PARTING WORDS

(2 Timothy 1:1-14) Reading this text reminds us of famous parting scenes in literature or film, particularly vignettes in which a child is leaving home for university, war or adventures in another country. Graduation commencement addresses also come to mind, or even speeches and essays that precede an imminent and cruel death. Consider the familiar…

BARE ESSENTIALS

(1 Timothy 6:6-19) Nasreddin Hodja was born in what is now Turkey in the early 13th century and quickly developed a strong reputation as a quick wit and a man not to be fooled with.  He was loved by the common people for putting rich people in their place, his humor and trickery, but mostly…

YOU NEED A MEDIATOR

(1 Timothy 2:1-7) It was a wonder that happened just once a year.  People came from miles around to see the spectacle. It was the most powerful of religious spectacles – if you happened to be a Jew living in ancient Israel.  Had you been there, here’s what you would have experienced: As the first…

ALL OF ME

(Luke 14:25-33) There it is, right at the end of the gospel text, the provocation of all provocations.  It’s a flashing neon sign, too in-your-face to avoid: “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Really, Jesus?  Everything we have? There are exclusive clubs…

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

(Jeremiah 2:4-13) In December 2021, a jury in Chicago found actor Jussie Smollett, a one-time star in the TV hip-hop drama Empire, guilty of five of six felony disorderly conduct charges in connection with an incident the previous year.  Smollett claimed at the time that two masked men assaulted him, put a noose around his…

GARNET GOD

(Psalm 71:1-6) A Methodist pastor named Harley Camden took an evening walk along the bank of the Occoquan River.  The sun had set, but there was still enough light to illuminate the charcoal gray outcroppings of rock that rose up from the edge of the river.  Harley knew that these Virginia rocks were old, formed…

THE ORIGINAL CLOUD

(Hebrews 11:29–12:2) July 1976 felt like a momentous time for the people of the United States.  That month, we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution it inspired. Amidst all the patriotic hoopla – the bicentennial parades and fireworks and tall ships – another revolution was taking place.  That…

THE NEED FOR CLEAN

(Isaiah 1:1, 10-20) Have you noticed that laundry detergent technology continues to change?  A hundred years ago, the charlady had a tub, washboard and bar of soap (which she might have made herself).  The mechanization of laundry advanced quickly.  Kids in the 1940s and 1950s might remember helping their moms with the laundry by feeding…

JUST WORDS

(Psalm 52) There are many organs in the human body – heart, lungs, stomach, liver, kidneys and so many more.  All are marvelous in their own way.  One organ, though, is distinctly underrated: the tongue. Just think of what the tongue can do.  It’s more flexible than any other part of the body.  It can…