Go In Peace

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 119:73-80; 145, Genesis 44:18-34, 1 Corinthians 7:25-31, Mark 5:21-43


During pre-flight safety instructions, attendants tell us that in an emergency we should put on our own oxygen masks before helping others. As Christians we learn to put others before ourselves. We love to repeat stories like the one about Mother Theresa, who suffered deformed feet because she always picked for herself the worst shoes out of the donations. Some of us are taught to be ashamed of asking for prayers for ourselves. Are self-mutilation and shame really part of the “good news” of the gospel? Continue reading

Invitation: I was hungry.

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On my first day of freshman orientation at Notre Dame, the opening meeting ended with a mass. My three roommates and I walked up to receive communion together. As I later learned, two of us were practicing Roman Catholics, one was from a Roman Catholic family but going through a “rebellious phase,” and the fourth was a Buddhist whose parents had been born in China. He didn’t know thing one about Roman Catholicism, let alone the Eucharist, but in my naivete I assumed we were all Catholic and didn’t question anything when he stepped up to take communion with us. Afterward he asked: “So what was that bread thing all about?” Slightly scandalized, I gave him a brief outline of the Lord’s Supper and advised him that in the future, he should probably decline partaking. He shrugged and said: “I was hungry. It was bread.” Continue reading

The Law, Weakened By The Flesh

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new window/tab):
Psalms 84; 150, Genesis 44:1-17, Romans 8:1-10, John 5:25-29

Paul’s letter to the Romans builds a complex theological argument slowly and at length, so examining a small piece of it doesn’t give us a flavor of the whole text. That disclaimer aside, let’s consider the following (half) verse: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.” Paul was talking about Christ fulfilling the law in a spiritual way that no mere human ever could. Notice Paul does not judge the law itself, which was given by God, but on how humans managed to corrupt it.

If human beings can corrupt God’s law, imagine what we’ve done with man-made ones. Continue reading

The Devils You Know

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 43; 149, Genesis 43:16-34, 1 Corinthians 7:10-24, Mark 5:1-20


Gospel stories sometimes raise more questions than they answer. While in Gerasene country, Jesus encountered a man living among the tombs because he was possessed by two thousand demons calling themselves Legion. Jesus healed him by driving the demons into a herd of pigs … who then jumped over a cliff into the sea. Now that’s a story that raises an question or two. Was the man actually possessed? Why does no map of that area show a sea? Was anyone reimbursed for the loss of two thousand pigs and a livelihood? Continue reading

Those Crazy Christians

Earlier this week we reflected on how the world sees Christians as Just. Plain. Crazy. A few years back, Brad Paisley wrote a song about exactly that. It’s an interesting take on what we may look like to those outside the faith, will all our faith and flaws bundled together. Hope you enjoy this video put to his music by the United Church of Ovid. Peace!

 

Healthy Fear

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 22; 148, Genesis 43:1-15, 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, Mark 4:35-41


What words describe your feelings about Jesus? Awe? Love? Gratitude? Comfort? How about… fear? The Bible uses the phrase “fear of God” or “fear of the Lord” to describe the proper reverence we owe God, but Jesus is generally portrayed as more immediate, more understanding, more human. His disciples found him sufficiently charismatic to leave behind jobs, homes, and families and follow him far and wide. He persuaded people through love, not fear. But is there a fearful side to Jesus? Continue reading

Technical Difficulties

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window): 
Psalms 27; 147:12-20, Genesis 42:29-38, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Mark 4:21-34


“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial.

Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church because its members were twisting his message. They believed they were permitted to sin with abandon because Christ had paid the price to free them from the law, and Corinth was the place to sin big – think New Orleans during Mardi Gras, minus the restraint. Paul had painted himself into a bit of a theological corner; he couldn’t reprimand the people for breaking the law, but would be remiss to let them off on that technicality. So when the Corinthians claimed “all things are lawful” Paul countered with “not all things are beneficial.” If the driving force in our choices is not Christ, we are lost. Continue reading

Seeds of Faith

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Genesis 42:18-28, 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11, Mark 4:1-20


Jesus frequently used parables to teach his followers. A parable is more than a story: it illustrates a deeper truth or lesson not easily expressed through more direct instruction. Most of the time Jesus told a parable and left the interpretation to his audience. One benefit of not explaining too much is that people can approach the parable from different angles and identify with different characters. The risk is people failing to understand your message. Continue reading

Just. Plain. Crazy.

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 42:1-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Mark 3:19b-35


If we are faithful to Jesus’ teachings, eventually someone will think we are at least a little crazy. It may happen at work when we say “I’m sorry, but this isn’t an ethical practice.” Or when we get a rrested protesting injustice. It may happen when we tell church friends we feel called to something that makes no sense to them. Or when we tell secular friends we are joining a church and following Christ. It may happen when we invite a homeless person to the table in our home or church—and then we are not just crazy but reckless. Continue reading

Rocks, Thunder, and Dough

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 119:73-80; 145, Genesis 41:46-57, 1 Corinthians 4:8-20 (21), Mark 3:7-19a


Our faith assures us that God knows us intimately inside and out. Psalm 119 declares: “Your hands have made and fashioned me.” All through our lives God actively shapes and reshapes us body, mind and soul. All who encountered Jesus were changed, usually spiritually, sometimes physically — and occasionally by name. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say Jesus revealed their true selves. Continue reading