Idle Talk (& Other Good News)

Early one damp Saturday morning in spring, when I was 6 and my little sister, Christina, was around 3 or 4, the two of us ran into the house and hollered at our father, “Dad! Dad! There’s a dead animal in the backyard!” That’s a pleasant way to be woken up in the morning. And based on our extreme excitement you would have thought that we’d found a beached whale out behind the shed. We hauled Dad out into the backyard and pointed the way. And there, in a pile of pine needles, was a dead little mole or a shrew or something that would have easily fit into the palm of your hand. You wouldn’t’ve thought much about the little thing unless you had the curiosity and gross-seeking instincts of child.

I imagine my father’s first thought was just to throw the thing over the fence so we wouldn’t play with it and then go have breakfast, but instead he had another idea. He took us into the garage, and we got a shovel. And then we dug a little grave together in a small open patch of grass near a birch tree. While we were digging, Dad told Christina and me that the little vole or mole or whatever it was had lived a good long life doing all the things that God had made it to do on the earth. And when it got old and it knew its end was near, it had found a comfortable place to die. And now that it was dead its spirit had joined God with the spirits of all the other little creatures of the fields.

What You Bring Forth Will Save You

As Jesus was getting ready for the very first Palm Sunday,

there was a feeling of secrecy in the air.

Do you feel that in the text?

Before the end of the day there’s going to be a big triumphal parade.

But if word of it gets out to the Romans who are occupying Jerusalem,

there’s going to be big trouble.

So, they start things off on the down low.

They’ve made no real plans.

They don’t have a parade permit.

They don’t even have a horse.

So, Jesus sends two disciples surreptitiously to acquire a colt.

If you get caught stealing it, he says, just give them the secret password,

“The Lord needs it.”

It Smells Like Faith in Here

Who here knows the first rule of perfume and cologne?

Anybody? If you know it, shout it out!

The first rule of perfume and cologne is:

A dab’ll do ya OR

A little bit goes a looooooooong way.

You know this rule instinctually whenever somebody who doesn’t know this rule

sits down next to you on the subway.

And the smell of cologne fills the whole car!

And gets inside your clothes!

And up your sinuses!

And—apparently—Mary was one of the people who didn’t know this rule.

Welcoming In

Today’s scripture reading is a familiar story. It's a story that has permeated its way through culture. It’s one of those parables that are often taught in Sunday school and shared over and over again.

And I love this.

I take great comfort in the old familiar story.

I am far more likely to reread the same story over and over again than to read something new because I know the story and know who to root for in the story and how it ends. There are no longer surprises in stories that you know well inside and out.

I know which characters to fall in love with and which ones I will never like. I find myself relating to some people in a story and other characters are too complex for me to ever understand.

Fruit (& Manure)

Beloved, this is a tough piece of scripture. It’s weird, I tell you—Weird! I like the weird stuff. Bit right up front I think we’ve got to get on the same page about what’s happening here.

 So, right before the beginning of our reading this evening, Jesus has been talking about the Apocalypse. By which Jesus means that there’s something a-coming—a great change, a great opportunity, an upheaval of the world-as-it-is of our lives-as-they-are into the almost-but-not-quite-here-yet Kingdom of God—a kingdom not of this world, says Jesus, by which he means that the power dynamics and values of this world do not reign in the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God the last will be first, and the least will be the greatest of all. Jesus says: No one knows when the moment will arrive, but we all better be watching for it, and we better be ready when it comes knocking.