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ON Scripture

ON Scripture

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Odyssey is the nation's largest multi-faith media coalition with over 100 members, including faith groups, organizations and individuals. Our stories explore a wide range of issues including peace, tolerance, social justice and the environment.

Our Mission: To use electronic media to enrich spiritual life and build bridges of understanding among people of faith.

Our Method: Telling stories of faith in action. Stories changing the world.


Odyssey Networks is a service of the National Interfaith Cable Coalition, Inc., established in 1987.

Immigration Reform and the Challenges of Generosity (Luke 4:22-30)

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By Matthew L. Skinner Charity doesn’t leave us unchanged, which is just one reason why it’s hard to make ourselves do it. To be more specific: when we extend generosity and justice to others, it alters our relationship to them. […]

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The Abortion Debate: We’re All in This Together

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By Barbara K Lundblad This is a memorable week: on Monday the inauguration of President Obama on the holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and on Tuesday the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. […]

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A Vision for America: John 2:1-11

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By Reverend Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:10 Occupy the Dream […]

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Waiting on the Messiah and Presidential Expectations: A Study of Luke

posted by Odyssey Networks

By David A. Sánchez, Ph.D. It is an odd juxtaposition, December 21, 2012 and January 21, 2013. The former date representing the “so-called” Mayan apocalypse where the usual suspects prepared for the end of the world – many of whom […]

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Frankincense, Myrrh and a Toothbrush? Matthew 2:1-12

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By Lisa Nichols Hickman In As I Lay Dying, the main character Anse appears self-absorbed when at his wife’s death he says, “God’s will be done. . . . Now I can get them teeth.” His character will certainly not […]

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The Hell of Parenting: A Study of 1 Samuel

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By Jacob D. Myers Few narratives in the Hebrew Bible are more foreign to us than this week’s lectionary.We do not give away our children. In a society determined by socio-economic forces utterly beyond the control of individual citizens (e.g., […]

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Can We Speak of God’s Activity, in Triumph or Tragedy? (Luke 1:39-55)

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ByMathew Skinner Sometimes, the worse the tragedy, the more abhorrent the theology it elicits. Still numb from the overwhelming evil perpetrated against helpless children and schoolteachers last Friday, now we have to read idiocy from James Dobson and others who […]

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On the Fiscal Cliff with John the Baptist: Luke 3:7-18

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By Carolyn J. Sharp Recently I had the unsettling experience of receiving unsolicited financial advice from John the Baptist. Not directly, of course— his counsel was mediated through an ancient codex, the Gospel of Luke. Written in the latter part […]

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Who Was He? Malachi 3:1-4

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By Nyasha Junior Who was Abraham Lincoln? You may get different answers depending on whom you ask. He is known as the Great Emancipator. He was a self-taught rural Kentuckyian. He was a husband and father. Also, he was a […]

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After the Chaos Ends: Jeremiah 33:14-16

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By Amy Erickson Jeremiah’s promise of a future restoration for Israel and Judah centers on the image of a righteous branch. This image, while somewhat strange to our culture, carries along with it a rich and varied tradition, deeply rooted […]

A Different Kind of King: John 18: 33 – 37

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Barbara K. Lundblad Delores Williams, wise theologian and teacher, was my colleague when I first came to Union Seminary. She grew up in the South and remembers Sunday mornings when the minister shouted out: “Who is Jesus?” The choir […]

Signs That the End Is Near: Mark 13:1-8

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By Adam J. Copeland No matter the tragedy these days, some religious leader or blogger will attempt to connect it to God’s judgment. Some say superstorm Sandy was God’s wrath on liberal New York and New Jersey. Others fault 9/11 […]

The Value of Chump Change: Mark 12:38-44

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By Greg Carey Is poverty what it used to be? Or has poverty grown so shameful that we dare not speak its name? So determined are we keep poverty out of view, we erase the presence of the poor from […]

How to Vote like a Christian: Mark 12:28-34

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By Eric D. Barreto It seems so easy, doesn’t it? Love God. Love your neighbor. The two greatest commandments encapsulate the core of faith and could–if we really were to trust God–transform the world. Similarly then and with election day […]

God’s Return Policy: Jeremiah 31:7-9

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By Gregory Lee Cuéllar Debates on immigration in the United States continue to move in the default direction of North/South. As such, the prominent debating points often direct public attention to the U.S./Mexico border fence and the Latina/o community. By […]

