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Showing posts from March, 2016


There is a version of Chrisitanity that implies (or comes right out and says) that it's somehow un-Christian to doubt. Even worse, there's a version of Christianity that implies or says doubt is a sin. If that's the kind of church abuse you were exposed to, you'll be glad to hear Sunday's Gospel and hear more about a branch of Christendom where doubt is not viewed as a sin. You'll be glad to know that doubt has a place in the Bible;  "doubting Thomas" has a place among the disciples, doubting people have a place in this church. God can work through any kind of doubt we have, but it's interesting that Thomas' doubt is a particular kind of doubt. Thomas doesn't say, "I'm not interested in believing it."  He doesn't say, "Jesus alive again?!?--that's a stupid story!" He says, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my ha

Holy Week: Faith is Something we DO

Too often, Christianity is thought of as something we believe in , and Christian faith as something we think . Holy Week, which begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday, is a helpful corrective. Each year, Holy Week reminds us that Christianity is something we participate in , and Christian faith is something we do . Just look at the action verbs: On Palm Sunday) we  commemorate Jesus' Passion (his suffering, or enduring) -- the short final period of Jesus' life beginning with his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, moving through to his crucifixion. We commemorate the fact that adoring crowds shouting "hosanna!" can turn -- in a week's time -- to murderous mobs shouting "crucify him!" demanding the death penalty. Then, On Maundy (commandment) Thursday) , we  obey Jesus' commandment to serve  other people and to eat a meal in remembrance of the Last Supper. For most years in my ordained ministry, I took part in ceremonial, liturgical foot

"Prodigal Son" -- Wonderful Story, Horrible Title

This Sunday's Gospel (from Luke 15:1-32) contains one of Jesus' most famous -- and perhaps most wonderful -- parable. Unfortunately, the name by which many people call this section of Luke's Gospel - "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" is horrible. I mean, horrible . On a number of different levels, that title is just plain wrong and misleading. First of all, it removes the parable from its context, which is the grumbling of religionists. Luke 15 starts with a reminder that many people of bad reputations (tax collectors and sinners) were gathering around Jesus. People from "the wrong crowd" have always offended people who care more about worship, justice, and religion than about Jesus. And sure enough, these religionists start grumbling: "this man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Second, it's that grousing that triggered a series of stories, a series of parables from Jesus. Contrary to their misnomers, they ar