Tag Archives: power

More than Active Listening, God Was One of Us


19th Sunday after Pentecost: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

We live in a time when we are aware of the suffering that people outside of our region or circles experience. This awareness is important because often our ease and comfort is at the expense of someone else whether we know it or not. The discomfort of awareness sometimes makes us talk more. We want to say the right things, but it’s important to listen. It’s only through listening that we can understand, to not be a part of the problem. We might even be able to be a part of the solution. However, no amount of listening will ever convey to us what another people group’s suffering is like to them. Continue reading

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God is on Your Side


18th Sunday after Pentecost: Psalm 124

This short Psalm is a Psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord, who delivered the people of Israel from certain death. I don’t know if this was originally written about a specific victory. Psalm 124 is one of the Psalms of Ascent, which were sung each year as the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem for Passover. This song reminded each generation to remember God as their deliverer from many instances of oppression. Continue reading

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Who’s the Greatest?


17th Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 9:30-37

While Jesus is teaching his disciples that his path involves a spiral of rejection and persecution, they miss that part of the lesson entirely. Instead they immediately discuss amongst themselves which of them is the greatest. Continue reading

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Defender of the Poor

15th Sunday after Pentecost: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

This lectionary selection pulls these three proverb “couplets” that all relate to how we treat the poor. In fact, all of the lectionary readings for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost include the theme of caring for the poor or standing up for the oppressed. This is one of my favorite themes found in the Bible. While following God doesn’t align with any political party, Scripture is clear that God cares about the poor and the oppressed. How we care for the poor in our context may vary, but we should care. We should take the time to consider how to use whatever power we have to help those with less power. Continue reading

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Armor, really?

armor, really?

13th Sun after Pentecost: Ephesians 6:10-20

This Biblical passage is quoted often. This encouragement has inspired many sermons, children’s costumes, and for some a prayer practice of mentally putting on the armor. It seems like we gravitate to these instructions in America, because they imply a sentiment of war or striking back. The individual-centric picture of putting on armor is attractive to independent people.

I feel like the imagery of this text is often remembered out of context. This has fueled a false picture of Christianity as one where throughout history we have justified warring against unbelievers (and believers who disagree with us)—a dangerous premise that has cost the lives of many people whom God also loves. Continue reading

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Standing with the oppressed

Do you ever wonder if there were scribes and Pharisees hanging around at the fringes who weren’t abusing their power? I wonder how they felt when Jesus said things like,

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:2-4)

Why is Jesus speaking so categorically? Why is he lumping in the hard-working, caring-for-people Pharisees with those that are abusive and out of control? Continue reading

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