Is It Possible To Govern “Biblically”?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner Temptations to hold and wield power are usually tough to pass up. Power is alluring whether we imagine having it over others or on behalf of them, whether it’s power in society, at home, or in […]

The Wizard Is In: Or Is He?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles On September 25, 2012, President Obama presented new initiatives to address human trafficking in America. He did this as the President of the United States, but I know he also did it as a parent […]

Jesus Stands Up for Wives and Children: Mark 10:2-16

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By Henry G. Brinton In a discussion with a number of Pharisees about divorce, Jesus says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9). I bet that Jesus would like the number 36,722. That number is […]

Eating with the Enemy: Esther’s Story

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By Lisa Hickman When ‘Enemies’ Meet During the Everest climbing season last May, just 1000 feet from the top of the world, twenty-four year old Israeli law student Nadav Ben-Yehuda noticed a 64 year old Turkish man, Aydin Irmak, lying […]

Jesus’ Death and the Future of Violence: Mark 9:30-37

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner If pondering Jesus’ crucifixion doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you probably aren’t doing it right. I’m not referring to the gore and humiliation, which makes crucifixion repulsive no matter who the victim is. Watch the Video: ON […]

Sticks, Stones, and the Power of Words: James 3:1-12

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto Why do we repeat adages we know are false? Why do we deceive ourselves with seemingly soothing words that instead burn invisible scars upon us? Why do we persist in the deception that words […]

Poverty, Wealth, and Equality? James 2:1-10, 11-13, 14-17

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Margaret Aymer Poor people. These are the two words underlying much of the political arguments coming across the airwaves right now. There is great discussion about “Medicaid,” “Medicare,” “The Affordable Care Act [aka Obamacare or Romneycare],” “Welfare,” “Big Government” […]

Lip Service – But Where Is the Heart?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Dirk G. Lange Human beings want religion not God. Or, to put it slightly differently (and perhaps in a more nuanced manner!), they all too easily equate religion with a very particular, culturally determined, idea of God. They name […]

The Politics of Betrayal: John 6:56-69

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Karoline Lewis Broken Promises Imagine being introduced for the first time, not by your name or what you have done, but in reference to what you will do. Such is the case for Judas in the closing section of […]

Who Will Be America’s Next Leader? I Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Dr. Walter Brueggemann The old king, David, is dead. It is time to pick his successor as king. In retrospect it seems obvious that his son, Solomon, was his rightful heir. In the moment, however, the matter of succession […]

Not Another Bread Passage … Please! John 6:35, 41-51

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman Sometimes when I read a biblical text, it makes almost perfect sense to me. Other times, the author’s intent seems fairly obvious so I get a good feeling about what I am reading. Watch the Video:  […]

Perilous Power: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto Every Bible ought to have a warning on its cover. Watch the Video: ON Scripture: Nathan Rebukes David Eric Barreto, an assistant professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary, expands on the story of […]

The Story of Patriarchy and HIV and AIDS: 2 Samuel 11:1-15

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Melissa Browning This past week, more than 20,000 people met in our nation’s capital for the 2012 International AIDS Conference. Activists, doctors, people living with HIV and AIDS, development workers, theologians, social scientists and all kinds of folks attended […]

Compassion Fatigue: Mark 6:30-34 & 53-56

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Eric C. Shafer August 2005. Hurricane Katrina had struck New Orleans and help had not yet arrived for several days. The televised images are nearly seven years old, but they continue to be vivid in my mind. Thousands […]

The Downfall of Giving Into Fear: Mark 6:14-29

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By Rev. James M. Childs John the Baptist was convicted, convinced of his ordination to prepare the way of the Messiah with a call to repentance. Herod Antipas was conflicted, assailed by contradictory impulses within himself and vulnerable to pressures […]

No Priority Like Health, No Place Like Home: Mark 6:1-13

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder The reports are stunning! Due to the financial fiasco of 2008 the average wealth of persons in the middle class has dropped over $40,000. It took four years for a generation of wealth to evaporate. It […]

Taking Jesus Seriously: Mark 5:21-43

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Dr. Lewis Galloway The book of Ecclesiastes says that there is an appropriate time for every matter: there is a time to mourn and a time to laugh. When I was growing up, my sister and I used […]

Lord of the Storm: Mark 4:35-41

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By: Greg Carey On a first read, Mark 4:35-41 looks like a demonstration of Jesus’ astonishing power—and so it is. Jesus’ disciples are traveling across the Sea of Galilee. When a violent storm threatens to destroy the boat and its […]

