Posts

This isn’t a list of every article I’ve published, Rather, the “articles” described below are the pieces I’ve written for various websites that are freely accessible. This list includes a summary of each article and a link to where you can find it on the Web. Further below, at the bottom of the page, you can find tags and categories to help you browse and sort.

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Summary: When people ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” his answer rejects the premises of the question. He would rather talk about what it means to see “the works of God” become manifest among us. Jesus’ move in John 9 provides an insight for preachers who are facing enormous challenges as they figure out how to do ministry in the midst of a pandemic and all the public-health controls that have been put into place: focus less on the “why?” and “how?” questions and instead think creatively about how to point people toward the works of God in our midst. Christian faith refuses to be bound by prevailing assumptions about how things “must” be done but instead sees signs of God’s presence and transformations in seemingly desolate conditions. Christian faith knows how to find creative ways to love and serve others in the midst of adversity. Indeed, Christian faith came into being in precisely that kind of a context.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on John 9:1-41. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus’ declarations to the ragtag collection of people who gather for the Sermon on the Mount are direct and simple: “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” Salt and light always make their presence known. They always have effects. This is reassuring news to preachers who are regularly told that they are doing everything wrong or failing to tickle the ears of a public that craves simplicity, security, and entertainment. Salt preserves and flavors. Light makes things visible and warm. That always happens.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 5:13-20. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The story Matthew tells about Herod the Great, the king who slaughters children in an attempt to rid the world of the newborn Messiah, offers preachers a valuable opportunity to explore evil. The arrival of Jesus Christ should lead us to more than joy and adoration; it should also make us reflect on the ways in which we resist God’s presence and intentions. Like Herod, we are often more comfortable with the way things are. The arrival of Jesus is inconvenient. It will throw things into disarray. We may be asked to surrender our illusions of security and privilege. The values that Herod instills in us are the opposite of the values that we discover in the reign of God.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 2:13-23. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: For those who preach, the ministry of John the Baptist, which the Gospels describe so minimally, raises important questions. Was John a lone voice, or did he have others he trusted who could help him work through his own issues and questions? How did John’s journey on the road of repentance figure in the sermons he preached? Preachers understand that preaching is never a one-way enterprise, from a confident speaker to a needy audience. We are often the audiences of our own sermons, and sometimes our best preaching is the preaching that we ourselves need to hear. Don’t view John as a totally self-assured individual; perhaps he was as vulnerable as we are. Repentance, after all, is not about feeling sorry or resolving to do better. It is a lifelong experience of trying to view the world and God’s place in it through from a different perspective. No one can do that entirely alone.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 3:1-12. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus begins his Sermon on the Plain by declaring some people to be “blessed” and speaking “woe” to others. He declares that he will bring satisfaction to those who are poor, hungry, grieving, and suffering ostracism. On the other side, he warns those who are wealthy, well fed, joyful, and respected by their communities that something is wrong. Their perceived advantages and security are illusory, because he is at work elsewhere. Jesus then goes on to urge people to practice love and nonretaliation. On the whole, he is speaking about a new society or a new state of affairs that his ministry inaugurates. He promises to create a new community that operates with a different set of values. In this community, Jesus lifts up those who suffer deprivation and calls others to practice solidarity with them.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage, particularly to celebrate All Saints Day. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector should make religious people wary of our tendency to misunderstand and to limit the mercy of God. The parable lets us listen in on two different prayers. We may be quick to dismiss the Pharisee’s prayer, just like the Pharisee is quick to dismiss the tax collector. It’s a good thing we are not responsible for assessing the prayers of others. That’s God’s work. Our work is to tell others that God is merciful and that no one stands outside of the reach of that divine mercy.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Luke 18:9-14. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus tells a parable about two men who go to the temple to pray: a Pharisee and a tax collector. They pray two very different prayers, and the parable concludes with Jesus declaring that the tax collector, who assumes a posture of contrition and prays a simple prayer asking for mercy, leaves the temple justified, or restored to a right relationship with God. The Pharisee, in his prayer, betrays his contempt for the tax collector. Because Luke’s Gospel treats Pharisees and tax collectors nearly as caricatures, interpreters often get sidetracked in efforts to determine what Jesus is up to in this parable. The parable’s main emphasis, however, falls on the depths of God’s mercy, which results in “justification” even for a tax collector, someone who betrays his own people for personal gain and to support the Roman occupiers. The parable warns that our contempt for others whom we may see as villains does not square with the extravagant grace that God pours out on all who ask for mercy.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Parable of the Dishonest Manager is notoriously difficult to interpret. But before we rush into the task of figuring out why Jesus praises a thief, we should remember that his parables frequently shake up our assumptions about right and wrong, and about rational and irrational behaviors. The dishonest manager deserves preachers’ attention for many reasons. One of these is the urgency that motivates him and causes him to set all other concerns aside. Preaching has a similar urgency that demands preachers act in ways that can appear subversive. The gospel we preach likewise can look irresponsible, dangerous, and contrary to our culture’s standards of respectability.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Luke 16:1-13. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus speaks of his commission to bring fire to the earth and division to human society. He criticizes his listeners for failing to be able to discern the true character of the present age. His words are sharp, his imagery frightening. At the heart of the passage, however, is Jesus’ expression of his own ardent desire to see justice flourish in the world. The time is now to commit oneself to that, for this season of repentance means that Jesus is urgently calling his hearers to align themselves with God’s priorities. Here, at the thresholds of our own looming mortality and the promised arrival of God’s kingdom in all its fullness, we have an opportunity to share in God’s commitment to remake the whole landscape of human well-being.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus promises “the kingdom” to his followers. He urges them to sell possessions and give to those who need money. He tells a parable about slaves waiting diligently for their master to return and then being surprised to have their master serve them dinner when at last he arrives. Finally he likens the return of the Son of Man to the experience of having a thief break into one’s house. A variety of themes work their way through this passage. It has the capacity to reassure Jesus’ followers of their security while also making them wonder about that security. The passage is especially helpful for getting a sense of how wealth and generosity—very prominent themes in the Gospel of Luke—figure in securing “treasure in heaven.” Jesus expects his disciples to do more than give money away; he calls them to enter into solidarity with those who lack resources.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary