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To the peasants Jesus was addressing, this is how the story would have been heard: the rich vineyard owner goes out to exploit the expendable people who otherwise can't feed themselves. (They are literally some of the most vulnerable people in the world.) Then the vineyard owner humiliates them by forcing them all to take the same pittance—regardle…
 
So, what does that forgiveness look like? When, and under what circumstances should I offer it? I wish there were an algorithm into which I could plug my experience, the depth of the hurt, the nature of the offender’s remorse and recovery, and have it spit out answers to those questions. But I don’t have such an algorithm. All I have is a community…
 
This thickheaded shepherd is missing one sheep. He’s got 99 other sheep. What does he do? Does he write off the one lost sheep on his tax returns? Does he casually post on other people’s Facebook page, “All sheep matter?” I mean, he’s got 99 well-behaved sheep, ones that haven’t given him heartache. Why risk losing anymore by going out hunting the …
 
Jesus announces a new reign that will stand in stark contrast to the empire of Rome. In the old empire, the first shall be first, and the last shall mind their p's and q's and stay in their place. In the new realm, conventional wisdom—and the social arrangements that ensure it—will be turned on its head. The first will be last, and the last will fi…
 
There are people who’ve been red-lined clean out of the conversation about what a just society might look like, people who’ve effectively been barred from the voting booth where they might be heard about what equity might entail, people who’ve seen the dreams of their children squashed under the boot of those who’ve been told some people don’t matt…
 
According to the text, Jesus says to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Generally, we’re tempted to interpret this as a scolding, as Jesus' annoyance with Peter for not keeping his eyes on the one who walks on water. And yet, it may not be a scolding at all. It sounds so much more like pleading: "How could you not know it was me? How co…
 
Matthew shows us something about the way the rulers and the powerful of this world usually operate: there’s often more than enough for everybody to enjoy, but somebody always ends up dead. But when God gets the world God wants, though scarcity seems to rule, there’s more than enough to give life to everyone. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: …
 
In God's story, we don't sit passively waiting for an apocalypse in which God comes to smite God's enemies and reward the faithful. In the story God tells about what's real and what's not, we work in the midst of suffering to help the world begin to see what God's reign of peace and justice will look like when it's finally accomplished. We're not a…
 
In a world obsessed with its own private longings, following Jesus frees us from ourselves, and redirects our longings, focusing them no longer on ourselves, but onto the people who need our passion most—the despised and rejected, the misused and forgotten, the voiceless and the vulnerable. In other words, the people who are always at the mercy of …
 
In following Jesus, our lives lived in hope are a clenched fist in the face of the systems of domination and death that screams out, “You do not own us! You will not have your way with us! We live for one who does not live in fear!" Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: [ web][1] | [ doc][2] [1]: [2]: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GN9-vlkdqruI…
 
The reign of God announces a new kind of family, the beloved community, one that doesn’t underwrite a system built on racism, patriarchy, cisgender heterosexual norms, or wealth, or social position. It’s a different kind of family—one that makes room for those for whom there never seems to be enough room. The family Jesus announces isn’t first abou…
 
But it’s important to remember that Jesus’ protest, his public testimony, isn’t just a “no” to the folks in power; it’s a resounding “yes” to people who need the powers and principalities to step off the necks of the powerless, to work for the vulnerable—not against them. Jesus’ ministry is about laying out for us a vision of what God desires for a…
 
We need to find our own voice in the voice of God who cries out for a new creation, a new world, formed from the chaos—a world where the poor and the powerless finally have the seats of honor at the table… —a new world where immigrants are treated with the respect and dignity of those who are native born… —a new world where LGBBTQ people can flouri…
 
Paul says that the beloved community is about community. If someone is only concerned with “What’s in it for me?” the body will be miserable, just to the extent that a body cannot withstand an eye, an ear, or a pancreas that acts as though its function has no impact—except on itself. We are bound together you and I, a community given the task of li…
 
What Jesus prays for ultimately isn’t that we might be protected so that we can live happy lives, untroubled by inconvenience. He prays that we might be protected … as a way of safeguarding our unity. Because if Jesus’ followers can’t stand together against the things that cause God grief, then anything else we might have to say about love and peac…
 
