ON Scripture

Organization: Odyssey Networks

ON Scripture is a weekly blog that addresses the Revised Common Lectionary texts for the week through the lens of current events. Developed by Odyssey Networks, it is written by noted church leaders and scholars.

Articles by ON Scripture

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ON Scripture: Dr. Greg Carey on Matthew 16:21-28

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture column, Dr. Greg Carey writes, "Few Christians abandon everything for the gospel’s sake. Most of us simply fit our Christianity into the open spots on our calendars. But in this passage Jesus links the life of discipleship with his own path."

ON Scripture: Mark Vitalis Hoffman: Matthew 18:15-20: Insiders and Outsiders

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Matthew 18:15-20 is an insider's text for outsiders. From Matthew's perspective, Jesus is both warning and assuring those inside the young Christian church. It is a church, however, whose members stand outside the main streams of both religious and civil practice.

ON Scripture: Barbara Lundblad on Exod. 14:19-31

Wednesday August 24, 2011
We haven’t had any clear victories to sing about since September 11, 2001. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were ambiguous from the start and drag on to this day. Thousands have been killed, both soldiers and civilians. While many cheered the death of Osama bin Laden, his death has not turned sorrow into joy or filled an empty place at the table. What song shall we sing now?

ON Scripture: Matt Skinner on Matt. 20:1-16: Justice Comes in the Evening

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Our notions of justice usually cannot help but be influenced by our own circumstances and by our opinions about what we and others deserve. We insist justice has to do with equality, but a lot of the time it's a word we toss around to keep people and things we don't like at bay. And then along comes Jesus, eager to mess even more with our regular attitudes about what's right or fair.

ON Scripture: Dr. Greg Carey on Ezekiel 18

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, Dr. Greg Carey writes, "Ezekiel speaks compellingly to the current situation in the United States. But is the prophet’s message true?"

ON Scripture: Eric Barreto on Exodus 20: 10 Commandments--Rules and Regulations?

Wednesday August 24, 2011
How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? If you are like most Americans, the number is far below the full ten. A 2007 survey reported that most Americans could rattle off the ingredients of a Big Mac more readily than the Ten Commandments

ON Scripture: Stephanie Crowder on Matt. 22, A Biblical Case of Class Warfare

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Much in this country’s political landscape from Populist ideology to New Deal praxis has centered on equal access and opportunity for all. Yet, almost two thousand years earlier than these movements, first century C.E. New Testament literature points to similar struggles.

ON Scripture: Dr. Matt Skinner on Matt. 22: The Heavy Cost of Paying "The Emperor"

Wednesday August 24, 2011
It couldn’t hurt for Jesus to show up and weigh in on America’s current economic and political challenges. It might be helpful if he issued a declaration about who should pay taxes, and how much. Then again, this would likely get him killed all over again.

ON Scripture: Jaime Clark-Soles on Matthew 22:34-46: On Loving God, Loving Neighbor and #OWS

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This week's ON Scripture lectionary resource: New Testament professor Jaime Clark-Soles on Matthew 22:34-46: Loving God, loving neighbor, and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

ON Scripture: Dr. Walter Brueggemann on Jeremiah 31:31-34

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Noted theologian Dr. Walter Brueggemann begins a four-part series for the ON Scripture lectionary resource by focusing on Jeremiah 31:31-34.

ON Scripture: Dr. Walter Brueggemann on Joshua 24

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This week’s text, Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25, features a great dramatic meeting as the culmination of arriving in the land of promise. Read Dr. Walter Brueggemann's lectionary reflections.

ON Scripture: Dr. Walter Brueggemann on Zephaniah 1

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, noted scholar Dr. Walter Brueggemann examines Zephaniah 1: "This poem features extravagant language about a coming time of loss, disaster, distress, and suffering."

ON Scripture: Dr. Walter Brueggemann on Ezekiel 34 - Reign of Christ Sunday

Wednesday August 24, 2011
If Ezekiel were among us now, he might well conclude that the emergence of the “99%” is a scourge from God that intends to expose and bring down social policies, practices, and institutions that are out of sync with God’s will for shalom.

ON Scripture: Matt Skinner on Mark 13:24-37 - Advent: One of Those Dangerous Religious Ideas

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Here comes Black Friday, even earlier than usual. Bell-ringers are appearing outside stores. Advertisers are shifting the consumerism-as-therapy machine into high gear. And Christians say: This is a good time to think about the world falling apart. We’re not trying to be morose. We’re starting Advent.

ON Scripture: Michael Joseph Brown on Mark 1: God Barges Into Our Lives

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, Dr. Michael Joseph Brown delves into Mark 1:1-8 and finds God can be an abrupt and unsettling force in our lives.

ON Scripture: Dr. Tom Long on John 1:6-8;19-28: Faith and Fear

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The fear about exposure and judgment comes to white hot focus in a remarkable biblical story, told early in the Gospel of John, about an investigative team dispatched from the capital city to interrogate an enigmatic preacher named John the Baptizer.

ON Scripture: Carolyn Sharp on Luke 1:39-56: Magnificat for a Broken World

Wednesday August 24, 2011
What does it mean to wait for God in a broken world? What does it mean to wait in a time in which God’s promise of redemption is met by the despair of the poor, the greed of those who exploit others, and the rage of those who commit violence? What does Advent mean for the real world?

ON Scripture: Eric Barreto on Luke 2:1-20: The "Real" War On Christmas?

Wednesday August 24, 2011
"If there is a war on Christmas, I think the assault is both more subtle and more pernicious than these perplexed conspiracy theories."

ON Scripture: Susan K. Hedahl: How Are We Caring for Our Children Today? (Luke 2:22-40)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The enactment of religious rituals for children in the Jewish faith of Jesus’ time is the background of this only biblical glimpse we have of Jesus’ early infancy. This luminous text of hope from Luke’s Gospel is pictorial in its rendering of Jesus presentation at the temple.

ON Scripture: Andy Watts: Does Baptism Make for Better Presidents? (Mark 1:4-11)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Christians seem to have a genetic disposition for describing people and events through a biblical lens. It makes sense. We are story-formed people, and the Bible shapes our political, moral and social imaginations.

ON Scripture: Luke Powery on 1 Sam. 3: Prayerful Listening, Prophetic Proclaiming

Wednesday August 24, 2011
God speaks. We serve. But the first task of a prophet is to listen. Prayer and protest are married yet this does not mean that one sits in a pew of passivity and does not act. The witness of Dr. King shows otherwise.

ON Scripture: Greg Carey on Mark 1:14-20: Worthy of Their Lives

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Readers almost always gravitate to the same question. Why do Simon and Andrew, then James and John after them, abandon everything to follow Jesus? Mark leaves no doubt as to the immediacy of their response.

ON Scripture: Angela Zimmann on Mark 1:12-28: The Need for Authentic Leadership

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In our lectionary text from Mark this week, we encounter a crowd and a speaker, a scenario not unlike what is taking place in today’s political landscape. However, there is a twist on this seemingly familiar event.

ON Scripture: Kathryn Schifferdecker: Isaiah 40:21-31: On Faith and Football

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This Sunday, tens of millions of people will watch the New England Patriots and the New York Giants face off in the Super Bowl. And as it happens, the Scripture reading appointed for worship is Isaiah 40:21-31...

