See and Hear

A Sermon for 5th Sunday in Lent; Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:5-10, Psalm 51:1-13 or Psalm 119:9-16, John 12:20-33

Good morning. It is good to see all the kids here this morning. I know all of you know how special each of you are. Here is a story that reminds me of that.

All moms are on high alert when they bring their newborn baby home. They see and hear everything that is within reach of their baby. When a mom saw her oldest child, J keep edging up to the baby’s room she watched. J welcomed her new brother. Mom hadn’t seen any signs of jealousy or anything like that, but still, new moms watch. J would go to her brother’s room and stand by the door if it was cracked she’d peak in, if not she’d listen. Then one day, when Mom was more relaxed and not keeping the hawk eye alert on, J quietly when in. Mom missed J, automatically looked down the hall and noticed the baby’s room’s door was half open. She quickly went to see what was up. She did not hear anything that alarmed her, so she paused at the door to listen. J was standing by the baby’s crib, one hand, and her forehead on the railing. Quietly she said, please tell me what she looks like, I am beginning to forget what God looks like.

It is interesting to ponder how as we grow up as we learn some things we also lose our ability to see and hear other things; it raises a question about how we grow up (Kubicek).

 In the Gospel this morning we hear that some Greeks ask to see Jesus. It is an indication of their desire to know him. Certainly, through the stories they have heard, they have come to know about Jesus, which has led to them to seek to see Jesus so they may come to know him more fully (Shore). Their request makes no demands, there are no appeals for proof, they just want to be in Jesus’ presence, just as Andrew wanted to follow Jesus after John the Baptist’s witness (John 1:35). People do desire to see and hear Jesus. However, as we grow up, either birthday by birthday, or by education, or through life’s hard taught lessons, that desire seems to be more and more suppressed. We seem to lose the ability to see Jesus, or God, or the Spirit right in front of us. Notice the officials cannot see who Jesus is, and the crowd cannot hear God’s reply to Jesus’ prayer “Glorify your name.” People think it is either thunder or that Jesus has lost his mind and is talking to himself (Kubicek). And while there is a lot of Sunday School material teaching stories about Jesus, the opportunities to learn how to see Jesus, how to hear Jesus, are rare. One commentator wrote that seminaries don’t teach it, creeds don’t mention it, the catechism doesn’t teach it, yet here it is (Kubicek).

I can attest to the truth, that seeing or hearing God/Jesus/Spirit can be a life-changing experience. Thirty or so years ago, I was home alone with our daughters. N was upstairs asleep. H and I were playing Candy Land. It was important to me that she wins, so I was trying to manufacture a win, by making mistakes. I should have known better, H was very smart, and never did miss much, and every time I tried to make a mistake, she saw me and corrected it. Because it was Saturday the TV was on PBS, the kid’s shows were over and an interview with Joseph Campbell was on. I do not know the question. I only know part of the answer

 … there are many paths in life. When you are on the right on you know it. When you are on the wrong on, you know it. And if you ever sell out for money …

My house of cards collapsed, and I heard “Go get ordained.”

A bit of background. As an acolyte serving at the altar was always a special place and time for me, there was a kind of mystical magnetic draw to it. Somewhere in my last year or so in college, in a moment of existential, or identity crisis I sought out a priest. So, it is not a total surprise to hear those words, although it was completely unexpected.

After decades of occasionally pondering I am beginning to see that the only way I would hear the divine voice was to be so focused that all the concerns of the world were blocked out. It was only playing as a child, with a child, that the walls I had built, to protect myself from the world, faded away, and that God’s voice could be heard. As I sought to obey that call, I shared the experience, ~ but with caution. I did not want to over-interpret it. And ~ I was not sure how it would be received. Which tells us something about how such experiences are interpreted in many situations.

Our Lenten sermon themes are lentil soup, and what we sell our Christian birthright for. This morning lentil soup is looking a lot like grown-up expectations and interpretations of the world. We have forgotten how to be little children. Though Esau called it “that red stuff” this morning lentil soup is gray stuff, a mixture of everyday life and light. It is a good thing to have grown up expectations and interpretations of the world. Everyday life in the world is complex and at times dangerous, it takes grownup experience and wisdom to make your way through. At the same time, Jesus’ teaching that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be like little children (Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17) we have heard is true. It builds on my seminary class Psalm, ~ 131

  1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore. (Psalms 131).

The psalmist shares the way to live in divine hope, which is our soul’s being calm and quiet like a child with its mother.

The ever-alert understanding it takes to get through the day contrast sharply with the calm and quiet of a child with their mother. Lentil soup is an artful mixture of both.

John is challenging the balance of the two. In his day, and in ours, there is a much greater emphasis on ever alert understanding than calm and quiet. Go to the self-help section where ever books are sold and see how many books offer ways to negotiate or manage your life to be successful, compared to how many offer ways to calm and quiet your soul. John does this in sharing the relationship between God and Jesus. John writes that Jesus’ soul is troubled, which is an expression of a grown-up understanding of the situation he is in, he now knows his death is rapidly approaching. Unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke, here, Jesus does not question his purpose.

He is so perfectly united to the Father that, in [John’s] Gospel, he does not struggle to obey the divine will; instead he prays for the Father’s glorification … [he knows] looming tragedy is not the last word (Gaventa and Petersen).

John’s lentil soup is more divine light than human awareness. This morning’s vision of lentil soup is as much about the blend of what is in it, as it is about its ingredients.