Pariahs No More: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

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By Alvin Jackson Pariah is a noun — a person without status, a rejected member of society, an outcast. Watch the Video: My Journey as a Lesbian Pastor Rev. Barbara Lundblad reflects on her experiences as a lesbian pastor in […]

What Makes a Family? (Mark 3:20-35)

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner “Parents just don’t understand” might be an ever-present theme in popular music, but it’s hardly a modern phenomenon. Jesus’ Family Discord If you’re looking for snapshots of well-adjusted and happy parent-child relationships from the ancient world, […]

The Price of Being Prophetic: Isaiah 6.1–8; John 3.1–17

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Sze-kar Wan The recent escape of the well-known blind Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng from house arrest to the American embassy has attracted a lot of attention in the media. The story is rife with possibilities in an […]

Acts 2:1-21, Think Differently About Difference

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By Dr. Eric D. Barreto Christians have often hoped for a time when our racial and economic differences would cease, when in Christ we would all be indistinguishable. Such impulses are earnest but fundamentally misguided. Watch the Video: Religion Without […]

Psalm 1: Putting Evil in Its Place

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Dr. Amy Erickson Psalm 1 begins and ends in a way that puts a lot people off, particularly those who are less-than-compelled by fire and brimstone preaching: “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, […]

Acts 10: 44-48: Holy Calamity

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By Rev. David Lewicki We were warned. In the second chapter of the Book of Acts, after a resurrected Jesus leaves the scene for good, the first disciples are hanging out, waiting for God-knows-what. What, exactly, does one wait for […]

Acts 8:26-40: Castrating Our Customs

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By Rev. Adam J. Copeland Some people call them “thin places,” locations where the gulf between heaven and earth narrows and we fully sense God’s presence. Many people find these thin places in nature. Others discover them in the familiarity […]

1 John 3:16-24: The Love of God and the Needs of our Neighbors

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By Eric D. Barreto The presidential election season is in full bloom. Political sniping will soon reach a new apex. As the months go by, we will grow weary of the coarse political discourse and will breathe a sigh of […]

Luke 24:36b-48: A Welcoming Table

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Henry Brinton Everyone knows about Easter morning, when a group of women discover the empty tomb. Many people also know the story of Easter afternoon — the walk to Emmaus in which two disciples encounter a mysterious stranger who […]

John 20:19-31: Thomas > Doubt

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Lisa Hickman Thomas is permanently labeled a ‘doubter’ by two millennia of history books, sermons, cartoons and theological treatises in the Christian tradition. A cartoon by Joshua Harris has Thomas crying out, “All I’m saying is we don’t call […]

Beyond Fear and Silence: Mark 16:1-8

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Barbara K. Lundblad This story leaves us wondering and longing for more. Mark’s Easter gospel (Mark 16: 1-8) ends with silence rather than “Alleluia!” That wasn’t the word the women said at the end of their long night of […]

Mark 14:1-15:47: What Jesus’ Death Tells Us About Ourselves

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Mathew Skinner   The Trayvon Martin story is tragic for many reasons. We see one of them in what his death has again brought to the surface: deeply rooted convictions that the system is flawed. We have a hard […]

John 12:20 – 33: Who am I?

posted by Odyssey Networks

ByDirk G. Lange One of the issues that follows us throughout life is that of identity. Who am I? How do I define myself? And then, the surprising realization and question: who defines me? I’m not the only one to […]

John 3:14-21: Bouncers and the “In” Crowd

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Margaret Aymer Who’s in? Who’s out? Groups that are trying to protect themselves focus heavily on this question, particularly in times of conflict and controversy. They may have great ideals about welcoming all comers, but those who approach, […]

John 2:13-22: Where Can God Be Found?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner Maybe the most divisive religious statements are the ones that make claims about how and where God can be found. Disagreements among people of faith today remind us that disputes over God’s “accessibility” never go away. […]

Genesis 17:1-7, 5-16 and Mark 8:31-38: God the Game-Changer

posted by Odyssey Networks

ByMichael Cooper-White Among the horde of authors and consultants who address the elusive subject of “leadership,” Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky have gained a place of prominence. Over the years they have examined dozens of effective organizations of all types […]

Mark 1:9-11: The Pleasure Principle

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder I must admit the title of this article refers me to an unusual source. Yes, as I write a biblical commentary, I cannot help but recall a song that is not rooted in the Bible. It […]

Mark 9:2-9: Visions of Jesus on the Mountain

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  By Barbara Kay Lundblad Is there room in our lives for visions we cannot explain? Have we closed our minds to truth that doesn’t fit our rational categories? In her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard shares stories […]

