Service Recap; December 25

Homily Recap| Luke 2:1-20

This year, the meaning of Christmas has been clarified for me by people who have no chance of winning Caesar’s game. Who, no matter who gets elected, will have a very slim shot. The meaning of Christmas has been shown to me by 2nd Graders at Breakthrough who taught me how to do the Juju on that Beat dance.

It was shown to me by an elderly man at the Green Tomato Café during our Christmas party who came up to me near the iced tea, and said, “How’d I get it so good this side of Heaven?” I paused and looked at the man. I studied him to see if he was being sarcastic or not. This man was poor. His Christmas party was on the 11th of December at the Green Tomato Café. And while I was darn proud of the Christmas party we threw that day, I couldn’t believe that he would be so thankful for his lot, this side of Heaven.  “Thank you,” he said looking me right in the eyes. I don’t remember what I said back, but I wiped tears out of the corners of my eyes as he walked back to his seat at the table with the Christmas wrapping paper runners.

At Christmas God, does not enter on a stallion to win the game of Caesar, even though I really wish he would. No, at Christmas the transcendent breaks into the imminent, the divine breaks into the mundane. God speaks his most authoritative Word in a tiny child.  In an act, in the specific act of a woman giving birth, God rejects the game of power and control that dominates our understanding of how the world works.  In Christ, God reveals to us the true order of the cosmos: The first shall be last. Blessed are the poor. It is better to give than to receive. Pray for your enemies.

“Oh, give to Caesar what is Caesars,” Jesus says. “His image is on the currency, whatever, give it to him. I don’t care. I’m not in the game of sending mortars into the walls of Herodium or RPGs into the streets of Rome, I could call down 10,000 angels if I wanted, but I’m not in that game. I came to serve. To wash feet. Don’t you get it? If you want to save your life, you have to lose it. Trust me…I know it’s hard to believe. It might be the hardest thing to believe, but Herod, Caesar, they’ve got it backwards, and I’m here to tell you: Do not gain the whole world and forfeit your soul. Don’t be afraid. Trust me.”

I was asked to write a reflection on what Christmas means for a blog. I thought I’d end today with a bit from it.

Christmas means that the wind has picked up and the streets are cold. Melissa, a woman I often see asking for money on Michigan Avenue, is more desperate than usual. She is responsible for 8 kids who often sleep outside. Melissa is earnest. She goes up to people one by one, asking them, “could you please help me?” She doesn’t have a sign like others who ask for money in Chicago. I have stopped to help Melissa twice. The first time, I made a point to remember her name. The second time she approached me, I responded, “Melissa, how are you?” 

“Bad,” she said.

I hoped that my using her first name would surprise her; catch her off guard; mean the world to her. She hoped it meant I would help her find lodging for the night. I bought her sandwich fixings at Walgreens, three bottles of Dr. Pepper, and one can of Fancy Feast for a kitten that her children have taken to caring for. I avoid walking down Michigan Avenue at night now, unless I’m willing to run into her.

Christmas means that the man who does taekwondo on the corner of State and Van Buren is no longer shirtless. He is there every day in the summer slowly moving from pose to pose, breathing deeply. When I first saw him, I thought he had lost his marbles. I passed by him on the other side of the street. In December he is there less often, but I still see him every now and then, and I wonder what would happen if I joined him.

The Advent of Christmas coincides with the advent of wind and cold. Christmas brings its harsh climate and December’s deadlines. Deals to get done, papers to write, three kids to manage, three Christmas parties that you’d rather not attend, and two you wish you could look forward to.

Loss is churned fresh at Christmas, too. It stirs up pain like grounds that had settled at the bottom of a cup of french-pressed coffee. The job that didn’t work out is felt keenly in the lack of presents under the tree. Dad’s empty chair at the dinner table is gaping, and almost too much to handle.

Before Christmas is joy and peace and love and hope, it is cold. It is Chicago-in-December cold. And who can bear it?

Before Christmas is anything like silent nights, calm or bright, it is busy, chaotic, shortened days. Its characters are neither meek nor mild, and thank God, too! The unkempt vagabond shepherds, the blood thirsty Herod, the insatiable Caesar, the tired Mary and confounded Joseph. These are the characters of Christmas.