ON Scripture: Matthew Skinner on Mark 1:40-45: The Inconvenient Truth About Taking Care of the Poor

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner reveals that exploring Jesus’ concern for the poor and excluded reminds us of the close connections among wealth, health, and social acceptability.

ON Scripture: Barbara K. Lundblad on Mark 9:2-9: Visions on the Mountain

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, the Rev. Barbara K. Lundblad writes, "The transfiguration story from Mark 9 is a story we often try to explain. What happened on that mountain when Jesus went to pray with Peter, James and John?"

ON Scripture: Stephanie Crowder on Mark 1:9-11: The Pleasure Principle

Wednesday August 24, 2011
I am not a Janet Jackson aficionado, but her song, “The Pleasure Principle” from 1987 has a few lines that are still appealing almost 25 years later: “I’m not here to feed your insecurities. I wanted you to love me...It’s the pleasure principle.”

ON Scripture: Michael Cooper-White on Gen. 17 & Mark 8: God the Game-Changer

Wednesday August 24, 2011
God’s name- and game-changing relationship with Abraham and Sarah was described as a “covenant.” .... Mark’s gospel claims that God’s ultimate covenant with the creation had to be forged on a cross and is sealed by Jesus’ blood (Mk. 14:24).

ON Scripture: Dr. Matt Skinner: Where Can God Be Found? (John 2:13-22)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
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ON Scripture: Dr. Margaret Aymer on John 3:14-21: Bouncers and the “In” Crowd

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In her lectionary resource for this week, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer writes, "Notice the open invitation in John 3:14-15: anyone who believes. This seemingly open invitation continues throughout this most over-cited of biblical passages: John 3:16.... But then, in John 3:18, the velvet rope appears."

ON Scripture: Dirk Lange on John 12:20-33: Who am I?

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, Dirk Lange writes, "The journey to the cross is not a glorification of death. Jesus invites us into a disruption of our tightly sealed, self-contained, seed-like identity into a God-given identity, blossoming in communion."

ON Scripture: Dr. Matthew Skinner on Mark 14:1-15:47: What Jesus’ Death Tells Us About Ourselves

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The Trayvon Martin story is tragic for many reasons.... As Christians move into the week that most defines our faith, a week of remembering and reliving Jesus’ death and resurrection, this idea of a broken system provides an poignant setting for us to consider the ongoing significance of what happened to him nearly 2000 years ago.

ON Scripture: Barbara Lundblad on Mark 16:1-8: Beyond Fear and Silence

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, the Rev. Dr. Barbara K. Lundblad explores Mark's account of the resurrection, and what it tells us about how we tell the story.

ON Scripture: Lisa Nichols Hickman on John 20:19-31: Thomas > Doubt

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, Lisa Nichols Hickman focuses on the story of Doubting Thomas in John 20:19-31: Easter faith is not about certainty. The reality of Easter is the complexity of living anew in a broken creation.

ON Scripture: Henry Brinton on Luke 24:36b-48: A Welcoming Table

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Everyone knows about Easter morning. Many also know the story of Easter afternoon ”” the walk to Emmaus. But how about Easter evening? Who knows what happens then? Luke’s story of Jesus appearing to his disciples in Jerusalem is less well known, but is equally important. It revolves around a table instead of a tomb.

ON Scripture: Dr. Eric Barreto on Psalm 23 and 1 John 3:15-24

Wednesday August 24, 2011
What shape does God’s presence take in our lives? Here a reading in 1 John 3:16-24 is most helpful. This passage points to Jesus’ sacrifice as the ultimate embodiment of God’s love for us. That Jesus laid down his life for us, however, comes with a price.

ON Scripture: Adam Copeland on Acts 8:26-40: Castrating Our Customs

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Some people call them “thin places,” locations where the gulf between heaven and earth narrows and we fully sense God’s presence.... Though these thin places are inherently unpredictable, we can aid in their creation. Like Philip in Acts 8, we can run to join what the Spirit is already making possible.

ON Scripture: David Lewicki on Acts 10:44-48: Holy Calamity

Wednesday August 24, 2011
When Peter declared, “God shows no partiality,” he opened the possibility that anyone””everyone””is welcome in the family of faith. He also put us on warning: the rules were changed for you, so that you could come in””who are you, then, to prevent God from blessing the whole human family? Who are you to stand in the way of God’s love?

ON Scripture: Dr. Amy Erickson on Psalm 1: Putting Evil in Its Place

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Psalm 1 is trying to provide practical advice about how to be “good” even when it feels like evil is closing in you. Stay on the right path and resist the dark side. For those in Sing Sing prison, that is a lot harder than it looks.

ON Scripture: Dr. Eric Barreto on Acts 2:1-21: Think Differently About Difference

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Christians have often hoped for a time when our racial and economic differences would cease, when in Christ we would all be indistinguishable. Such impulses are earnest but fundamentally misguided.

ON Scripture: Sze-Kar Wan on The Price of Being Prophetic: Isaiah 6.1–8; John 3.1–17

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This week's ON Scripture lectionary aid: Sze-Kar Wan on The Price of Being Prophetic: Isaiah 6.1–8; John 3.1–17. "The recent escape of the well-known blind Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng from house arrest to the American embassy has attracted a lot of attention in the media...."

ON Scripture: Dr. Matt Skinner: What Makes a Family? (Mark 3:20-35)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary aid, the Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner explores Mark 3:20-35 and asks, What Makes a Family?

ON Scripture: The Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson on 1 Sam. 16: Pariahs No More!

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, the Rev. Dr. Alvin O'Neal Jackson focuses on 1 Samuel 16: This narrative drama, beautiful in its use of suspense and reversal of expectations, reminds us of the pitfalls and dangers in dismissing and discounting the value and worth of any person.

ON Scripture: Greg Carey on Mark 4:35-41: Lord of the Storm

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Modern readers struggle with miracle stories like this. ... We’re prepared for Jesus’ healing miracles because they directly benefit desperate people. But “nature miracles” like stilling the storm challenge the boundaries of our imaginations.

ON Scripture: Dr. Lewis Galloway on Mark 5:21-43: Taking Jesus Seriously

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The book of Ecclesiastes says that there is an appropriate time for every matter: there is a time to mourn and a time to laugh. The Gospel of Mark tells a story that gets the time for tears and the time for laughter all mixed up.

ON Scripture: Dr. Stephanie Crowder on Mark 6:1-13: No Priority Like Health, No Place Like Home

Wednesday August 24, 2011
At issue in the gospel’s penultimate Sabbath story is not the identity of Jesus as “Son of Man” or “Lord of the Sabbath.” What is problematic is his family. Jesus’ biological family and their lack of status cause trouble. Jesus is too plain, too ordinary.

ON Scripture: Dr. James Childs on Mark 6:14-29: The Downfall of Giving In to Fear

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This week's ON Scripture - The Bible lectionary aid features the Rev. Dr. James Childs on Mark 6:14-29: John the Baptist was convicted, convinced of his ordination to prepare the way of the Messiah with a call to repentance. Herod Antipas was conflicted, assailed by contradictory impulses within himself and vulnerable to pressures outside himself.

ON Scripture: Eric Shafer on Compassion Fatigue: Mark 6:30-34 & 53-56

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This week's ON Scripture lectionary aid on Mark 6:30-34 & 53-56: The good news is that you and I can take a break at times. Rest, relaxation, vacation, is not only a God-given gift; it is a God-given necessity.