We have also been asking what we sell our birthright for. This morning it is an abundant wheat crop. Jesus shares the one-line parable about a wheat seed dying so that it will bear much fruit, which we tend to equate with abundance. Have you ever asked yourself “Does wheat seed produce fruit?” Of course not. So, what is Jesus, through John, saying? Throughout scripture, Jesus uses the phrase “bearing fruit” to describe how a community of his disciples should look and sound. In Jesus’ one-line parable “bearing fruit” is a metaphor meaning to lose one’s life, by leaving ever alert understanding of our self-interest aside, to become part of a community of faith (Shore; O’Day). To hate, or reject, or rebalance one’s life is to follow Jesus as a part of the community of disciples who witness to Jesus after his death, resurrection, and ascension (O’Day). This morning we see the temptation to sell our birthright, of an abundance of fruit in a community of faith, for an abundant wheat crop.

Adjusting the ingredients of a recipe is a challenging thing. It requires knowledge of the ingredients, how they interact, and which flavors complement each other. It is also an art that emerges from a calm and quiet soul. You are not alone in your effort to balance your recipe for lentil soup. You are heirs of Jesus’ invitation to Andrew to “come and see” (John:138) and to Phillip to “follow me” (John 1:43) (Lewis; O’Day). You are heirs of seeing and hearing to know the “swift and varied changes of the world” and the calm and quiet of your soul which together bring you into eternal life in which you know, right here, right now, what God looks like, what God sounds like.


Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 18 3 2018. <;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Keener, Craig and John Walton. NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes. Nashville: Zondervan, 2017.

Kubicek, Kirk Alan. “This Voice Has Come for Your Sake, Not for Mine, Lent 5.” 18 3 2018. Sermons that Work.

Lewis, Karoline. Seeing Jesus. 18 3 2018. <>.

O’Day, Dail R. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of John. Vol. VIII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols. App Olivetree.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

Shore, Mary Hinkle. Commentary on John 12:20-33. 18 3 2017. <;.

Thomas Nelson. The Chronological Study Bible NIV. Nashville: HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (NIV Chronological Study Bible) Genesis 1:1, 2014. OliveTreeapp.







A sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent; Numbers 21: 4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

It must be spring, our clocks sprang forward in the middle night, depriving us of an hour of sleep. It must be spring, snakes are all over the place. My first memory of a snake story is not wrestling with the identity of the snake in the Garden of Eden, nor the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones opens the secret chamber and on seeing the strangely rolling floor rolls over and says Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes. No, my first memory of snakes is the story of my mother and mother of our across the street neighbor going out to lunch. It must have been a special place because they wore long tight skirts with high heels. When they got back, they saw a snake in our front yard as they drove in. They didn’t know what kind it was but decided it was just too big, and besides, all the kids would be getting off the school bus before too long. So, she asks our neighbor to bring her an ax and she will cut its head off. Our neighbor brings her ~ a hatchet. Determined, and against all laws of motion and balance my mom is successful. They go home. Sure enough, not 15 minutes later all the school bus kids are romping down the street headed home. One of the boys, picks up the headless snake by the tail, begins swinging it around loudly asking Who killed the copperhead? If the snakes are not in our yards, they are all over this morning’s bible stories.

From Numbers, we read how the Israelites yet again grumbled about how hard the trip to freedom is, the miserable food and lack of water. God sends snakes, who bit many people, who die. The people go to Moses acknowledge their sin in complaining and ask him to intercede. He does. God tells him to make a bronze serpent, put it on a pole, and anyone who looks at it will be healed and live. He does, they do.

The Gospel story begins with Jesus saying: Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. It is interesting to know that in Bible days snakes or serpents were a symbol of both death and danger and fertility, life, and healing. (Harrelson). The story gets more complex when we learn the word for poisonous also means fiery, and also, saraph, or Seraphim, majestic beings who attend and protect God (Thomas Nelson Inc; Gaventa and Petersen). It gets evening more interesting when we are told God’s instructions to Moses are similar to homeopathic medicine that treats diseases with small doses of what in larger doses would be dangerous or fatal, and apotropaic medicine which is intended to ward off evil and bad luck (Keener and Walton). All that sounds a bit like a vaccine. All of it is interesting, but there is more to these bible stories.

In addition to all the serpent images, there are emotional images. Most of us recognize John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. even if we don’t know it is a bible verse. It is a feel-good line (Cruz). We can go a long time on the happy energy that comes from knowing how much God loves us. And then ~then we remember that “he gave” refers to Jesus’ crucifixion and that stirs up all kinds of questions. Yes, we know God loves us, but giving up his only son to die, who would do that? That reminds us of the story from Numbers and God sending snakes to punish them, and that many died when they were bitten. Did God, would God really send snakes to bite people who would die. Even though there is a lot that makes us feel good in the Gospel story it is very clear that if we don’t believe in Jesus we are already condemned (John 3:18). Does God, will God condemn us because we don’t believe, or we struggle to believe in Jesus? Did God, would God, will God really do that?

Both stories have snake images and emotional images in common. There is a third thing they have in common, decisions and consequences. Psalm 107 verse 17 reads Some were fools and took to rebellious ways; * they were afflicted because of their sins. It reminds us, that the story from Numbers is not the only one where Israel rebels against God. There is the entire book of Judges and its cycles of Israel’s bad decisions, then their crying out for help when they are in trouble, and God sending a hero, called a Judge, to save them. That is in verse 19 of the psalm. The bad decisions continue through all the books of history. In them, God sends prophets to help get Israel back on the right track. We have their stories in the Bible. Their language is often full of warnings of doom. All these stories, the story from Numbers, and the story from John’s Gospel account tell us about the consequences of bad decisions. And all of them also tell us about the promise of redemption. Psalm 107 verse 20 reads He sent forth his word and healed them * and saved them from the grave. That is what happens with the bronze serpent, we know is really a saraph a heavenly agent who brings life and healing. This is what happens when we remember that for John Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection – that thing he did on Easter, and Ascension – going back to God, is all one thing, and it is all about healing us, so we can have eternal life, which is not sometime in the future, but is right here, right now because we know we already live in God’s presence (Harrelson; O’Day). So, what we can now see, is that both the story from Numbers and from John are about healing (Lose; Hoezee; Gaventa and Petersen). But, this still does not answer the question about the consequences of bad decisions.

