I lead a little weekly Bible Study on Zoom and yesterday we had the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke Chapter 2. The Christmas story is a good one in which to ponder how we read Scripture since it is so familiar to us. After nearly a half century of studying Scripture for preaching I am still finding discoveries in texts that I thought were “settled.” The Christmas story is one such text.
Prosperity is good, right? But it comes with challenges to both nations and individuals. American society is admired throughout the world as industrious and productive. Americans work many more hours than most others in the industrial world and they take fewer vacations. Continue reading
I have heard it said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who do not. I, myself, am of the latter opinion, because no simple binary model can contain the diversity of the multitudes of humanity. Still, Mary and Martha represent two ideal types of individuals. Continue reading
Amos 7: 7-17
Once a lawyer approached Jesus to test him. I’ve had some experience with this as my son is a lawyer. You all know my daughter, Rebecca (the pastor here). Her older brother, Andrew, is a lawyer. In fact, he’s a prosecutor. Continue reading
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Who is Jesus? Albert Sweitzer famously said “looking for Jesus is like looking down a well. You see only your own reflection: that Jesus remains a stranger and an enigma; there will never be one answer to this question.” (The Search of the Historical Jesus). But there are things we do know about him that can help us understand his purpose and ministry. Continue reading
Each of the Gospels has features about it I love. Like many Christians my idea of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a mixed-upped conflation in my mind of all four Gospels.
When I started studying the Bible as a young man I began noticing how each Gospel tells the story in a somewhat different way, and something about that bothered me. I wondered, “Where they differ what is the truth of the story?”
One of my teachers helped me with this by having me imagine a beloved mother with four children, and upon her death each child wrote a remembrance of her. Each child’s remembrance of their mother would be different, but they would all be true.
Another helpful analogy I heard was that the Gospel is like a diamond, when you turn the diamond the light catches different facets of the precious stone. Each of the four Gospels is a different facet of the one Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was in the Christmas story where I first noticed the differences in the several Gospels. Mark and John say nothing about the birth of Jesus. Only in Matthew do we hear about the visit of the Magi, their meeting with Herod and his slaughter of the innocents, and Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt.
But it is especially Luke we think of most often at Christmas time. Only Luke has the annunciations to Elizabeth and Mary, Mary’s Magnificat, and only in Luke do we have the choir of angels addressing the shepherds.
And so these early chapters of Luke might be a good place for me to start to tell you what I especially love about Luke. Continue reading