Servants of Love Incarnate: John 2.1–11


2018.1.14 non being
Delivered at Ames UCC
on January 14, 2018

©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be heard, rather than read. Please join us for worship on Sunday mornings
at 10:30 a.m.

JOHN IS DIFFERENT
If John’s gospel were the only one we knew, if we studied it and dedicated our lives to it, then read Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we would be shocked. It’s all lies, we would think! That’s not the truth about Jesus! Likewise, if we had only ever studied the synoptic gospels, synoptic meaning same, we would be baffled by John. It is that different.

John’s gospel does have Jesus traveling and teaching, he does endure trial, death, and resurrection. But John’s chronology is different than in the other three. There is no Eucharist, no Last Supper, in John. Jesus shows no concern for the Kingdom of God in John, only for his own special identity. Jesus talks more in John’s gospel than in the synoptic gospels, with great long dialogues, but never in all of that does he share any parables, those stories of mustard seeds and buried treasure.

And John is the most anti-Semitic of all the gospels. Maybe not universally so, maybe not condemning of all of Judaism, only of specific strains or communities of Judaism at the time. But I am guessing that not many 21st century Christians are all that familiar with the differences between contemporary streams in Judaism, let alone those of the ancient near east, so reading the subtleties of critique in John can be dangerously misleading.

I decided, as a result of that, and this era’s resurgence of overt hatred of and aggression toward people who are Jewish, to modify our readings of John to avoid easy misunderstandings and make clear where we are as a church. Rather than “the Jews” it will read as “the authorities” or whatever the appropriate target of Jesus’ concern may be.

But the difference I really want to focus on today is an omission in John at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the inclusion of the story today.
Continue reading

When Jesus Becomes Christ: Mark 2.1–22

when jesus becomes christ(1)Delivered at Ames UCC on
January 10, 2016
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are written to be heard rather than read.
(Listen to this one
here.)
Please join us for worship at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays.

WILBUR HELD
I once knew a man named Wilbur Held. He just died last year after one hundred years of life. Wilbur was many things, including a world class organist, composer, and arranger of organ music. It is safe to say that thousands of churches are hearing one of his tunes today.

Well, after hearing me preach for a few months Wilbur gave me a call. Wilbur said he didn’t want to be one of “those congregants,” meaning complainers, so I could ignore him completely, but something was eating at him. When a 98-year-old says something is eating at him, I listen. Continue reading