Here is the paradoxical, the strange, thing about the consequences. In Numbers, it is the image of a snake that gives life to those dying from a snake bite. In John it is Jesus dying, coming back to life, and returning to heaven, that gives life to those who don’t believe in Jesus the Son of God, who loves you more than you can imagine. It is what takes life that God uses to restore life. I’ll bet you, that when you make a bad decision, God will find a way to use that decision to bring you back to life in God’s presence. It is not a very good example, but it is kind of like a vaccine, a tiny little bit of something bad, can help keep you safe from a whole lot of something bad.

During Lent, we have been exploring how Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup and what lentil soup looks like in the bible readings, and in our lives. This week I see how lentil soup is choosing what is false. It came to my mind Friday morning when I read an article about how a false story is reposted much faster and more often than a true story on social media. Researchers have learned that it is our choice and the not results of some automated effort to mislead people (Lohr). Recognizing the truth isn’t hard because we are misled. Recognizing the truth is hard because it is not what we learn from much of the world around us. We want to use John 3:16 to comfort people facing a crisis or in distress, but we do not want to do anything, even just stay with them (Helmer). This is the dark side of the prosperity gospel. Some preachers teach that if you just pray right, you will be right with God and all will be well, including your checking account. What this also means, but is left unsaid, is that if you or a loved one is sick, or poor or subject to any kind of oppression or abuse, you have somehow sinned and not right with God. Making the right decisions is hard,

  • because we are afraid,
  • because we have a secret that has to stay a secret,
  • because we are ashamed.

Making the right decisions is hard,

  • it can mean that what something is worth is not ultimately guided by how much something costs, or how much you can make,
  • it can mean saying the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, as powerful as it is, is not the final guardian of life, (who by the way is God) even if police can take guns away from certain dangerous people, or some teachers have guns in schools,
  • because the Tempter from Eden’s garden whispers in our ears so that we won’t see each other, see everyone, as the image of God we are, so that we won’t value every human life.

Making the right decisions is hard because there is no neutral position, God/Jesus demand we choose and then act on our choice (Cruz).

 But, making the right decision is possible, because, as John says, the light (Jesus) is in the world, and it will not be overcome (John 3:19, 1:5). Making the right decision is possible because we do not have to wait for Jesus to return because we are already living in Jesus/God/Spirit’s presence. Making the right decision is possible because God loves you so much, God sent Jesus to show us how, and sent the Holy Spirit to gently, continually, remind us. Making the right decision is possible because God is more patient than we are stubborn. Learning to, and practicing, making right decisions is a great replacement for lentil soup; it might just be a good Lenten discipline.



Cruz, Samuel. Commentary on John 3:14-21. 11 3 2018. <;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 11 3 2018. <;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts, and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Helmer, Ben. “Snakes, Lent 4 (B).” 11 3 2018. Sermons that Work.

Hoezee, Scott. The Lectionary Gospel John 3:14-21. 11 3 2018.

Keener, Craig and John Walton. NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes. Nashville: Zondervan, 2017.

Lewis, Karoline. After Effects. 11 3 2018. <>.

Lohr, Steve. “It’s True: False News Spreads Faster and Wider. And Humans Are to Blame.” 8 3 2018. <;.

Lose, David. Lent 4 B: 3 Overlooked Elements of John 3:16. 11 3 2018.

O’Day, Dail R. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of John. Vol. VIII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols. App Olivetree.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

The Living Church. Sin and Salvation. 11 3 2018. <>.

Thomas Nelson Inc. NKJV Strong’s. Nashville: Olive Tree, 1982.




Walk on By

A Sermon for Lent 3; Exodus 20:1-1, Psalm 1, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22

 A few years back in a busy Washington D.C. Metro station, a man played his fiddle for the passersby. Some children stopped and stared but were quickly hustled off by their parents. A few people stayed for a minute or two before rushing on to catch their train. A few people threw money into the open violin case. The violinist collected a total of $32.17. The fiddler was Joshua Bell, one of the most celebrated violinists. Just weeks earlier he played to a packed house, where tickets sold for $100. Bell was playing one of the most difficult and intricate pieces ever composed for the violin. He played it with world-class skill, and on a world class Stradivarius violin worth million. The whole stunt had been set up to see if anyone would notice. No one truly did, except perhaps a few children who sensed something was up (Hoezee).

This morning Jesus is at the Temple during the Passover festival. There is a money exchange. The local regions where pilgrims came from each had its own currency. Temple tax could only be paid in the temple currency (Harrelson) in part because Greek and Roman coins had the image of a human on one side which made the coins an idol (O’Day). The exchange swapped the pilgrims’ money into the local currency (Keener and Walton). The cattle, sheep, and doves were required for burnt offerings in the Temple were designated in Leviticus. Many of the pilgrims coming to offer sacrifice in the Temple journeyed a great distance and would not have been able to bring the specified animals. They needed to buy animals in Jerusalem. The animal market was needed so they could (O’Day). Both the exchange and marketplace are necessary. Both are provided for in Deuteronomy and Leviticus (Jacobson, Lewis, and Skinner). But something is not right. Why else ~ would Jesus disrupt the whole thing?

It is entirely reasonable that the Temple priests and others would want to know what authority Jesus has to disrupt the Passover Festival. It is a reasonable question after all Passover is the defining Jewish Festival. His answer Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19). isn’t really an answer to their question. So of course, everyone misinterprets him. Ask a question about a temple and get an answer with ‘temple’ in it, and the second is the same as the first. Unless of course, you have been to political spokesman school, or you are the Messiah.

John wants to be sure the readers understand, so he tells them, tells us, that Jesus is talking about himself. No one knows about Jesus life to come. There are no great reveals in John’s Gospel story. The story of Jesus’ betrayal, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension is revealed in his actions.

