The Right and The Wrong Way to Deny Yourself

(A Lection Reflection on Mark 8:34)

Since forever, humankind has been trying to propitiate an angry god. From sacrificing virgins, to self-flagellation, to whatever gift of obligation we can think up, we keep approaching the spiritual world as something to be paid off with a bribe. Then, once we think we’ve paid this week’s protection money, we ignore the divine and move on to something else more pleasant … until the next time the Godfather demands a pound of flesh.

Both of these approaches — the payoff and the ignoring — are wrong. And yet, when many people read this week’s Gospel reading, all they can see is another angry god, telling me that the only way to approach this god is to practice asceticism — oh, and do it for the rest of your life.

Here’s the deal: I think many Christians have the “deny yourself” thing all wrong. AND, I think they are missing the rest of the formula, because we never talk about it.

So let’s talk about it.

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Stop Repenting and Start Changing!

(a Lection Reflection on Mark 1:15)

It’s just too easy, really. All I have to do is ask you to tell me the first picture that comes to your mind when I give you a word, and I bet many of you will come up with the same picture. Here’s the word: Continue reading

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Lection Reflection: Processing the Transfiguration

This week’s passage is a very familiar one, and has been written and preached about so many times that there is not much for me to add. I will note, though, a couple of things that struck me. Continue reading

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New poem — “The Taking of Jim Smith’s Life”

Short, fun, doggerel — but also true. Read it here.

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Gluttony — We Don’t Talk About It, But We Still Do It

(A Lection Reflection on I Corinthians 6:12)

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a sermon, or a sermon series, on The Seven Deadly Sins. Perhaps the list and the concept are seen by some as “too Catholic.” Perhaps it seems too basic. Perhaps it is too old-fashioned.

But I suspect the real reason is if you preach on any of these, you’ve “done left preaching and gone to meddling.” And one of the prime examples of all-out meddling is preaching on Gluttony. Why? Because we know the truth — we don’t want to talk about it, because we know we are guilty.

I think, though, that there’s more here than we think. More that we need to talk about. Continue reading

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