A Study in Contrasts: The Centurion and the Widow of Nain–Luke 7:1-17

A Study in Contrasts: The Centurion and the Widow of Nain–Luke 7:1-17

The first story, set in Capernaum, deals with people enjoying power and status both from the Roman realm and the Jewish hierarchy.

The scene in Nain is decidedly more rustic and lower class. There is a “large crowd,” but there are no dignitaries, no intermediaries, no prepared speeches.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t bother with such distinctions. Continue reading A Study in Contrasts: The Centurion and the Widow of Nain–Luke 7:1-17

Moving Beyond Entitlement to Repentance: Two Reactions to Jesus’ Inaugural Sermon (Luke 4: 14-30)

Moving Beyond Entitlement to Repentance: Two Reactions to Jesus’ Inaugural Sermon (Luke 4: 14-30)

When Jesus preached his first sermon in his hometown, he initially received a very warm welcome.

But Jesus knew better than to fall into the trap of being a people pleaser. Jesus recognizes that their approval is only skin deep and they don’t fully comprehend his message. They’ve heard what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. His message is only for those who know that they are poor and wretched, those who know that they are sinners. His message requires not enthusiasm but repentance.

And so Jesus provokes them.

And when Jesus refuses to cater to their sense of entitlement, their approval quickly turns to murderous hostility Continue reading Moving Beyond Entitlement to Repentance: Two Reactions to Jesus’ Inaugural Sermon (Luke 4: 14-30)

Pondering Jesus with Mary–A Sermon on Luke 2:41-52

Pondering Jesus with Mary–A Sermon on Luke 2:41-52

“Never underestimate the ponderings of a mother… Mary is a thoughtful person. Nothing that is happening is getting past her attention. As such, her pondering, her treasuring, her keeping all of the words, should tell us something, something very important about our own responses and reactions to the life of Jesus.” Karoline Lewis Continue reading Pondering Jesus with Mary–A Sermon on Luke 2:41-52

Simeon’s Story: A Beautiful Sunset and a New Dawn (Luke 2: 22-38)

Simeon’s Story: A Beautiful Sunset and a New Dawn (Luke 2: 22-38)

Which time of day do you prefer: sunsets or sunrises?

Sunsets are a benediction, a revelation of God’s glory and holiness, a peaceful blessing that carries us into a grateful and restful sleep.

Simeon is a man who is caught between a sunset and a sunrise. On the one hand he is in the sunset of his life. But on the other hand he is privileged to witness the dawn of a new age in the coming of Jesus. Continue reading Simeon’s Story: A Beautiful Sunset and a New Dawn (Luke 2: 22-38)

Under the Gourd Vine

Under the Gourd Vine

The open question at the end of the book is “Will Jonah actually change?” The book doesn’t tie things up in a nice tidy bow, but leaves things hanging with a question that must be answered by both Jonah and also ourselves. God asks us, “And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” Continue reading Under the Gourd Vine

An Unlikely Saint: The Widow of Zarephath ( I Kings 17: 8-24)

An Unlikely Saint: The Widow of Zarephath ( I Kings 17: 8-24)

Today is All Saints Day, a day to remember those women and men who have set us an example of faithfulness and trust. Our scripture lesson this morning introduces us to one such faithful saint, the widow of Zarephath. You might be interested to know that in his very first sermon, delivered in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus singles her out as a woman of faith who was chosen and blessed by God. If Jesus has such a high regard for her, perhaps we should learn more about her and her faith, for she is one of those saints that we celebrate on this day. Continue reading An Unlikely Saint: The Widow of Zarephath ( I Kings 17: 8-24)