Part of understanding what is going on at the Temple is to understand how God has been present to us, specifically Israel, up to this point. Here is a Cliff Note, well a Fr Scott Note version. The Garden is where God met us. However, we listened to the Tempter, in the form of a snake, and messed that all up. After the Exodus in the wilderness journey God met us on mountain tops; well ~ at least he met our representative, Moses, there; we were afraid to meet God in person. After the wilderness journey is over God meets Israel through the wisdom and saving actions of the Judges. But the number of Judges stories and the repeating cycle of those stories tell us that that didn’t go so well either. At Israel’s request, God establishes a King to “fight our battles for us.” That doesn’t help the divine-human relationship; now Israel is now relying on the strength of Kings and not trusting the strength of God. God has the smartest man in the world, Solomon, build a Temple to be God’s home on earth (it is far grander than Herod’s). Before long Solomon is married to wives from Egypt, the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonian, and Hittites. They turn his heart away from God and towards the gods of his many wives (1 Kings 11:4.) The Temple has become the home of all sorts of gods. Throughout the many intra and inter kingdom wars God calls prophets to speak the truth and restore the divine-human relationship. We have the stories of 23 or so prophets in the bible who do speak the hard truth. However, there we a whole lot more, hundreds more, in the royal court who tell the king what the king wants to hear. So much for the divine-human relationship.

We have seen that the animal market and money exchange served a purpose. Because of Jesus’ actions, we can discern that once again, the place and how God is present on earth has turned into something else. But there is still more else going on here. The previous story in John is about that wedding in Cana that Jesus saves by turning 180 gallons of water into extraordinary wine. This reveals something of his identity, and the abundance of God’s love (Harrelson; O’Day). So, if Cana is about the revelation of God in Jesus, what does this story reveal about who he is?

The temple is the meeting place between Israel and God. It is a holy place. It is the place where human life and divine blessing meet. It is a thin place. It seems that it is following in the steps of its predecessors. The Temple can no longer be God’s presence on earth. If not the Temple in Jerusalem, then where? John tells us Jesus’ answer to the authorities is not about the Temple, but about him. What we are witnessing through holy story is Jesus is proclaiming that his body is the home of God on earth (Shore; Jacobson, Lewis, and Skinner; Harrelson; O’Day; Gaventa and Petersen).

Continuing with our model of Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup, what might lentil soup look like in this story? Jesus challenges the Temple, which like it religious predecessors, is so convinced of the divinity of its rules and practices that it is no longer open to a new revelation from God (Harrelson). It is no longer a thin place. From a church institution perspective, we are called to actively be aware of the trap of equating the authority of our own structures and traditions with the presence of God that we close ourselves off to the possibility of reformation, change, and renewal (O’Day).

The personal perspective it unwinds like this. Many of us have known a thin place, like Camp Mitchell, or church retreat weekend, where we deeply feel God’s mysterious presence. Jesus invites us into a personal relationship. Jesus is the presence of God on earth, therefore, Jesus is a thin place. So, Jesus is inviting us into a thin personal relationship. When we encounter this invitation do we explain away its presence? do we explain away its impact? do we explain away God who knows us and insist we know God? do we explain away I AM in our I AM God? Or ~~ do we risk experiencing the fullness of the presence of God/Jesus/Spirit? (Lewis). Do we risk experiencing Jesus as our thin relationship?

We have been asking “What do we sell our Christian birthright for?” We can miss out on our birthright not only by selling it but by ignoring it, walking on by. Who knows how many people walked on by, rushed on by Joshua Bell? Who knows how often we walk, rush on by a thin relationship with God/Jesus/Spirit? Perhaps we are not being called to give up, or to take on, but to slow down so that we can see, so that we can hear the abundance of divine gifts that are simply all around us all the time. Perhaps we are being called to slow down so we can experience and live in the thin relationship between ourselves and the abundance of divine love.



Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 4 3 2018. <;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. The Lectionary Gospel John 2:13-22. 4 3 2018.

Jacobson, Rolf, Karoline Lewis and Matt Skinner. Sermon Brain Wave. 4 3 2018.

Keener, Craig and John Walton. NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes. Nashville: Zondervan, 2017.

Lewis, Karoline. Body Zeal. 4 3 2018. <>.

O’Day, Dail R. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of John. Vol. VIII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols. App Olivetree.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

Shore, Mary Hinkle. Commentary on John 2:13-22. 4 3 2018. <;.

Thomas Nelson. The Chronological Study Bible NIV. Nashville: HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (NIV Chronological Study Bible) Genesis 1:1, 2014. OliveTreeapp.

Whitley, Katerina. “Resisting the Idolatry of the Age, Lent 3 (B).” 4 3 2018. Sermons that Work.

Woodrum, -Br. Jim. “Depending on God.” Meeting Jesus in the Gospel. SSJE. Cambridge, n.d. Email.





Man in Black

A Sermon For the 2nd Sunday in Lent: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38 

Ashton is home. It seems as if everything went right; 18 local, county, state, Federal and private agencies all worked together to bring Aston safely home (Courier News). At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 17 people died and 14 more wounded in a mass shooting. Yes, there were acts of heroism, a coach, some teachers, a janitor, and three Jr. ROTC students all acted to save others, some were injured, and some died because of their actions (Chavez). But overall it seems as if nothing went right. An armed officer on site did not enter the building. Multiple agencies FBI, Sheriff’s office, school officials, and mental health professionals missed opportunities to intervene. Nikolas Cruz’s story looks very different when you have all these stories together. But no one did ahead of time, and we don’t know if there is any way to share information from various sources.

Ashton’s is a story where so much goes right. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is a story where so much goes wrong. Both call us to John’s Gospel story of the man born blind, in which Jesus says something like No one sinned. This man was born blind. Now is the time to work the work God has given us to work. What is that work? Let’s see what Jesus, through Mark, has to teach us.

