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The preacher’s head at the king’s birthday feast

This Sunday, the lectionary invites us to reflect on Mark 6:14-29. The English Standard Version supplies the passage with the title “The Death of John the Baptist.” Mark puts this passage right after his account of the twelve apostles, the twelve members of Jesus’ inner circle, returning victorious, happy, from their mission trip. He puts …

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How to compare the stories of Jesus and Jack Ma?

This week, the lectionary invites us to consider Mark 6:1-13. It’s in two parts. The English Standard Version titles the first part “Jesus Rejected at Nazareth.” It titles the second part “Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles.” Lately, I’ve been reading about Jack Ma, founder of Ali Baba. Ali Baba is an online shopping platform, …

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In the boat with Jesus on dark and stormy nights

This Sunday the lectionary invites us to ponder the gospel according to Mark 4:35-41. The English Standard Version supplies the passage with the heading “Jesus calms a storm.” The gospels are stories chosen and assembled to show who Jesus is. The gospels were designed to comfort and embolden Christians, church members, persecuted for their commitment …

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Jesus, the Lord of the flies, and madness

This Sunday, the lectionary invites us to ponder Mark 3:20-35. In the English Standard Version, the selection includes two headings. The first, for verses 22-30, is “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit.” The second, for verses 31-35, is “Jesus’ Mother and Brothers.” When Jesus began his public ministry, he began with a splash. Not just the …

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If Pentecost is a harvest festival, where is the harvest?

This Sunday the lectionary invites churches to reflect on Acts 2:1-21. J B Phillips, in his paraphrase, divides the chapter under five headings: (1) “The first Pentecost for the young Church (1-4),” (2) “The Church’s first impact on devout Jews (5-13),” (3) “Peter explains the fulfilment of God’s promise (14-36),” (4) “The reaction to Peter’s …

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