Today the Church remembers Joseph, “guardian” of Jesus. Actually guardian is not my favorite word. For all intents and purposes, Joseph was Jesus’ dad, wasn’t he? He loved Jesus’ mother Mary, taught Jesus a trade (probably), took the family up to Jerusalem for the religious festivals, and if the dream in Matthew counts for anything […]

Words from Patrick

I remember last spring, several days into the long hike from D.C. to Pittsburgh, my feet were hurting, my shirt was drenched with sweat and I was so tired. I pulled out a copy of this song and started a rather wimpy effort at singing: I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit […]

Watching from the sidelines

This Sunday we hear about Peter, his most infamous hour when he denied to strangers that he even knew Jesus. On the positive side, at least Peter followed at a distance to see what was going to happen to his friend Jesus. That took more courage than most of the disciples showed. And although he […]

What to do with Judas?

I have been wondering about Judas, the disciple who ended up betraying Jesus. We will hear scripture about him on Sunday (John 13.21-31/John 18.1-9). What went wrong inside him? Why did he hand over Jesus to the authorities? Of course we don’t know and John makes it sound so black and white: he was a […]

Morning anointing

On Thursday I was working on the message about John 12 when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with a costly perfume. Jesus said she was anointing him for his burial in a few days. I was impressed with how her action encouraged Jesus for his journey to the cross that week. Guessing how so many at […]

Dust storm

It’s the day for ashes, maybe even dust storms. For us in the Lutheran tradition, we make a special effort to be at worship. As ashes are marked in the shape of a cross on our foreheads, we hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It is a […]

Red-wing neighbors

This is an amazing morning! Not only has God loved the world so much, not only are we born from above each morning, but today the red-wing blackbirds have arrived in the back field. As the sun was coming up, the glossy black males were perched in the bare trees overlooking their feeding ground while […]

Snake in a tree

I was startled to see the snake in a tree. We were hiking in Virginia and I just happened to look up from memorizing the crucifixion story in John’s gospel. (This is when I was still working on sabbatical.) There it was. A black snake maybe five or six feet long, curled and twisted into […]

Most famous verse

This coming Sunday we will hear John 3.16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” This has got to be the most famous verse in the new testament. I have seen it plastered on billboards […]


It’s about time to start joining all you bloggers out there, especially folks at St. Paul Lutheran. This is my attempt at a beginning, and here is my purpose. A large portion of my week’s work is preparing and praying about the week’s message. But a Sunday’s sermon is not about my ideas but about […]