Series B, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” The question did not seek obvious information but to show those who were embarrassed by Bartimaeus’ cries that no one lives without God’s mercy.
Series B, 21st Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Astounded by Jesus’ dismissive view of wealth, Peter wondered “Who can be saved?” Wealth supported the institutions and teachers necessary for worship and study without which, Peter presumed, salvation was impossible. Jesus explained that salvation, like creation, is humanly impossible because it is God’s work.
Series B, 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus refused to let a rich young man call him “good teacher” because the man did not yet understand God as the source and destination of all good. Goodness is good because it originates as a gift from God to draw us back to Him. The rich man confessed to understanding the origin of goodness but not the implication that God draws us to himself by giving and taking away his good gifts.
Series B, 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus’ severe limitation of divorce was the negative side of his positive teaching on the desirability of God’s faithfulness. Over time, the faithfulness expressed in the marriage vow transformed the promiscuity of Roman culture which gave women and children the necessary security to flourish. Jesus’ rejection of divorce neutralized the threat to the economically vulnerable.
Series B, 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
To teach His disciples the right way of peace, Jesus first attacked their desire to have peace by dominating others. This sort of “peace” is like gaining control of one’s body by amputating the offending member. Jesus’ alternative peace is salt-like drawing out and joining together foods’ flavours without notice until it is missing.
Series B, 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus’ disclosure of his coming betrayal, murder and resurrection was a sacrifice too fearful for the disciples to consider. So Jesus patiently helped the disciples come to grips with their fear by asking them about their recent argument regarding which of them was the greatest.
Series B, 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
“Help my unbelief”. This prayer of an anxious father is for patience to let time run its course in waiting for Jesus to fulfil what he promises.
Series B, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus’ followers were commanded to keep quiet about a miracle until they saw the connection between it and the saving Word which was evident in the restoration of a man’s linguistic capabilities.
Series B, 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
We have grown accustomed to this fallen upside-down world so that we do not know what uprightness is or whether we even desire it. Yet, we live with an unbearable suspicion that nothing can turn us upright so we are always falling for the fake solutions of hucksters and hypocrites.
Series B, 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
By successfully labelling the Pharisees hypocrites, Jesus exposed their “splendid” theatre of deception. Their public performance of a rigid, methodical observation of religious rules and rituals disguised the “abandoning the commandment of God” taking place in their hearts. They lacked integrity which is the integration of the tongue with the heart and the integration of inner beliefs with public speech and actions.
Series B, 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Life, like love, is not truly life unless it is forever. Though Peter was profoundly scandalized by Jesus’ incomprehensible command to eat his body and drink his blood, he recognized he had nowhere to go because Jesus spoke the words of eternal life
Series B, 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Here Jesus speaks to those who behold him but do not believe him. They heard Jesus’ words and experienced his miraculous works but did not believe he was the Bread of Life who satisfies the insatiable hunger for evermore life. Their rejection would make sense if they were satisfied. But they were not.
Series B, 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus named himself the bread of life who alone satisfies our human, essential and existential hunger for eternity.
Series B, 9th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Looking back, the Evangelist Mark could recognize why cowardliness plagued the apostles until they witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Only at that point they understood that the peace that calmed the storm was intent on calming the cosmos. Mark expresses a happy appreciation for the patient and effective way that Jesus used their repeated failures to increment their trust in the liberating effects of Jesus’ command to “be courageous and fear not”
Series B, 8th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
To give his disciples the “good time” of leisure, Jesus took them to a deserted place for rest, which almost no one would think of as having a good time. Jesus’ point was to show them/us that leisure—being removed from the excitement in order to be still—is essential to enjoying the goodness of time as a whole.
Series B, 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Mark contrasts Herod's lack of character with John’s courage and his followers’ character. Their response to John’s murder was not outrage or emotional outburst.
Series B, 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Concealed in the seed’s smallness is the potential for great growth. To drive home the lesson of the mustard seed, Jesus sent out his disciples, not with military force or a bureaucratic plan or a spectacular advertising strategy but materially vulnerable and with the promise that those who trusted their teaching would be generous and hospitable.
Series B, 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Faith perceives the concealed truth that, against all hope, Jesus is both able and willing to make good on his promise to give life.
Series B, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
The Holy Spirit overcomes the lies terror teaches with the deep truths grace reveals when we are most terrified.
