A Light in the Darkness

Isaiah 60:1-6 | Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 | Ephesians 3:1-12 | Matthew 2:1-12

Jeremy Richards

This Sunday marks a new season in the Church Calendar. Advent and Christmas have given way to the season of Epiphany. The season of Epiphany focuses on two themes: the identity of Jesus as the Messiah (or Christ) and the inclusion of the Gentiles in the story of Israel. Or, to put the two together: Jesus’ fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures and prophecies, and that fulfillment including an invitation to all peoples, not just Israel.

A Product of Our Environment

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 | Galatians 4:4-7 | Luke 2:22-40

Jeremy Richards

I recently finished reading some of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. These 4 books trace the tumultuous friendship of Lenu, the narrator, and her friend Lila through most of their lives, from the time they’re children, until they’re in their 60s. I had heard a lot about these novels from numerous friends, and then Brie read them and told me how good they were, so I decided it was time to read them myself.

Mary's "Yes"

Luke 1:26-38

Jeremy Richards

One morning a few months ago, I had just woken up. My coffee wasn’t yet made. My eyes were half-shut. I was zoning out, staring at our kitchen sink when Brie ran in and stuck a long, skinny piece of plastic in my face with a look of joy and disbelief in her eyes. The piece of plastic had dots or a screen, maybe some different colors, I can’t really remember what it looked like because I wasn’t awake yet. I didn’t know how to read it, but I knew what it was.

Some Good News and Some Bad News

Luke 2:8-20

Jeremy Richards

As Shelley mentioned last week, the lectionary texts during Advent are a little challenging, so I decided to take a break and explore our readings from our Advent Wreath this week and next week. I really love these readings because they focus on different characters in the Christmas story – everyday people who are invited into the story of God’s salvation. The readings begin by remembering those characters, and end by reminding us that those people are present in our world today. Last week we remembered the prophets from old and gave thanks for the modern day prophets. Today we remember the shepherds from old and also give thanks for those who fulfill similar working class roles today.

Calling in the Professional

Isaiah 64:1-9 | Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 | Mark 13:24-37

Jeremy Richards

There’s a rumor going around this church. And it is, like most rumors, not true. The rumor is that I kill cars. I believe the title “car-killer” has even been thrown around.

So let’s just clear the air: the Honda we just sold a few weeks ago was in fine working order when we sold it. Our Toyota pickup is in serious trouble because its clutch has gone out, but we haven’t had it for even a year and it’s 27 years old, so you can’t tell me that I single-handedly destroyed the clutch. I’m thinking the 26 years before we got it had something to do with the clutch going out. And lastly, leaving Adam’s lights on so the battery dies hardly makes me a car killer. Battery killer, okay. Car killer, no.

The Curved Out Kingdom

Luke 17:11-19

Britt Carlson

By the time we get to chapter seventeen in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has been all over Israel. He’s been teaching about the kingdom of heaven, he’s been healing the sick and he’s been subverting the social order in all sorts of ways. Now Jesus has begun to head back toward Jerusalem and is skirting the area between Samaria and Galilee when he and his disciples stumble across a group of ten lepers. They desperately want to be healed—apparently they’re calling out to whatever prophet seems to be walking by. But in this case what they get is something they’ve never encountered before. Jesus doesn’t immediately heal them but says, “Go to the temple and show yourself to the priests.” The ten head off and even before they arrive at the temple, they look down and to their shock their leprosy is gone. Immediately, one of the lepers turns around and runs back to Jesus and falls to at his feet in praise.

What We Think About God

Judges 4:1-7 | Psalm 123 | 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 | Matthew 25:14-30

Jeremy Richards

Our Gospel passage today isn’t an easy one to swallow, and it isn’t found in an easy section of Scripture either. Giving it context hardly helps us temper Christ’s words from Matthew 25:14-30. This parable is found within a series of parables, all of which preach judgment with an apocalyptic bent. The parables in this section of Matthew all refer to the final judgment and make a point to differentiate between those who have lived faithfully and those who have lived unfaithfully, with harsh consequences for those who have lived unfaithfully.

The Story We Choose

Joshua 3:7-17 | Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 | 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 | Matthew 23:1-12

Jeremy Richards

A few weeks ago, I saw a bunch of little Lee Owen Stone students walking through our doors as all kinds of wild animals, super heroes, princesses, and other costumes I could only guess at. When children (and adults) dress up as different characters, they are drawn to something they know about these characters and about the world these characters live in.