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Showing posts from January, 2018

The Fortune 500 Disciples

I often receive a magazine called Inspire from my alma mater, Princeton Theological Seminary. When it comes in the mail, what I usually do first is to look at Class Notes, to see what the people I graduated with are doing today. One time I read about a guy I grew up with, Ralph, who at that time was serving as the interim pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Wrangell, Alaska. That’s a place where most churches are accessible only by plane or boat! It sounded like a great place for Ralph, who I know to be a great lover of the outdoors. I wasn’t jealous at all. But I will confess there are times when I read about my fellow classmates and what they are doing, and I do get jealous. Sometimes I even place people, albeit almost unconsciously, almost without thought, in my own Fortune 500 ranking of ministers. And that brings us to our text for today. It is easy, sometimes, to dismiss the first disciples of Jesus as being so na├»ve, so uneducated, even so much more sinful than we are. I m…

Through the Valley

Have you ever had the feeling, when you were flying in an airplane and looking out the window at the clouds and the land far below, that you had momentarily risen above all your problems? I know I have had that feeling on many occasions. But then the plane lands, the cell phones go on, the plane parks at the gate, the seat belts come off, and everyone is in a mad rush to get wherever they are going. Normal life begins again. I imagine there was something of a similar feeling in Jesus’ heart and mind, and in the hearts and minds of Peter, James and John, when they came down from the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured in their presence. They had momentarily glimpsed heaven, and Peter, for one, wanted to stay there forever. But it was not to be. Mountaintop experiences are always followed by time in the valley. In fact, at this point in Mark’s Gospel, we are moving from the highpoint of his story, the Transfiguration, down, down, down, all the way down to the low point of the cros…