Reformation Day, Worth Doing Badly
“Blessed are…” Nothing in a life blessed by Jesus is unfruitful, futile, wasted or vain. Everything in the life He blesses somehow works toward an eternal goodness that is embodied in the embattled life of the prophets and in Jesus' life, teaching, death and resurrection.
Series A, 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Those who hear Jesus’ promises live differently in the world because they are aware that each moment of life is being caught up in a momentum that will go on eternally.
Series A, 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” This parable disabuses us of the destructive deception that grace means doing whatever we want whenever we please. The sooner we rid ourselves of this deception, the sooner we can lean into the sumptuous life God has prepared for us. If God's invitation seems like an imposition, give it time. In time, it will prove to be a better life than anything we might have planned for ourselves.
Series A, 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…" Jesus trains His disciples to read rejection rightly. Rejection is unavoidable and an indispensable aid to help us come to know the truth about what we believe to be true.
Series A, 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“By what authority are you doing these things…?” Understanding Jesus' authority in our lives is crucial especially when we ask why continuing to follow Jesus makes sense.
Series A, 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“Do you begrudge my generosity?” Who would you rather be, one hired in the first or last hour? The question is ridiculous as less work for equal pay is more desirable in the parable. A more serious question is, were you hired first, could you imagine not resenting others getting equal pay for unequal time working? This is what Jesus aimed to teach his disciples about God's generosity, namely that it always generates a resentment that Jesus’ disciples must overcome.
Series A, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
How many times would you want to receive forgiveness? How much debt would you like forgiven? All of it. Once we see ourselves as a debtors we desire unlimited forgiveness.
Series A, 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Happy is the one whose sin is forgiven… in whose spirit there is no deceit (Psalm 32:1, 2). The “great” miss out on the greatness of forgiveness, which here means being loosed from lying to ourselves and to others. Confession is how we enjoy our liberation from lying. Being honest with God, results in reconciliation and not the rejection we expect from revealing our sins.
Series A, 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
What we think of suffering is probably not what God thinks. Jesus said His own suffering was necessary and good. Jesus’ suffering and death alone would demonstrate God's love for the world.
Series A, 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” A key is unimpressive until it opens the locked door that impedes our movement toward our desired life. Jesus gave his disciples the key that unlocks the gates of hell.
Series A, 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Why would God create dogs, with a miraculous capacity for domestication—if He did not intend to take fill their appetites? Once again food becomes the context of faith, suggesting that faith’s desire for fulfilment is akin to hunger’s desire to be satisfied by food.
Series A, 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus purposefully subjected His disciples to frightful circumstances that ended in failure. This was not done to scold them for their “little faith” but to ignite their desire for the faith that would prove more real than fear.
Series A, 9th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Having heard the bitter report that John the Baptist had suffered a humiliating beheading, Jesus dealt with this deep disappointment by isolating himself in a desolate place. “Weeping and gnashing teeth” describes the poisonous effect our disappointments usually have on us. As an alternative to sadness and wrath, Jesus retreated, not admitting defeat but defying despair.
Series A, 8th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
We have membership in two worlds; the primary, seen, physical world and the secondary, unseen, metaphysical world. When we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we expect to enjoy on earth the benefits of our membership in the kingdom of heaven. However, as these benefits are unseen, they seem unreal and irrelevant to life now. Jesus helps us think about how our metaphysical membership changes life in the primary physical world.
Series A, 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Sleeping, waiting while life-wrecking evil causes weeping and gnashing teeth, is difficult to the extreme. Nevertheless, because things like growing, grace and gifts come to those who wait, to sleep trusts God to bring His gift of life to fruition.
Series A, 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
When hearing lacks understanding, faith withers; when hearing has understanding, faith flourishes.
Series A, 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Zechariah 9:9-12; Psalm 145:1-14; Romans 7:14-25a; Matthew 11:25-30 Rest is not doing nothing. The reason we rest is to meditate on God’s works. Restlessness misses the fundamental truth of existence that none of us created the world so none of us can save the world. Rest is needed to recognise this truth and then to live in the world with a calm gratitude.
Series A, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jeremiah 28:5-9; Psalm 119:153-160; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10:34-42 “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” These words of the “Prince of Peace” more than suggest that the word peace does mean the same thing for everyone. Jesus saw peace as a condition achieved by vanquishing evil.
