That Second Tomb Account (Mark 6:14-29; 16:1-8)

 That Second Tomb Account (Mark 6:14-29; 16:1-8)

As a pastor I sometimes meet people who tell heartbreaking stories of how evil and injustice have impacted them in traumatic ways, leaving them numb and robbing them of their joy. I imagine something similar must have been going through the hearts of those who had been followers of John the Baptist, as they buried his earthly remains in a tomb (6:29). … St. Mark tells the story as one chapter of a greater story that would also end with an execution and a tomb. But though this injustice would be much greater--the death of an innocent man for the sins of the world--so would the nature of the comfort that would arise from his tomb: a tomb that did not stay occupied for long.

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The Freedom of Travelling Light (Mark 6:1-13)

The Freedom of Travelling Light (Mark 6:1-13)

Lack of ordinary capacity is actually a call to build on the extraordinary capacity of God’s own gift of Life to us: the precious gift of God's Word, and the mysteriously enriching work of the Sacraments. Everything else, when you think about it, is kind of like icing on the cake. We are disciples of Christ, given to “travel light” in the things of this world…confident that God has provided what we truly need: Jesus, and the eternal inheritance that awaits us.

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When a Brave Face Isn't Enough (Mark 4:21-43)

When a Brave Face Isn't Enough (Mark 4:21-43)

This week has been Vacation Bible School week at Trinity. What joy to see the spirit of Life in the children of our community as they sing songs and learn about the love of Jesus, the Great Physician of the soul, while making friends and having fun! Which makes me wonder: At what point do we stop approaching our Great Physician with the wonder, awe, and unabashed helplessness of small children?

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Of Refugees and the Republic (Romans 13:1-7; Zechariah 7:9-10)

Of Refugees and the Republic (Romans 13:1-7; Zechariah 7:9-10)

Every so often it's good to take a break from the usual routine of finding a devotional slant to the appointed readings on Sunday morning. This week, the national spotlight was on the immigration debate. I do not believe it is the role of a pastor to take a political stance and to advocate from the pulpit for one political position or another. However, the invocation of Romans 13 by two government officials recently, an action intended to produce what can only be described as "political goals," warrants--you might even say, necessitates--a brief reflection on Romans 13 and the Scriptures in general by all of us who claim those Scriptures as our own. 

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Where to Look When You Have Trust Issues (Mark 4:26-34)

Where to Look When You Have Trust Issues (Mark 4:26-34)

Trusting in God won't mean that bad things won't happen. It will mean that we hold on to a God who makes all things new in spite of the bad stuff. As we celebrate this Father's Day, let us also give thanks for the Father who loves us. We put our trust in the one Candidate who is worthy of that trust. And we live...never completely sure (yet free and at peace) about where the next bend in the road will take us.


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Sacred Rest (Gen 2:1-3; Deut 5:12-15; Mark 2:23-3:6)

Sacred Rest (Gen 2:1-3; Deut 5:12-15; Mark 2:23-3:6)

t isn't easy to step out of the torrent of activity that pushes us along in life. It is so much easier to give in to the schedule book, the demands of others, the need to be appreciated, the expectation that we will perform better than before. Sometimes there are real needs to be met RIGHT NOW. But this is not where Life is found. This week, we not only hear the refrain of sacred rest in the Scriptures....we rely on the gift of the Spirit to more perfectly sing it ourselves.

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Lord of Hosts..."Sabaoth" (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Lord of Hosts..."Sabaoth" (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Today we recall that Isaiah heard yet another name that often goes untranslated in our hymns and prayers: God's name, "Yahweh (Lord God of) Sabaoth." Isaiah heard it in that glorious vision of God he was privileged to see in the Jerusalem temple. The name sometimes makes its way into our hymns (cf. the classic version of "A Mighty Fortress"), but more often we sing it in our Communion liturgy, during the "Sanctus": "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth adored." What is a "Lord God of Sabaoth," anyway? And more importantly: why should it matter? 

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Life in the Valley of Death (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Life in the Valley of Death (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Not only does the Spirit/Breath enter and enliven the bones littered on that valley floor when Ezekiel, at the Lord's invitation, invites Him to do so. The Spirit of the Lord puts Ezekiel on that valley floor to begin with. The Spirit, you see, is in the business of taking what should not be able to live and to cause it to thrive. 

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Changed for the Better (Acts 10:34-48)

Changed for the Better (Acts 10:34-48)

We can only imagine the suspicions, fears, and prejudices that would have kept Romans and the local folks of the country they occupied apart. But the Gospel of Christ changed both [Peter and Cornelius]...for the better. First, through Peter, drawn by God to bring a message of life to Cornelius, this foreigner receives the Life-giving Spirit of God and is washed in the water of new birth. But the risen Jesus, Lord of the nations, changes Peter too. Before the encounter is complete, Peter sees the bond between all people that the Gospel of life makes possible: "I understand now that God shows no partiality" he confesses (10:34). All people are to be changed by the One who was crucified, but now lives! All are to know and to live in His love...and be changed for the better in the process. 

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In the Hands of the Healer (Acts 3:11-21)

In the Hands of the Healer (Acts 3:11-21)

The truly Good News is that no matter what diagnosis our earthly doctors give us right here and now, no matter what measure of physical or emotional pain we might be dealing with today...the prognosis for all who place themselves in the hands of the Great Physician is sure. In Jesus, our sins are forgiven. 

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Sons and Daughters of Encouragement (Acts 4:32-37)

Sons and Daughters of Encouragement (Acts 4:32-37)

The early church was not always a place of perfect harmony, but testimony to the Christ who on the third day "rose again, from the dead" bound the people of God to one another and to those in need who were close at hand. By God's abundant grace they gathered to pray together.  By God's unexpected mercy, they broke bread together. And by God's sufficient provision, they devoted what they had to one another, sharing where they could so that no one might be without.  As they engaged what really mattered in the game of life they became sons and daughters of encouragement for one another. The risen Christ at work in and among them meant that they would never be alone. 

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Processing (Mark 16:1-8)

Processing (Mark 16:1-8)

There is no right way or wrong way to leave an empty tomb. Today we simply look to the Lord of life with grateful hearts that the tomb is empty! Whether you are still processing..or are inclined to let loose with a loud "Alleluia!"...let's all give thanks to God today for the gift of life which is ours in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

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How Can This Be Happening? (Mark 14:1-15:49)

How Can This Be Happening? (Mark 14:1-15:49)

Jesus didn't ask the "how" question. But as he took on the weight of the world's guilt...as he received the punishment for human sin that he in no way deserved he DID ask the "why" question: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" He didn't get an answer from heaven that day. The world he came to rescue DID get an answer three days later.

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When Nobody Notices (Mark 10:35-45)

When Nobody Notices (Mark 10:35-45)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once called the need to be appreciated, the need to be served, the need to be big and important "the drum major instinct." While there is nothing wrong with having ambition or wanting to be leave one's mark behind in the world, in our text for this Sunday Jesus famously invites his disciples to aspire to something better than being noticed as the leaders of the pack. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (10:44).

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Something Even Better than "My Favorite Things" (John 3:14-22)

Something Even Better than "My Favorite Things" (John 3:14-22)

Life lived looking up, life lived in the light of God is better even than distracting ourselves with our "favorite things." But living in the light of God and the forgiveness that is ours in Christ will make whiskers on kittens and schnitzel with noodles (whatever that is) even better! Let's stop looking down and keep looking up during this season of Lent, as we give thanks for God's gift of life in Christ. 

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