The shirtless man doing taekwondo, the child staring blankly across the table at dad’s empty chair, parents celebrating a baby’s first Christmas, the couple who cannot get pregnant, and Melissa moving earnestly from one person to the next. These are the characters of Christmas.

In Christ, God meets all of it at the front door. Holding the door back with one arm he waves us in with the other. “Come in! Come in!” he shouts. The whole mess of humanity-the shirtless, the begging, the grieved, the rejoicing, the one who has lost her marbles, and the one who has yet to-all of it comes trapesing through the door. We are welcomed to the manger, unedited like the shepherds, by the same refrain that the angels proclaimed so long ago, “Do not be afraid! Good news!”

The first snow has come and gone, here in Chicago. The cold has set in. On a walk home, I come to the place where I must decide whether to take the direct route home on Dearborn or stay on Michigan Avenue. It is bustling with shoppers, people out on the town, locals who cannot refuse the beauty of The Bean covered in snow, and somewhere in the crowd Melissa is there, too. Christmas means that although it is not easy, I throw my lot in with her, and take the long way home. 

At Christmas, God changes the game. The Word becomes flesh, but not a strong, hard, callous flesh. A soft infant. God throws in his lot with us. Christ is with us and for us, and we can cease our striving.

The soul feels its worth

The weary world rejoices.

Christ is born.



Prayers of the People

God of life, we thank you this day for the gift of light who came into the world.  We long expected this child to come and be to us a savior.  Breathe new life into us. May we reflect Jesus light into the world and may others come to know Jesus' love through our life and actions. 

We give you thanks for the children you have brought into our church. Lord, give us as a church the grace, love and wisdom to nurture them in your love and teach them in the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We pray that each of them may grow into the full stature of Jesus Christ, being conduits of your love into your world. We thank you for all those who volunteer in our Grace Kids ministry.  please bless them in and through their work.

We pray for the community of Nettlehorst School.  We thank you that this place is a place of learning during the week and a place for worship for us each weekend.  We pray that you would continue to provide wonderful teachers and administration who would continue to seek the best for all of its students under their care.

We pray for those who grieve this time of year as it is a reminder of those who they just recently lost.  As many face this season for the first time without their loved ones by their side, we ask for encouragement and hope. May peace and comfort rest upon them in these days.

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer

Service Recap; September 18

Psalm 113 | Luke 15:11-32 | Luke 16:1-13

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

The story in this week's gospel is of a wealth manager who knows that he is about to get fired. He has that surge of panic that comes along with any major life setback. His plans are thrown out the window. He pictures his inevitable demise. Afraid, he begins thinking about how to create a safety net for himself. He goes to all of his employer's debtors. He finds the man who owes his employer 100 jugs of oil. "You can make it 50," he tells the man in debt. He finds another person who owes 100 containers of wheat. "Why don't you just pay back 80?" he offers kindly. He acts dishonestly, the Bible tells us, but he wins friends by acting shrewdly. You might expect the Bible to tell us about the hammer of justice coming down on this man. You might expect the preacher to preach about doing the honest thing, even when it is difficult. You might expect the gospel lesson to be about trusting God and not acting shrewdly. 

Ah, but the Bible is so sneaky sometimes. The sneaky man's boss commends him for acting so shrewdly. Jesus tells those who are listening that they ought to be like this man. "Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth," Jesus tells us. What an odd story. 

Bob pointed out that both the prodigal son in the story immediately preceding this one, and the shrewd manager both "squander" wealth. One of them ends up ruining his life. The other ends up saving his life. The prodigal son squanders money on himself. The end of his use of his finances is his own pleasures-it is used as his escape from reality. The shrewd man in the second story squanders his money on relationships. He recognizes his need for people-he needs someone to have his back, and so he too squanders wealth, but he squanders wealth on relationship. Bob said it this way, "the shrewd manager knows what time it is." He knows what is important in this certain place at this certain time. Do we know what time it is? For Christians, the answer to this question has everything to do with the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is at hand. This reality causes us to look at our time, wealth, skills, and compassion and to use all of these things to enter into relationship with one another and with God in meaningful ways.  