Series B, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
Pentecost inaugurates the third act of the Trinity’s presence on earth. The Spirit’s work is to draw us deeper in participation in the life of the Trinity, which is a vast topic slowly considered during Pentecost, the longest season of the church year.
Series B, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21) Had Jesus lost His mind? As CS Lewis famously observed that if Jesus was not the Lord while saying the things he said, he’d be either a liar or lunatic.
Series B, The Holy Trinity, Worth Doing Badly
“…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Pentecost meant that God’s Triune presence on earth was complete and permanent. From now on, our natural desire for wholeness would be satisfied by God’s supernatural presence and promise. Natural birth would only be satisfied by spiritual/baptismal rebirth.
Series B, The Day of Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
The first truth the Holy Spirit drives home is an analysis of being stuck in sin without an escape. WB Yeats puts it this way: “Now that my ladder's gone, I must lie down where all the ladders start: in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart”. The second truth is that we need not be stuck because Jesus’ Ascension has restored the ladder of our ascent out of this “foul rag and bone shop.” The third truth is that the proprietor of the world’s foul rag and bone shop exists on borrowed time. And because these truths are too hard to bear all at once, the Holy Spirit promises to be our personal paraclete - one who calls us to the truth that we are on the path of Christ's ascension.
Series B, The Ascension of Our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus refused to save Himself and come down from the cross because the direction of salvation is upward. The Ascension turned His crucifixion, history's lowest point, into Ground Zero of salvation’s ascent to life eternal.
Series B, 6th Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Love others as Jesus has loved us? That’s a big problem. Jesus is God; we are not. God is perfect; we are not. To love as God loves means being perfect as God is perfect.
Series B, 5th Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
The Word of truth and life. In John 15:1-8 Jesus identifies Himself as the True Vine and promises to satisfy our God-given desire for life not to decay but to become more and more fruitful overtime until, one day, we are raised to eternal life.
Series B, 4th Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep". The resurrection of Jesus compelled death to serve His mission to express His immortal love for the world.
Series B, 3rd Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus himself stood among them, and said, “Peace to you!” The fact of the Resurrection meant, from now on, that emerging Peace was the real world; fear and despair were temporary conditions moving toward the irrelevance of non-existence.
Series B, 2nd Sunday of Easter, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus’ healed wounds convinced doubting Thomas that God’s cosmic healing was, in fact, underway. God’s kingdom had come, not by obvious force but by the hidden and humble movement of forgiveness: “If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Series B, The Resurrection of Our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
“Do not be alarmed.” The angel told the first witnesses of the greatest material, death-defying act in all history to “calm down”. They were not witnesses of a circus; they were seeing the beginning of the second creation. They were alarmed because they had grown accustomed to triumphant death terminating life. Now they would need to calm down in order to become accustomed to the new edifying role death would play in our pilgrimage on the path of life.
Series B, Palm Sunday, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus' first disciples experienced Holy Week as the defeat of their faith and hope because it seemed that evil had triumphed over love. St. Mark’s claim is that Jesus’ movement to the cross was never, at any point along the path, a defeat. And yet, faith and hope are needed life often feels like the hopeless movement toward the defeat of love by death.
Series B, 5th Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
“…whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43b). The disciples refused Jesus’ salvation through cross and to resurrection. In a right-side up world, the glory of living is not sacrifice and not the selfish pursuit of getting one’s own way. It is having the freedom to pray “Thy will be done” rather than insisting that my will be done.
Series B, 4th Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
“…for God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God expressed His love for the perishing in Jesus, the beloved Son, who Himself perished in such a way as to remove our condemnation by overcoming perishing in His resurrection.
Series B, 3rd Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
'He rested on the seventh day'. God’s Word gives us a rest/peace that the world’s gold cannot give. Rest, and not money, is the soul’s deepest desire which only God’s Word can satisfy.
Series B, 2nd Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
In a strange way, the empty ease with which “Jesus Christ” is used for swearing unwittingly accepts a connection that was hard won by the true man “Jesus” showing that He filled the office of the “Christ.” How tenuous this connection is evident in Peter’s clear confession of Jesus as the Christ until Jesus revealed that suffering “was necessary” for the one holding the office of Christ.
