The Reign of God and Responsibility - A Sermon on Luke 12:49-56 - August 14, 2022

Have no fear, little flock, for it is the Father’s greatest desire to give you the Kingdom…  I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! … Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!  What a contrast! From the comforting words of verse 32 to the seemingly harsh words of verse 49 and following, it feels as though Jesus has had a complete change of perspective. He has seemingly gone from words of comfort and promise, to words of rejection and judgement. And as he continues with this teaching, he only seems to makes things worse:  The household will be divided… father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.  What’s up with this? What is it that Jesus is trying to say to us through this difficult and seemingly contradictory series of teachings? I would like to take a brief

Paul’s Letter to the Galatians – A Contextual Reading

What follows began as a sermon but has been reworked into an essay on St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, specifically focusing on Chapter 4:1-20, which I believe to be not only the heart of the letter, but also, following the lead of Professor Brigitte Kahl, the exegetical key to the letter. This essay will attempt to outline and reflect on this Biblical text utilizing the insights laid out in Dr. Kahl’s masterful book, “Galatians Re-Imagined: Reading With the Eyes of the Vanquished.” Her work shifts the focus of Paul’s critique of “works of the law” away from the traditional negative assessment of the Jewish Torah and refocuses it on the Roman Emperor Worship. Frankly, Dr. Kahl’s exhaustive and detailed work has made this letter come alive for me in ways that I have rarely experienced before. Along with the work of other scholars, such as Dominic Crossan, Deborah Krause, Paula Frederickson, Pamela Eisenbaum, Amy- Jill Levine and Warren Carter there has been a noticeable shift in bibl

Liberty, Freedom, Justice for All? (Viva la libertá!?)

Last night I watched an amazing production of Rossini's final opera - William Tell - from the Rossini Festival in Pesaro with Juan Diego Flores as Arnold and Nicola Alaimo as Tell. It was amazing. A beautiful production and beautifully sung. But what struck me is that this work from the early part of the 19th century and like many works from a variety of writers, composers and artists it deals with issues of liberty and freedom. The Swiss, in this case, are oppressed by the Austrians and (spoiler alert) after the famous incident where Tell shoots the apple off of his son's head the Austrians are finally routed and the bright rays of freedom begin to shine. It is perhaps like many works of the time overly simplistic, but it is a common theme - think Beethoven (Eroica, Fidelio) or even Mozart (Nozze of Don Giovanni "Viva la libertá!") Works and writings about freedom and liberty emerged in the late 18th century and had a huge impact on Europeans who were tired of

Some Thoughts on the Apocalypse

I want to make a comment about the apocalyptic references that have been appearing in the news lately. But politicians (mostly on the hard right) and certain (so-called) Christian "Leaders" like to trot out their version of the apocalyptic story which they claim is from the Bible, but really isn't. Apparently some of these folks are simply thrilled whenever we are appear to be hurtling towards war in the middle east, since, in their mind, this means we can prompt or push God to initiate "Armegedon," the "Rapture" and "Jesus 2nd coming." So where to begin. I'll try to make it concise: 1. You cannot push God into action. All you need to do is look at a little history to see that this has been tried before and unlike the sheeplike mindless and fear-filled followers of your cult God will not be manipulated into action. Whatever is to come will come in its own time. 2. There is NO RAPTURE! I'll say it again - there is NO RAPTURE in th