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The Unfinished Gospel

In 1803,  Thomas Jefferson cut from the Gospels those passages he thought would best present the ethical teachings of Jesus and he arranged them on the pages of a blank book in his own order of time and subject. He called the book “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, extracted from the account of his life and doctrines, as given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; being an abridgment of the New Testament for the use of the Indians, unembarrassed with matters of fact or faith beyond the level of their comprehension.” Jefferson’s Bible, as it came to be called, deleted all references to miracles and the divinity of Jesus. The closing words of Jefferson’s text were these: “There laid they Jesus: and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher and departed.”    This raises for me the question: is a Gospel that ends with death truly good news? To me, such a Gospel seems unfinished.   There is another kind of Unfinished Gospel and it is contained in the Bible. It is Mark’s Gospel which e
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Palm Sunday

  Our New Testament reading this morning is from Mark 11:1-11. This passage offers us the very first account of what was later called Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on the day that became known as Palm Sunday. Listen for God’s word to you… When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples  and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’”  They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,  some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”  They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.  Man

Stay Upright!

When we moved from Virginia to Vermont we did so at the beginning of winter. That first winter in Vermont I often heard a parting greeting from people, a phrase I had never heard before. It consisted of two simple words: “Stay upright!”   The intention of the words, of course, was to warn me, especially as someone new to Vermont, not to slip and fall on the ice. I took the words seriously, and having given some attention to the matter, I can say that I slipped on the ice very few times at all during my five years in the Green Mountain State.   As we come to examine the final passage of Jude’s brief letter, I think those two words, “stay upright” offer a great summary of what Jude wants to say to us. Listen for God’s word to you from Jude 1:17-25…   But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere nat