How to Get Along Together in the Church

Text: Romans 12:9-21 Reflection and Question: Paul’s good advice on how his hearers can live together in unity suggests that it was no easier then than it is now to sustain harmony in the church. This passage has such good truth in it and is so honest in its depiction of community. Especially regarding severe […]

Jacob Connives to Receive Esau’s Blessing

Text: Genesis 27:1-29 Reflection and Question: We know that this story in Genesis was written down long after the Ten Commandments even though, of course, it is set in time well before the giving of the Law to Moses. So here we have Jacob flat out lying to Isaac in order to get his blessing. […]

When Kindred Live Together in Unity

Text: Psalm 133 Reflection and Question: I first learned this psalm in the King James Version: “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Very shortly after, feminist awareness made us all sensitive to “brethren” and the 1952 Revised Standard Version became “brothers” while the New Revised Standard Version […]

For the Heart to be Strengthened by Grace

Text: Hebrews 13:1-16 Reflection and Question: Like Paul, the writer here yearns to hold the church together while believers contend against each other over regulations about eating certain foods. I see the same dynamic in these controversies about food restrictions as in the condemnations of GLBT people in our time based on Old Testament law. […]

When God Is a Consuming Fire

Text: Hebrews 12:12-29 Reflection and Question: Having had some experience as a preacher and a lot of experience listening to sermons, I recognize in this Hebrews passage a certain preaching style of throwing out lots of images with the hope that one might strike a chord and carry one’s point into the very soul of […]

My Time Has Not Yet Come

Reflection and Question: Jesus is confident but not reckless. He knows that forces are gathering against Him and so He declines to go publicly with His brothers to the annual Festival of Booths. Jesus explains this decision by saying, “My time has not yet come.” He does go in secret to the religious ceremony and, […]

“I Walk in My Integrity”

Text: Psalm 26 Reflection and Question: This psalm is attributed to David, the greatest King of Israel, and much blessed in military victory, conquest and rise from shepherd boy to king. The writer certainly expresses a huge confidence in his or her own faithfulness, integrity, innocence and worthiness. We know that David was not so […]

Abraham and the Sacrifice of Isaac

Text: Genesis 22:1-18 Reflection and Question: My understanding is that the peoples living around the Hebrews as they settled in Canaan did practice child sacrifice. This is suggested, in part, by the number of passages condemning that kind of ritual. And yet here is God requiring Abraham to sacrifice the long-awaited son of the covenant. […]

I Am the Bread of Life

Text: John 6:41-51 Reflection and Question: Jesus in the Gospel of John is a very confident man who knows who He is, where He came from and what He is to do. Jesus’ claim to be “the bread of life come down from heaven” was controversial when He said it, causing loud complaint against Him. […]

The Conviction of Things Not Seen

Text: Hebrews 11:1-12 Reflection and Question: This passage holds a profound truth that anchors my Christian life, the short definition of faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” A long list of examples from the Hebrew tradition follows this definition and gives us a picture of […]