there's only a shadow of me

in a manner of speaking i'm dead

A sermon on Stephen's Martyrdom
In the Gospel today Stephen, a server in an early Christian soup-kitchen, meets he fate… And we have to admit, he does so faithfully…
One of the earliest depictions of Jesus comes from an ancient boarding school. It seems that one of the page boys there, Alexamenos, was a Christian. And for his faith, he suffered not a little teasing.  In one of the walls, someone scratched a man on a cross, except his head is that of  a donkey. Next to that they've drawn someone in a posture of prayer. Next to their depiction they wrote, “Alexamenos worship his God,” making it clear just what they thought of Alexamenos and his faith. 
In the next room, though, scrawled in the hand of a boy, perhaps Alexamenos’ himself, it says “Alexamenos is faithful.” … …You know, we spend so much time thinking what we would do if faced with some moment like the one Stephen faces today. And while we imagine what we’d do, life passes us by. 
A milli…

A reflection on vocation and tribulation

We’re all a bunch of sinners free-riding on Jesus
Last fall Amanda and I stumbled on to the show “Stranger Things.” The plot is basically Good versus Evil (John 1:5). This winter, well after we had binged on the show, Amanda asked if I had seen the acceptance speech.  The cast won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Outstanding Performance in an Ensemble in a Drama Series. To accept the award, most of the cast took the stage. One of the main actors, David Harbour, gave the speech. What gained all the attention, though, was another actor. Throughout the entire speech, Winona Ryder is making these totally bizarre reactions!  Who knows why… What caught my attention, and what I want to talk about, is the speech itself. The award was given last January; & I bet you can remember how we were feeling at that time.  Upon receiving the award, Mr. Harbour acknowledged how it felt odd to celebrate at that moment. But he continued. He said it was humbling it was to receive the award from fellow actors. He…

& if i need it

will you carry me home

A Sermon from Luke's Gospel for the Sunday after Easter
Me: In the Gospel today, it’s stillthe same day the women came to the tomb at the break of dawn, only to be told that Jesus wasn't there. That he had been raised. Only now, it’s evening. In fact, in Luke’s Gospel, this is the first report of the resurrected Jesus. And the folks he shows up to, are two characters we haven’t met before. Cleopas, and his unnamed companion.  The two of them are heading to a village called Emmaus. We don’t know a lot about this village. It seem the two of them are heading there, though, because they’ve calling quits on the whole discipleship thing. They’re going back home to their old lives. 
Strangely, when Jesus firstappears to the two of them, they don’trecognize him at all!
And that got me interested, how could Cleopas and his friend not recognize Jesus?  So I did a little research on the disciples named Cleopas. And while in the Bible we don’t hear anything else about him, …

you came to take us

to recreate us

Easter & an empty tomb: Back when the Lutherans were first just getting a hold of me; our theology prof. invited a bunch of us students to a movie… He said it was all about Luther’s theology that he had been trying to teach us…
And the movie he chose was, “Little Miss Sunshine.” Has anyone here seen it???
Anyway, this was back when lutherans -who called themselves Christians, for heaven’s sake- were totally shocking me with their lack of stuffy, self-righteousness.
And this movie did not disappoint…
I thought, since our professor said the movie was about Luther’s theology, the movie would be about finding religion and then getting your life in order…
But all the characters in this movie were a total mess! -The grandfather is foul-mouthed, among other things.  -The brother-in-law has to stay with the family because he’s on a 24/7 suicide watch.  -The eldest child can’t stand his family, and in protest refuses to speak. And that’s just that start of it!  In fact, I’m sugar-coating …

it's a secret society / all we ask is trust

all we got it us

Before the betrayal and the arrest. Before the horror of the cross. Before the emptiest sabbath. Before that morning no one anticipated.  Beforeany of it, Jesus gathered together the twelve who had stuck with him through thick and thin. Over a meal he had been longing to have with them for some time, Jesus gives the twelve one last Word.
Thickheaded though they could be, they knew these words Jesus was leaving them with mattered. 
Yes; like you, they would be shocked by the sheer terror of the cross. And yes, like you, they would be utterly astounded by the tomb that morning. But make no mistake, even they could sense thatnight was the quiet before it all went down.  So they, like you are right now, payed attention to what Jesus said as if everything else depended on it… And it does… 
Make no mistake, Jesus’ last word is no mere piece of advice. It is nowarm sentiment, either. In fact, when you consider what’s about to happen, these last words frankly sound foolish. Foolish.