It’s difficult, I know. But think about what the first Advocate, Jesus, looked like, how he acted, who he loved and who he stood up for. The poor, the hungry, the sick and despairing, the forgotten and the powerless, right? Then look around you for those who look like *that; look for the advocates. Standing up for people this culture doesn’t think …
 
Following me isn’t paint-by-numbers, no easy way to look like you know what you’re doing, without ever putting in the effort to become a master. That would be nice, but that’s not how it works. If you want to know the way to God, you’re going to have to live the way I live, challenge the injustice I challenge, show mercy the way I show mercy. Subsc…
 
All who believed were together and had all things in common, the writer of Acts says. They’d sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent time together in the temple, they broke break together at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good…
 
The call to follow Jesus isn’t a call to give up your reason. It’s not about believing harder. It’s about being committed to moving forward, not knowing what you’ll encounter, but convinced you’ve got to do it anyway. You ask me … “Doubting Thomas” is the hero of this story, not because his doubting is somehow a map to mustering up belief for Post-…
 
I’ve heard a story about a different world, a world unlike the one we inhabit—where Death is king and we are his pawns and victims. I’ve listened to the tales of another world where there’s enough to eat and everyone has a safe place to lay their heads at night, where people don’t have to wonder whether they’ll be welcomed and embraced because of t…
 
We have a chance to be the miracle God is unleashing on a world plagued by deaths of despair. We can bring hope to the hopeless, a light to a dark world. Hang on. God is still breathing. The spirit still comes from the four winds. Life may seem to be having a rough go of it in the valley of the dry bones right now. But God’s isn’t finished yet. Sub…
 
God says, “Go.” And Genesis says, “So he went.” Don’t you find that peculiar? Faced with a choice between a past he knows and the promise of a future he can’t quite wrap his head around, Abram throws up his hands and walks into the unknown. We who live in a world beset by a whole caravan-load of problems ourselves—problems that make the future just…
 
Oh, people talk about “the road less traveled,” but I mean, come on, the reason it’s less traveled is that it’s difficult. And most folks avoid difficult like the Kardashians avoid anonymity. It’s hard to imagine a world in which the difficult is not only possible but every bit as good as it’s cracked up to be. It’s tough to picture a world in whic…
 
But the church has never existed for the purpose of inviting people to be successes. The church has steadfastly maintained the unenviable claim that its sole purpose is to invite people to failure—at least failure in the way much of the rest of the world sees it. We’re a people who claim to take the side of the powerless against the powerful, to wo…
 
The Beatitudes aren't nice little self-help nuggets cross-stitched onto grandma's throw pillows. They're the revolutionary announcement of Jesus that the world we take for granted as the way things are always going to be, where rulers lie, cheat, and steal because nobody has the courage to stop them, where the hungry have their food stamps reduced,…
 
But you see, fishermen are the perfect place to start for a new kingdom—one that will challenge the Roman Empire, which was always and only about enriching the people who already sat atop the food chain. The Roman Empire cared nothing for the peasants, the merchants, and those who fished for a living … except how best to pacify them, to keep them i…
 
If the church can’t find its voice when immigrants are being threatened in our own state, or when women bear the onerous burden of proof (while their abusers go on with their lives), or when houseless people are harassed because their very existence is inconvenient to society … if the church can’t stand together with the oppressed and the forgotten…
 
Justice isn’t going to be brought forth by hiring more police and investing in bigger prisons, or by some cease-fire that promises not to kill people if they promise not to kill us first. Justice will only finally be established when God raises up a people who embody the justice of God—the same God, who when faced with our propensity for violence a…
 
The world feels perilous, the shadows long. But God has shined a light on us—and partly through us—a light that illuminates for all to see what kind of a world God is busy revealing. God shines a bright light on a new world, a new kind of community—one that feels so different from the kingdoms of this world that “nations will come to your light, an…
 
With everything feeling like it’s going to seed, the world needs a sign of God’s salvation. The world needs a God who isn't afraid to jump in, stomp around in the mud, and get some dirt under the fingernails. The world needs a God who isn't ashamed to walk the roads we walk, who isn't afraid to be with us. We need a God who embraces our humanity, a…
 
