Lectionary Year C--The Gospel of Luke

Among the gospels, Luke--the focus of the lectionary in "year C"--is considered by many the "most loved." It features some of the most treasured stories in the New Testament, like Zacchaeus, the road to Emmaus, and baby Jesus in a manger. It offers some of the Jesus' most popular parables, like the Good Samaritan, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. It is a gospel with a distinct interest in the socially marginalized, like women, widows, tax collectors, Samaritans, and Gentiles. It has a unique interest in the realities of empire which is more explicitly visible in its companion volume, the Acts of the Apostles. It is the only gospel to feature extended birth narratives and the ascension, making it historically favored among liturgists and artists. It's sheer length gives readers the impression of being the most thorough account of Jesus available. These features led the French scholar Ernest Renan to call the third gospel "the most beautiful book ever written." 

 

Here are some of the major themes in the gospel of Luke:  faith as a journey, faith as food, table and hospitality, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, divine necessity, the presence of women, "the here and now", the socially marginalized and good news for the poor. Also important to Luke's gospel is the use of wealth and atonement theology of the Cross.  In year C of the lectionary, we will hear from the gospel of Luke more than forty times on Sundays and festivals--ample opportunity for a sustained meditation on Luke's narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Sermons in Year C 2018-2019

Click on the picture to read the sermon.

  • Advent I, 2 December 2018:  There Will be Signs

    We begin the new Church year by contemplating "end times." What an odd way to begin! What does this have to do with Christmas? But the season of Advent demands a very different kind of preparation than that of the secular Christmas celebrated in the shopping malls and catalogues. So is Advent about best of times or the worst of times? How do we wait when we are in Babylon?

  • Advent II, 9 December 2018: Are You Ready for Christmas?

    "Are you ready for Christmas?" is a question we hear a lot this time of year. When people ask that question, they are speaking of a particular day. But when John the Baptist both asks and answers that question, he is speaking about a particular way.

  • Advent III, 16 December 2018:  Advent Lessons and Carols, The "O" Antiphons

    Click on the picture to view the bulletin for Advent Lessons and Carols.

  • Advent IV, 23 December 2018:  But You, O Bethlehem . . .

    I am Micah. I lived in a time of transition; a time when those paying the greatest price were the poor and voiceless. Yet I proclaimed that from the little town of Bethlehem would come a shepherd-ruler who would reveal God to the whole world.

  • Christmas Eve, 24 December 2018:  Home for the holidays

    Christmas is a season that brings families together. But in Bethlehem, Joseph's hometown, he and his great-with-child wife, Mary, had to bunk down in a stable because there was no room for them . . . Where was their family? We all have visions of what it means to be "home for the holidays," but was is God's vision?

  • Epiphany of our lord, 6 January 2019:  More than a Star?

    Life is filled with epiphanies. When you experience them you are observing "his star at its rising."

  • Baptism of Our Lord, 13 January 2019:  Redeemed, Precious, Beloved

    When you encounter water, remember the words spoken at Jesus' baptism because they are spoken over you and I who are baptized into Christ: You are my [child], the beloved; with you I am well pleased.

  • Epiphany II, 20 January 2019:  When the Wine Runs out

    They have no wine, Mary said. These words speak a truth beyond the wedding at Cana. They speak a truth about our lives. But when the wine gives out, the miracle of abundance begins.

  • Epiphany III, 27 January 2019:  Spirited and Embodied Word

    Scripture is not just some ancient, one-dimensional words written on a piece of paper. No, they become multidimensional and alive when embodied in you and me in this time and place.  Amen? Amen!

  • Epiphany IV, 3 February 2019:  What's Your Plan?

    What's your plan for the day? Often when I ask that question I already have a plan, an agenda for my day and I want to figure out if the other person will participate and support my agenda. The question isn't whether or not we have agendas, we all do. The question is whose agenda guides your life.

  • Epiphany V, 10 February 2019:  Absolutely Necessary to leave  . . .

    When was the last time you knew you had reached the point where it became absolutely necessary to leave what came before  behind you?  That it became absolutely necessary for you to follow a new path, when you left the "same old, same old" behind.?

  • Epiphany VI, 17 February 2019:  Blessed are you, Woe is Me?

    Standing on a level place with a crowd of his disciples around him, Jesus tells them what discipleship actually looks like.  In a nutshell he says: Blessed are you who are hungry, poor, sad, and expendable. Woe to you who are rich, full, happy, and popular. What are we to make of this?

  • Epiphany VII, 24 February 2019:  It's Just a Dream, right?

    We all have times as individuals, as families, as communities, as countries even the world, where we feel as if we have been thrown down to the bottom of a well, where we fee like we have no control over our future, when we feel cursed, abused, and suffering from an endless assault of lies and treachery. In those times, we need to remember the story of Joseph and Jesus when God creates a way out of no way; when God's grace insists that not only will grace survive, but Grace will thrive.