We pray for many in our Grace family who are facing uncertainty.  We ask for your patience to guide them in this time as they await major life changing experiences from family health concerns, financial challenges, to job changes.  May each person facing uncertainty seek you for all they need and seek.  Provide wisdom and confidence that you guide and protect us.  

Father, it was said of the Prodigal Son that he “came to himself.” Help us to wake up to ourselves, and to You. Set us free from the illusion of trying to be perfect so that we might be more fully human. Help us not to chase after an imaginary life, and to find satisfaction in our real lives. And turn us away from our self-rejection so that we might see that Your arms open in welcome.

Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer


  • Join us next Sunday for worship as it will be James Falzones final Sunday as the music director. Following the service, we will have lunch at Bob and Jill Reid's house. All are invited! An RSVP and more information can be found here
  • Beer and Hymns is on October 2nd. Everyone is invited to join us at Gideon Welles on Sunday, October 2nd for drinks and songs. Check out this website for more information, and pass it along to anyone who might be interested!
  • Men's Meetup is this Thursday. We're meeting at Hopcat, a new bar in Chicago on Clark Street. We'll meet at 7:30. Hope to see you there!

Service Recap; July 31

In Luke 12, a man interrupts Jesus while he is teaching a mountainside full of people. He asks a question about his inheritance. It is a legal question. I am curious what impulse caused this man to interrupt Jesus in front of thousands of people. The parable Jesus tells about a "Rich Fool" casts this courageous interrupter in a certain negative light. But this young man (likely the youngest in his family) who has just lost his Father (hence the inheritance issue) who boldly asks Jesus his question does not strike me as one sitting in the crowd wringing his hands hoping to leverage Jesus for his profit. It seems far more likely to me that this young man who has just lost his Father and who has been fighting with his brother all week is at the end of his rope, and so he blurts out a question in the middle of a crowd.  Perhaps he is as surprised to hear his own voice as the spectators around him. 

Jesus briefly addresses the young man, but his response, I'm sure, is disappointing. Jesus does not provide a solution. He does not arbitrate his case, because Jesus knows that what this man needs to hear is not that he is right, but that he will be alright. The man comes to Jesus with a legal problem, but Jesus quickly moves on to a parable about a Rich Fool that uses the 1st person far too often ("Self, I will build myself a barn for my grain so that I will have a place to store my grain, so that I will be set for life.") The parable holds a lesson for the young man, but I'm guessing it is the next portion of Jesus' teaching that pierces him to the core.

"Do not worry," Jesus says. "Who by worrying can add a single hour to their life?" It is one of Jesus' most famous teachings. This is the good news that the young man who has just lost his father needs to hear. Jesus is teaching to the entire mountainside of people, but he looks back and locks eyes on the young man and tells him to not worry. And then he says, "do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." (v.32) 

Do Not Be Afraid.

Do not be afraid, for your father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. These are the words that the young man needs to hear. That his father has chosen gladly to give him the kingdom, and that he does not have to live in fear. 

Our problems often present as legal matters. Anxieties about work or family. Being a good enough spouse, friend, man, woman. Jesus does not solve the young man's legal problems, but if the young man kept listening to Jesus' teaching, he got his answer.

"Do not be afraid. For the Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."


We pray for those who struggle with mental disorders and depression.  We pray for treatments followed and that those treatments may be effective to bring long lasting change.  We pray also for family members and caregivers of those who who need relief.    

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer.

We continue to pray for those affected by violence in our world.  We pray especially for France as many acts of violence have occurred since January.  Most recently we are horrified to hear of the priest who was murdered while celebrating mass.  May your Holy Spirit be with all the victims and all those who mourn the loss of loved ones.  

Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer

Loving God, we pray for our children in our Grace family.  As they are learning about the Fruit of the Spirit this summer may they all continue to be nurtured by your Spirit and grow up to know you more.

Lord in your mercy....Hear our Prayer.  


  • Volunteers for the fall! If you are interested in helping out with set up, children's ministry, or another area of the Sunday morning service, contact Ana ( 
  • Thanks to everyone who came out to Lisa's house for our Dinner's With Grace this Sunday! Thanks to Lisa for hosting!

Service Recap; July 17

"The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it."

