Showing posts from June, 2011

An Introduction to the The Parables of Jesus Sermon Series

Reflections on the Parables by Pastor Duncan: This Sunday we begin a summer long series of sermons based on the Parables of Jesus.   Many of these are familiar to us as a good part of Jesus’ teaching was in parables.   So what are parables – they are stories which lead the listener to a new place or a new way of thinking.   Jesus’ parables would have been at times shocking and offensive.   The characters behave in ways that are socially unacceptable for 1 st century Judeans.   Take for example the Parable of the Good Samaritan – the idea of a Samaritan offering assistance to a Judean would have been terribly offensive; or the Prodigal Son – the reaction of the father who runs out to greet his wayward son would have been scandalous.   Sometimes the characters in the parables behave in ways that go against common sense: the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep and going in search of 1 lost one (risking his entire flock and livlihood in the process) or even today’s parable – paying those

A New Devotional Website

One of the most wonderful gifts that comes to us through the ancient monastic tradition are the orders for daily prayer which have been and continue to be prayed daily in many communities.  Last summer I spent almost a week at St. Meinrad's Archabby and it was wonderful to prayer the daily office (as it is called) with the monks.  The services are: Lauds at 3:00 AM (times are approximate and vary from location to location); Morning Prayer at 6:00; Noon Prayer at 12:00 noon; Evening Prayer at 6:00 and Compline at 9:00 PM.  Now the ancient tradition also included other brief services at 9 AM and 3:00 PM.  Our hymnal - Evangelical Lutheran Worship and also the Lutheran Book of Worship before it, contained beautiful settings of the office services of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline.  Evening Prayer and Compline are especially popular in Lutheran circles.  Episcopalians use Morning Prayer with a bit more regularity.  Every night at Lutheran Summer Music at 9 we sand Evening

Thy Kingdom Come.... The Justice of God and Budget Making....

First, some preliminary comments: 1. This blog post is in response to a comment posted on one of my former student’s Facebook page.   The student (we’ll call him “Brad” – names have been changed to protect the innocent, though those who know him will know who I am talking about) had posted a quote from Dom Crossan to the effect that the Bible – both testaments – is very forthright and unapologetic in its call for “distributive justice.”   This is laid out in the Torah very clearly, and then bluntly reenunciated by the prophets. Jesus also picks up the theme and is unapologetic about it – especially in the Gospel of Luke.   Among the comments to this post of “Brad’s” was a friend of his who curtly dismissed the quote as being warmed over “communism” or “socialism.”   Brad politely disagreed.   Well, I will not be quite so polite in my response to the silly and uniformed comment. 2. Herman Melville was one of America’s greatest writers.   My favorite of his short stories is “Billy


1000 PASTORS FOR A MORAL BUDGET We are local pastors. Our lives are committed to our churches and communities. Every day we work to preach and live the Gospel of Christ. We challenge our congregations and parishes to live lives of personal responsibility and encourage them to live good and righteous lives. This also means calling our communities and nation to live up to corporate responsibilities. In every one of our congregations we have programs that help those in need with jobs, clothing, food, or counseling. We gladly take up the challenge of encouraging our congregation members to give more, but in these past few years, it has been difficult for us to watch the need around us rise while the resources we have diminish. We work, pray, and do whatever we can to remain faithful to the responsibility of every Christian to help the poor. Still, we can't meet the crushing needs by ourselves. We do our best to feed the hungry, but charitable nutrition programs only make up 6%

Reflections on The Feast of the Holy Trinity

I want to give attribution right off for some of the information that I am going to share today – the Feast of the Holy Trinity.   At the conference I attended in Minneapolis I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Diana Butler Bass speak and it is to her that I owe some of these thoughts, along with Dr. Marcus Borg (his new book "Speaking Christian"). When I was serving at a previous congregation, before coming to Peace, I had a member of the congregation tell me once that every time she said the creed she crossed her fingers behind her back.   Why, I asked.   Well, the creeds were all about the Trinity and how could she say she believed something that she didn’t understand. Hmmm – well.   So, is that what the creed is? Is the creed just series of statements to which we are to assent and affirm as if we were going down a list? Trinity is ultimately a mystery, as are several other things mentioned in the creed, including the Resurrection, the descent into hell (or “the dead”)

Reflections on Pentecost - "You Got the Power" - Acts 2:1-42

Read the story of Pentecost here: Acts 2:1-42 The rushing wind – the tongues of fire – the speaking in other tongues! This story of Pentecost is well-known to us and we have heard it many times.   It is such a dramatic story!   And then Peter gets up and preaches.   Wow! Peter!   The same hard-headed disciple who never could quite understand what Jesus was talking about and who, when the chips were down, drew his sword to fight (completely against Jesus’ orders) and then he turned right around and denied Jesus three times.   THIS Peter preaches in the public square on Pentecost.   And this is no ordinary sermon.   This is the best sermon ever!   At the end the text tells us that three thousand come to believe in Jesus.   And then what?   Our lectionary Pentecost text is heavy on the spectacle but it cuts off during Peter’s sermon and we never get to hear the result.   So here it is – verse 42 – which concludes the Pentecost story: They devoted themselves to the apostle’

Reflections on Ascension - Acts 1:1-11 - "Left Behind"

Read the Ascension text here: Acts 1:1-11             Several weeks ago a "Rev." Harold Camping announced and a number of believers were truly expecting the end of the world.   May 21 – absolutely – it can’t be wrong.   All the calculations pointed to this date.   So, huddled and expectant they waited.   In a way they were gazing into the heavens watching and hoping and expecting.   And it was evening and it was morning – no rapture!   This is not too surprising actually.   There have been any number of predictions going back to the 19 th century and they have all been wrong.   And, I can myself predict with certainty that future predictions will also be wrong.   Why?   Well, for starters Jesus specifically commands folks NOT to even try predicting.   But there are other reasons as well and these reasons all come together around the Feast of Ascension.             First, one assumption of these predictions is that the world is so evil that God will destroy the world.