ON Scripture: Melissa Browning on 2 Samuel 11:1-15: The Story of Patriarchy and HIV/AIDS

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource: Like the story of David and Bathsheba, death and love are too often linked in the stories of women living with HIV and AIDS in Africa.

ON Scripture: Nathan Rebukes David

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Every Bible ought to have a warning on its cover. Some of the stories found herein will shock your senses. They will test your faith. They will stretch you. They can hurt you and hurt others. Therefore, handle these texts with care and caution.

ON Scripture: Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman: Not Another Bread Passage … Please! John 6:35,41-51

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Sometimes when I read a biblical text, it makes almost perfect sense to me. Other times, the author's intent seems fairly obvious so I get a good feeling about what I am reading. When I read the lectionary passage from the Gospel of John for this week, I scratched my head. This week’s text is the third of the “bread passages” in our lectionary cycle. There is a lot of bread this summer. And it's about now that many preachers and congregants start asking, "Bread, again?"

ON Scripture: Dr. Walter Brueggemann on I Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14: Who Will Be America's Next Leader?

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The old king, David, is dead. It is time to pick his successor as king. In retrospect it seems obvious that his son, Solomon, was his rightful heir. In the moment, however, the matter of succession to the throne is highly contested.

ON Scripture: The Politics of Betrayal

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Imagine being introduced for the first time, not by your name or what you have done, but in reference to what you will do.

ON Scripture: Dirk Lange on Mark 7: Lip Service – But Where Is the Heart?

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Human beings want religion not God. Or, to put it slightly differently (and perhaps in a more nuanced manner!), they all too easily equate religion with a very particular, culturally determined, idea of God.

ON Scripture: Margaret Aymer on James 2: Poverty, Wealth, and Equality?

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Poor people. These are the two words underlying much of the political arguments coming across the airwaves right now. There is great discussion about Medicaid, Medicare, The Affordable Care Act [aka Obamacare or Romneycare], Welfare, Big Government and Social Security. But two words rarely heard in the 2012 political campaign: poor people.

ON Scripture: Eric Barreto on James 3:1-12: Sticks, Stones, and the Power of Words

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Anyone who has been at the receiving end of a bully’s wrath knows that words are as blunt as stones, as sharp as a honed stick. We should know better than to repeat the old adage about sticks and stones, but we don’t seem to grasp fully the power of words. James 3:1-12 speaks to these realities in a vivid way.

ON Scripture: Matthew Skinner on Jesus’ Death and the Future of Violence (Mark 9:30-37)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource on Mark 9:30-37, the Rev. Dr. Matthew L Skinner writes: If pondering Jesus’ crucifixion doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you probably aren’t doing it right. I’m not referring to the gore and humiliation, which makes crucifixion repulsive no matter who the victim is. Instead, my point has to do with considering the purpose or significance of Jesus’ death.

ON Scripture: Eating with the Enemy: Esther's Story By Lisa Nichols Hickman

Wednesday August 24, 2011
As the lectionary text (Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22) for this week unfolds, Esther, Haman and King Ahasuerus are sharing a meal together. Within hours of this wine being poured, one of them will be dead and an ethnic group, destined for death, will be spared. While I wish this story ended without a single death, the text challenges us to enter the courts of our own enemies, eat with them and encounter the beginnings of understanding.

ON Scripture: Henry Brinton on Mark 10:2-16: Jesus Stands Up for Wives and Children

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The problem we face today is that marriage is on a sharp decline in the United States. Fifty years ago, about three-quarters of American adults 18 and older were married, while today only 52% are. Christians should be concerned about this.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles: The Wizard Is In: or Is He? (Mark 10:17-31)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Holding Bartimaeus’ story in my mind as I delved into the vast problem of human-trafficking victims, I was struck by the many connections. Those who take time to listen to victims know that no one wishes to be a prostitute any more than they wish to be a blind beggar.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Dr. Matthew Skinner: Is It Possible To Govern “Biblically”? (Mark 10:35-45)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Matthew Skinner on Mark 10:35-45 in this week's ON Scripture-The Bible lectionary resouce: Temptations to hold and wield power are usually tough to pass up. Power is alluring whether we imagine having it over others or on behalf of them, whether it’s power in society, at home, or in a workplace.

ON Scripture-The Bible: God’s Return Policy: Jeremiah 31:7-9 By Gregory Lee Cuéllar

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Unlike the variety of migration stories in the Bible, the forces creating migration for many Latina/o families are closely tied to the issues of power and hyper-consumerism. Often as a last resort do immigrant families enter the northbound currents of low-wage laborers that, as Bishop Minerva Carcaño describes, feed “the economic machine in this country.”

ON Scripture-The Bible: Dr. Eric Barreto: How to Vote like a Christian (Mark 12:28-34)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
It seems so easy, doesn’t it? Love God. Love your neighbor. The two greatest commandments encapsulate the core of faith and could--if we really were to trust God--transform the world. Similarly then and with election day looming, voting should be an easy affair: people of faith should vote for the candidates whose policies would most embody a love of God and neighbor.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Dr. Greg Carey: The Value of Chump Change (Mark 12:38-44)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Is poverty what it used to be? Or has poverty grown so shameful that we dare not speak its name? So determined are we keep poverty out of view, we erase the presence of the poor from Jesus’ teachings. The widow we encounter in Mark 12:38-44 provides a case study in poverty and oppression. Unable to confront poverty, we have turned her into something safer – an example of generosity.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Adam Copeland: Signs That the End Is Near: Mark 13:1-8

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The instinct to interpret current times through the broader lens of God’s judgment is not new. Examples appear throughout the Bible. For those who believe God’s Spirit does work in the world through signs and miracles, such tragedies can function as intellectual puzzles, but they should never stop us from responding with heart, head, and hands.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Barbara Lundblad: A Different Kind of King: John 18: 33 - 37

Wednesday August 24, 2011
“What is truth?” Pilate asked, and the question is left hanging in the air. Was he being sarcastic or was he searching for answers nobody else had given him? The answer was not a philosophical proof or a creedal proposition. Truth was the person standing in silence before Pilate.

ON Scripture-The Bible: After the Chaos Ends (Jeremiah 33:14-16) by Amy Erickson

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Jeremiah’s promise of a future restoration for Israel and Judah centers on the image of a righteous branch. This image, while somewhat strange to our culture, carries along with it a rich and varied tradition, deeply rooted in the world and literature of the Old Testament. The tree of life in the Garden of Eden links trees with ideas of abundance, fertility, and renewal.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Who Was He? Malachi 3:1-4, By Nyasha Junior

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In Malachi 3:1-4, the Lord announces a plan to send a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. “Malachi” means “my messenger” in Hebrew. In the Christian canon, the book of Malachi is one of the prophetic books and is the last book in the Christian Old Testament.

