It’s an M&M question

Luke 15:1-10 (Psalm 51:1-10, 1 Timothy 1:12-17)

This devotional is my way of confessing to Amy that I ate all the mint M&Ms that she bought just the other day. They’re all gone now – but it’s not my fault – it’s because of this Gospel text – I swear!


What’s Your Answer?

Luke 14:25-33 (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 1)

Jesus tells us that we should hate our families – those most dear to us! Is this for real, or is this fake news?
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26)
Surely there is a less harsh way of making this point.


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner…

Luke 14:1, 7-14 (Psalm 112, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16)

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate (Proverbs 8:13).

All those who are arrogant are an abomination to the Lord; be assured, they will not go unpunished (Proverbs 16:5).

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit among the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:18-19).


So, Who’s the Undercover Boss?

Luke 13:10-17 (Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8)
Imagine Jesus as Undercover Boss; you know, like on the TV show. In the show the boss of a large – and usually well-known – company puts on a disguise and tries his or her hand at the mundane day-to-day tasks performed by the ordinary employees. Every week, each boss encounters the backstories – often heart-breaking or inspiring – of these ordinary folks. And, at the end of the show, the boss, now better aware of what their employees are going through, does something to make their lives better (a generous vacation, money for college, a promotion, etc.) It’s all very nice. Except of course, the boss is blissfully ignorant of the lives of the other 99.9999% of the employees: only two or three have been heard and had their challenges addressed or alleviated.


The Cost of Love

Luke 12:49-56 (Psalm 82, Hebrews 11:29–12:2)
Last Sunday’s children’s sermon was a complete train wreck! Even now, days later, I’m not at all sure what I said, what the kids heard and learned, and what the purpose of it all was. But this I do know; the kids thoroughly enjoyed talking with me; and the congregation laughed long and heartily. When I returned to my seat I was confused and a little shell-shocked, but the congregation were still chuckling, and almost every face had a large smile on it.


“Do not be afraid, little flock”

Luke 12:32-40 (Psalm 33:12-22, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16)
“Have no fear, little flock.” What a wonderful old hymn that is! (ELW #764) And, quite a theme for Luke. In his gospel that admonition is given to:
Zechariah (1:13) Mary (1:30) Shepherds (2:10)
Peter (5:10) Jarius (8:50) Disciples (12:4,7)
It seems that Jesus is very concerned about our fear. Now, this may be because fear is an uncomfortable emotion and Jesus doesn’t want us to be uncomfortable. Fair enough, I suppose. But a deeper reading suggests that the problem with fear is that it gets in the way of recognizing God’s will and presence in our life and community.


Utility, or Dignity?

Luke 12:13-21 (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23, Psalm 49:1-12)

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Everything is empty and meaningless, not intrinsically (because of themselves) but in the light of their own mortality. (At some point they will crumble to dust – unless they are plastic bottles in which case, they’re immortal! – or they shall die.) True, the worth of something can be roughly estimated when it is bright, shiny and new. The value of something can be guessed at when it works as advertised or specified. (This applies to things and to people!) But in the face of death, its true worth is revealed. Love is worth everything (“love never ends, says St. Paul; one’s life-savings are worthless (vanity).