Sunday, November 4, 2018

Of all three years of the lectionary cycle, this year’s All Saints readings have the most tears. Isaiah and Revelation look forward to the day when God will wipe away all tears; in John’s gospel, Jesus weeps along with Mary and all the gathered mourners before he demonstrates his power over death. On All Saints Day we celebrate the victory won for all the faithful dead, but we grieve for our beloved dead as well, knowing that God honors our tears. We bring our grief to the table and find there a foretaste of Isaiah’s feast to come.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Widows are visible everywhere in today’s readings. Jesus denounces those scribes who pray impressive prayers but devour widows’ houses. He commends the poor widow who in his view gave far more than the major donors. Jesus doesn’t see her simply as an object of compassion or charity. She, like the widow of Zarephath who shares her last bit of food with Elijah, does something of great importance.

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

November begins with All Saints Day and ends in or near Advent, when we anticipate Christ’s coming again. So the readings today tell of the final resurrection and the end time. In the turmoil of hope, fear, and disbelief that these predictions provoke in us, Hebrews sounds a note of confident trust. Christ makes a way for us where there is no way, and we walk it confidently, our hearts and bodies washed in baptismal water, trusting the one who has promised. The more we see the last day approaching, the more important it is to meet together to provoke one another to love.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Even after Israel had experienced the vagaries of kings, they still longed for a true king to set things right. He would have the king’s title of Anointed One (Messiah); he would be the “one like a human being” (Son of Man) given dominion in Daniel’s vision. Jesus is given these titles, even though he is nothing like an earthly king. His authority comes from the truth to which he bears witness, and those who recognize the truth voluntarily listen to him. We look forward to the day he is given dominion, knowing his victory will be the nonviolent victory of love.

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Today’s gospel combines a saying that makes many of us uncomfortable with a story we find comforting. Jesus’ saying on divorce is another of his rejections of human legislation in favor of the original intent of God’s law. Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples who are fending off the children should challenge us as well. What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a child does?

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

The rich man who comes to ask Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life is a good man, sincere in his asking. Mark’s gospel is alone in saying that Jesus looked on him and loved him. Out of love, not as judgment, Jesus offers him an open door to life: sell all you own and give it to the poor. Our culture bombards us with the message that we will find life by consuming. Our assemblies counter this message with the invitation to find life by divesting for the sake of the other.

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