ON Scripture-The Bible: On the Fiscal Cliff with John the Baptist: Luke 3:7-18 By Carolyn J. Sharp

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Recently I had the unsettling experience of receiving unsolicited financial advice from John the Baptist. Not directly, of course”” his counsel was mediated through an ancient codex, the Gospel of Luke.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Can We Speak of God’s Activity, in Triumph or Tragedy? (Luke 1:39-55) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
UPDATED: Sometimes, the worse the tragedy, the more abhorrent the theology it elicits. Still numb from the overwhelming evil perpetrated against helpless children and schoolteachers last Friday, now we have to read harsh words from certain Christians who seem compelled to speak for God in disorienting moments like these, and the results are frequently terrible. The rest of the church has a responsibility to get angry and repudiate the statements.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Hell of Parenting: A Study of 1 Samuel By Jacob D. Myers

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Few narratives in the Hebrew Bible are more foreign to us than this week’s lection. We do not give away our children. In a society determined by socio-economic forces utterly beyond the control of individual citizens (e.g., globalization) we do our best to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of change. But what happens when we lose our footing?

ON Scripture: Frankincense, Myrrh and a Toothbrush? Lisa Nichols Hickman on Matthew 2:1-12

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Just as scripture makes us see the reality of injustice, so too do the faces of those who live in poverty in America. Inequality is as visible as a toothless smile.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Waiting on the Messiah and Presidential Expectations: A Study of Luke By David A. Sánchez, Ph.D.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
It is an odd juxtaposition, December 21, 2012 and January 21, 2013. The former date representing the “so-called” Mayan apocalypse where the usual suspects prepared for the end of the world – many of whom were Christians awaiting the second coming of Christ – and the latter date, which is the day President Barack Obama will be inaugurated for his second term.

ON Scripture-The Bible: A Vision for America: John 2:1-11 By Dr. Alvin O'Neal Jackson

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Reading this second chapter of John’s gospel, when Jesus was at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, we see here also great promise, but promises unfulfilled, dashed hopes and shattered dreams. A young couple at a high moment starting life out together with great joy, but the joy becomes elusive as a problem soon develops.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Dr. Barbara Lundblad on Luke 4: The Abortion Debate

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This is a memorable week: on Monday the inauguration of President Obama on the holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and on Tuesday the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Some people will celebrate all three with thanksgiving. Others will find nothing to celebrate – especially the decision of January 22, 1973 that struck down state laws banning abortion.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Immigration Reform and the Challenges of Generosity (Luke 4:22-30) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
When we extend generosity and justice to others, it alters our relationship to them. Especially when those “others” are foreign to us. Hospitality has ways of making the people who receive it come inside and stick around, whether we really want them to or not. We see this on display in Luke 4:22-30, which tells the second half of a story about Jesus’ statements to a group assembled in his hometown synagogue, in Nazareth.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Climate Change and Setting the World on Fire: Melissa Browning on Transfiguration Sunday

Wednesday August 24, 2011
If climate change is going to end, an urgent transformation is needed. In this week’s lectionary texts, we’re reminded of the beauty of transformative places. That’s what Transfiguration Sunday symbolizes – a sacred space of connecting with God.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Giving Up Guns for Lent (Luke 4:1-13) By Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Obviously, Jesus didn’t own a gun, never said anything directly about firearms. He couldn’t have. Of course, that won’t solve the debates now roiling this nation about violence and the people and tools that perpetuate it. Nonetheless, the fact that Jesus has nothing to say about guns has not stopped a number of pundits from extrapolating Jesus’ ethics on gun violence.

ON Scripture-The Bible: We’ll Walk Hand in Hand? By: Rev. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, Ph.D.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
As an African American biblical scholar, I would tend to see what the Bible has to say about borders, foreigners, and receiving and welcoming all. What I have found at the intersection of immigration, African Americans, and the Bible is that people have a desire to belong.

ON Scripture-The Bible: How to Survive the Sequester, Syria, and Other Threatening Headlines (Luke 13:1-9) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Current events, like much about our lives, frequently leave us hopeless, fearful, and uncertain. Religious faith isn’t a matter of wishing away these experiences; it involves perceiving God in the midst of our hardships.

ON Scripture-The Bible: When People You Don’t Much Like Receive God’s Love, By Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In Luke 15, Jesus addresses three famous parables about being lost and found to the Pharisees and scribes who disapprove of the company Jesus keeps. Simply stated, Jesus hung out with the wrong people, with riffraff and traitors, with people none of us would ever invite to our dinner parties. And yet Jesus broke bread with them much to the dismay of his critics.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Pressing on Toward Higher Goals: Phil. 3:4b-14 By Efrain Agosto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
I have often wondered about the trajectories my life has taken. My theological views have changed over the years. I have moved from Pentecostal to Baptist to Congregational (United Church of Christ) church traditions. Yet at each step of the way, I have been able to build on the solid foundations of the past in moving to new understandings for the new circumstances in my life.

ON Scripture SPECIAL: 10 Years of War and Hopes for Peace by Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman

Wednesday August 24, 2011
On the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, the Beatitudes teach us that peacemakers are persons who put down conflict in favor of peace. We are reminded that making peace is not simply the absence of conflict - it is the presence of justice, reconciliation and peace. Making peace means doing all we can for the benefit of others. It means creating a sense of shalom and well-being.

ON Scripture: Walter Brueggemann on the Liturgy of the Passion (Isaiah 50:4-9a)

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The voice that speaks in Isaiah 50:4 – 9a is the poet of the exile himself. Here he offers an autobiographical reflection on his call as a prophet sent by God to the deported Jews in Babylon in the sixth century BCE. His message to the Jews is they are now free to go back home to Jerusalem. This freedom came, says the poet, because of the dispatch of Cyrus the Persian at the behest of YHWH, the Lord of all of history.

ON Scripture-The Bible: How Long Does Darkness Last? (John 20:1-18) by Rev. David Lewicki

Wednesday August 24, 2011
There is a pall over this morning. As this story begins in John’s Gospel, “it is still dark.” It is still dark where we wake up today. Beautiful, beloved children of God awake this morning in rooms where no light will break through. Morning brings no solace. It is still dark.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Why Our Bodies Matter (John 20:19-31) By Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The resurrection story implies that bodies matter. Jesus’ resurrection is not merely a spiritual thing – the apparition of his ghost, or his ongoing spiritual influence. The Gospels all insist that the resurrection includes Jesus’ body.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Repairing Our Grief (John 21:1-19) By Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Interpreters have probably made too much of the nuances of Greek vocabulary in this passage, but we can readily see why Peter is grieved. The last time he stood by a charcoal fire, he failed miserably three times. Now Jesus brings Peter back to the scene and puts him through another three-fold interrogation.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Why I Pray that April Tragedies Bring May Justice (Acts 9:36-43) by Margaret Aymer

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Resurrection is the theme of the fifty days of Eastertide. Yet, for decades, the month of April has been filled with particularly horrific deaths...

ON Scripture-The Bible: What on Earth? Earth Day, God, and the Apocalypse (Rev. 21:1-6) by Rev. Adam J. Copeland

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Have you ever heard someone described as so heavenly minded, he was no earthly good? This phrase suggests one danger of interpreting the book of Revelation. Sadly, when it comes to considering the natural world and Revelation, heavenly-mindedness often undermines care for our environment.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Cordera’s Dilemma: A Sinkhole of Debt (John 5:1-9) By Robert Hoch

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The gospel of John tells a story of a crowd of paralytics, blind, lame - the poor - who gathered around a pool many believed would make you whole if you managed to get to the waters at just the right moment. People believed in the myth of the waters, despite how many invalids congregated there and for how long they remained there - decades in some cases. Jesus steps into this forlorn community...