Mark 1:40-45: The Inconvenient Truth about Taking Care of the Poor

posted by Odyssey Networks

  By Matthew L. Skinner Jesus was concerned about the very poor. I’m not trying to pile on Mitt Romney after the bad week he had. I think he and most other politicians are concerned about poverty, too, despite their […]

Isaiah 40:21-31: On Faith and Football

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  By Kathryn Schifferdecker “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and […]

Mark 1:21-28: The Need for Authentic Leadership

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Rev. Angela Zimmann Once every four years, it happens like clockwork: Primary Season, when all across America voters trek to the ballot box to make history while our presidential contenders battle for every vote. This year, we watched as […]

Mark 1:14-20: A Call Worthy of Their Lives

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Greg Carey Readers almost always gravitate to the same question. Why do Simon and Andrew, then James and John after them, abandon everything to follow Jesus? Mark leaves no doubt as to the immediacy of their response. Seeing Simon […]

1 Samuel 3:1-20: Prayerful Listening, Prophetic Proclaiming

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Luke A. Powery This upcoming weekend leads into the day which celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King was a preacher, pastor, and civil rights activist. When people remember Dr. King, one of the first […]

Mark 1:4 – 11: Does Baptism Make for Better Presidents?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Andy Watts Christians seem to have a genetic disposition for describing people and events through a biblical lens. It makes sense. We are story-formed people, and the Bible shapes our political, moral and social imaginations. It follows, then, that […]

Luke 2:22-40 – How Are We Caring for Our Children Today?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Susan K. Hedahl The enactment of religious rituals for children in the Jewish faith of Jesus’ time is the background of this only biblical glimpse we have of Jesus’ early infancy.   This luminous text of hope from Luke’s Gospel […]

Luke 2:1-20 – The “Real” War on Christmas?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Eric Barretto Our culture today is full of laments about the Christmas holiday. Some bemoan the ever earlier advent of the season. Doesn’t it seem that Christmas decorations line the aisles of stores earlier and earlier every year? Doesn’t […]

Luke 1:39-56: Magnificat for a Broken World

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Carolyn Sharp I left St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in New Haven with a soaring spirit. The Lessons & Carols service—quintessentially Anglican worship interweaving Scripture and music—had just concluded. Particularly memorable had been a haunting setting by Roderick Williams of […]

John 1:6-8; 19-28: Faith and Fear

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Thomas Long When Herman Cain, standing knee-deep in seawater, finally conceded what was obvious to the rest of us, that his once full-steam-ahead presidential campaign had indeed hit an iceberg, he fell back on an ancient political tactic: he […]

Mark 1:1-8: God Barges Into Our Lives

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Michael Joseph Brown Beginnings can be abrupt. Our minds tend to search, often in vain, for the cause or the reason for a movement when, in truth, movements are frequently more the product of a confluence of causes or […]

Mark 13:24-37 – Advent: One of Those Dangerous Religious Ideas

posted by Odyssey Networks

  By Matthew L. Skinner Here comes Black Friday, even earlier than usual. Bell-ringers are appearing outside stores. Advertisers are shifting the consumerism-as-therapy machine into high gear. And Christians say: This is a good time to think about the world […]

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 – Failed Kings and the Good Shepherd

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Walter Brueggemann In Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, Ezekiel ponders a) how his society has come to the disaster of destruction and deportation and, b) how to move forward beyond the disaster. He reflects on the kings in Jerusalem, past and […]

Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18: The Great Day of the Lord Is Near

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Walter Brueggemann This poem features extravagant language about a coming time of loss, disaster, distress, and suffering. It is commonly dated to the time before Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading Babylonian empire. While the daring poets whom we […]

Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Walter Brueggemann This week’s text, Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25, features a great dramatic meeting as the culmination of arriving in the land of promise. The Bible thus far has traced the journey of Israel from slavery in Egypt through […]

Jeremiah 31:31-34: The Oracle of Newness

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Walter Brueggemann Like other prophets before him, Jeremiah has spent ample shrill time and energy on the claim that Israel has systematically and long-term violated the covenant agreement of Mt. Sinai. They have violated the Ten Commandments of Sinai […]

Matthew 22:34-46: On Loving God, Loving Neighbor and #OWS

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Jaime Clark-Soles I was 17 years old. This was Philosophy 101. There stood Dr. Rob Brady, diminutive in stature, expansive in mind, with a Socratic gleam in his eye and devilish grin on his face. “Let’s imagine your wife […]

Matthew 22:15-22: The Heavy Cost Of Paying “The Emperor”

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner It couldn’t hurt for Jesus to show up and weigh in on America’s current economic and political challenges. It might be helpful if he issued a declaration about who should pay taxes, and how much. Then […]

Matthew 22:1-11 – A Biblical Case of Class Warfare

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder In a recent town hall meeting a former Google executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes. The attendee stated that he had done quite well at the company and has chosen not to work any […]

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20: Ten Commandments – Rules and Regulations?

