The Story of “O Holy Night”

(“O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas carol. Both the music and the words are incredibly moving. The background to this familiar Christmas song is intriguing. Most of the following story is based on research done by scholars interested in religious musicology. There may be some debate and questions regarding… Continue reading

Luke 16:19-31 “While the Gate is Still Open”

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus can be compared to a play with three acts. (I first heard this suggestion to approaching this particular parable in a New Testament class I took at seminary which focused on the parables of Jesus.)  We are presented with a very wealthy… Continue reading

Matthew 20:1-15 “The Scandal of Grace”

One of Jesus’ favorite ways of teaching was through parables. Parables were used by other teachers in Judaism. However, Jesus’ parables seem unique. His parables were almost always about situations involving common people: a shepherd looking for a lost sheep; a woman kneading yeast into flour; a peasant awakened by… Continue reading

Luke 12:13 21 “Mismanaging a Miracle”

Jesus begins this parable with a statement of blessing– “A certain rich man’s lands brought forth bountiful crops.” The word used for “land” is not the usual term agros. No, the word used is chora  a term which means extensive holdings, as much as a whole district or region. So,… Continue reading

Preferential Options

One of my favorite actors was the late Christopher Reeve. Most people remember him as Superman, a character he played in four Superman movies from 1978-1987. He has been described as a Renaissance man gifted with intelligence, talent, athletic abilities, and integrity. His career was drastically curtailed by a horse-riding… Continue reading

Isaiah 11:1-9 “And a Little Child Shall Lead Them”

Have you ever been disappointed in a politician? Have you ever voted for a politician because you believed in what he or she promised or supposedly stood for, only to learn later that this politician was like all the rest? Well, in one sense we have only ourselves to blame…. Continue reading

Matthew 25:31-45; Ephesians 2:14 “The Wall”

The Exodus was the pivotal event in the Hebrew Scriptures. In that act of deliverance God freed the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian bondage. The Exodus became the foundation for Israel’s understanding of God and for their ethical approach to life. Repeatedly the people were told in their tradition that they… Continue reading

Amos 5: 21-24 “Deciding What Belongs to Whom”

Around 760 BCE in a small, insignificant village in Judah, a most monumental event occurred. A shepherd was called by God to prophesy in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This shepherd did not belong to any of the prophetic guilds—in other words, he had no “professional” training. But God’s call… Continue reading