ON Scripture: When “Homeland Security” Keeps Us From Encountering God (John 17:20-26) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
How do we encounter God? Some assume it comes from adhering to tried and true practices and traditions. But sometimes we experience God through opening ourselves to what or to who is different. This has particular relevance for our time, as the United States struggles to figure out what makes for homeland security.

ON Scripture: The Politics of Rejection (Acts 2:1-21) By Rev. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, Ph.D.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The events of Pentecost begin the establishment of the early church. However, what is more astonishing is that, prior to the outpouring of the one Spirit on many persons from diverse ethnic groups, is Luke’s description of one potential disciple’s rejection at the hands of the eleven remaining disciples.

ON Scripture-Special: Majesty and Tragedy in Oklahoma By Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In churches around the world, Psalm 8’s resounding praise of God will be read this Sunday. Women and men will confess that these are the words of God. But we will do so with grief, with deep questions about God and the world God has crafted and continues to sustain. As we have learned anew in the last few hours, tornadoes are indiscriminate terrors.

ON Scripture-The Bible: From Suffering to Hope: Romans 5:1-5 By Henry G. Brinton

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Memorial Day is a time to remember suffering, but not to see it as an end in itself. Instead, pain is the beginning of a process that produces endurance, character, and ultimately hope.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Faith in New Places: Luke 7:1-10 By Dirk G. Lange

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In the word coming from the centurion, Jesus witnesses faith. Faith calls to faith. The faith of the centurion is not based on the fact that he has done good works (for the people of Israel) but that his faith is grounded in the recognition that Jesus conquers death. His faith calls to the source of faith, Jesus.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Women, Work, and the Word: Luke 7:11-17 by Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Stories of Jesus healing people are common in the Gospel of Luke. The account of the widow of Nain in Luke 7:11-17, however, breaks a number of the patterns we expect to see around these narratives. This story revolves around Jesus and a widow whose son has died. Jesus sees her accompanying the funeral procession and is so moved by the sight that he brings her son back to life.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Religious Liberty for the Rest of Us By Anthony Hatcher

Wednesday August 24, 2011
People who seek freedom of worship should embrace separation of church and state, a phrase that comes from a letter written in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury, CT, Baptists, a religious minority concerned about the lack of explicit protection of religious liberty.

Fear and Wisdom In The Immigration Debate (Luke 8) By Raj Nadella

Wednesday August 24, 2011
They have many labels. Undocumented immigrants. Illegal Immigrants. Illegal Aliens. Wetbacks. Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, recently suggested that most of them are “drug mules.” Some have even called them “terrorists.” But few are known by their real names or treated as people with real lives.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Luke 9:51-62: Resistance is Futile By Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman

Wednesday August 24, 2011
History clearly seems to be moving in the direction of social justice. And for many it is about time. Equality is one of the planks on which this nation was founded. Justice is a central orientation of most faith traditions. And so I have always loved the Gospel of Luke because of its focus on social justice.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Galatians 6: Fighting for Freedom By Dr. Stephanie Crowder

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Each year at this time, our country focuses on liberty, the red-white-and-blue, and My Country Tis of Thee. I am grateful to live in the U.S.A. and the freedom this affords. Yet, what about persons who are not so independent--the unemployed who rely on federal subsidies, children whose schools are closing due to no fault of their own, and yes, the millions of Americans in the prison system?

ON Scripture-The Bible: Good Samaritans All Around (Luke 10:25-37) By Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 is so familiar that to some it probably starts to verge on a cliché. Even people who have never read the Bible, let alone the Gospel of Luke, know the image of compassion embodied by the Samaritan who takes the risk to help a stranger in the midst of great trouble. In fact, the notion of a Good Samaritan has a cultural cache almost entirely separate from the term’s biblical origins.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Mary and Martha: Use Your Gifts, Whatever They May Be, By Sister Carol Perry

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Mary and Martha (Luke 10) might be two siblings but they have different gifts. The answer of Jesus is a wonderful declaration that each woman is to do what it is hers to do, to follow her skill set. His response is indeed an emancipation proclamation that rattles the first century world.

ON Scripture-SPECIAL: What Trayvon Teaches Us, By Rev. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, Ph.D.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In the days following George Zimmerman’s acquittal, I have been thinking of the Book of First Samuel, in which God tells King Saul to destroy the Amalekites as punishment for their inhospitality toward Israel (I Samuel 15). The command is not a pretty one. This edict does not portray God as a loving, merciful Creator of all. Although Saul is the newly minted king of Israel and has all rights, privileges, power pertaining to this new title, God trumps him with a simple directive. Saul is to obey.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Power of Prayer… at the Kmart, By Rev. Susan Sparks

Wednesday August 24, 2011
When I want to remind myself of the power of prayer, I go to the Astor Place Kmart on the lower east side of Manhattan. Sure, I could read Kierkegaard or Augustine, but I prefer the Kmart. Specifically I favor an area in the far back corner of the basement. It is devoid of windows or natural light with a back wall of clear glass that faces the dungeon-like dark tunnel of the Number 6 subway train. There, you will find the most unexpected of things -- a plant nursery.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Colossians 3:1-11: It's the Name on the Front of the Jersey that Matters by David A. Sánchez

Wednesday August 24, 2011
I have always loved baseball. Growing up on the mean streets of East Los Angeles, baseball was the one activity that kept me away from the pitfalls many young Latino males face on a daily basis. Summer days were spent””sunrise to sunset””in makeshift sandlots in the shadows of Dodger Stadium, fielding bad-hop grounders and striping screaming line drives. It was our neighborhood pastime.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Social Shape of Divine Generosity (Luke 12:32-40) By Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
ON Scripture now appears on Mondays! This enables preachers and teachers to use the resources more effectively for next Sunday. This week, Dr. Greg Carey explores Luke 12:32-40: It all sounds so… demanding. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Be dressed for action (NRSV). Imagine yourselves as slaves who remain ready for their master’s return – not knowing when it might come.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Ballad of Sour Grapes By Dr. Gregory Lee Cuéllar

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Speaking to power through song was a common practice among the prophets of Israel. In Isaiah 5:1-5, the prophet who writes switches to the role of ballad-singer, introducing his listeners to a song titled My Dearest Friend’s Vineyard.

ON Scripture SPECIAL: From Egypt to South Africa, We are Each Other’s Keepers By James W. McCarty III

Wednesday August 24, 2011
As the world watches the unfolding events in the streets of Egypt with a nervous gaze and watches the events in a South African hospital room with mournful admiration it is easy forget that it was not too long ago that South Africa was a country that political pundits were sure was going to devolve into a horribly bloody civil war (not unlike the concerns many have about Egypt today).

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Power of Love (Luke 13: 10-17) By Paul Lutter

Wednesday August 24, 2011
While there may be interesting, and coincidental, similarities between the woman in Luke 13 and the women of Magdalene up to this point, where their stories converge is that none of them were looking for Jesus. Jesus found them anyway.

ON Scripture-The Bible: “Whose Banquet is it Anyway?” (Luke 14:1, 7-14) by Rev. Shanell T. Smith, Ph.D.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The March on Washington has been on my mind as I reflect upon this week’s Gospel reading from Luke about a banquet. I personally love banquets. You get to adorn yourself with the finest trappings, dance the night away, and if the food is good, that is an added plus! But what I find most frustrating? Knowing a banquet is occurring, and I have not been invited.

