On a Friday Afternoon

Some were there when Jesus, bloody and bruised, climbed the hill to the Place of the Skull. The women, wailing along with the infants in their arms; Simon of Cyrene, forced to carry the cross beam that Jesus could no longer bear; the chief priests and scribes and elders re-writing the narrative in their heads,…

Easter Worship Pieces

Call to Worship (from Isaiah 65 and John 20) In the light of this Easter morning God is doing something new! New heavens. New earth. New life. Weeping turns to joy. Sorrow to delight. Be glad and rejoice. The stone is rolled away. The grave clothes lie in a heap. Jesus, who was dead, is…

Small Easter

  A few years ago I audited a class at St. Paul seminary on “Preaching and the Short Story.” There was a story on the syllabus with “Easter” in the title, and I kept thinking I should read that before I wrote my Easter sermon. So this story title, “Small Easter,” kept rattling around in…

A Prayer for Palm Sunday

God of the cross, tottering down the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey, You are not the savior we expect. Your power doesn’t look like the power we want our God to have. Your wisdom makes no sense to us. We are happy to join the crowd, waving branches, But not so sure we want…

On Living Close to Death

I am re-posting these reflections on John 12:1-11 in honor of my father, David Harader, who died three years ago today. This piece is a distillation of the sermon I preached on the Sunday after Dad’s funeral–which was apparently the fifth Sunday of Lent.   “Six days before Passover.” Probably a couple of months–though only one…

“its thread looping”

Jesus, Jesus. Did you hear? There were these people from Galilee, they were faithful, made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices at the temple. And then. And then. These men. Pilate’s men. They just killed them. Slaughtered them right there in the temple. The blood of the people mixed with the blood of…

The Value of a Barren Tree

In Luke 13, Jesus tells a parable about a barren fig tree. The tree is planted in a vineyard, which sounds weird, but fig trees were often used as trellises in vineyards.  The owner is unhappy because the tree is not bearing fruit. “Cut it down,” he says. But the vintner says, “I’ll dig around…