The Surprises in Jesus’ Genealogy: Ruth

Now, we reach the midpoint of the five women Matthew includes in Jesus’ ancestry.  The first, Tamar, lived during the period of the patriarchs.  The second, Rahab, in the time when Israel reconquered their land.  The third, Ruth, lived when the judges ruled.  The genealogy mentions her in this way, “Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth” […]

Advent Series: The Surprises in Jesus’ Genealogy: Rahab

Like Tamar last week, the second woman in Matthew’s ancestry of Jesus will also raise some eyebrows.  Here is how Matthew introduces her, “Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab” (Matthew 1:5).  For us, her story begins during a reconnaissance mission.  The exodus of Israel is now 40 years past, and they are trying the reclaim their […]

Advent Series: The Surprises in Jesus’ Genealogy: Tamar

An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.  From Abraham to David: Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers, Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar.  So read the first three verses of Matthew’s Gospel. The statement about Tamar is straightforward enough.  […]

Psalm 103: Thanksgiving

My soul, bless the Lord; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.  Praise the Lord and do not forget all His benefits.  Oh, if only, if every wish of my heart, bone, and being, thought and breath, contained the strength to esteem our Lord! How impossible!  For when I tell my being not to […]

All Saints: Tobit 3:7-8, 7:10-12; Revelation 7:9-17; Matthew 22:23-29: Who’s Doing the Counting?

All the counting in Scripture.  On its first page, the words, “In the beginning” ring out, commencing the count.  So tabulate the days as they unfold.  “The evening came and morning followed—the first day” all the way to “the seventh day” when the Creator “finished his work” (Genesis 1:5, 2:2). Much later, after recounting so […]

Isaiah 66:1-2: Reformation, God Working Through Our Human Failures

A monk at Wittenberg, nails a document on a church door.  Written in Latin, he desires to spark a debate.  For this man spots others selling something called “indulgences,” which claim to cut short someone’s time in purgatory. So, what’s the issue?  For the Church of Rome, unless someone lives a super-virtuous life, he dies […]

Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, Luke 12:13-21: Enjoy All in Christ

In the realm of wealth, we listen today to an expert.  The teacher is Solomon, the wealthiest king of Israel.  To put his life in modern terms—he owned cars, houses, yachts.  Personal chefs, women, entertainment, the best food, an enormous wine cellar, gardens, and vineyards all occupied his life. In Ecclesiastes, he writes his report, […]

Mark 4:35-41, Revelation 14:13: Donna Kind-Gappa’s Funeral Sermon: Blessed are the Dead Who Die in the Lord

The story is the tale of your life, soaked into the bones and marrow of your being.  The sun warms your face, but distant thunder cleaves your ears.  Soon, dark clouds banish the brightness, and blackness descends, unasked for and unwanted. The still waters rebel and lash out in chaos.  Venomous bile stings your throat, […]

Mark 9:14-29: Faith and Faithfulness

In today’s Gospel, Jesus triumphs in a spiritual miracle, casting out a demon.  For us, this is almost unrelatable because we can explain, in some way, people’s bizarre conduct.  In our world, people exhibit many weird behaviors.  Still, we almost always come up with some explanation, often traceable to an illness—Bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, a horrible […]

Sandy Webb’s Funeral Homily: Baptism Does What?

John 3:1-7, 14-17; Genesis 7:11-13, 22-23; 8:1, 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-21 Sometimes, someone enters your life who speaks the truth, flowing from a heart of love, without pretense or agenda.  Whenever a friend like this becomes part of your life, don’t let him go.  Such people are rare.  Don’t allow being comfortable to obstruct genuine […]