ON Scripture-The Bible: It's Not About You (Luke 14: 25-33) By John Nunes

Wednesday August 24, 2011
A life transition””like any effort to follow Jesus””is stressful: packing and unpacking, bidding farewells, refocusing from one set of commitments to a new future. It might be summarized in the early North African church leader’s interpretation of this Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke 14:27: 'Take up your stress and your tortures.' (Tertullian)

ON Scripture-The Bible: I Know What God Looks Like (Luke 15:1-10) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In Luke 15:1-10, onlookers criticize Jesus for his joyful chumminess with some of society’s more despised members. He responds with two parables, stories meant to illustrate what he is up to. Both parables end with spontaneous, joyful celebration when their main characters (a shepherd and a woman) succeed in recovering things they had lost (a sheep and a coin).

ON Scripture-The Bible: Shrewd Christians (Luke 16:1-13) By Verity A. Jones

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The Gospel of Luke is filled with references and teachings about how the followers of Jesus are to regard money and possessions. Jesus is neither oblivious to wealth, or naïve about it, according to the gospel writer, Luke.

ON Scripture-The Bible: It is about the Land. It is not about the Land (Jeremiah 32:1-3a; 6-15) By Jennifer Peace

Wednesday August 24, 2011
When I traveled to Israel this summer with a group of seminary students from Andover Newton Theological School and Boston University School of Theology, what struck me most was another lesson of geography: If you live in a country the size of New Jersey, your sworn enemy might literally be your next door neighbor.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Modern Need for Lamentations (Lamentations 1: 1-11) By Kimberly D. Russaw

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Twenty-first century readers of the Scriptures are likely uncomfortable with the book of Lamentations and its stories of weeping, groaning, and grieving. But, the act of lamenting is not unique to biblical Israelites.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Studying the Law As We Study The Word (2 Timothy 2:8-15) by Yolanda Smith

Wednesday August 24, 2011
As Americans nervously prepared for the implementation of the newest phase of the Affordable Care Act on October 1, it was clear that even on the eve of its implementation, many looming questions still swirled around this new law. As medical experts advised Americans to educate ourselves about the ACA, I was reminded of an important lesson found in 2 Timothy 2:8-15.

This week's ON Scripture-The Bible Resource

Wednesday August 24, 2011
ON Scripture-The Bible is a lectionary based resource for preachers, teachers, and Bible students that presents insights on a text of the week from a noted scholar, as well as a video that illustrates it in contemporary culture. Read this week's offering here.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Beaten, Battered, and Burned Before I Am Helped (Luke 18:1-8) By Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In the Gospel of Luke, a widow boldly speaks her truth (18:1-8). She audaciously implores a judge to intervene on her behalf. This widow, who in most first century contexts had few rights because of her gender and no social covering absent a male caregiver, demands justice.

ON Scripture-The Bible: All the Saints: Luke 6:20-31 By Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
I probably shouldn’t admit how much I like Halloween. I’m too much of a slug to deck out my house, I rarely wear a costume, and I haven’t been to a wild party in years, but I love the excitement children bring to the whole process. Then again, there’s the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – what’s better than that? I’m pretty much a sucker for Halloween. I was already an adult when I learned how we came upon Halloween

ON Scripture-The Bible: Hearing Job: Vindicating the Traumatized (Job 19:23-27a) By David G. Garber, Jr.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The plight of Job is one of the most familiar stories from the Hebrew Bible. Many of us know Job’s suffering and the tortuous advice of Job’s “comforters.” The experience of suffering is universal. In the midst of our suffering, we seek to understand, to process, to comprehend. For individuals of faith, events of radical suffering plunge us into a theological crisis. Where is God? Is God causing this to happen? Is God allowing this to happen? Why?

ON Scripture-The Bible: Jesus, Poor Veterans and the Grass That Suffers (Luke 21: 5-19) By Billy Honor

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In the United States, a large number of veterans who fought in wars at the command of the political elite have returned home from the battlefield to a life of impoverishment and fickle social services.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Death of Thanksgiving (Colossians 1:11-20) By Henry G. Brinton

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Look around, and you can see evidence that gratitude is being replaced by good deals. Family meals are losing their competition with shopping sprees. The gifts of life and health are taken for granted as we concentrate on shiny and expensive material gifts. And since we have so many struggles at work and at home these days, we often look for the cheap high that comes from buying something nice for ourselves. It’s called 'retail therapy.'

Henry Brinton: Writing ON Scripture

Wednesday August 24, 2011
When I write for ON Scripture, I dig deeply into the biblical texts that are assigned for each Sunday, but also examine the current events and trends that scroll across my computer screen. I am always looking for ways that the Bible can help shape our understanding of the world we live in, with all of its joys and horrors, triumphs and tragedies.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Can This World Be Saved? (Isaiah 2:1-5) By Bryan Bibb

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This Earth might be a leaky old boat, but it is under God’s merciful care and protection. At the creation of the world, God set in motion a plan to establish a community of universal justice and righteousness, known by some as 'the kingdom of God.' With hope, believers watch for signs that God is bringing the kingdom to fulfillment.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Isaiah and the Politics of Utopian Thinking (Isaiah 11:1-10) by Brennan Breed

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The prophet Isaiah often found himself talking to people who were preaching the austerity politics of ancient Judah. In Isaiah 7, we find Isaiah meeting King Ahaz of Judah at a crucial moment in the history of Judah: the city of Jerusalem is under siege. But into this situation of austerity, Isaiah speaks a shocking prophetic alternative.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Happy are Those Whose Help is the God of Jesse (Psalm 146:5-10) By Lisa Nichols Hickman

Wednesday August 24, 2011
After learning about Jesse Lewis, a six year old who died in the Sandy Hook shooting a year ago this December 14th, I’m thinking about scratching out the name Jacob in Psalm 146 and writing in Jesse. Psalm 146, verse 5 says, 'Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.' I’m wondering if scratching out Jacob and writing in Jesse, at least in these upcoming weeks, might be a way of praying to transform anger and resentment into love and forgiveness.

ON Scripture-The Bible: #firstcenturyproblems (Matthew 1:18-25) by The Rev. Keith Anderson

Wednesday August 24, 2011
With just a few days to go before Christmas, many Americans will be rushing around completing their Christmas preparations: doing their last minute shopping, finalizing travel plans, figuring out how to deal with awkward family dynamics. In many cases, they will be faced with what is popularly known as #firstworldproblems.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Matthew 2:13 – 23: The Massacre of the Innocents and the Soul of the Warrior By Coleman Baker

Wednesday August 24, 2011
As we move into the Sundays following Christmas and begin to anticipate Epiphany, we face the terror of the coming week’s Gospel reading, the Massacre (or Slaughter) of the Innocents. While there are a number of stories in the Bible that are difficult to read/hear, Herod’s murdering the innocent children of Bethlehem in his attempt to kill a potential threat to his throne must be among the top.

ON Scripture- The Bible: Rising Above the Low-Water Mark of 2013 (Ephesians 1:3-14) by Doug Mendenhall

Wednesday August 24, 2011
O gracious God, we thank you for getting us through 2013 – cantankerous, contentious bickering mess that it was on many public and political fronts – and we pray that you will help us to look back on it as the low-water mark from which American society emerged more civil and united.

ON Scripture: Baptism, Righteousness, and the War on Poverty: A 2014 Epiphany (Matthew 3:13-17) By Roger Nam

Wednesday August 24, 2011
This week’s commemoration of Epiphany marks a suitable point of reflection on the ongoing fight against poverty. The opening of Matthew 3 portrays John the Baptist as a courageous prophet.

