Greenhouse where the author works, after Hurricane Irma
By Andrew Hudson
Salvation. I imagine my educated friends skating over the term in today’s reading. After all, Pentecost is an incredible story about harmony in diversity. That is an important theme, and one most educated folks are eager to pick up in these troubled times. Let’s find a way to have that kind of unity, they say.
By Laurel Dykstra
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
The image of large well-watered trees growing larger is used in scripture as a symbol of human prosperity, abundance, and flourishing for individuals (Psalm 92:12-13) and nations (Ezekiel 31). Often the type of tree is unnamed but a significant number are cedars. In an arid landscape shade as a luxury, an association amplified by the biblical equation of cedar wood with wealth. Continue reading
Mature beech trees succumb to Beech Bark Disease
John 15:9-17, Psalm 98
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11
By The Reverend Marilyn Zehr
I stood on the crest of the hill today in that moment of barometric stillness between four days of spring sunshine and an impending afternoon rainstorm. And in the distance I heard the magical flute call of the hermit thrush. Its Mozart-rivaling melodic line threads its way through the forest now and on summer evenings. That wee bird, hard to spot but thrilling to hear, expresses creation’s joy.
Joy can be like that. It can be hard to spot in the midst of the world, as we know it. Continue reading
By Matthew Syrdal
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you… My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. John 15:1-8
The invitation is clear, the summons real, in this mashal, this rabbinical parable today as it was then. May we let it sink deeply into the soil of the world in our hearts. Continue reading
Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)
John 10: 1-18
By Matthew W. Humphrey
Sheep are not sexy.
Many biblical commentators struggle with language for this most archetypal figure, oftentimes casting them in unfortunate ways. In a brief review of the 9 commentaries on the Gospel of John, which contains the reading this week, I counted no less than 6 which noted that sheep were “stupid,” “dumb,” or “dirty.” (And, equally surprising, all noted how the role of Shepherd in the ancient world was one of ill repute.) Perhaps that is correct, but if sheep are dumb it is in the same ways as you and I. Namely: they seek out their own self-preservation, reacting to circumstances and perceived threats, often making rash decision based on incomplete knowledge. Sheep lack depth perception, meaning they see shadows and pools of water as mysterious threats to be avoided. (I don’t know about you, but I often lack vision too.)
By The Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie
The liturgical season of Easter is the only time that our readings are all from the New Testament. During this season the first readings are from the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s reading from Acts is another occasion where our Roman Catholic Lectionary differs from the Revised Common Lectionary and omits scripture verses. This textual omission significantly changes the meaning and therefore our understanding of the scriptural message.
By Laurel Dykstra
“Doubting Thomas” it’s the name we call someone who demands hard evidence, who won’t accept what we say or who doesn’t share our beliefs.
There are all kinds opportunities in the church use that name against someone. All sorts of differences in the beliefs of faithful Christians: angels, auras, miracles, marriage, dinosaurs, women disciples, Adam and Eve, Noah, what prayer is, what happens during a sacrament, what salvation means, what parts of the creeds we say with confidence and, perhaps most pertinent here, how we understand the resurrection. Continue reading