Sermon: The Good Hamas Member

Sermon Text: Luke 10:25-27 Sermon Excerpt Jesus’ parables should grab our attention! When I shared with one of you that my sermon title was “The Good Hamas Member” your response was “please don’t put that on our sign. We don’t want those driving by to think we support Hamas in any way, shape or form.” If the idea of a Good Hamas Member sounds like an oxymoron to your ears know that this is exactly what Jesus intends. Today, you won’t find Israeli Jews talking about a “Good Hamas Read More …

Sermon: A Radical Recipe

Sermon Text: Luke 13:20-21 Sermon Excerpt A few months ago I shared with you how in recent years my wife Susan and I have been intentionally downsizing - moving to smaller and yet smaller residences.  While I was truthful about the significant decrease in square footage, I omitted an important part of the makeup of our current home.  Even as the overall size of our house shrunk to less than half of the size we had once known, our kitchen remained large.  And, even more importantly, our Read More …

Top 10 Books of 2014

Since 2010, I have published an annual list of my top ten books published that year (each list contains a link to a book review for each book mentioned): 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.   My top ten books for 2014 (in alphabetical order by author’s last name) are   Marcus Borg Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most Walter Brueggemann Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now Amy-Jill Levine Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Read More …

October Book Recommendations

This month's list features a few well known authors alongside others worth getting to know.  All but the lowest rated book below are ones I heartily recommend to those engaged in lay and pastoral leadership roles in communities of faith focused on following the way of Jesus. (5+) Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans' Shifting Religious Identities by Darren Sherkat (2014) (5) The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World by Derek Penwell Read More …

Parable of the Good Hamas Member (Good Samaritan)

Amy-Jill Levine's latest book is among her finest.  Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi explores nine of Jesus' best known parables.  Levine not only effectively places each in its context, but also helps establish parameters for the range of possible meaning today.  In keeping with her contention that Jesus' parables are more provocative than they are often presented today in lectures or sermons, her contemporary re-telling of the Parable of the Good Read More …

Review of Living the Questions

Meet the Authors David M. Felten (pictured at right in a black shirt) and Jeff Procter-Murphy (pictured at right holding a tablet) are United Methodist pastors who serve theologically progressive congregations.  Together they created a video resource that brought together some of the "most provocative and authoritative voices" (p.xiii).  Known as Living the Questions, this resource seeks to "help people wrestle with the questions they hear asked in their congregations - questions for which Read More …

What Was Truly Original About Jesus?

In the April 2012 edition of Christianity Today, David Neff interviewed Amy-Jill Levine on the topic of "Jesus Through Jewish Eyes."  Levine is one of three dozen Jewish scholars who contributed to The Jewish Annotated New Testament (2011).  In addition to co-editing that work, she has written numerous volumes and teaches New Testament at Vanderbilt University.  Her response to the question, "So, what was truly original about Jesus?" follows. He's the only person I can find in antiquity who Read More …