This morning we heard a story of Jesus teaching the disciples about him being the Messiah He calls himself ‘the son of man’. Both terms carry significant cultural and religious implications. The vision of Israel’s savior ascending to the divine throne found in Daniel (7:13) provides a framework for understanding Jesus as the son of man, Israel’s messiah (Perkins). While what Jesus says comes to be, he is not predicting the future so much as he is teaching the disciples the hard truth of discipleship, because how elders, the chief priests, and the scribes treat Jesus indicates the challenges Jesus’ disciples will face.

Jesus also teaches the crowd about being a disciple or follower. The suffering involved with carrying their cross is not the consequences of personal tragedy, it the consequences of behaving as Jesus teaches, or the consequences of proclaiming the gospel into the face of empire, in any of its many forms. Carrying our cross also means recognizing Christ crucified in the suffering world around us (Jolly). The disciples do not want to hear this, the crowd does not want to hear this, we do not want to hear this. In Jesus day, honor and shame preoccupy society. Jesus, contrary to anybody would think,  is associating honor with faithfulness to God (Gaventa and Petersen). Jesus’ suffering, our suffering, in picking up our cross, comes out of such faithfulness seen in obedience to God’s call. This suffering is necessary, it is grounded in God and cannot be avoided, it is a central teaching, a central characteristic of discipleship. Danger from our testimony to the truth of the gospel is not limited to situations in which witnessing to the gospel brings physical danger. It also includes negative religious, social, political, and economic consequences. None of our social, ethical, philosophical, political, or economic standards can explain the necessity of such a commitment. A commitment to carry our cross can only be grounded in the willingness to trust God, and God alone (Perkins).

This suffering may not belong to us; it may come from be willing to embrace the pain of others. Not to explain it, not to simply seek to comfort it, not to fit it into some larger plan but to embrace it, accept it as our own because we trust that God is in the midst of our and in the midst of our neighbors’ brokenness. Jesus’ healing and feeding miracles and his compassion for individuals and the crowds tells us that human suffering it not a divine desire (Perkins). But we know, in our heads and in our hearts, and in our experience, that everyone knows suffering, brokenness, abandonment, betrayal, loss, death, or oppression (Lose). The biblical call to follow Jesus’ cross is a call to a vocation to a never-ending struggle (Black). Johnny Cash sang it true

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin’ everywhere you go, (Cash).

Jesus’ disciples expected to follow him to the kingdom, not to martyrdom (Keener and Walton). They are looking for a savvy political – military leader to put the Romans in their place (Jolly). It is not what they are hearing. So, we get why Peter takes Jesus aside. Mark frames it as a bit over the top by using the verb “rebuke” (ἐπιτιμάω epitimaō) which is also used to silence demons (Perkins). Socially, to openly challenge your teacher, as Peter does,  is a serious breach of behavior  (Keener and Walton). In challenging Jesus, Peter is claiming for himself authority that is not his to use and is, in fact, devilish (Black). His over the top inappropriate behavior comes from Peter’s confusion; how can Jesus make anyone’s life better by having his own life end? It just doesn’t make sense, didn’t then, doesn’t now (Hoezee). In three short verses we see that Peter and the disciples are beginning to understand that the God they want is not the God they are coming to know in Jesus, the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Messiah,  the Christ (Jolly). Peter’s rebuke reflects his and the disciples desire to follow their vision of Israel’s messianic savior, and (perhaps more deeply) their fear of suffering (Perkins).

If we can step back, just a bit, we might honestly see how we respond to Jesus’ teaching with similar shock and denial. First of all, there is no way our convention leaders, or bishops, or vestry would betray, torment, reject, and kill Jesus. Right? And there is no way, just no way, that our social, political, or business leaders would either; couldn’t be. But a way we might, no a way we have, is to take Jesus’ suffering out of its biblical context, cast it on to some others’ suffering, call it God’s will, and then say that they should not work against their oppression, and we are not called to stand with them in opposition to their behavior. This has been and continues to be damaging to women, LGBTQ persons, immigrants, and third world populations (Harrelson). “In our ‘pain-killer’ culture, a balanced understanding of suffering is difficult to achieve” (Perkins). We continue to rebuke the call of the cross and refuse to enter into the suffering of others. We are still confused; we know that God/Jesus can control cosmic forces. It continually confounds us that Jesus’ permits the enemies who wish to destroy him to succeed (Perkins). Like Peter, part of our confusion and reluctance to follow as called is grounded in our fear of suffering.

The version of lentil soup and what are we selling our Christian birthright for this week are found within the realm of ethics. We tend to think of ethics as making the right decision and taking the right action. It is as this level that the difference between Aston’s and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting stories are so very different. Aston’s story where so many right decisions and right actions result in a happy ending as opposed to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where so many wrong decisions and wrong actions resulted in horrific tragedy are contrasting stories of good and poor ethics; good and poor decision making, good and poor actions.

However, there is more to ethics than front line decision making. There is the need to examine the background to understand what allowed the event to occur and make the faith, religious, social, political, and economic changes necessary to ensure that it will not happened again. Or as Johnny Cash sings But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right. The backgrounds to both stories require close examination. Ashton’s might include to learn how a bad actor half way across the country can make contact with a vulnerable teen / young adult and lure them into danger and put a stop to it. This could very well include changes to the freewheeling nature of social media. We think healthcare is hard to change, try that one. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting back ground appears to already be fiercely underway, in the debates of tighter gun sales regulations and examinations and treatment of those with mental illness. Both are complicated by themselves, but they are more complicated by not impinging on the freedom of many for the dangers caused by the actions of a few. They are worthy and necessary debates. However, both debates have deeper back stories that need examination, and corrective decisions made. I suspect they will be far more difficult because I am seeing how they involve the challenge the disciples and Peter face with Jesus’ revelation of his betrayal, suffering, rejection, and death which results from placing human things above divine things, such as valuing money more than each other as images of God.

