The Hebrews’ stories brought their lives into balance. Moses believed that remembering where they’d been, how they’d come into the land God promised, and what God had done for them would keep them faithful. So he said that in offering the first fruits of harvest, “You shall make this response before the LORD your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.’” Their story was a confession of faith, a community story that cast their thanksgiving into a framework that provided boundary and purpose to their lives together. It was a creed. Tell it again and again, Moses urged.
When my friends and I sang at church camp, we sang sincerely, often teary-eyed, seated on the ground with the cross illumined by candlelight in front of us. In those emotional moments, I imagined myself to be standing firm in the Lord as Paul had urged the Philippians to do. In those moments, I was determined to set my face toward him. But my single-mindedness never lasted.
The term better fits Matthew than Mark, and neither Gospel justifies the church’s celebration of Palm Sunday as though it were an Easter before Easter.
The Epistle to the Hebrews joins the Revelation to John as the literature most intimidating to readers of the New Testament. With the Revelation the reader must endure its terrible splendor; with Hebrews the reader must listen intently to the tightly woven arguments in what the writer calls a sermon.
Notice the size of this psalm: it moves from the revelation of God in the heavens to the revelation of God in scripture to the mysterious working of God’s word in the believer.
We are reading Romans 4 with the eyes of believers on a Lenten journey. There is a time for debate over law and gospel, works and grace—but not now.
Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten journey to Jerusalem. It is best not to journey alone.
In an account in which only Satan, wild animals, and angels are with Jesus, the reader is also present.
I am more at home with the ashes of Lent than with the perfect lilies of Easter.
This is not a metaphorical desert. Left alone here at high noon, Jesus could die without water.
The Tempter will return again and again. But we are never left alone.
Portrayed as a cowardly dolt, Nicodemus is usually spotted skulking about under cover of darkness.
April 8 (Luke 19:28-40)