Rejoice in the Lord Always

Text: Philippians 3:17-4:7 Reflection and Question: Paul gets down to the nitty-gritty of division within the Philippian church in chastising those whose “god is the belly,” and in calling out Euodia and Syntyche specifically to settle their differences. Then Paul concludes this section of the letter with words he may have used many times as […]

Elijah Defeats the Prophets of Baal

Text: Deuteronomy 13:1-11 Reflection and Question: When I really need strength, I pop in the CD of Mendelssohn’s oratorio “Elijah” in my car, filling my heart with Elijah’s stunning defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Here the silence shouts after the pleas of the Baal worshipers, “there was no voice, no answer, […]

Flight into Egypt and Slaughter of the Innocents

Text: Matthew 2:13-23 Reflection and Question: These last parts of Matthew’s telling of the Christmas story are usually left out. No wonder. Joseph’s dream, warning him to carry his family out of harm’s way, does save Jesus from the horrific violence sent by Herod to Bethlehem to protect himself from a possible rival. Here we […]

The Ideal Christian Community

Text: Philippians 2:1-11 Reflection and Question: We all have our canons within the Canon, our favorite Scripture passages that we return to over and over or that we have written on our hearts. This is one of those special sections for me. Would that the church in our time behaved with the humility of Christ, […]

The First Ending of the Gospel of Mark

Text: Mark 16:1-8 Reflection and Question: The New Oxford Annotated Bible makes it clear that some of the oldest manuscripts of Mark end the Gospel here: “And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” I find this so consoling because I confess this is how I would have felt upon encountering the young […]

God, Enemies and Ourselves

Text: Psalm 5 Reflection and Question: The distinctions are stark in this Psalm between the speaker, on the one hand, who claims God’s favor as one who is righteous and privileged to enter God’s house and receive God’s protection. On the other hand, there is the wickedness of the evil ones who boast and speak […]

The Division between Judah and Israel

Text: 1 Kings 12:21-33 Reflection and Question: The seriousness of this split between the tribe of Judah, who worshiped in Jerusalem, and the people of Israel, who worshiped in Bethel and Dan, reaches back to Exodus where the people sinned by worshiping the Golden Calf. Jeroboam, king of Israel, has two calves made of gold […]

The Moment of Jesus’ Death

Text: Mark 15:33-39 Reflection and Question: Every line here is filled with extra meaning, as noted in the New Oxford Annotated Bible. Darkness from noon to three is a disruption of nature preparing for God’s judgment. Jesus’ words are from Psalm 22, a lament. The people continue to miss the meaning of the moment. The […]

What Happens to the One Who Dies with the Most Toys

Text: James 4:13-5:6 Reflection and Question: I trust you have seen this bumper sticker on some car somewhere: “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” Not so, says James. On the contrary, “Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like […]

Rejection and Humiliation

Text: Mark 15:12-21 Reflection and Question: First, because Pilate is more interested in placating the crowd than in the justice of Jesus’ fate, Barabbas is released instead of Jesus. Second, the soldiers beat Jesus up and mock Him with the sarcastic words, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Finally, Jesus is too weak to follow the […]