We read these harsh words from Amos 8 this week for our first lesson. Amos, the shepherd, is convicted that these are the words of the Lord, and so he speaks them clearly and loudly to "those that trample on the needy, and bring ruin to the poor of the land." 

Chapter 8 of Amos contains the sort of damning rhetoric that makes me wince. "That's the Old Testament for you," we might say. At first I wince because the God in this passage does not sound like the God of steadfast love. But Bob pointed out that the words are directed against those who are taking advantage of the poor. I feel good about that. The God that defends the poor...that is my kind of God. But then Bob reminded us that Amos' searing declaration is directed at God's people. Not at those outside the sanctuary walls, but at those inside them. 

Amos was followed up by Luke's brief sketch of an interaction between Jesus, Mary, and Martha. Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to him tell stories. Martha works tirelessly. "Mary has chosen the wiser," Jesus says. "Well, yes, Jesus," I say in my head, "of course she has. Martha's doing all the work." 

Amos and Luke present the possibility of NOT being in the presence of God. Amos makes clear the reality that where the poor are trampled and taken advantage of, the Word of God will not be present. In Matthew 25, Jesus says that when we ignore the hungry, naked, and imprisoned, we ignore Him, because He is present with them. Of course, then, when the people of God participate consciously or unconsciously in the oppression of the weak, God's presence and Word will not be in their midst. The scene from Luke paints a more tangible and mundane scene, where Martha is simply too worried and busy to be in the presence of Christ. Bob suggested that we "make it or break it by paying the right kind of attention in the mundane." Martha is too busy to pay attention-to notice that the living God was telling stories in her house. 

I don't think the point of these stories is that God will recuse Himself from us if we don't do the right things. I think the point is that God is right in front of us. He is with the woman on the corner we pass each day, whose story would move us in ways that might threaten our comfort. He is with the co-worker who, if we would give him our true attention, would confess his humanity to us in ways that would for us to view him not as a co-worker, but as a fellow image-of-God-human-being. The truth is that we have the great power to pay attention or not. We have the great power to ignore God's presence in the world, and in that way live in a world void of the Word of God. But we can also sit at the feet of Christ and hear his stories. We can pay the right kind of attention to the suffering in the world and participate in it, and in that way become the hope of glory. 

From the Heidelberg Catechism

What does the 8th Commandment require of me? That I do whatever I can for my neighbor's good. That I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.

Communion Song

Prayers of the People

We continue to pray for and end to the violence in our world.  We pray especially today for the victims and families of the attack in France.  Remember in your mercy all who mourn and grieve the death of family and friends.  Nourish them with patience, comfort them with a sense of your goodness, strengthen them to meet the days ahead.   

Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer

We pray for peace in the streets of Turkey. Give wisdom, creativity, and perseverance to all who work for unity, peace, concord and the freedom of all people.    We remember missionaries from our denomination, Rick and Stephanie and their family who work tirelessly to bring your good news to that region.  May you continue to provide safety to them and wisdom in the midst of uncertainty. 

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer

Open our eyes, O Lord, to see that you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth.  Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, bring nations into your fold, pour out your Spirit on all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom.  

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer

{As we continue to pray in light of the tragic events across the country, we offer this article from the publication, Perspectives, to continue a dialogue around difficult topics. The article  discusses the difference between guilt and responsibility, and encourages us to allow the stories of recent weeks to become personal.}


  • Grace is cooking at the Joshua Center this Thursday. Nathan Bowman is taking the lead this month. Email Caleb if you are interested in helping cook food for the women who live at the shelter at Breakthrough.
  • Men's Meetup is next week Thursday (28th). We'll meet at Green Street Smoked Meats and walk to Beer Bistro afterwards. Email for more information.
  • Lisa Zook is hosting a Dinner with Grace on July 31st. Join us in the evening for a casual meal. This is a great opportunity to meet some new folks! More info on the events page. 

Service Recap; March 27

“But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

This is probably how the story should end.  A few women-those eccentric, emotional, unreliable witnesses-tell the faithful 11 that they have gone to the tomb and that there is no body, and in fact there was a messenger who reminded the women that this is precisely what Jesus said would happen. But, like they do today, the words seemed like an idle tale, not the sort of tale you actually believe in.