Jesus announces a different way of thinking about what's inevitable in the world, and about what's necessary to change it, to heal it. God is busy creating a new world, one that isn't characterized by its ability to mete out redemptive violence, but by its ability to usher in a new way of living together where everyone has what they need, and all a…
 
But conventional wisdom notwithstanding, judgment and repentance aren't merely calls to sinners to feel bad about their sins. They are the way systems of oppression and domination are named, as well as the direction we must turn to walk away from those systems and toward a new way of living together as God's children. John the Baptist calls out som…
 
No. On Reign of Christ Sunday, the final Sunday in the Christian year, holding up the crucifixion of Jesus is counter-intuitive just to the extent that what the world is generally looking for in a ruler is exactly the opposite of what Jesus provides. The world doesn’t want a God who’s willing to be done to death, but a God who never gets put in tha…
 
Jesus, upon entering Jerusalem immediately heads to the temple, the very heart of the problem of injustice in Jewish Palestine, and stages an epic political protest against a system that oppresses the children of God. And in our passage today, Jesus says that what has to happen is that those kinds of systems have to be torn down, dismantled, torn u…
 
In other words Jesus says to the Sadducees: "Sure, if you want to talk about the future, fine. But it's a dumb question. Because the fact of the matter is, God is a God of the living. God isn't biding time until some future day of reckoning; God isn't pushing off questions of justice until some distant time to come, a time where God can easily reme…
 
We’re saints, you and I. We’re blessed because God loves us—and not because we’re rich or smart or beautiful or important. And the wonderful thing about the reign of God is that because we know where we’ve come from, because we know our limitations, because we know we’re not all that and a glass of iced tea, we’re able to welcome the poor and the h…
 
Why the great reversal? Why do those folks who have it all together have to stand last in line for a change, while the people who always seem to find themselves on the wrong side of the bouncers behind the velvet ropes receive the peace and forgiveness of God? I’ll tell you why: Those are the people closest to God’s heart; because too often in the …
 
Setting aside for a moment Luke’s focus on prayer, in this parable Jesus takes aim at a state of affairs in which the powerless find themselves repeatedly at the mercy of those who have power over them. Jesus is, in other words, indicting a system in which widows can’t assume they’ll receive justice. In order to find it, they have to make spectacle…
 
Who are we making angry because we love the wrong people? This is a question we need to have an answer to right now as transgender people are being harassed because they want to use a bathroom one of the morality hall monitors doesn’t approve of, and LGBTQ kids are being bullied—to death, in many cases—because they happen to be attracted to people …
 
And once again, Jesus is just baffling. Notice here that we find Jesus once again throwing up roadblocks to following him. In one breath he says, “If you’re invited to the party, don’t make excuses not to come.” In the next breath he says, “If you’re invited to the party, don’t come if you don’t think you can handle the conga line.”* So which is it…
 
The world we live in tells us that the way we order our lives, who gets to sit in first class and who has to clean up after the party, isn’t a matter for religion. But Jesus says that our faith is precisely about seating charts and who makes them and who gets to sit where. The world we live in tells us that we should only invite to the party those …
 
Think about it: this woman hasn’t been able to look anyone in straight in the face for 18 years. She couldn’t stand up straight. She’s hobbled her way through life in a permanent bow. Her view of the world has consisted largely of staring at everyone else’s footwear. Then Jesus comes along and offers her liberation from a life of pain and humiliati…
 
And as painful as it is, Jesus says that in order for the fire of transformation to be kindled—that is, the fire of God’s change in the world—we have to speak the truth about the new world God desires. We live in a world where division feels inevitable; but Jesus announces a world where divisions are healed—not by passively ignoring injustice, but …
 
If you notice in our Gospel this morning, Jesus doesn’t try to impress on his disciples how much better off the poor will be if they receive alms. He’s not trying to persuade his followers that those who are without need charity. Jesus wants to call his followers into the new world he’s announcing, where there is enough for everyone, where people s…
 
As I’ve grown older, it’s become clear to me that the Lord’s Prayer—far from being about stuff “out there” in some gauzy unbounded ether, or as a prayer about my personal relationship with Jesus—was about the very real and gritty kinds of things that happen right here, where we worry about things such as getting grandma’s outrageously expensive med…
 
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