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Eric D. Barreto How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? If you are like most Americans, the number is far below the full ten. A 2007 survey reported that most Americans could rattle off the ingredients of […]

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32: Prophetic Vision for a Just Economic Future

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Greg Carey Ezekiel speaks compellingly to the current situation in the United States.  But is the prophet’s message true? Precise Diagnosis The society the prophet addresses suffers from a severe lack of perspective.  It knows God’s standards.  These appear […]

Matthew 20:1-16: Justice Comes in the Evening

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner

Exodus 14:19–31: Singing Through the Sorrow

posted by Odyssey Networks

  By Barbara Kay Lundblad What is the text for this Sunday, September 11?  The minister may read a text from the Bible but many people will be hearing other texts that aren’t in the book: the reading of names, […]

Matthew 18:15-20: Insiders and Outsiders

posted by Odyssey Networks

  By Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman   Matthew 18:15-20is an insider’s text for outsiders. From Matthew’s perspective, Jesus is both warning and assuring those inside the young Christian church. It is a church, however, whose members stand outside the main […]

Matthew 16:21-28: Jesus Has No Part-Time

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Greg Carey Matthew 16:21-28 confronts us with the gap between Jesus’ gruesome fate and our own modest discipleship.  Jesus’ verbs say it all.  Deny the self, take up the cross, follow Christ.  Moreover, only in losing one’s life – the […]

Exodus 1:8-2:10: Faith in the Past, Present, and Future

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Eric D. Barreto Had fear prevailed, we would not know the name “Moses” today. Had Pharaoh triumphed, the story of God’s liberation of God’s enslaved people could not be told. Had a number of women not acted out of […]

Matthew 15:21-28: Teaching Jesus

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Barbara Kay Lundblad This story in Matthew 15 is very troubling. A Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus to heal her daughter. By the end of the story, her daughter has been healed — but between the crying and […]

Matthew 14:22-33: Faith within the Chaos

posted by Odyssey Networks

By Matthew L. Skinner In Matthew’s Gospel, the story of Jesus walking on water morphs into a story of Peter walking on, then sinking into, the same water. It begins as a statement about Jesus’ authority; for Jesus’ contemporaries had […]

Previous Posts

Immigration Reform and the Challenges of Generosity (Luke 4:22-30)
By Matthew L. Skinner Charity doesn’t leave us unchanged, which is just one reason why it’s hard to make ourselves do it. To be more specific: when we extend generosity and justice to others, it alters our relationship to them. Especially when those “others” are foreign to us. Hospital

posted 10:17:05am Feb. 04, 2013 | read full post »

The Abortion Debate: We’re All in This Together
By Barbara K Lundblad This is a memorable week: on Monday the inauguration of President Obama on the holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and on Tuesday the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Some people will celebrate all three with thanksgiving. Others will

posted 11:29:13am Jan. 23, 2013 | read full post »

A Vision for America: John 2:1-11
By Reverend Dr. Alvin O'Neal Jackson “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:10 Occupy the Dream Spurred on by the Occupy Wall Street movement, African-Am

posted 9:02:18am Jan. 17, 2013 | read full post »

Waiting on the Messiah and Presidential Expectations: A Study of Luke
By David A. Sánchez, Ph.D. It is an odd juxtaposition, December 21, 2012 and January 21, 2013. The former date representing the “so-called” Mayan apocalypse where the usual suspects prepared for the end of the world – many of whom were Christians awaiting the second coming of Christ – a

posted 1:03:29pm Jan. 10, 2013 | read full post »

Frankincense, Myrrh and a Toothbrush? Matthew 2:1-12
By Lisa Nichols Hickman In As I Lay Dying, the main character Anse appears self-absorbed when at his wife’s death he says, “God’s will be done. . . . Now I can get them teeth.” His character will certainly not be remembered for altruism. But Anse will be remembered for the physical ef

posted 1:59:16pm Jan. 03, 2013 | read full post »

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