If we insist on holding onto this life, of seeking solutions to life’s difficulties by grabbing still more of that same life, then Johnny Cash will forever be the Man in Black. But if we are willing to let go, to release our fierce grip on our own egos – and on the life we hope will boost and bolster that ego; if we can just die along with Jesus, then we can get behind Jesus as a disciple and then with Johnny don that rainbowed suit of white that tells the world that everything’s OK (Cash).


Black, C. Clifton. Commentary on Mark 7:24-37. 25 2 2018. <;.

Cash, Johnny. “ Johnny Cash Man in Balck.” n.d. / BMG Rights Management US, LLC. 25 2 2018. <….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..1.4.483…0i20i264k1.0.6PLirbgPoRs>.

Chavez, Nicole. “These are the heroes of the Florida school shooting.” 17 2 2018. <>.

Courier News. “Talley found safe in Washington; two in custody.” 23 2 2018. <;.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 25 2 2018. <;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. The Lectionary Gospel Mark 8:31-38. 25 2 2018.

Jolly, Marshall A. “More Than Fixing, Lent 2.” 25 2 2018. Sermons that Work.

Keener, Craig and John Walton. NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes. Nashville: Zondervan, 2017.

Lose, David. Lent 2 B: Take Up Your Cross. 25 2 2018.

Perkins, Pheme. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of Mark. Ed. Leander E. Keck (NIBC) Bel and the Dragon. Vol. VII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

The Living Church. Abraham’s Faith. 25 2 2018. <>.

Thomas Nelson. The Chronological Study Bible NIV. Nashville: HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (NIV Chronological Study Bible) Genesis 1:1, 2014. OliveTreeapp.




A Sermon for the 1st Sunday in Lent; Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15

Ash Wednesday, we explored the story of Esau selling his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of “red stuff” or lentil stew. We asked how lentil stew is present in our lives? We asked what have we sold our Christian birth-right for? We will continue exploring these questions throughout Lent, by looking at three things in each gospel reading: What is Jesus doing in the Gospel? How do the disciples, the people, and/or the authorities react? How do we ~ you react?

This morning we go back to the verses the follow Jesus baptism. We heard Mark’s version of Jesus being driven into the wilderness. There is none of the familiar back and forth between Satan and Jesus, there is just Jesus, 40 days of temptation, the wild animals, and the angels. After that Jesus comes to Galilee preaching ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.’ Mark 1:15 (Olive Tree).

Beyond his words, it doesn’t appear that Jesus has or is doing anything. However, Jesus’ ministry is closely connected to John’s ministry. And John was very good at his job of pointing to Jesus. People were coming from all over the place to hear him. And John is always clear he is not the messiah. And then Jesus shows up (Johnson). And anyone could see, everyone could see, that Jesus is different, Jesus ~ is the one John has been talking about.

John’s arrest is not caused by Jesus’ appearance. However, from a story telling standpoint, it is an effective way for John to leave the stage to Jesus.

There are also the details of Jesus’ language. The word for time is not clock time, it means the right time, i.e. now is the right time. It references the Hebrew prophecies of God’s kingdom. The word ‘kingdom’ means ‘reign’ (Keener and Walton). Jesus is announcing the arrival of God as the undisputed King over all people and all creation (Harrelson). Another clue is that the verbs indicate that his action is continuing in Mark’s time and into the present time (Harrelson). There is no doubt Jesus is intruding, bringing God’s judgement into the present both then and now (Black). To prepare for such judgement, people are called to make a radical turn and trust only in God, and no longer rely on worldly insurance policies of social, political or religious institutions (Perkins). All together it is a challenge to both existing ruling parties in Israel, the Jewish Temple, and religious authorities and the Roman Empire.

Now we have a glimpse of what Jesus is doing. What about the responses? Although the timing is before Jesus wilderness adventure and preaching, John’s arrest reveals the response of the authorities. If John is arrested simply for pointing out the messiah, we can imagine their response to the one who is the messiah. At least Herod Antipas, the local representative of Roman authorities, is a threat to Jesus.

So far, we have explored how Jesus preaching the Gospel of the presence of the Kingdom of God and we see how that attracts the active ire of the Roman authorities in John’s arrest. What about our response to the intrusive presence of God.

Last Monday David Brook’s column explored the world of the early 90s. Then it was all very good news. There was the reunification of Germany, the liberation of Central Europe, the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the Oslo peace process. It was a time of abundance. But, there was outlier event, the breakup of Yugoslavia along simmering nationalist loyalties. Brooks see this as an indicator of our times in which we experience the financial crisis, a shrinking middle class, the unending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – spreading to Syria, Yemen, and beyond and how limited resources lead to conflict (Brooks). The shooting in Florida on Wednesday brings the violent nature of American society once again into the lime light. The Senate’s failure to pass any of the 4 immigration bills on Thursday indicates our political and social inability to make hard decisions. Both are a response of a culture of scarcity, whatever it is, there isn’t enough of it, so I/we will do whatever it takes to keep what is mine, and deny whoever, whatever is in the way.

And the lentil soup? Well, I am wondering if there are two bowls of lentil soup. In the 90s we came to believe we could overcome evil on our own (Lewis). Bruce Epperly wrote

Mysticism alone cannot guide our vocational path. Jesus needs to ground his mystical encounters in prayer, meditation, and fasting (Epperly).

Even though the world was moving in a direction we, the US, and the western world, favored, the powers at be still wanted to stay in the reality they knew and (believed they) controlled. The 90s form of lentil soup was the illusion of earthly power and control. We neglected the necessity of the Gospel of the reign of God. The current form of lentil soup is whatever the current the populist talisman against sacristy happens to be, nationalism, white power, gun control, universal healthcare, election maps, and the power of wealth. In all these movements, if you will, we continue to neglect the necessity for the Gospel of the reign of God.

