Bible: Scaling the watchtower

Feb 24, 2020 by

Lake Titicaca, impossibly wide and deep and high above the sea, fills an immense mountain trough in the Andes along the Peru-Bolivia border. The lake is so big that it encompasses rocky islands. Strangely...

[read more]

Bible: Forgive us our debts

Feb 10, 2020 by

In the Gospel of Matthew, the account of Jesus’ teaching on prayer is found right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. One way to understand the sermon is to see it as a description of the character of...

[read more]

Bible: Temptations of kings — and Jesus

Jan 27, 2020 by

The connection between the passages from 1 Kings in our previous lesson and Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness might not be obvious. But what if we reflect on the meaning of the title used of Jesus in...

[read more]

Bible: The clash of king and covenant

Jan 13, 2020 by

The eighth chapter of 1 Kings may capture the ­moment in the Old Testament where the two great cov­enants — Davidic and Mosaic — come together with the most harmony. Solomon, David’s successor as...

[read more]

Bible: Houses for a king and for God

Dec 23, 2019 by

The place of the temple in biblical faith is complicated — with emphases on the temple as the God-ordained center for worship contrasted with sharp critiques from prophets that the temple helped empower...

[read more]

Bible: David’s prayer, Mary’s song

Dec 9, 2019 by

In the first three lessons of this quarter, we looked at how 1 Chronicles 15-17 presents kingship and the temple in ancient Israel. Now we turn to a story that seems to stand in contrast with David and...

[read more]

Bible: The chronicler’s story of hope

Nov 27, 2019 by

First and Second Chronicles are pretty obscure for many Christians. The Common Lectionary that many Protestant groups use for worship covers most of the Bible in its three-year cycle but does not use a single...

[read more]

Bible: Exiles, aliens and six virtues

Nov 13, 2019 by

Both texts for Nov. 17 and 24 are from letters attributed to the Apostle Peter. Both take the gospel of Jesus from its Jewish origins into different ethnic contexts later in the first century. Both emphasize...

[read more]

Bible: On holy ground with the Thessalonians

Oct 28, 2019 by

My friend Robin loves mystery stories, as do I. But when she starts one, she always reads the ending first so she won’t worry about things ending badly. Me, I like the suspense! Our text for Nov. 3 reminds...

[read more]

Bible: Finding faith in unexpected places

Oct 14, 2019 by

Our last two faith stories in October take place some 800 years after our visit with Elijah on Oct. 13. We are back in northern Israel, although now Roman domination replaces an Israelite king. Both this story...

[read more]

Bible: Faithfulness is a two-way street

Sep 30, 2019 by

“Watch your step! Behave yourself! Remember the rules I told you!” September’s lessons focused on God’s faithfulness to Israel. October’s theme includes human responses to God’s faithfulness. Our...

[read more]

Bible: Rebellion in the wilderness

Sep 16, 2019 by

Imagine your family has been excitedly preparing for a two-week camping trip. You have a new tent and lots of supplies and food. The first few days are great fun — hiking, watching birds, swimming and eating...

[read more]

Bible: Gifts from heaven: a son, and bread

Sep 2, 2019 by

“God Is Faithful” is the Uniform Series lesson theme for September. The five examples of God’s faithfulness are the rescue of Lot’s family, Hannah’s prayer for a son and three texts from the Exodus...

[read more]

Bible: Bargaining with God, and winning

Aug 19, 2019 by

The formal title of this lesson is “Faith and Doubt,” but the twists and turns in the complex narrative comprising Genesis 18-19 are worthy of a more dramatic title. How about “Debate, Destruction and...

[read more]

Bible: Risking everything for covenant love

Aug 5, 2019 by

In Ruth 3, a young widow heads to the threshing floor. If you were an ancient reader of this story, if you heard it recited by your friends around a campfire, if you listened to it whispered to you by the...

[read more]

Bible: In shared lives, your God is mine

Jul 22, 2019 by

One of the greatest stories of friendship in the Old Testament, a story of choosing God through friendship, comes to us in the Book of Ruth. It is the story of a pagan from Moab who decides to join her life to...

[read more]

Bible: You are not the worst thing you have done

Jul 8, 2019 by

You are not the worst thing you have done. These are the words that pervade each moment of my time with the women at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. Our congregation has volunteered at the...

[read more]

Bible: Congratulations! Jesus says

Jun 24, 2019 by

For most of my life I read the Beatitudes as instruction, a mild if not righteous scolding. What if, instead of new commandments for people to follow, the Beatitudes are a description of the people Jesus sees...

[read more]

Bible: Hold fast to the body

Jun 10, 2019 by

What does it take to believe? Perhaps it is a body. The writer of the letter to Colossae is filled with longing. “I am struggling for you”; “I am with you in spirit.” His letter pours forth with the...

[read more]

Bible: Literal, symbolic — or both?

May 27, 2019 by

“Take, this is my body”: These words are the crux of contention, the source of division for any hope of a shared communion practice in the universal church. What did Jesus mean? Did the bread become his...

[read more]

Bible: Together — root, trunk and branch

May 13, 2019 by

Last fall I grafted a half dozen varieties of apples onto my apple tree. I’m a poor and inexperienced grafter, so not surprisingly only a couple of them took. I discovered one in the spring — a stout...

[read more]

Bible: Mountains below the surface

Apr 29, 2019 by

One thing I love about Kansas is the mountains. Oh, we have them all right. They’re just buried under 600 feet of Harney Silt Loam. These Kansas mountains, called the Nemaha Ridge, are composed of massive...

[read more]

Bible: Want proof of the resurrection?

Apr 15, 2019 by

Oh, for a video camera trained on the tomb on that original Easter Sunday! How perfect it would be to witness the grinding of the grave stone, the genuflection of the soldiers, the gleaming of the...

[read more]

Bible: What’s your alabaster jar?

Apr 1, 2019 by

While the chief priests and elders schemed to kill Jesus, a woman entered Simon the leper’s house and blessed him with costly perfume. “Why this waste?” said the disciples. “This ointment could have...

[read more]

Bible: To cure, cleanse, exorcise — and resurrect

Mar 18, 2019 by

A Peruvian pastor friend tells the story of leading a group of young evangelists out to some remote villages along the sinuous mountain roads of the Andes. When a lamb darted in front of their van pursued by...

[read more]