ON Scripture-The Bible: An Unexpected Servant: The Leadership of Pope Francis (Isaiah 49:1-7) by Lynn Huber

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The period of Epiphany is a time in which the identity of the Divine’s chosen is revealed and often this identity entails some element of surprise. In the same vein, this week’s Old Testament text, Isaiah 49:1-7, highlights the unforeseen nature of the servant who restores Israel.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Paul’s Call to Unity and Dr. King’s Legacy (1 Corinthians 1:10-17) by Doug Hume

Wednesday August 24, 2011
With all the media focus on the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination this past fall, the fiftieth anniversary of another great national tragedy received little notice. On September 15, 1963, white racists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young African American girls who were attending Sunday School.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Enjoy the Super Bowl; Be Suspicious of Its Values (Matthew 5:1-12) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
If the outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl comes down to the game’s final play, and you find yourself inclined to ask Jesus to help your favorite team win, remember: It’s quite possible he doesn’t know squat about tackle football. At least, when we read the opening sentences of his Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5:1-12), it seems his values are light years away from the confident and muscular ethos that football teams rely on for success.

ON Scripture-The Bible: A Hard Word to Hear This Winter (Isaiah 58:1–9a) By Barbara Lundblad

Wednesday August 24, 2011
God’s questions are addressed to a community of faith. Our answers are not only personal but communal. We can do much more together than alone and what we do together involves both assistance and advocacy. We not only share blankets with neighbors sleeping in the cold; we advocate and agitate for more affordable housing. We not only serve hot meals to cold guests on a Saturday; we write to our elected leaders to advocate for food stamp funding.

ON Scripture-The Bible: A New Way of Being “Pro-Choice” By: Rev. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, Ph.D.

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Standing at the crossroads and junctures of life is not solely about our individual living. These watershed challenges should lead us to consider touching people outside our physical reach.

ON Scripture-The Bible: How to Be Perfect (Matthew 5:38-48) By Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
'Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matthew 5:48). Seriously, Jesus? Have you even met some of us? Have you seen the depths of our jealousies, the breadth of our greed? Have you noticed how insatiable our egos are? How deeply insecure we all are?

ON Scripture-The Bible: God Beyond All Relationships and Agendas: Exodus 24:12-18 by Walter Brueggemann

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Exodus 19-24 enacts an agreement of mutual fidelity between YHWH and Israel. That covenant consists in two major parts: YHWH’s commands set the requirement of covenant in the form of the Ten Commandments (20:1-17), and Israel pledges allegiance to the covenant through obedience to YHWH’s commandments (24:3, 7). This enactment creates a relationship in which the defining dynamic is one of 'command-obey,' with the understanding that Israel’s obedience will result in abundant covenantal blessing.

ON Scripture-The Bible: What Did Eve Want? (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7) By Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Eve’s choice embodies all the complications of human maturity. Contrary to her representation at the hands of the advertisers and some preachers alike, Eve seeks wisdom – and she finds it.

ON Scripture: Dare to Sit With Suffering (Genesis 12:1-4) By Melissa Browning

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Abram left his homeland on a promise and a prayer. God called. Abram went. The Biblical text makes it seem so simple. There are no signs of struggle or doubt. There is no grief over what is left behind, only the forward look toward a new land and a new future. Leaving home for Abram seems so easy.

ON Scripture: Why You Ought to Leave the Church (John 4:5-42) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Religion has a way of making people do extraordinary things to create peace and unity. It also, as we know well, has a destructive capacity to turn people against one another. It can make us grip our convictions so tightly that we choke out their life.

ON Scripture: Social Media and the Shepherd (Psalm 23) By Henry G. Brinton

Wednesday August 24, 2011
One way to gain peace and serenity is to unplug for a day or even for a season. Lent challenges us to turn away from the infinite audiences of the Internet and direct our hearts and minds to the one audience who always wants to be connected to us: God.

ON Scripture: Rewrite Those Epitaphs: Lisa Nichols Hickman on this week's RCL texts

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Our scripture texts this week are an invitation to reflection on mortality. These are texts that know the grave. As Lent unfolds, that long, uphill journey to Easter can not be completed without a walk alongside the gravestones to read the epitaphs these texts scrawl on our sensibilities.

ON Scripture: Palm-powered Protest (Matthew 21:1-11) By Adam J. Copeland

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem carefully connects to several Old Testament passages. The scene begins outside of Jerusalem, in a village called Bethpage where Jesus and the disciples take a break. Jesus then sends two disciples into town to fetch a donkey and a colt that the Lord will provide.

ON Scripture: Seeing and Believing at Easter Time (John 20:1-18) by Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
On Easter Sunday no less than other days of the year, many fear that their own faith is inadequate. They worry that they don’t understand enough. They obsess that maybe they lack full conviction. John’s resurrection account speaks directly to the nature of our believing.

ON Scripture: Reorienting Ourselves to the Earth (Acts 2:14a, 22-32) By Raj Nadella

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Within the literary context of Acts 2, calling on the name of the Lord requires the believing communities to speak intelligibly about human agency in the environmental degradation and to facilitate an urgent response.

ON Scripture: Go Ahead and Die Already (Luke 24:13-35) By Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Society has an affinity for death. There is a pervasive fascination with (im)mortality. We appreciate life, but we are seduced at the intricacies and unknowns of death. While there is much enjoyment and celebration over health, personal accomplishments, births, and birthdays, women and men around the world ponder the 'what ifs' concerning the end of life. The thought of death grips us with a 'thanatopsis' like inquisitiveness---no fear just sheer curiosity.

ON Scripture: How to Love Like a Mother (John 10:1-10) By Rev. Anne Sutherland Howard

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In John’s story about the good shepherd, fear is a familiar neighbor. John’s community lived with the reality of persecution and the threat of extinction. Their first-century Mediterranean world was a scary place. The persecutions were heating up, and the followers of Jesus were, in the eyes of Rome, just so many lambs for the lions.

ON Scripture: Heaven is a Home (John 14:1-14) By Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
When I was five, Disney World was my vision of heaven. As I grew up in the church, my vision turned upward. Heaven was an eternal destination deferred until the moment after you die. Heaven was a place of reward and eternity. Heaven was an ethereal experience, something so otherworldly that the best we could do is speak in metaphors and images about it. Heaven, in short, had very little to do with the world as we knew it. Neither vision gets it quite right.

ON Scripture: Stand by Me: Memorial Day & the Healing of Souls By Mary Hinkle Shore

Wednesday August 24, 2011
If you have to reassure someone that you’re not abandoning them, it may be because they feel you slipping away. In John 14, Jesus is responding to the anxiety of those he loves. 'I will not leave you orphaned,' he says, but it is not clear how he will keep that promise.

ON Scripture: Christian Suffering in a World of Suffering By David A. Sánchez

Wednesday August 24, 2011
It seems that from a Christian perspective, suffering is to be expected and just part of the deal of Christian membership””a real scriptural blow to prosperity gospels! Thus it should come as no surprise to us when the letter of 1 Peter 4:12-14 and 5:6-11 emphasizes the same themes of present suffering as a marker for future reward.