Upon deeper reflection I began to see how these are simply different servings of the same bowl of lentil soup. We have a deep seeded fear of the wilderness, so we rely on the soup of avoidance, we just refuse to go there. And that is understandable, the fear is rational, the wilderness is a sign, if not a place of grave spiritual danger; and we avoid it because we do not trust anyone, not even God to be there with us.

We are wrong.

In Mark’s version of Jesus’ temptation, Jesus is forced, ~ driven by the Spirit ~ into the wilderness. But she does not abandon him. The Spirit is present in the wild animals. She is present in the angels who serve Jesus, as Simon’s mother in law will serve Jesus. This is a story that calls us to trust that the Spirit will be there ~ no ~ already is, with us, as we dally around on the edge of the wilderness, that feels a whole lot like the shadowed valley of death. The story also shows us that where ever Jesus goes, even into the depths of places of spiritual danger and evil shalom, the divine wholeness of life, follows (Hoezee).

In our time of deep divisions driven by deceptions of scarcity I pray we turn to our birthright that divine love which endures all the approval driven, silly, wrongheaded, selfishness, hateful, violent, evil, that has ever resided in our hearts, or the hearts of others.

I pray we walk on by the illusion of lentil soup and trust the strength the peace of God that pass all understanding.



Black, C. Clifton. Commentary on Mark 1:9-15. 18 2 2018. < 1/3>.

Brooks, David. “The End of the Two-Party System.” 12 2 2018. <>.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 18 2 2018. <;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. Lent 1 B Mark 1:9-15 . 18 2 2018. <;.

Johnson, Deon. “Wilderness, Lent 1.” 18 2 2018. Sermons that Work.

Keener, Craig and John Walton. NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes. Nashville: Zondervan, 2017.

Lewis, Karoline. A Tempting Silence. 18 2 2018. <>.

Lose, David. Lent 1 B: Lenten Courage. 18 2 2018.

Olive Tree. NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. Olive Tree Bible Software, 22014.

Perkins, Pheme. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of Mark. Ed. Leander E. Keck (NIBC) Bel and the Dragon. Vol. VII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

Thomas Nelson. The Chronological Study Bible NIV. Nashville: HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (NIV Chronological Study Bible) Genesis 1:1, 2014. OliveTreeapp.



Lentil Soup

A Sermon for Ash Wednesday; Joel 2:1-2,12-17, or Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 103 or 103:8-14, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

 Sometime after the first of the year, it came to my attention that Easter is on April Fool’s Day which means that Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day. This concurrence raises the delicate liturgical question is the proper color for the day? pink? or that deep purplish red? I asked a couple of deeply knowledgeable liturgical colleagues of mine. The first answer was to be sure and use red glitter for ashes and make the shape a heart on penitents’ foreheads. The other suggested using the little chalky heart candies for Communion wafers. Alas, I have waited too late and the traditional ashes and communion wafers lovingly baked by the sisters of Monastery of St. Clare will more than suffice.

Over these many years, have preached on the dire warning the alarm horns and gathering clouds of darkness and gloom from Joel. I have preached on Isaiah’s exhortation to announce God’s people their rebellion, and to the house of Jacob their sins. I have mentioned that the merciful goodness of the Lord endures forever. One way or another it is always necessary to remind us that now is the acceptable time to be reconciled to God. I’ve even preached on what you should do in secrete and maybe that God already knows what you do in secrete.

None of this inspired me. But only because Monday a week ago I was inspired by the Daily Office reading from Genesis (25:19-33). It includes the birth of Esau and Jacob, how Esau grew up to be a great hunter who loved the field and that Jacob became a quiet person who preferred a tent. It also includes the story of Esau coming in from the fields famished. Jacob is cooking some stew that Esau wants to satisfy his enormous hunger. Esau is so famished he sells his birthright to Jacob for bread and bowl of lentil stew. The divine muse nudged me, laying two questions on my heart and soul: How does lentil soup manifest itself in our lives? What have we sold our birth right for?

But before we can get to the depth of those questions we have to understand our birthright. As Christians what is our birthright? In the Episcopal tradition the go to liturgy is Baptism where we are washed in Christ’s baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever. We are one with Christ. It is Christ who stands with us before God. It is through Christ that God’s unconditional love is made fully known. A long-time colleague of mine wrote this week and reminded us of Henri Nouwen’s wisdom:

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.

God’s unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love. (Adams-McCaslin)

Our birthright is that divine love which endures all the approval driven silly, wrongheaded, selfishness, hateful, violent, evil, that has ever resided in our hearts, in secrete, or boldly there for all to see.

It is such a precious thing. And yet we seem to follow Esau’s path far too often. Our desire for the lentil soup of the moment takes precedence over everything else. Our momentary desire seems more important than what is right, than what is just, than our birthright. Sometimes our desires are manifest in the behaviors of others who speak and act publicly what is secretly in our hearts and are secretly joyous. At times such persons are from the margins. At times such persons are our leaders; social, educational, business, political, and religious. Sometimes our desires are manifest in our own words, and actions; spoken or unspoken, done or undone. Sometimes our words and actions are the public manifestations of what is secretly in the hearts of others and one way or another, we welcome slight approving smiles, nods of heads, and other small signs of approval.

As we have for a life time this Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a time of inner reflection. A time to acknowledge the ominous dark clouds not so very far from the center of our lives. A time to raise our heads at the blaring sound of the trumped alarm. A time, with naked vulnerability, to explore the depths and strength of God/Jesus/Sprit. A time to acknowledge all our secretes trusting that our father, who see in secrete, will welcome you into your acceptance of your birthright of unconditional love, from God, for all that is made in God’s image, you and all of creation. A time to leave aside Esau’s path and embrace your birthright. A time to see the truth; every day is valentine’s day; because every day is the acceptable time to receive and reflect God’s unconditional love, secretly, or boldly and publicly; for every day is the day of salvation.

