Wild Lectionary: Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

shaggy manes

shaggy manes

Proper 23(28) B
21st Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 10:17-31

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

This week’s Gospel from Mark is a familiar one, in which a rich man comes to Jesus seeking the path to inheriting “eternal life.” As Ched Myers noted three decades ago now (!), the key to the story is the “ringer” command Jesus adds to the familiar ones from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 6: “You shall not defraud [Gk, apostereō].” Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Imperial Logic and Creation

cows enslavedProper 5(10)B

1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15
Genesis 3:8-15

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

Then Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh, here is seed for you; sow the land. And at the harvests you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.”  They said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be slaves to Pharaoh.” (Gen 47.23-25) Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Transfiguration

27847750_10154970804366567_1328436879_n

Fresh buds on Tiger Mountain

Transfiguration B
Mark 9:2-9

By Sue Ferguson Johnson and Wes Howard-Brook

“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.” (Mk 9.2)

It has been a long, wet, grey, dark winter so far here in the Issaquah Creek watershed. While we have been spared the intense cold and massive snowfalls visited upon our sisters and brothers to the east, the relentless “parade of storms” from the Pacific Ocean (as local weatherfolk like to call it) can wear away at even the most committed pluviophile. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Holy Land

Mt Erbal caves

Mt Arbel Caves

Advent 3B

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Luke 1:46b-55

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

Just north of Magdala in Galilee stand the cave-pocked cliffs of Mt. Arbel. Twice in a hundred years, Roman soldiers shot fire into the caves to destroy Israelites who refused to give in to imperial rule. The first occasion was the imposition of Herod as king in 40 BCE, while the second was during the Roman-Jewish war of the mid-60s CE.

Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: We Despised the Pleasant Land

6863477149_86ff790b32_b

Fort McMurray Alberta Tar Sands, Kris Krüg CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Proper 23(28)
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 106

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

When you tell the story of your, your family’s, or your community’s journey, what role does the land and its nonhuman creatures play?

Central to God’s promise to ancient Israel was a land to call their own, both as a people and as local families. In this week’s reading, Psalm 106 presents one of several biblical summaries of Israel’s relationship with YHWH, the land and its peoples. It is framed by “praise YHWH,” although the core of the psalm laments the people’s constant disobedience and forgetfulness. Throughout the psalm, the land is close at hand, beginning with deliverance from Egypt via the Red Sea, and continuing into the wilderness struggles. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Joseph—God’s Agent or Agent of Empire?

Field Egypt Farmer PeopleEleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 15(20)

“God has made me lord of all Egypt…” Joseph, son of Jacob (Gen 45.9)

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” Paul of Tarsus (Rom 8.19)

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

A decade or so ago, we spent two years of our monthly Saturday teaching/retreat series with the book of Genesis. Folks eagerly engaged Genesis’ anti-city perspective and its all-too-human characters. But when we got to the Joseph story, several rebelled angrily against our starting characterization of Joseph, son of Jacob, as a self-absorbed, manipulative power seeker, who “succeeded” by teaching Pharaoh how to manage famine for personal profit. What is it about Joseph that leads so many to want to see him as a heroic expression of faith? Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Beware the Cataclysm!

19024614_10154383615946567_367044656_o

Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, Abide in Me

For readers of Wild Lectionary, there is hardly a Scripture passage more fitting than Genesis’ account of the Flood. The powerful, terrifying narrative is often reduced to a kids’ story, replete as it is with “cute” animals in the Ark. But, of course, beneath the surface is a story of divine near-omnicide, revealing a deep rift between the Creator’s vision and humanity’s response to God’s gift of the earth. In combination with the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7.21-28), this week’s texts offer a sobering reminder of the cost of human violence to the earth and its creatures, including sapiens. Continue reading