In order to dig into our gospel reading for today, I want to first start out with a little history lesson. Please don’t fall asleep! This is kind of a puzzling story that we have before us – and I think that digging into the context a little will help us to better understand it.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! At least… I think he is? Our gospel reading for today leaves things a little… open-ended.
This is such a weird reading from the end of Mark. In Matthew, Luke, and John, we get these lovely post-resurrection appearances from Jesus – dramatically appearing in the midst of his disciples, tenderly calling Mary by name in the garden, forgiving Peter for his denials over brunch by the sea, and my personal favorite, walking with two clueless disciples on the road to Emmaus and vanishing the instant they finally realize who he is — hilarious. But in Mark, this is all the closer we get to the resurrection.* We’re never really given a big “alleluia!” moment. And for Pete’s sake, Jesus doesn’t even show up! It’s an ending that almost seems designed to leave us feeling unsettled and uncomfortable. Continue reading “Sermon: Unfinished Business”
I don’t know about you all, but our texts for today leave me feeling a whole mess of different feelings. On the one hand, we have these lovely images of God as the compassionate shepherd looking after the flock, and caring for the “least of these.” But then we run into all this harsh language about judgment and destruction. It’s like being handed a bouquet of roses, only to have our fingers pricked by the thorns. Our gospel text today is particularly strong. This passage from Matthew is the only detailed account of the last judgment to be found anywhere in the New Testament – but even so, it’s definitely left an impression on the popular Christian imagination. Continue reading “Sermon: Paging Dr. Jesus”