It may come as a surprise to you that Jesus was friends with Pharisees. Back at the end of chapter eleven of Luke’s gospel, Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house for dinner on the Sabbath. This might seem like a small detail, but it’s actually pretty significant.
Being invited to someone’s house for dinner was a way to climb up the social ladder, but being invited for the Sabbath meal meant you were almost family. We usually think of the Pharisees as ‘the opposition,’ but Jesus didn’t always behave that way. Continue reading →
Hearing just a few verses of the gospel each week, it’s easy to lose track of the bigger story. It seems like ages ago that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. And for the past three weeks, he’s been in the same spot, even thought Luke doesn’t tell us exactly where that spot is.
Now we’ve moved into the next phase of the journey. Jesus is still teaching outside the Pharisee’s house where he had dinner back in chapter 11. And he’s telling parables again. He has just told the story of the barren fig tree (13:6-9). In that parable, the landowner gives the gardener one more year to work the soil around the tree so that it can bear fruit. If that doesn’t do any good, the tree will be cut down.
In the verses that follow today’s reading, Jesus will give two analogies for the kingdom of God: the mustard seed growing into a great bush where many birds will roost, and the leaven growing in the lump of dough (13:13:18-21).
But here, sandwiched in between these stories about things that grow and things that don’t, is a real-life encounter with Jesus. It wasn’t expected. It wasn’t planned. But this encounter introduces us to two people who could easily have been represented by the parables surrounding their story. Notice which one seems more like a mustard seed growing into a tall plant, and which one resembles a fig tree that won’t grow any fruit. Continue reading →
Last week, we considered how greed can actually make you poorer, as we heard Jesus tell the story of the farmer who wanted to keep all his crops for himself. This week, we pick up Luke’s story almost where we left off. Jesus has been teaching how different the Kingdom of God is from anything we might imagine. He has just explained how we each matter to God, and how God wants to provide for all our basic needs.
If our heavenly Father feeds the birds and clothes the flowers of the field, we can depend on him to care for every need we have, because God loves us so very, very much. You wouldn’t give your child a snake or a scorpion to eat, would you? How much more is our heavenly Father eager to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. And how much more God wants to give us, his own beloved children! So what are we afraid of? Continue reading →
Last week’s reading started out as a lesson in prayer, but shifted into a reminder that God wants to provide for us, if we will only ask. But asking God to give us his Spirit is a lot different from asking God to give us stuff. This week, Jesus carries the lesson a step further. Continue reading →
Shortly after our son became engaged, his future in-laws invited us to Thanksgiving dinner with their family. Their son, Mike, greeted me with particular enthusiasm, and I soon learned why. Mike usually got stuck with saying the prayer over a meal whenever the family was together. He hated doing it. He didn’t like praying out loud.
Mike was so glad to see me, not because he wanted to meet his sister’s future mother-in-law, but because since I’m a pastor, he knew his dad would ask me to give the blessing over the meal, and he’d be off the hook for once.
Maybe some of you can identify with Mike. Praying out loud in front of other people is just not comfortable for you. In fact, I think that’s why we teach our children table blessings and bedtime prayers they can just memorize. Now I lay me down to sleep…. Lord, bless this food to our use and us to thy service…Continue reading →
Do you ever get so busy you can’t think straight? You get so caught up in putting out fires and dealing with emergencies, there’s just no time left for the really important things like spending time with your family, or taking care of your own needs, or spending quality time with Jesus.
In 1967 (two years before the moon landing we remembered yesterday), Charles Hummel wrote a little pamphlet titled, “Tyranny of the Urgent.” It’s been revised and re-published over and over again, and it’s still available in print – in fact, if you want a copy, I have five of them to give away today. Just ask me after the service. These 32 little pages were foundational in developing the concept of time management. Continue reading →
Earlier this week, I was trying to remember exactly where my grandparents had lived when I was a little girl. So I called my mom. My mother has never been known to give a straight answer to a question when there’s a story she could tell instead. So, when I asked “do you know the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie?” her answer started out with, “All three of us girls were born on Uncle Harry’s farm. I think Edie Beth was about a year old when mom and dad moved to Hutchinson…”
An hour later, I had heard stories about my grandfather hauling coal in the winter and ice in the summer, my grandmother recovering from typhoid fever in a sod house on the Kansas prairie when she was a little girl, my great-grandfather dying just shortly after he’d finally paid off a debt his brother had incurred years before, and a few other tidbits of family history. But I never did learn the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie.Continue reading →