Series A, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jeremiah 20:7–13; Psalm 91; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:5a, 21-33 Fear distorts our sense of time, as we fear everything is inevitably moving toward disappointment. Jesus commanded His disciples to “fear not” because His resurrection would change the meaning of time’s movement so that “the one who endures to the end” is not disappointed but saved.
Series A, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand…” Jesus taught the disciples that the kingdom of heaven’s economy would leave its trace of truth on the way they saw payment for their preaching, saying, “You received without paying; give without pay.” As they live in the reality of the kingdom of heaven’s gift-economy, the value of their work would not be weighed in wages.
Series A, The Holy Trinity, Worth Doing Badly
Trinity Sunday is a festival that anchors our hope of heaven in God’s three-fold presence on earth, reaching its high point on a Galilean mountain after the rapid succession of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost.
Series A, The Day of Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Numbers 11:24–30; Psalm 25:1–15; Acts 2:1–21; John 7:37–39 The truth of faith rolls out slowly as it takes hold by in-forming and in-structuring the human soul. The Spirit works from the inside out, so that His work is neither recognised nor appreciated by those who are overly impressed by the outward things that can be managed, monetised and manipulated. The Spirit’s moves freely like the wind, which cannot be controlled. This is the freedom the Spirit imparts to us by in-forming and in-structuring us in the truth that hydrates our souls, freeing us from the tyrannical demands of our selfish ego.
Series A, The Ascension of our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
Acts 1:1–11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:15–23; Luke 24:44–53 The Ascension opened the Way of our ascent from life in this world to the out-of-this world Life.
Series A, 6th Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Acts 17:16–31; Psalm 66:8–20; 1 Peter 3:13–22; John 14:15–21 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…” We love God only because He first loved us. How this love connects to commandments is more evident when on Maundy Thursday when Jesus explicitly connected our love to the command that we ought to love one another as He loved us; a love He then displayed and defined on the Cross.
Series A, 5th Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Acts 6:1-9, 7:2a, 51-60; Psalm 146; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled” said Jesus, because this place cannot give us peace and so He must go to prepare a better place. But then, almost everyone who has lived has wanted to go to a better place. But that is called wish-fulfilment which is not the same as believing a promise. A wish gives cheap consolation; Jesus’s promise claimed to have the power to calm troubled hearts in troubling times.
Series A; 4th Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday), Worth Doing Badly
Acts 2:42–47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10 “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. The Good Shepherd’s goodness surprises us from behind with things that follow from keeping our eyes on Him who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death and bestows His life on us as we enter His house to hear is voice.
Series A, 3rd Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-14; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35 Jesus’ post-resurrection meetings, with Thomas and with the two Emmaus-road disciples, demonstrate the importance of conversation in forming personal faith.
Series A, 2nd Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Acts 5:29–42; Psalm 148; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31 It’s striking that Jesus assured Thomas that He had come in peace. He would eventually show Thomas the physical healing he wanted to see, but more important than persuading Thomas was to assure him that his doubts had not alienated him from Christ. The first thing Jesus did was to make sure Thomas understood the reality of forgiveness which would make the doubt an occasion to draw Thomas into the peace that forgiveness gives.
Series A, The Resurrection of our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
Acts 10:34–43; Psalm 16; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10 Matthew reports that “there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone,” which built up to the mundane observation that the angel “sat on it.” Why report this? Because we are meant to see that the angel was waiting for Jesus’ followers to catch up with the facts.
Series A, Sunday of the Passion, Worth Doing Badly
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; John 12:20-43 The events of Holy Week are called Christ’s humiliation where He humbly exposed the contest between two kinds of glory – human and divine – that merely flip the order of humiliation. God’s glory is the free choice to begin in humility and ascend to the resurrection while human glory tries to avoid humiliation but in the end, fails at both glory and humiliation.
Series A, 5th Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:17–27, 38–53 These readings alert us to the importance of disappointment when it begins, but also to the fact that Jesus came with an inclusive hope for all, for every circumstance and for all time. Hope that is most available for those who are most trapped in the depths of deepest despair.
Series A, 4th Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
Isaiah 42:14–21; Psalm 142; Ephesians 5:8–14; John 9:1–7, 13–17, 34–39 Who would oppose healing a man born blind? This question is meant to point fingers of blame, but to see how this Lenten passage leads us to repentance. By considering the various oppositions to Christ’s healing, we can better understand why each of us simultaneously desire and resist God’s healing.