ON Scripture: The First Multi-Media Blowup Moment (Acts 2:1-21) By Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Can you imagine sitting in a public space and all of a sudden everyone around you starts to speak in a different language? And yet somehow you still understand them? Can you imagine the cacophony of sounds this event would cause? Can you envision the power it would take to make this astonishing moment happen? Is it a miracle? Possession? Paranormal activity? It likely would freak you out.

ON Scripture: Developing a Moral Vision for Climate Change: Overview of the Planet By Ingrid Esther Lilly

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Political talk of moral obligation almost always invokes future children; it is not politically controversial to hope that our children and grandchildren will live on a safe planet. But the moral dimensions of climate change are far more complex and granular: food shortages here, extreme weather events there, floods that displace people in coastal regions, melting polar icecaps causing increased extinctions, the vulnerability of the global poor.

ON Scripture: Slavery, Surrogacy, and Society: Making a Future in the Wilderness by Anathea Portier-Young

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Unfortunately, slavery is hardly new. It is at the heart of Israel’s founding story. The Exodus story showcases Israel’s liberation from forced labor in Egypt. Hagar’s story shows us slavery in a less visible form and closer to 'home.' Her exploitation is presented to us not as an outrage but as a matter of fact. Her masters, Abram (renamed Abraham) and Sarai (renamed Sarah), call her not Hagar, but 'that slave woman.'

ON Scripture: Sacrificing Our Sons and Daughters (Genesis 22: 1-14) by Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson

Wednesday August 24, 2011
There are two prevalent ways that we contribute to or allow the sacrifices of our daughters and sons in contemporary U.S. society. One, the numbers of individuals, especially children and youth, who are killed through gun violence each year. Two, veterans and their families who are not receiving the adequate and timely care and support they deserve.

ON Scripture: At War with Ourselves (Romans 7:15-25a) by Dr. Greg Carey

Wednesday August 24, 2011
From our frustrations with diets and New Year’s resolutions to the deepest insights of Buddhist spirituality and modern psychology, we grieve the clash between what we wish we’d do and what we actually find ourselves doing. Why do we find it so difficult to live up to our highest aspirations?

ON Scripture: All in the Family (Genesis 25:19-34) By Nyasha Junior

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Instead of offering compassion, Jacob exploited his brother’s situation. Esau was in trouble with an immediate need. Jacob did not ask how he could help. We must ask what responsibility we have for the lives of others. Many college students and recent college graduates are in trouble. How are we complicit? What did we do to contribute to situation? How can we help?

ON Scripture: Do You Know How to Two Step? (Genesis 28:10-22) By Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Jacob is in the process of continuing the family legacy when the Lord approaches him to confirm that he will indeed birth a profound progeny. One step forward. Yet, anyone who knows the story of Jacob understands that he is also the one who stole his older brother’s inheritance. One step backward.

ON Scripture: More than Conquerors: Romans 8:26-39 & Disability By Jaime Clark-Soles

Wednesday August 24, 2011
I hope you’ve all read or seen The Fault in Our Stars by now. Each of the main characters has a disability: Gus has prosthesis after his leg is amputated; Hazel remains on an oxygen tank due to faulty lungs; Isaac becomes blind during the course of the movie. I wonder how this verse from Romans would play with Hazel, Gus, Isaac, or anyone who loves them: 'We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose' (Romans 8:28 NRS)?

ON Scripture: Could Loaves and Fishes Change The Immigration Dilemma? (Matthew 14:13-21) By Verity Jones

Wednesday August 24, 2011
While I do not think this short essay could even begin to solve all of the issues related to immigration reform, I do think people of faith can interject a different perspective into the debate, one that might begin to turn things over.

ON Scripture: Our Dysfunctional Families (Genesis 37: 1-4, 12-28) By Rev. David Lewicki

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The Joseph story is longer and more complete than that of any other patriarch or matriarch. Less a collage of fragments, it is a whole work of art. Yet it is almost completely without God, who was the driving force in the lives of the men and women before and after Joseph. Abraham, Moses””even Jacob””would do nothing without God. The story of Joseph hardly mentions God. Is God hiding among the chaos?

ON Scripture: Acknowledging our Divine Positioning (Genesis 45:1-15) by Kimberly D. Russaw

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Genesis 45:1-17 is relevant for modern readers because it calls us all to a communal accountability and responsibility. To this end, I invite you to consider your choosing to read this post as a divinely providential reminder that perhaps you may have come for such a time as this.

SPECIAL ON Scripture: Preaching Reflections on Michael Brown and Ferguson

Wednesday August 24, 2011
In light of this week's events in Ferguson, Missouri, several of our ON Scripture writers took a few moments to reflect upon what they would/will be preaching on this Sunday.

ON Scripture: Sweaty Spirituality: Fighting Obesity with Paul (Romans 12:1-8) by Jacob D. Myers

Wednesday August 24, 2011
If it is true that we are what we eat, then Christ-followers ought to take a long, hard look at the kinds of things we are putting into our bodies. Paul’s words to the Christ-followers in Rome offer us some food for thought (pardon the pun; couldn’t help myself).

ON Scripture: This week's edition

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Read this week's ON Scripture lectionary post from Odyssey Networks.

ON Scripture: A Strange Summer Vacation (Romans 13: 8 – 14) by Barbara K. Lundblad

Wednesday August 24, 2011
Should we set aside Paul’s words as totally naïve and unrealistic given the summer headlines? In all these tragedies, mistrust and hatred of neighbors fanned deadly conflicts in Iraq and Gaza, Syria and Ferguson.

ON Scripture: Foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-24) by Margaret Aymer

Wednesday August 24, 2011
We, as Christians, specialize in foolishness. We claim that we follow the one who taught us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the children (Matt 19:14). We claim divine intervention in the affairs of the state such that even the dead can be raised.

Blessing Those Who Have Cursed Us (Jonah 3:10””4:11) by Eric D. Barreto

Wednesday August 24, 2011
The story of Jonah is a favorite in the Sunday School classroom. And for those of us who remember the story, one aspect of the narrative is most memorable. We remember that Jonah is eventually consumed by a whale or a fish or some sea creature. He spends three days in that great beast’s belly only to be jettisoned when he has finally learned his lesson. But what lesson exactly did he learn?

ON Scripture: Why Work to Change the World? (Matthew 21:23-32) by Matt Skinner

Wednesday August 24, 2011
It’s hard to follow through on our commitments. It’s hard to do what we know to be right. We don’t need Jesus to remind us of all that. Most of us figured it out easily enough on our own. What, then, does Jesus contribute to our understanding of what a well-lived life looks like?

ON Scripture SPECIAL: In Compassion and Sympathy: A Christian Response to Religious Violence by Jacob D. Myers

Wednesday August 24, 2011
How then ought Christ-followers respond to the religiously inspired violence perpetrated by groups like ISIS/ISIL? I believe that Christ-followers, while denouncing all forms of violence””especially religious violence””ought to respond with compassion and sympathy.

ON Scripture: What If the Earth Was God’s Vineyard? (Matthew 21:33-46) by Shanell T. Smith

Wednesday August 24, 2011
What if we imagine God’s vineyard as described in Matthew 21 to be this beautifDare to go there with me, if you will. What if we imagine God’s vineyard as described in Matthew 21 to be this beautiful world we inhabit? What will happen if we reject it – if we continue to treat it with disrespect, fail to listen to its natural woes, dismiss the warning signs it gives us? What if God is keeping score?