Falling asleep in God’s lap

Nov 5, 2018 by

Confession: I am not always the world’s most observant person. Friends once rearranged half the items in my office as a joke and were quite disappointed that I never knew the difference. Still, I’m fairly...

[read more]

Bible column: Blessing for the bold

Oct 22, 2018 by

Many Christians I know cannot stand Jacob. In technical terms, he’s what’s known as a “grade-A slime ball.” He steals from his brother, lies to his father, tricks his uncle and sleeps with his true...

[read more]

Bible column: Miracles, if we’re paying attention

Oct 8, 2018 by

At my church we recently concluded a sermon series in which we answered questions submitted by the congregation. One of the submissions read, “Do miracles really happen?” I regularly talk with people who...

[read more]

Bible: Under water, the death that saves

Sep 24, 2018 by

A classmate once told me the biblical story she found most irredeemable was that of Noah and his ark. When Joshua slaughters cities in God’s name, you can always blame Joshua. But who do you blame when God...

[read more]

Bible: The ‘party of one’ problem

Sep 17, 2018 by

The first thing “not good” in creation (presumably excepting the snakes) was a human being alone. This should probably not be surprising, from a Christian perspective. After all, humans were made in the...

[read more]

Bible: Go ahead, mess with perfection

Aug 27, 2018 by

In the beginning the world was a blank canvas. Then God flipped on the studio lights, stepped up to the easel and threw God’s self headlong into creation. For days, even ages, God worked without rest, lost...

[read more]

Bible: With love, our divisions fall away

Aug 13, 2018 by

These texts from Paul provide an excellent coda to our conversations about ethics, justice and the Christian life. Although Romans is rightly considered Paul’s most important theological writing, he most of...

[read more]

Bible: Generosity abolishes judgment

Jul 30, 2018 by

For the final sessions of the quarter we turn from Jesus’ teaching to the Apostle Paul’s. Yet the basic picture of Christian faith and life remains mostly the same. In the first part of his letter to the...

[read more]

Bible: Look who isn’t coming to dinner

Jul 16, 2018 by

In the ancient world you could learn a great deal about people at mealtime. What people ate and who they ate with were quite revealing. Luke 14 certainly tells us a lot about Jesus — and about those who set...

[read more]

Bible: Through the narrow door

Jul 2, 2018 by

A key moment in Luke comes at the end of chapter 9 when Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem” (9:51). In the following chapters, we read stories of Jesus and his followers heading toward the big...

[read more]

Bible: Complicated commands

Jun 18, 2018 by

Matthew seeks to trace how Jesus prepared his followers to spread his good news to “all nations” that they might obey what he has commanded (28:16-20; for the commands, see especially the Sermon on the...

[read more]

Bible: Blinded by wealth

Jun 4, 2018 by

Jesus engaged in numerous conflicts and controversies, leading ultimately to his crucifixion. The Pharisees were his most prominent adversaries. We should note that Jesus often took the fight to the Pharisees....

[read more]

Bible: Conflict over the Law’s meaning

May 21, 2018 by

This quarter we look at the justice of God, primarily in the message of Jesus with a bit of Paul. The Gospel of Matthew, more than the other three Gopels, tells us about conflicts Jesus faced with religious...

[read more]

Bible: High ideals for God’s people

May 7, 2018 by

Blow the trumpet! The content of these 12 verses in Leviticus 25 is plain. Instructions from Yahweh to Moses presuppose that the Israelites are now living in the Promised Land. Each household has been allotted...

[read more]

Bible: Different ways, reasons to give

Apr 23, 2018 by

Here we are, ex-slaves from Egypt, camped around Mount Sinai, on the top of which Moses and God regularly converse. What’s the next move? As it turns out, a building project. Moses presents an extremely...

[read more]

Bible: An open door in the sky

Apr 9, 2018 by

After three lessons celebrating Jesus’ resurrection to everlasting life, the next two take us directly into heaven itself — complete with a throne, crowns, jewels and plenty of fireworks. The problem is,...

[read more]

Bible: Breakfast with the risen Christ

Mar 26, 2018 by

I wish our Uniform Texts had started with Luke 23:55. In both the Greek New Testament and the NRSV, Luke 24:1 begins with “But . . . they came to the tomb.” What happened before the “but,” and who is...

[read more]

Bible: Glory of God, and the priest-king

Mar 12, 2018 by

Last week, we readers were part of the crowd of Israelites at the original Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the dedication of the first temple. The chapters leading up to this moment are filled with descriptions...

[read more]

Bible: Child sacrifice, then and now

Feb 26, 2018 by

Lessons for our spring quarter are titled “Acknowledging God,” a broad theme that includes both familiar and lesser-known texts. The subtitle for our March lessons is “Follow in My Ways,” and includes...

[read more]

Bible: Get up, we need you

Feb 12, 2018 by

Tabitha’s story is life-giving in more ways than one. Honestly, simply reading, “There was a disciple whose name was Tabitha” quickens my heartbeat, so seldom have I been shown the lives and told the...

[read more]

Bible: Faith’s evidence, and tongues that burn

Jan 29, 2018 by

What good is it if you say you have faith but do not have works? James’ question in chapter 2 doesn’t so much pit faith and works against each other, as two opposing beliefs about the path to salvation, as...

[read more]

Bible: We have a confession to make

Jan 15, 2018 by

The language of confession is both under- and overused at present, in different ways. On the one hand, in church settings most of us practice confession in a corporate manner, speaking in unison our...

[read more]

Bible: From fire to favor

Jan 1, 2018 by

Dan. 1:8-21 centers on dietary practices as markers of identity. The opening chapter of the book introduces Daniel and his companions in exile and sets up the challenges they will face, trying to live...

[read more]

Bible: Body of Christ, bodies of women

Dec 18, 2017 by

“You’re either with our bodies or against our bodies,” Amber Tamblyn wrote recently in The New York Times, responding to the flood of revelations of sexual misconduct, from Louis C.K. to Charlie Rose to...

[read more]

Bible: The baby who threatened a king

Dec 4, 2017 by

Acts 14 showcases the people’s impulse to make gods of human leaders. Listening to Paul and Barnabas speak, seeing them manifest God’s power, the people mistake these men for something they’re not,...

[read more]