Bible: High-stakes Sabbath

Sep 11, 2017 by

At my ordination interview, I didn’t give the best answer when the committee asked me about my practices of self-care. “One day each week I take a sabbath rest,” I said brightly. And then for good...

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Bible: A covenant of moral fruitfulness

Aug 28, 2017 by

Once I interviewed a Pentecostal pastor for a seminary project. He was famous locally for his prison ministry and outreach — as well as for his six-shooter-wearing swagger. In the course of the interview, he...

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Bible: Breaking a thousand-year tradition

Aug 14, 2017 by

I’m thinking of a fable where a wolf is accepted into lamb society. As Aesop tells it, the wolf in sheep’s clothing is a fraud. But Saul’s transformation is real. The sheep hunter becomes a sheep. Think...

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Bible: The food committee leads the way

Jul 31, 2017 by

What great lessons this month for antiracism and breaking down racial-ethnic barriers! When the Greek-speaking Jews complained their widows were being slighted in the distribution of food, the apostles...

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Bible: Tasty scroll with bitter words

Jul 17, 2017 by

During children’s time in the church basement when I was a child, often we saw an “object lesson.” The teacher had some ordinary object from home — an egg, a needle and thread, a jar full of beans —...

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Bible: Reluctant prophets of doom

Jul 3, 2017 by

These lessons are about reluctant prophets. Isaiah wasn’t worthy, and Jeremiah was too young. Or so they thought. Isaiah’s call came in a vision “in the year King Uzziah died.” Uzziah had been king of...

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Bible: Life begins at 80?

Jun 19, 2017 by

A friend said he always wished he could have a burning bush experience. Instead, most of us spend years wondering what God might be calling us to do. We might sense God’s call to this or that profession or...

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Bible: Were these men heroes?

Jun 5, 2017 by

How do we square the God revealed in Jesus with the stories of Samson and Jephthah, which barely reflect any understanding of a God of love and grace for all people? Jephthah is known more for an impulsive vow...

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Bible: The weak made mighty

May 22, 2017 by

My wife, Gloria, tells about the time her mother used the story of Jael, Sisera and the fatal tent peg for the children’s story in church. Parents were aghast, but she just said, “It’s in the...

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Bible: Enough love to go around

May 8, 2017 by

Perhaps we should start with enemies. Who is our fiercest enemy? A neighbor? Relative? Boss? Past or current president? Another nation? We really can’t understand the story of Jonah unless we reckon with the...

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Bible: Mercy wider than we imagine

Apr 24, 2017 by

It’s worth reading the Book of Jonah in one sitting. It won’t take more than five minutes. Getting the details freshly in mind as well as the entire scope of the story can make an old, familiar tale come...

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Bible: How can we keep from singing?

Apr 10, 2017 by

“Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus,” the speaker said. “Nothing at all. Not anything we do — or anything we don’t do.” I pushed the rewind button and played the recording...

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Bible: Songs of miraculous love

Mar 27, 2017 by

Of all the musical settings of Psalm 23 that I enjoy, the tune and text that resonate most deeply for me is “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” (No. 589 in Hymnal: A Worship Book). The text, set to an early...

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Bible: Coming home, where God dwells

Mar 13, 2017 by

Few things are as satisfying as returning home after a long trip. Though I enjoy the exhilaration of travel, I’m usually glad when it’s time to unpack my suitcase and inhabit my own space again. I savor...

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Bible: Love that can’t be stopped

Feb 27, 2017 by

If our texts from 1 John and Ephesians were the only scriptures available to us, we would have everything we need for a vital spiritual life. John’s letter affirms the deepest conviction of our faith: that...

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Bible: Freedom that demands more than law

Feb 13, 2017 by

In our previous lessons, Lawyer Paul presented his case in a courtroom against the position that male Gentiles must be circumcised in order to join male Jews as full members of the New Community in Christ....

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Bible: Problems birthing a new community

Jan 30, 2017 by

Our February lessons are a long way from delighting in God’s creation through the Psalms, as we did last month. Centuries have gone by, and instead of “fire, hail, snow and frost,” we now confront parts...

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Bible: Delight in God’s handiwork

Jan 16, 2017 by

“Praise the Lord, sun and moon and all you shining stars!” Psalms 104 and 148 are different from the three psalms we have studied earlier in that they are entirely focused on the natural world, on...

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Bible: Overflowing pastures, joyful hills

Jan 2, 2017 by

No doubt some Sunday school attenders will brave ice or snow in order to discuss Psalm 65, where “valleys deck themselves with grain”! This should remind us that other Christians reading this lesson may be...

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Bible: Celebrate creation and Creator

Dec 19, 2016 by

“Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy!” Our texts for the five Sundays in January are psalms. The one theme that holds these five psalms together is praise for some aspect of creation —...

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Bible: Saviors and forerunners

Dec 5, 2016 by

The story announcing the birth of John the Baptist begins in Luke 1:5. Both Zechariah the priest and his wife, Elizabeth, lived “blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.”...

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Bible: Two blessed mothers in Israel

Nov 21, 2016 by

What was Mary thinking, on what seemed like an ordinary day as she went about her household duties feeding the animals or spinning wool? How should a girl in everyday clothes and a dirty apron relate to a...

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Bible: Come, all who thirst

Nov 7, 2016 by

Water. The source of life. We need it to survive: to drink, to water the plants we eat. From our very beginnings we rely on liquid sustenance, growing strong while carried in our mothers’ bodies — a kind...

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Bible: Holy city: heaven on earth

Oct 24, 2016 by

Revelation 21 begin with the promise of newness: “a new heaven and a new earth,” according to John, who delivers these visions to us. The old earth has passed away. The sea — a symbolic source of...

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Bible: A Savior who knows our weakness

Oct 10, 2016 by

Heb. 4:14-5:10 discusses Jesus’ role as high priest, emphasizing his divinity as one who has “passed through the heavens.” This divine focus is also turned around, however: Jesus can sympathize with us,...

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