‘Those Days’ Are Now ‘These Days’

Oddly enough, the Old Testament book of Joel hatches from an infestation of insects – more specifically, a swarm of locusts so efficiently devastating the countryside of Israel that famine and starvation are very real possibilities. By Joel’s reckoning, the buzzing disaster swarms large in divine judgment upon the Lord’s sinful people, who eventually getContinue reading “‘Those Days’ Are Now ‘These Days’”

Many Gifts, Common Good

The more things change, the more they stay the same – or so goes the clichéd formula. But you’d think followers of Jesus, empowered as we are by the promise of God’s Holy Spirit in Christ, would enjoy immunity from such apathy and inaction. After all, the flagship of Presbyterian faith anchors deep in long-heldContinue reading “Many Gifts, Common Good”

Faith by Walking Around

In his multi-chapter lead-up to this morning’s lesson, the apostle Paul employs breathtaking language to explain first to the Ephesians and now to us God’s plan of salvation. God firmly intends, Paul writes, “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under Christ” (1:10). Heaven’s plan begins with God saving humanity “by graceContinue reading “Faith by Walking Around”

Upside Down and Backwards

John 3:16 – “for God so loved” – one of the most familiar and recognizable verses of the New Testament. The statement is full and true on its own, but like all Scripture, you miss out on a lot when you avoid drinking-in the intoxicating concoction of verses that come before and after. The popularContinue reading “Upside Down and Backwards”

In Case You Ever Wonder

For these Sundays of the Easter season, our Scripture lessons are speaking to us about the gift of the Holy Spirit – all in preparation for the annual celebration of the Spirit’s appearance to Christ’s followers on Pentecost. Last Sunday, from the Gospel of John, we heard Jesus make a profound promise to his closestContinue reading “In Case You Ever Wonder”

Holy Spirit Stuff

Certain sects of Christianity are sometimes accused of being a lightweights when it comes to championing a robust theology of the Holy Spirit. This morning’s Word of the Lord tearfully reminds the faithful how vital the Holy Spirit is in our lives and precisely why we need the Spirit of God in Christ. Understand, first,Continue reading “Holy Spirit Stuff”

Always Room for One More

Many of the stories in the New Testament’s book of Acts all seem to end the same way. After either witnessing an amazing miracle or hearing a passionate sermon, people’s souls and spirits are so deeply touched that scads and scores of them come to faith in Jesus Christ. And they’re all welcomed into thisContinue reading “Always Room for One More”

On the Turning Away

Last Sunday’s Scripture lesson was grounded in brokenness – in the rips tearing the fabric of intimate relationship between Jesus and the apostle Peter, the three-time denier of his association with Christ. During a humble shore lunch of freshly caught fish and bread, Jesus – recently arisen from Good Friday’s grave – makes the firstContinue reading “On the Turning Away”

Yelling at Squirrels

Dramatic scenes set just days on either side of Easter provide the settings for our two Scripture lessons this morning. They unfold a couple chapters apart in John’s Gospel, yet the passages are tied intimately. The Lord Jesus and the apostle Simon Peter take lead roles in both episodes, and with good reason the relationshipContinue reading “Yelling at Squirrels”

Crunch, Crunch

Strained, toxic, lethal. Fragile, hostile, disrespectful. Fleeting, controlling, intimidating.  Violent, dependent, dishonest. Rude, crude, and unacceptable. Such are the gloomy descriptors of many current-day relationships between spouses and family members, boyfriends and girlfriends, roommates and significant others, acquaintances and next-door neighbors, co-workers and classmates, politicians and citizens. But in the Kingdom of God, where unconditionalContinue reading “Crunch, Crunch”