Jesus Marches for Us

Palm/Passion Sunday

Mark 11:1-11

Mark 14:1-15:47

I have been in parades too. In high school I played in the marching band. I played the trumpet, but then I got to play the tuba which was very fun. Playing for football games was OK by me. We did our halftime show, we ate junky food, we played classic rock adaptations (Back in Black is a lot of fun to play on the tuba). I did not feel the same way about parades. I dreaded every parade that I had to play for. The Memorial Day parade was sweltering hot and we only had one, all-wool band uniform. We once had a parade inside the school for a student who had qualified for a state-level wrestling tournament. I remember crashing into archways and I remember students trying to throw snack remains into the bell of my tuba as we marched through the lunch room. The worst parade, however, was the Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

I don’t know how, but it rained for all five years of Saint Patty’s Day parades. It was always bitter cold. I was grateful for the wool uniforms, but I was less grateful for the 35 pounds of freezing metal coiled around my body. What I found to be most annoying about the parade was the droves of very drunk people continuously calling out to us as we passed by. People would try to throw their snacks into the bell of my tuba (there is apparently something very alluring about that brass bell), there would inevitably be someone who stumbled out into the parade route causing the band to stop short, and one time someone threw a Jello shot to our band director (who did not accept this charitable gift).

I just wanted that parade to end as soon as possible. Despite the cheers and applause lifted up by our largely confused audience, I wanted to get back home where it was warm, dry, and considerably more quiet. As soon as we finished the route, we can get back on the bus, go back to the school, change out of my uniform, and be back home.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was a kind of parade too. Continue reading


Drawn Together

taken from
taken from

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Hebrews 5:5-10

John 12:20-33

MRI machines are pretty incredible instruments. By using a very powerful magnetic field, the machine is able to accurately map out various aspects inside of your body. MRI machines carry an incredibly powerful magnet that can create magnetic fields up to four times as powerful as the one the Earth puts out. That is why when you go to get an MRI done, they don’t let you bring anything metal into the room. I saw a video where some people demonstrated just how powerful this magnet is.

They first tied a wrench to a piece of rope in the MRI room. Then, they turned on the MRI machine. As soon as it warmed up, the wrench went flying through the air until it was perfectly suspended in the center of the machine. They did the same thing with a desk chair and a few other metallic objects with the same impressive results.

That is how I imagine Jesus being lifted up on the cross when he says that he will draw all people to him. He announces that “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” We are like the metal wrench or the metal office chair left in the MRI room. We are drawn by Christ’s magnetic pull of the cross. When we are all drawn to him we are drawn close to each other. If we are all drawn to the common source of Jesus’ self-giving love, we will find ourselves in close quarters to others who have been drawn by that love. This is, unfortunately, not our default position. We have spent generations of time and a great wealth of energy erecting walls to separate ourselves from others. Continue reading

What Does it Mean to Believe Anyway?

russian orthodox churchFourth Sunday in Lent

Numbers 21:4-9

Ephesians 2:1-10

John 3:14-21

Do you believe? Much of our reading- including John 3:16, maybe the most recognizable Bible verse for Christians- revolves around the word, “believe.” The stakes seem pretty high depending on whether or not we believe. So many people view this passage as a verrrry high stake True or False exam question.

Jesus is the Son of God. True or False?

If you answer true then you get to go to heaven and if you answer false, then you go to hell. Belief in God is very important, but not for fear of eternal punishment from God. There’s more to say about that. But it is important to understanding this passage and to understanding what it means to be a follower of Jesus. So what does it mean to “believe” anyway? Continue reading

The Foolish and the Weak

Sadao Watanabe Crucifixion
Sadao Watanabe

3rd Sunday in Lent

Exodus 20:1-17

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 2:13-22

The church of Corinth is having some serious problems. The people are separating themselves from each other and using their social status and the religious convictions as the means to do that. Thank goodness the church doesn’t do that anymore.

The church of Corinth is refusing to sit down at meals together- even the Lord’s Supper. Following traditional social custom, the social elites and wealthy get their food first and they take as much of it as they want. Then, the not-so-elites and the poor get to take whatever is leftover. Unfortunately, many times nothing was left over, so the weak and the poor went hungry those nights.

The church of Corinth set up divisions between each other based on their religious beliefs and practices- on who is the “right” kind of Christian and who is not. Some are followers of Paul, others are followers of Apollos, and others are followers of Cephas (Peter). And some today are followers of Martin Luther, of John Wesley, of John Calvin, of Charles Parham… These folks refused to sit together at meals and would “quarrel” with each other incessantly.

The church of Corinth divided themselves and fought so much because they followed “human wisdom” or what we might call societal common sense. They believed that what is most important in life is to come out on top and to be #1. One has more value than others when one has more money, more social influence, a respectable family, etc. Not much has changed in the past 2000 years.

Paul, however, challenges this notion of wisdom and strength by inconveniently bringing up Jesus. Continue reading

Mars and Dying to Your Self

Mars One
Mars One

Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Romans 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38

Would you take a one-way trip to Mars? This is the question that the private Dutch organization, Mars One posed to the world. Mars One is seeking to put willing participants on the red planet beginning in 2024. When Mars One put out the call for volunteers, they received over 200,000 applications from all over the world. A couple of weeks ago, they announced that they have selected 100 of these applicants to be on the short list for the mission to Mars.

This is a one-way mission. No one who will go to Mars will ever come back. They will not die in the comfort of their own home or their own planet, but instead they will see the end of their days in the darkness of space or on the red planet itself. Would you do it? Would you volunteer for the mission?

Sonia Van Meter was one of the folks who volunteered and who found herself on the short list to go to Mars. In her application video she states one of the reasons why she wants to leave earth and travel where no man or woman has gone before, “My purpose on this mission is to help people back on earth to look up and realize that there is nothing we can’t accomplish if we simply make the decision to do it.” She really believes in the mission to Mars and the good that can be accomplished through it, and she is ready to give up her life to be a part of the discovery and inspiration that comes from space exploration. She also has a spouse and two step-children. She would be giving up her whole life in order to go to Mars in many ways. Would you be willing to give up your self and your life for something like that? Continue reading