Narrative Lectionary: Rocky Beginnings, Risky Business (Acts 17:1-9, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

It is an oft-heard complaint among pastors that congregants are stuck on some long-ago and impossibly wonderful golden age of church life. When the sanctuary was full! And we had two services! And we almost didn’t have room for all the children! It almost makes you long for a story of a knock-down, drag-out fight,… Read More

Narrative Lectionary: The End Is Near Edition (Mark 13:1-8, 24-37)

The End Is Near. It is hard to read this week’s appointed verses without going to that well-aged, somewhat humorous image of the prophet of doom: the wild-eyed, shaggy-haired, tattered-clothed man yelling into the crowd, “The end is near!”  And, if we can put end-of-the-world associations aside, this time, he’s right. We can see that,… Read More

Narrative Lectionary: First, Last, and Everlasting (Mark 10:17-31)

Our passage for the first Sunday in Lent is set in motion by an urgent question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” What is eternal life? What, in particular, did Jews mean when using such a phrase, given the scant evidence in the Hebrew Scriptures for any developed notion of an… Read More

Narrative Lectionary: Parables Edition (Mark 4:1-34)

Years ago I had a professor who described his class- a survey of Christology- as being akin to “roller skating through the Louvre”- by which he meant: his job was, essentially, to say, “Look at this! Look at that! Look at this! Look at that!” Our journey through Mark reminded me of that professor and… Read More

Narrative Lectionary: Uneasy Homecoming Edition (Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4, 10-13)

I’ve been watching a TV show in which the heroine is a tortured private investigator with unusual abilities, who, it’s been clear from the beginning, has a painful history of loss and displacement. In a recently watched episode an evil villain who believes himself in love with her (and who also has unusual abilities) managed… Read More

Narrative Lectionary: Come Back to Me (Hosea 11:1-9)

We remain with the Northern Kingdom this week, as the prophet Hosea, about a hundred years after the ministry of Elijah, continues to entreat the people to return to faithful worship and covenant loyalty to their God. The journey Hosea takes is extraordinary. The scroll begins with God telling the prophet to act out the… Read More

Narrative Lectionary: Lovingkindness Personified (Ruth 1:1-17)

Tucked between a narrative telling of descent into chaos, and another telling of the rise of kings, we find Ruth (at least, that’s where we find her in the Christian bible). “In the days when judges ruled,” the story begins, and so it follows the book of Judges. But it tells the story of an… Read More