Bob pointed out that the language used in Luke to describe the disciple’s reaction, Idle Tale, is a little tame. More likely, the disciples thought the women were selling a load of wishful BS. More likely a fool’s story than the actual state of things. But something about the idle tale of the three women gave Peter pause. Something about the idle tale that the women were weaving sounded almost too good not to be true. Peter leans in to the women’s fantastical tale because it had something of Jesus’ own words running through them.

Today the words may strike us the same way. Some believe the tale of the women that Easter morning. Some believe it enough for it to count as faith. Others cannot bring themselves to believe a resurrection happened. Others have no patience for these sorts of stories. If the words seem an idle tale to you, that’s fine. I can’t blame you. The disciples thought the same thing. In fact, if you’ve never thought to yourself, “Hmmm…isn’t it more likely that this is an idle tale?” then maybe you’ve never really thought through the Easter claim: that a dead man did not stay dead.

Peter sprints off towards the tomb to see for himself. The words of the women seemed like an idle tale, but there was a glint of truth in their telling. The words of Mary, Joanna, and the other Mary, that idle tale of the women on Easter morning came to be called the gospel. And in a matter of days, it would be all the disciples would talk about.

Our Easter prayer is to have the courage of the women, and if we can’t afford that, then maybe at least the curiosity of Peter.

The good news is improbable, and I don’t blame you for calling it a fool’s fantasy. Frederick Beuchner puts it this way, “Maybe the truth of it is that it’s too good not to be true.”

Confronted By God; February 29

By Andy Rozendaal
Texts in view: Luke 13:1-9; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

“Thanks be to God.” We recite those words each week after the first and second lesson in response to the reader saying, “This is the Word of the Lord.” I chuckled a bit as I said these words this past Sunday because the scripture we had just heard was not one we would typically follow up with a recitation of our thanks to God. Lenten passages can sometimes drag us through rough places. It is easy to skim over or avoid the passages and read a much more uplifting narrative that offers practical and stimulating applications. It reminds us again that Lent is a time when we journey through tough lands in order to reach the empty tomb of Easter morning.

 Bob urged us on Sunday to not take God for granted. It is easy to take the grace of God for granted and hold a false assurance or over confidence that we have it all together. Bob shared a story of one of the first sermons he preached. A man came up to him after the sermon and said, “Preacher, thanks for making us all feel bad.” The man said it in a way that made it seem like Bob’s sermon was a breath of fresh air or like we don’t have the full experience of God if we don’t walk away feeling bad about ourselves. We have moments when we feel bad but it is God's desire to take those moments to reassure us of his love. It is in those moments when God confronts our jealousy and pride which stops fellow humans from flourishing. In those moments we are reminded that confrontation is God’s love and mercy offered to us. When we face the consequences of our decisions, we can repent and live into the joy of what God has done for us on the cross.

God is willing to do everything possible to get our attention. He does not want us to live in ways that hurt others or ourselves. To continue down that road would make us miss out on the love God has for us. May we all realize when we face the consequences of our decisions we can repent and live into the joy of what God has done for us.  

Moses? February 7

By Bob Reid

Texts in view: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36

How to explain Jesus to the world? This is the question that the authors of the New Testament faced as they wrote their gospels and letters. Often, they turned to the story of Israel, looking for metaphors that would be adequate to the task of setting forth the meaning of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. On Transfiguration Sunday the lectionary brought us to two passages of scripture where two of the most powerful metaphors of Israel’s story are applied to Jesus: TheExodus and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

In the mysterious transfiguration of Jesus we encounter Jesus in the company of Elijah and Moses, who are mysteriously brought by the Holy Spirit back into this world just for this moment. Luke tells us that “they appeared in glory and were speaking of his <Jesus’> departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem”. The word used for departure is literally, exodus. And with the use of that word we are transported back to God’s emancipation of Israel in the great Exodus from Egypt; and to Moses’ own mountaintop experience when God gives him the Law, Holy Torah, for the well being of the people. The experience of Moses’ in God’s presence during the receiving of the Torah is just about as mysterious as what happens to Jesus during his transfiguration. Moses’ multiple encounters with God around the giving of Torah cause his face to shine so brightly, radiating God’s glory, that he has to cover his face with a veil whenever he talks to the Israelites.