Series B, 1st Sunday in Lent, Worth Doing Badly
Lent is about love—God's beloved Son’s loving sacrifice for our salvation. Turning Lent into a season focused on the world’s suffering or on personal self-denial is a distraction. Lent aims to train our attention on the meaning of the love of the beloved Son.
Series B, The Transfiguration of Our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
The Transfiguration defines the salvation by Christ's cross as a movement of events. Beginning on the Mount of Transfiguration, salvation moves through the disfiguration of the cross, and then is completed by the Resurrection. The Transfiguration stage defined salvation by the unbearable brightness of Jesus’ clothing which exposed just how shoddy and tattered is the very best earth can offer when compared to the heavenly brightness. Any salvation worthy of the name must be heavenly and eternal.
Series B, 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus promises a healing that only happens when time ends. In the meantime, he gives us foretastes to keep us longing for the fullness of His kindness.
Series B, 4th Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus amazed his hearers because his teaching had authority that was somehow different from the authority of the official teachers. Official authority moves people by external compulsion. Jesus had the authority to move people inwardly by speaking to their souls. His instruction literally in-structures the soul and generates a new life that endlessly flows like living water.
Series B, 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Jesus responded to the bad news of John’s arrest by preaching the “good news” of the presence of God’s kingdom. John wondered if Jesus was the promised Messiah because God’s presence made no real difference. Then he discovered that the goodness of the good news does not magically overcome evil. Rather it is a goodness of God’s patient love that slowly renders evil irrelevant.
Series B, 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Worth Doing Badly
Come and behold. Jesus' lowly origin and the choice of his disciples reflect the personal nature of His salvation. Salvation will be God coming to know us so that we might freely desire to know Him.
Series B, The Baptism of Our Lord, Worth Doing Badly
When the Eternal entered time, the heavens were “torn open,” the path to perfection was open to penitents. This path of our ultimate satisfaction is characterized by the two metaphors of cleansing and drowning.
Series B, 2nd Sunday after Christmas, Worth Doing Badly
Astonished! The temple teachers were surprised at the insightful questions that came from a mere boy. They were astonished because once again God’s promises appear to us as so humble, that is, unpromising. Should we expect anything less than that the repeated return to the routines and rituals of Christ's Church will also repeatedly and unpredictably astonish us by the way they energize our desire for understanding by asking questions?
Series B, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Worth Doing Badly
Peace is defined by the ability to depart in peace. Simeon declared his ability to depart in peace because he recognized Jesus as the fullness of time. As time’s fullness, Jesus would transform time from a draining movement of despair to the filling movement that departs into eternal fullness.
Series B, 4th Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Gabriel’s messages to Mary regarding the conditions of her pregnancy were unpromising and unsettling. Yet, she was told to “fear not” because the fear would give way to the joy of Christmas.
Series B, 3rd Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Why do God’s promises seem so unpromising? Promising life by means of the Cross seems foolish to some and scandalous to others. Here, the prophet declaring the promise lived in a dead desert, had a disgusting diet and suffered a dreadful death. To untangle why, first ask what we mean by a promising life? A promising life is not defined by the present but by a future fulfilment. The one thing a promising life requires is time to reveal that fulfilment.
Series B, 2nd Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
Salvation is a road named Jesus. What does it mean to think of Salvation as a road? It means that we have access to where once our travel was frustrated.
Series B, 1st Sunday in Advent, Worth Doing Badly
The church’s calendar is anchored in the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ and slowly trains us over time to experience time with eager anticipation rather than anxious despair.
Series A, Last Sunday of the Church Year, Worth Doing Badly
At the end of days, those who freely pray “Thy will be done” are separated from those who insist “My will be done.” God will not force these to live eternally in the joy of obedience. Jesus came to heal the sickest of the sick and not to enhance the health of the healthy.
Series A, 24th Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
The Church Year is a calendar that connects time to texts and festivals that help us hope by seeing time as progressing towards joy.
Series A, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Worth Doing Badly
The parable of the 10 virgins reveals how faith relates to fear, particularly the fear of missing out. Jesus intends for us to see ourselves in the foolish virgins for the many times we failed to “watch” because we were distracted from the things that really matter by the things that do not matter.
All Saints, Worth Doing Badly
When we follow Jesus, there is no circumstance in this life in which we cannot expect to be blessed or to bless others. Experiencing blessedness in bad circumstances on earth increases our hunger and thirst for the eternal goodness now enjoyed by the departed.
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