Series A, 3rd Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
Exodus 17:1–7; Psalm 95:1–9; Romans 5:1–8; John 4:5–26 In this penitential season, the path from conversation to conversion casts light on how God works repentance in each of us.
Series A, 2nd Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
Because of Nicodemus’ questions, we have a better understanding of what is one of the most beloved teachings of Jesus. For us who are overly-familiar with this passage, these questions do us a great service to help us pay closer attention to the path of reasoning that came to the most consoling of conclusions connecting God’s love and Jesus’ death.
Series A, 1st Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
Genesis 3:1-21; Psalm 32:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11 The light of Lent reveals that death is now a stage on life’s way to unending life. The six weeks of Lent being repeated yearly shows how Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection changes the meaning and experience of our suffering and death.
Series A, 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37 What does Jesus’ ratcheting up the severity of the Law mean? First, we need to remember that Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfil it, and to fulfil us through the Law.
Series A, 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Isaiah 58:3–9a; Psalm 112:1-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20 What is the difference between abolishing and fulfilling the Law? Were the Law evil, it would have been abolished. But the Law is—as the Psalm says—delightful, even if its demands are unattainable. And so the Law is good, but it is broken. And we, who have broken the Law, cannot enjoy its goodness.
Series A, The Purification of Mary and The Presentation of Our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
Simeon’s epiphany was his recognition that Jesus was the Consolation of Israel. Consolation is necessary because the world is broken and sad. Understanding consolation means that we see how it is different from empathy. Empathy responds to sadness with emotional support that little to fix the world’s brokenness. Consolation worthy of the name means fixing the world’s brokenness forever.
Series A, 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Every third Sunday after the Epiphany, the texts have us again consider the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Why? Perhaps because we need to repeatedly be reminded of how difficult it is to believe that the modest methods of “ministry” are capable of saving the world.
Series A, 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Why do we confess that the Lamb of God is able to “take away the sin of the world”? Because the Lamb of God is the Word made flesh. As the Word, Jesus was the invisible cause of all material creation.
Series A, The Baptism of our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. And when the Law is fulfilled life is fulfilling. Baptism began this work of fulfilment because it fulfilled all righteousness. The claim and promise is that this fulfilment of righteousness can somehow reverse and redeem us from all that wrong with us and with the world. How? Find out on this episode.
Series A, 2nd Sunday after Christmas, Worth Doing Badly
The Incarnation of the Son of God changed the world without political, economic and military power. This world-altering work of salvation was rather centred in the calmness of hearing and asking questions of teachers of God’s Word.
Series A, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Worth Doing Badly
Real life was added to the world in the hidden working of God, as an invisible angel rescued the Holy Family to wait it out in Egypt while God let time do His work. Spiritual power goes unnoticed but it does not mean that it is unreal, as our celebration of Christmas makes clear. God subtly subverted Herod’s futile attempt to control events, and exposed his delusional assumption that he could control his circumstances.
Series A, 4th Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus’s birth opened what the Psalm called the “eternal portal”. He who was Perfect became a penitent—a sinner—so that we, who are penitents might enjoy perfection eternally.
Worth Doing Badly
Jesus is not afraid of offending people’s sensibilities. On the contrary, He is very emphatic about the necessity of taking heed of His message of repentance and faith.
Series A, 2nd Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Isaiah 11:1–10; Psalm 72:1–7; Romans 15:4–13; Matthew 3:1–12 John the Baptist was a strange man whose strong message is exactly what we need today if we are to rightly celebrate Christmas. John is an Advent character who gets us ready to get past the Christmas that has become a boring materialist exercise in excess. John’s call for repentance freely expresses that we have been wrong about what we desire and the means of fulfilling that desire. Repentance does not deny life but rather desires more than this life can deliver.
Series A, 1st Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
The church has a different calendar because Christians believe that Jesus—the Fullness of Time—has changed the meaning of time. Ordinary calendars see time as celebrating human accomplishments that sadly do not solve the problem of time running out. When the calendar focuses on Christ’s work of salvation, time measures our nearing to the consummation of our desired salvation.
Series C, Last Sunday of the Church Year, Worth Doing Badly
How can we enjoy any peace on the Last Sunday of the Church Year which remembers the brutal truth that every material thing is this world has destined to destruction? The simple answer is to look at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. There we see the movement of the second Creation from chaos to the new and eternity destined Creation.