Here is snippet from Exodus 34: “When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him…. but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”.

Poignantly, the glory that Moses brought with the giving of the Torah fades more that in shines in Israel’s history and the Old Testament ends with this promise: “I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.”

Fast forward to Jesus’ transfiguration. Elijah has already come figuratively in John the Baptist (Mark 9:13) but he comes literally at Jesus’ transfiguration. Together with Moses he speaks of the New Exodus, Jesus’ death on the cross, his “departure” (Luke 9:31). The torch has been passed and the events in Jerusalem will be the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring a lasting peace and reconciliation: there will be no curse because Jesus will have bear the curse on the cross. The glory of the cross will be a lasting glory and available to everyone. No veils anymore. St. Paul was not present at the Transfiguration of Jesus and yet the glory of Jesus that burned hot in the form of love for Paul knocked him off his horse and transformed his life (Acts 9).

Previously bent on destroying the church, Paul became its most fervent missionary. And about two decades later he will write the following words to the church at Corinth: “Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Caleb wrapped up his homily by urging us to receive the truth that now, because of Jesus, we can each carry around the glory of Jesus on our faces! - as we embody the same self-giving love that enacted Jesus’ “exodus” in Jerusalem. Our faces carry Jesus’ glory as we love and serve others in his name; our faces shine forth his glory when we receive God’s forgiveness and depend on God’s grace to enable us to live in conformity with what is good for us, good for others, and pleasing to God. Jesus’ glory is on our face when we take communion, when we love our children, and when we make a plate of food for those in need. Jesus’ glory is everywhere now! May we become better and better at drawing attention to it!

Caleb urged us to see the mystery in the passages in Luke and Corinthians as wonderful examples of Jesus’ followers straining to find metaphors that do justice to the wonder of Jesus and all that they had experienced with him and from him. Pregnant and palpable in Caleb’s words were the exhortation to each of us to strain until we find words and symbols that explain Jesus to those with whom we have to do. May God give us the grace to do just that.

Why So Mad? January 31

We began with a crowd smitten by Jesus. “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” The passage ends with the same group being “filled with rage” to the point that they escort him to the edge of their cliff-side town and, had things gone their way, he would have been dashed on the rocks below.

On Sunday, my mind was drawn towards the masses gathering in Iowa and New Hampshire. Crowds speaking well of their favorite candidates and wanting to hurl their opponents off a cliff. An election year makes everything seem so imminent, doesn’t it? The world is closing in on us and we have to get our man or woman into the White House or else the conservatives will ruin the progress we’ve made, or our country will continue down the path towards ruin…or insert whatever flavor of fear mongering fits your fancy.

Or perhaps the frantic politics are simply a distraction for a much more personal anxiety that can become especially haunting in the cold of February. Present set backs make future prospects bleak.

On Sunday, the lesson from Luke featuring the erratic crowd was paired with Paul’s famous sonnet on love from 1 Corinthians 13. The people in Corinth were at each other’s throats and were using their gifts out of fear. Paul tells them to breathe deeply and play the long game.


Love is patient, Paul tells them. It endures all things. It never dies. It is in for the long haul. It keeps no record of wrongs. It does not overreact or become frantic.

Love is not the fickle crowd.

The group in the synagogue has a habit of adoring Jesus and then turning on him. They’ll crown him with gold one minute and thorns the next. But unlike modern candidates, Jesus is never upset when his poll numbers plummet. In fact, he often seems to work hard at losing the favor of the crowd. Just as they are ready to hit the pavement and campaign for him, he brings up Namaan the Syrian and the widow of Zarapheth, which Pastor Bob pointed out is the equivalent of telling the Israelites that he plans on stumping for his enemies too.  The kingdom Jesus came to establish went far being the nationalistic ideal the Jews had envisioned.

It was a patient, enduring, never dying, good news for your enemies, in it for the long haul, keeps no record of wrongs kind of kingdom. It was the kind of kingdom that is not given over to populist swings. It is a kingdom of steadfast, sure, clear-eyed love.