This is a good week for preachers to share a little good-natured griping
about the seemingly endless stream of bread-centered (panecentric?)
gospel readings. Ask them to stop you if they’ve heard this one before.
Ask them if it’s just you, or if there's an echo in the room.
In last week’s gospel
reading and this one, a picture of a beleaguered Jesus emerges: he
can’t go anywhere without being mobbed. The crowds hunt him down; they
even demand to know when he got where he is, as if they have the right
to see his itinerary.
Harsh things happen in the world with numbing frequency. So when somebody does something kind and thoughtful, we really ought to celebrate it. Here is my cause for celebration: Last January I was in Florida to visit family and to preach and lecture at two churches. Along the way I lost a book: William Placher’s Jesus the Savior, which I had taken along to prepare for preaching in Lent.
Randy Beckum, chaplain and vice-president of community formation at MidAmerica Nazarene University, was relieved of some of his duties for a “controversial sermon” he preached in chapel at the Olathe, Kansas, school. His audience was riled by the suggestion that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemies and by his questioning of Christians’ use of violence. MNU’s president issued a statement intended to protect academic freedom, but which had the effect of distancing the college from the teachings of Jesus: “At MidAmerica Nazarene University we encourage the exchange of ideas and individuals are free to express their individual perspective and opinions, even when those opinions may not reflect the official policy or practices of our university, our core values or our affiliations” (Patheos, March 6).