Relationships are messy. Family relationships, friendships, relationships between governments and citizens, even relationships within the body of Christ, the church. Or maybe especially in the church. Relationships are messy. All sorts of different feelings and emotions drive the way we behave in our relationships. Love is certainly one of them. But so are worry and fear and sadness. Desire and joy and delight. Companionship and concern and compassion. Jealousy. Oh, jealousy is a tough one. Most of our relationships are held together by an intricate web of any number of feelings, and since feelings themselves can get quite messy, relationships are almost always the same. Continue reading
Anyone who presents material to others regularly — I’m thinking of course of preachers, since that’s what I do most often, but also teachers, workshop leaders, researchers, journalists — probably runs into this problem fairly often – the problem of having more material to present than can fit into the allotted presentation time. Continue reading
Jesus left that place, Mark tells us, and came to his hometown. (Mark 6:1-29) “That place” was the region around the Sea of Galilee, most recently where he healed a woman who had been suffering for many years and also raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus, a leader in the synagogue. Before that he cast out a demon from a tortured man. Before that he calmed a storm that was battering the boat taking him and his disciples from one side to the other. Before that he was teaching about seeds – sowing seeds, growing seeds, seeds as small as a grain of sand. Before that he healed a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. Before that, before that, before that…. Continue reading
A couple of months ago I was at Willow River Elementary School where I was volunteering in my son’s classroom to teach an art appreciation lesson. I stopped in the supply room near the office to pick up the things I needed before heading up to the room. In addition to carrying 3 large mounted art posters, I had a couple of zip lock baggies of teaching props, two shopping bags holding 24 canvas boards for a painting project, a large tub filled with tubes of paint in every color from raging red to perfect purple, and a couple of tin cans of paint brushes in every size and shape. Needless to say my hands were full. As I came out of the supply room and began the trek across the school to the opposite corner and up a couple of flights of stairs to the 3rd grade classroom a young student spotted me, took one look, and graciously asked, “Do you need some help?”
Romans is Paul’s longest letter. He has a LOT to tell the church in Rome. Either they have a lot of questions or he has heard a lot of, shall we say, interesting versions of theology coming from the community. Whatever it is he has a lot to say to them.
Some of the things he says are the basics, spelled out simply, but also beautifully. We heard last week, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (5:8) Other things, like the things we will hear today are teachings that take it to the next level.
I imagine this week’s reading as a sort of answer to an unspoken question – – only I imagine it spoken. I have heard it spoken – in conversations with confirmation students year after year, in Bible studies with women around that library table back there, in coffee shops and airplane seats when someone with some bones to pick with the church finds out what it is I do. The question is this, see if you’ve ever asked it, “So if Jesus goes to such great lengths to save us, if God loves us so much that God’s going to forgive any sin we have anyway, why not just keep on living the fun life? Why bother to be good anyway? We’ll get forgiveness for our sins anyway, won’t we?” Continue reading