Series C, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
We don’t naturally see destruction as a sign of hope, and so we need Jesus’ teaching to make this connection. He shows that God destroys things in order to clear the way for a better life. We do not do the destroying, but when it happens we are to understand and expect that we are experiencing a necessary demolition of the old to make room for the new.
Series C, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Exodus 3:1–15; Psalm 148; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–8, 13–17; Luke 20:27-40 When things (like the Church year) come to a close, it’s time to think about what comes next. In this text Jesus uses questions about the resurrection to teach about what comes next after He changes the history of mankind by His coming death and resurrection.
Series C, All Saints' Day, Worth Doing Badly
Revelation 7:9–17; Psalm 149; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12 In a material-centric world, you are what you appear or what you possess or what you have done. In a world created by God, the material was caused by the immaterial Word of God, so that what is real is whatever God’s speech calls real. John is unbashful then in saying that we are really children of God, not because it is obvious or apparent but because God calls us His children.
Series C, Reformation Day, Worth Doing Badly
Revelation 14:6-7; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 Jesus did not think teaching show coddle the mind and make people comfortable with themselves. He taught that knowing God in truth required a constant reformation of the pleasant lies that we always and effortlessly find so attractive.
Series C, 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Genesis 32:22–30; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14—4:5; Luke 18:1-8 What is prayer and what’s the benefit of praying without ceasing? Prayer fuels persistence so that in the face of heartlessness you do not lose heart.
Series C, 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Ruth 1:1–19a; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2:1-13; Luke 17:11-19 Why is it—at least here--that 9 times out of 10 enjoyment of God’s great gifts does not lead one to a desire to enjoy the Giver’s ongoing presence? The text does not worry at all about the 9 but rather celebrates the one who refused to be content with a foretaste of restored health when he could have, by being with Jesus, the whole feast.
Series C, 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Habakkuk 1:1–4; 2:1–4; Psalm 62; 2 Timothy 1:1–14; Luke 17:1-10 How does faith elevate the quality of our lives now? Faith is the source of peace, patience, bonds of trust and forgiveness of sins.
Series C, St. Michael and All Angels, Worth Doing Badly
Why does Jesus think a child’s humility embody greatness? Children conceive of their lives the unfolding of future possibilities. Children are humble, at the bottom looking up, because they possess nothing and have accomplished nothing: They have a future which they expect will fulfil their out-of-this-world desires. Having the child’s point of view means seeing our lives, not as dwindling away to nothing, but gaining momentum toward the consummation of all we desire.
Series C, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Amos 8:4–7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1–15; Luke 16:1–15 God chooses to do His work in our lives through an edification that happens slowly through repetition and repentance. The good that is done in preaching happens over time and in the thick of the relationships where the people test to see if the preacher himself believes what he speaks.
Series C, 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Ezekiel 34:11–24; Psalm 119: 169–176; 1 Timothy 1: (5–11) 12–17; Luke 15:1–10 God values personal bonds of love that are as inefficient as a woman wasting time to find a lost coin and then throws a party that costs more than the value of the found coin. Why? Because heaven so enjoys the lost being found, the disconnected being reconnected and the unreconciled being reconciled, when this happens the inefficiency of love is best expressed in the excess of a celebration.
Series C, 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Deuteronomy 30:15–20; Psalm 1; Philemon 1–2; Luke 14:25–35 Everyone desires to be happier and this makes us vulnerable. Wanting happiness to run deeper, last longer and be more satisfying produces selfishness and cynicism. The happiness that is caused by “the Lord’s teaching” is not obvious because it gives life slowly; working below the surface, in feeding the roots that eventually bear fruit.
Series C, 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Engaging the pericopes is worth doing even if we do it badly. In fact, the good that comes from repeatedly reading Scriptures “pericopely” is both existential and cumulative. The existential good is that the Biblical texts speak at a particular moment to a particular congregation by a particular pastor and then are repeated next week. This repetition, over time, achieves the cumulative good of revealing the beauty, truth and goodness of Scripture as it bubbles to the surface. Proverbs 25:2–10; Psalm 131; Heb. 13:1–17; Luke 14:1–14 What do these texts say about the way we increase worry by thinking about things we can do nothing about? (Weber:) “Were I hearing a sermon on these texts, I’d want to have the phrase “wait on the Lord” be taken out of the realm of pious sentiments and considered in terms of real life. Is it really possible to give up on building a resume that gets others to acknowledge one’s importance? Is patience really prudent? After all Jesus’ dis