So today, I invite you to with both fear and trembling and with trust explore just how does lentil soup manifest itself in your lives? and what have you sold our birth right for? for knowing this truth will set you free to receive the depth and strength of God’s eternal unconditional love.



Transformation – Listen to Him

A Sermon for Last after Epiphany Transfiguration; 2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9

You know the story of Jesus’ transfiguration. You know the mountaintop, that boundary place between heaven and earth, is similar to one of Moses’ cloud covered mountain top excursions. You know how visually stunning Jesus’ clothes are; glowing so bright they outshine even White Brite® Laundry Whitener.

They glow so brightly it is easy to forget the visual reference to heavenly beings (Perkins). You know the word ‘transfiguration’ means change and its root is the same as the word ‘repentance’ to change one’s behavior. You know Moses and Elijah represent the twin pillars of Jewish life the law and the prophets (Sakenfeld). You heard this morning that Elijah is taken into heaven and did not die, and you may remember Moses’ burial place is a secret and that he did not really die but lives in heaven with God (Perkins). You remember that Peter answers Jesus’ question “Who do you think that I am?” “You are the Messiah.” just a before Jesus take him, James, and John up the mountain. You all have heard that Peter’s 3 booths is an effort to capture the moment or contain it, by making a reference to the Festival of Booths (Harrelson) or maybe to Moses’ Tent of meeting (Perkins). You connect that God’s announcement This is my Son, the Beloved (Mark 9:7 with You are my Son, the Beloved (Mark 1:11) at Jesus’ baptism. We might be so caught up with this connection that we miss the complete surprise that in the middle of a Super-Bowl size visual extravaganza (Hoezee; Butler) the most significant moment, literally the final act, is spoken as God says …listen to him! Jesus’ transfiguration has been so central to study and preaching of this story that we focus only on Jesus’ transfiguration and not the broader transformation swirling around Peter, James, and John.

There is no question of the significance of this story in Jesus’ ministry. One indication of that is that it is also in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel accounts. And though it is not directly evident, there is also a lot going on in the discipleships of Peter, James, and John. I mentioned Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah. But, it is also important to mention that just after this Peter tries to rebuke Jesus for predicting his suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection, only to be rebuked by Jesus himself (Mark 8:31-33). It doesn’t take James and John long to make their request for positions in Jesus’, soon to be established, royal court (Mark 10:35-40). These, and the other similar signs, that the disciples do not truly understand Jesus’ calling, are steps in the wrong direction. However, they are also signs of their transformation, which by the way shares the same root as repent, and transfiguration.

That the disciples have trouble following Jesus should not surprise us. We heard the story of Elijah’s being taken up into heaven. It includes a story of Elisha’s dedication, and his request for a double share of Elijah’s spirit. The Living Church’s reflection notes that Elisha is formed under the direction of a human master, which is a slow learning process, it takes time (The Living Church). To get caught up in Jesus humanity versus his divinity is to miss the point that Peter, James, and John, indeed, all the disciples, including us, are all human. Their learning, our learning is a slow timely process.

Having witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration Peter, James, and John can never be same. The heavenly living presence of Moses and Elijah, the cloud, the brilliant light, associated with heavenly beings, the commanding voice of God, telling them, directing them to listen to him, is enough to change anyone’s life. True, it takes some time, and it takes some miss steps, nonetheless their presence at Jesus’ transfiguration is part of their transformation to the fullness of discipleship (Lewis).

By way of sacred story our witnessing the disciples witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration is a part of our story. This is not just another miracle story. This is not just another affirmation of baptism. This story intrudes into our lives. Though we may put into action our own version of three booths, we can no longer stay where we are. The transfiguration experience propels [us] to make manifest the Kingdom of God (Lewis). Inspired imagination redirects our attention from a glowing Jesus, up-there somewhere, to sharing the Kingdom that is right here, right here in River City, right now. Are we ready? Of course, not but, that is okay; we will go anyway, the disciples did, and Jesus will lead us just as he led them.

Today we stand at the very edge of Epiphany For the past 7 or 8 weeks we have been in the light of Jesus’ birth – the incarnation God coming among us, as one of us; we stand in the visionary light of the Wise men who follow the strange star and listen to urgent dreams to find the Christ child and to not unwittingly lead Herod’s fear-driven murderous action. Jesus was majestically transfigured revealing the light of his divine being. We have been mystically immersed in transforming light of divine presence. We stand at the boundary of that light and retrospection. The fruit of our next journey is born of the commitment ~ to listen.


Black, C. Clifton. Commentary on Mark 9:2-9. 11 2 2018. <;.

Butterworth, Susan. “Behind the Veil, Last Sunday after Epiphany (B).” 11 2 2018. Sermons that Work.

Epperly, Bruce. The Adventurous Lectionary. 11 2 2018. <;.

Gaventa, Beverly Roberts and David Petersen. New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary. Nashville, n.d.

Harrelson, Walter J. The New Interpreters’ Study Bible. Abingdon Press, 2003. E-book.

Hoezee, Scott. The Lectionary Gospel Mark 9:2-9. 11 2 2018.

Keener, Craig and John Walton. NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes. Nashville: Zondervan, 2017.

Lewis, Karoline. It Is Good To Be Here. 11 2 2018. <>.

Perkins, Pheme. New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary The Gospel of Mark. Ed. Leander E. Keck (NIBC) Bel and the Dragon. Vol. VII. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015. XII vols.

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

The Living Church. Ascending Flame and Descending Love. 5 2 20108. <>.

Thomas Nelson. The Chronological Study Bible NIV. Nashville: HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (NIV Chronological Study Bible) Genesis 1:1, 2014. OliveTreeapp.