This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on June 14, 2015.
“And he told them many things in parables…” Parables. We’ve heard them all our life. Mark says, “he did not speak to them except in parables.” While that is likely Markan hyperbole, it’s true that Jesus found parables to be a most powerful method of teaching. Even the ancient rabbis used stories to explain other stories. The power of narrative is all around us in our past, our present, and our future. We do well to engage the power of a story to give us the nuance and depth of communication the gospel requires.
Parables can be enjoyable texts to teach and preach, but the preacher must be responsible in his/her exegesis. While parables are powerful, they are also easy to misuse. Parables, like these we find in Mark, are often similes, e.g. The Kingdom of God is like…. But a parable can be considered almost any kind of comparison which helps the listener to better understand something that is by nature a mystery. Whatever form the parable takes, it works in the realm of the imagination and it speaks directly to the heart.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on July 27, 2014.
The vestiges of Christendom seem to be fading in the United States. Whether one perceives this change as positive, negative or somewhere in between—it is what it is. Life as we know it is changing in a New York minute. With the advent of the Internet, email, cell phones, and constant communication, change is fast and furious. Continue reading →
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on February 23, 2014.
Rules. We are surrounded by rules. There are rules for how to behave and rules for how to drive; rules for how to use technology and rules for how to act around the neighborhood pool. If you have children or have ever worked with children, you know the importance of setting clear expectations (rules) and making sure they are followed. Rules are good, helping us to function in an orderly way. Most rules, though, represent the bare minimum of what is necessary. If we merely follow the rules, we are limiting ourselves to a lifestyle of compliance to low standards. In the Sermon on the Mount, of which Matthew 5:38–48 is a part, Jesus liberates his followers to live life to the fullest, a life oriented toward grace rather than rules. Continue reading →
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on February 16, 2014.
Jesus had a high regard for Hebrew Scripture. In fact he proclaimed himself to be the fulfillment of it and proceeded to authoritatively commented on it. Jesus dealt with the law like a craftsman. He worked as a carpenter, tasked to restore a fine old piece of furniture. He worked through layers of abuse and misuse to bring out the original form – the heart of the piece. He allowed the original intent to emerge. In Matthew 5:21-37 Jesus gets to the heart of the matter concerning anger, adultery, divorce and integrity. The reader can easily become frustrated in this section because of his or her unfamiliarity with rabbinic tools like hyperbole. This should not keep the bible reader from lingering in these passages. A key is to look for the big themes in the midst of the details. Continue reading →