Chalking Our Home at Epiphany?

I confess that until recently I had never heard of the ancient Christian custom of chalking the door. (Some say it began in Bavaria.) This custom is an Epiphanytide tradition that is either celebrated on the eve of Epiphany, or on the Sunday of Epiphany (today). The purpose is to bless one’s home. The tradition is still practiced by many Anglicans, … Read More

The Document of the Origins of Jesus of Nazareth

Matthew’s Gospel has always caused modern readers some consternation when they read the first chapter. Why is this long “genealogy” put here at the beginning of the first Gospel? I prefer to first think of this list of names here in terms of what is clearly said in the first verse, Jesus is “the son of David, son of Abraham.” … Read More

Hearts and Minds Book Notes

One of my good friends is Byron Borger, the owner/manager of Hearts and Minds Books in Pennsylvania. Byron regularly prepares a great review of a wide array of books. I encourage you to read his reviews (which you can get by email) and buy books from him. Yes, you can buy books for a larger discount at Amazon but Byron … Read More

A Sleepless Night and a Gentle and Powerful Morning Reminder

In Matthew 19 Jesus welcomes little children to himself, (gently) touches them and prays over them. The disciples, in contrast, seem too stern and busy to feel the is important kingdom work. The story tells us: 13 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly … Read More

Do Not Confuse Your Plans with God’s

One of the most persistent problems I face, as both a Christian thinker and leader, is to confuse my plans with God’s plans. I seek God, I pray, and I read widely and study a great deal. I often see a clear way forward, at least sometimes. I sometimes feel quite sure I know what God wants. But my plans … Read More

The Death of the Holy Innocents

The Gospel text for Sunday, January 1, 2017, was Matthew 2:13-23. It is a text I have rarely, if ever, heard preached. I have never personally preached from it in forty-five years. Our congregation is faced with a unique trial and a season of life I hope you never go through as a Christian. On Christmas Eve our beloved pastor, … Read More

The Letter to Ephesus

This summer my local congregation, Lutheran Church of the Master, is engaged with a series of sermons from Revelation 2-3. I am filling in for our pastor for many Saturday evening vespers services. So far I have preached on the first three churches of the Revelation. Here is the first, The Letter of Jesus to the Church in Ephesus. Note: … Read More

Jesus’ Upside-Down Kingdom

The kingdom of Jesus turns everything “upside down.” We settle far too easily for a tame and non-threatening gospel where grace does not surprise us. This sermon was preached at Lutheran Church of the Master, Carol Stream, IL, on June 11-12. I share it because I hope it will edify and encourage you if you like to hear a biblical … Read More

Should Ecclesiastes Be in the Biblical Canon?

My question will likely startle some. It seems obvious to others. Count me among the latter group. I have read the book many, many times but it has never seemed clearly apparent to me that it belongs, even among the books that we call the “wisdom literature.” I recently read Ecclesiastes again, this time in The Message. Same question: Why … Read More

The Passing of My Friend Joseph F. Girzone

Several years ago I shared the story of how I met Fr. Joseph F. Girzone (1930-2015). I had read Joe’s wonderful book, Jesus: A New Understanding of God’s Son (New York: Doubleday, 2009). I simply loved it. Frankly, it changed my life in many profound ways. I wrote my first ever review on Amazon and as a result someone showed it … Read More