Hospitality and the People of God

Emma LazarusBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, for this weekend’s lectionary Gospel story (Luke 10:1-11, 16-20)

*Originally posted on RadicalDiscipleship.Net on June 30, 2016.

For Jesus followers in the US, this week’s Gospel offers a powerful counter-narrative to the flag-waving patriotism of the 4th of July. Nearly every detail challenges those of us who live and thrive at the heart of empire to reconsider which “sacred story” binds us together as a people. Continue reading

All In

Jesus JerusalemBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, on this week’s Gospel passage (Luke 9:51-62)

*Originally posted June 2016 on radicaldiscipleship.net

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

This week’s Gospel offers some of the most challenging, urgently needed by us today messages found in Luke’s Gospel. It is a companion with next week’s Gospel, which directly follows this week’s passage. We will address them as a two-part unit in this and our next commentary. Continue reading

A Scandalous Shock to the System

CenturionBy Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, on this Sunday’s Gospel text (Luke 7:1-10)

*Originally posted on May 27, 2016.

All the dynamics of this week’s passage from Luke’s Gospel are “wrong.” For instance, how are we to imagine Jewish elders in Capernaum speaking on behalf of a Roman centurion? Further, they paint him as the primary patron of their synagogue. And not only this, but the centurion sends the elders to Jesus, at this point in Luke’s narrative, an itinerant preacher and healer with no official authority at all. Finally, Jesus praises the centurion for having a faith that Jesus has not found among the people of Israel. What could be going on here? Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Pentecost

20190221_073837Pentecost, Year C
Acts 2

By Wes Howard Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young people shall see visions, and your old people shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2.17)

Late this past winter, we had to remove a big, old spruce tree from the south side of our little house here in the Issaquah Creek watershed. The City had replaced a sewer line adjacent to our house a few years earlier, and it had severed a major root of the tree. We knew it was only a matter of time for that old spruce. It finally gave up and down it came to protect our house from the risk of it falling on the roof. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: No Peace in Heaven, No Peace on Earth

van-gogh-the-starry-night-1889

Vincent VanGogh’s Starry Night

Liturgy of the Palms Year C
By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. (Luke 3.1-2)

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! (Luke 12.51)

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king

who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!
(Luke 19.37-38)

In imagining ways to hear Scripture from the lens of “wild lectionary,” we tend to jump to details of life on earth: water, trees, animals, mountains. This focus on earth is challenged by this week’s passage from Luke, as Jesus and his disciples enter Jerusalem for what we’ve come to call “Holy Week.” For Luke tells us that “the whole multitude of disciples” proclaimed as Jesus came down the Mount of Olives, not “peace on earth,” but “peace in heaven.” What can they be thinking? What is the relationship between heaven and earth when it comes to making peace? Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Seraphim, seed people and fish folk, oh my!: celebrating God’s kaleidoscopic web of life

circle of life

Circle of Life, Zane Saunders, 1993 Creative Commons

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany C
Isaiah 6:6:1-13
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11

By Wes Howard Brook and Sue Furguson Johnson

This week’s readings reveal life springing forth from sky, sea and soil: seraphim speak to Isaiah, fish are netted by Simon Peter, and images of fleshy seeds of resurrection flow from Paul’s mouth (in the section of 1 Cor 15 that follows the lectionary passage). And if we listen a bit more closely, we can hear the usual lines that distinguish one creature from another blur and cross: Jesus promises that Simon will fish for people, while, for Paul, humans bloom and fruit like flowering trees. What might these criss-crossing images teach us about the intersectionality among living beings, in this realm and in the realm beyond the veil? Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Word of God in the Wilderness

hill country of Judea.jpg

Photo Credit: Hill Country of Judea by Ferrell Jenkins

Advent 2C

Luke 3.1-6

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

Just as the CNN and MSNBC cameras turn their lenses to the president and his people, God’s Word comes to an obscure group of folk whose hope is elsewhere.

We who read the pages of Radical Discipleship hardly need to be told that our hope is not in Trump or the Democratic Party or any of the professional purveyors of the imperial status quo. So it is not surprising to us to hear that in Luke’s time, the Word of God was heard not in Rome or Judea or elsewhere in the corridors of worldly power but in the wilderness.

Continue reading