Invitation: Lives of Welcome

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When you throw a party, how early do you send out invitations? Nobody with a lick of sense creates a playlist, orders a cake, sets out coasters, fills a cooler with ice and then just hopes people will show up. We send out invitations weeks or sometimes months in advance so the people who are important to us can plan to be there. We lay the groundwork.

How do you feel when you get a last minute invitation? I feel like an afterthought. Continue reading

The Great Author

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 150, Genesis 41:14-45, Romans 6:3-14, John 5:19-24


Joseph was a pivotal figure in the history of Israel. His brothers, angered by his father Jacob’s preferential treatment and Joseph’s visions which predicted his rise to power over them, sold Joseph into slavery and told Jacob he was dead. Though Joseph was respected by his master and made head of the household, the master’s wife framed him for assault and he was jailed. After years of imprisonment – where his talents  again put him in an unlikely position of leadership – Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams landed him a role as Pharaoh’s chief adviser. When a famine fell over Egypt and the surrounding lands, Joseph’s foresight kept the people from starving and he was able to save his long-estranged family by welcoming them into Egypt.

The story of Joseph is full of ironic turns. Continue reading

A Responsible Sabbath

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 43; 149, Genesis 41:1-13, 1 Corinthians 4:1-7, Mark 2:23-3:6


When picked and ate a handful of grain on the Sabbath, the pharisees accused him of violating the law. He replied: “The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath” and reminded them a starving King David once ate the bread in the temple. This is only one of many time Jesus taught them God’s foremost priority is the people, not the law. Picking a handful of grain for the moment’s enjoyment is qualitatively different than working a day in the field, but the Pharisees made no such distinction between the letter and spirit of the law.

On the other hand, as Jesus tried to put the law into perspective, he at no time dismissed it wholesale. Continue reading

The Cross

My brother John Schultz recorded a cover of “The Cross” by Prince.

I love this version and hope you do too.

Gimme Some Skin

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 22; 148, Genesis 40:1-23, Corinthians 3:16-23, Mark 2:13-22


Skin.

It is our largest organ and one of our primary tools for interacting with the world. Through sensations like temperature, pressure and texture it tells us about our environment. Most of us recognize each other by the skin on our faces. Some of us mark it in ink to tell our stories. Others work against the story our skin tells, by hiding it under makeup, slathering it in moisturizers, bleaching it chemically, baking it under lamps, or cutting parts of it away. It is so essential to our identity that skin diseases and disfigurements can be socially crippling, whether through our own insecurities or the rejection of others. Continue reading

Forgiveness First

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 27; 147:12-20, Genesis 39:1-23, 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15, Mark 2:1-12


Jesus was speaking to a large crowd gathered in and around his home. “[S]ome people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and […] let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” The scribes present were offended that Jesus felt he had the authority to forgive sins. The man lowered through the roof may have been disappointed his faith was rewarded with forgiveness and not healing. His friends were probably not looking forward to carrying him back.

As he always seems to do, Jesus turns the situation on its head. Continue reading

Celebrity Gossip

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Genesis 37:25-36, 1 Corinthians 2:1-13, Mark 1:29-45


The fastest form of communication known to humankind may be … gossip. The most mundane fact becomes interesting if someone tries to keep it a secret. Celebrities and publicists take advantage of this quirk of human nature all the time by “leaking” information to stoke curiosity about a project or event that otherwise might have garnered little notice. Both giving and receiving such information produce a thrill of being part of an inner circle.

So why would Jesus – with his incisive understanding of human nature – bother to tell a man he had healed of leprosy to “say nothing to anyone?” Continue reading

Fool Me

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 37:12-24, 1 Corinthians 1:20-31, Mark 1:14-28


We train our children not to trust strangers, especially ones promising treats. As adults we try to follow our own advice. We don’t believe offers that sound “too good to be true.” Most of us don’t hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. We lock up our homes, cars, and jewelry. Given the nature of the world, all these precautions are wise.

On the other hand, we like our quick fixes and easy assurances. Proof lies in the bank accounts and hypocrisy of televangelists, politicians, snake oil salesmen, and home shopping gurus. Headline after headline reminds us we entrust them with far too much of our faith and money. Continue reading

Reading the Room

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new window/tab):
Psalms 119:73-80; 145, Genesis 37:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:1-19, Mark 1:1-13


Have you heard the expression “read the the room?” It refers to someone’s ability to gauge an audience’s mood and response. Comedians learn to read a room because every crowd responds differently. Executives read a room to determine the level of support for a proposal. Comedians can change the content of the message to please an audience, but a good leader with an important message can adjust only the style, never the meaning.

Jacob and his son Joseph were not skilled at reading a room. Continue reading