learn that the Spirit of God will come upon one who will announce the arrival of the Son of the Most High who will save the people from their sins. In Luke 24, that Son announces that the Spirit of God will soon come upon the disciples so that they might go into the world and preach about the forgiveness of sins to all nations. As a result, the conclusion of Luke’s gospel serves not as an ending of the story of Jesus, but rather, as a transition from Jesus’s earthly ministry in Israel to his global ministry via his church. Continue reading
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on May 18, 2014.
Jesus’s conversation with his disciples in John 14 is a staple at Christian funerals. Rightly so, for in this passage we have the enormously comforting promise that Jesus will come back that his followers might be with him forever more. The recollection of this promise should not be reserved for the graveside. It should be preached from the pulpit, as well. The pulpit provides an opportunity to explore the richness of this passage in full including its understanding of the key doctrines of the incarnation and salvation. Continue reading