  • Transfiguration of Our Lord, 3 March 2019:  Mountaintops and Valleys

    Can we hold the mountain and the valley in faithful tension with each other--denying neither, embracing both? Can we do this hard work out of love and compassion for each other so that no one among us, not the joyous nor the anguished, not the beloved nor the broken, is every abandoned or forgotten?

  • Ash Wednesday, 6 March 2019:  Knowing Which Way to turn

    The disciplines and practices of Lent are not ends in themselves; they help reorient us in God and help us to know which way to turn.

  • Mid-Week Homily, Wednesday, 13 March 2019:  What's love . . . ?

    When it comes to love, what is more important--the head or the heart? This may seem like an odd question, especially since our culture is steeped in romanticism where feelings or "sensibility" reigns. Yet, agape--the unconditional love of God--is not so much about feelings. Agape, divine love, is the will for the good of the other. 

  • Lent II, 17 March 2019:  A Hen? That's All you Got?

    The Pharisees try to scare Jesus away from Jerusalem by telling him that Herod is on the prowl for him.  Jesus responds, "Tell that fox . . ." And follows his rebuff to Herod by describing himself as a mother hen.  Really? Jesus, a mother hen is all we get?

  • Mid-Week Homily, Wednesday, 20 March 2019: What's Love Got to do with us and Creation?

    By virtue of our being created in God's image, we are God's agents and representatives in willing the good for all creation. We need to define the call to fill, subdue and have dominion in ways that cherish, protect and care for every living thing on our unique and strange rock of a planet.

  • Lent III, 24 March 2019: The Whys of Tyrants and Towers

    Jesus tells a surprising parable in response to tragic reports about the actions of a tyrant and a falling tower.

  • Funeral Sermon for Michael Slevin, 26 March 2019

    The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

  • Lent IV, 31 March 2019: There was a Man who had two sons . . .

    An imagined conversation between a resentful son and a loving father.

  • Mid-week Homily, Wednesday, 3 April 2019:  What's love Got to do with Us and our enemies?

    Standing beneath the Cross, we realize that loving enemies is our saving grace.

  • Lent V, 7 April 2019:  "Shumukh"--Deserving of the Highest

    To love or not to love is an underlying question inherent not only in the gospel for Lent V but all through the gospel lessons throughout this Lenten season. On Wednesday evenings, we have explored what love is--that is the "will for the good of the other." Mary and Judas present to responses to the question of whether or not to love, especially in response to the love which is both costly and priceless.

  • Mid-week Homily, Wednesday, 10 April 2019:  What's love Got to with speaking truth and casting out fear?

    To speak the truth in love, we begin by speaking the truth to ourselves.

  • Maundy Thursday, 19 April 2019:   Servant at His Last Supper

    Many like to "play the game" of what would I choose as my last supper.  Our choices reveal what and who we value.  Jesus chooses the Passover meal as his last supper. And, not only that, he chooses to be among his disciples as a servant.

  • Easter Day, 21 April 2019:  I Have Seen the Lord

    The tomb is empty! The tomb is the place where Jesus goes but it is not where he stays, and it is not where we shall stay, either--thanks be to God!

  • Easter II, 28 April 2019:  Just a Starting Point

    Welcome to the week after Easter! The week after euphoria. The week after triumph. It's one week after the empty tomb and the resurrection and the disciples are in the same place they were Easter night--behind locked doors. Why are they still afraid?

    Why do they seem to be stuck in the same place? It seems the resurrection is not a destination but a journey.

  • Easter III, 5 May 2019:  Face Everything and Rise

    Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise. Peter had his moments of fear--the good kind and the bad kind--but he eventually, through the love of Christ, chose to face everything and rise.

  • Easter IV, 12 May 2019:  If you are . . .

    Those keeping the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah), come to Jesus and say, "Why are you keeping us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly!"  There are times when we, too, come to Jesus as ask, "If you are . . ." But Jesus respects the mystery of what we are asking to much to answer "plainly." The only way to know the answer is to belong to the sheepfold. Believing comes by way of following the shepherd.

  • Easter V, 19 May 2019:  Judas has left the building, Jesus remains . . . Will we?

    We return to "last things" in the gospel of John--Jesus' last supper and his last instructions to his disciples. Judas has left the building, Jesus remains.  In his last opportunity to get his point across to us, he simply says--"Love one another as I have loved you."  Will we walk away or will we stay?

  • Easter VI, 26 May 2019:  Do I Want to be made well?

    Thirty-eight years is an awful long time to lie on a mat by a pool! Some marriages don't even make it that long. Jesus encounters a man beside an occasionally bubbling pool who has waited to be healed, languishing on a mat, for thirty eight years. And yet, the first thing Jesus says to the man is, "Do you want to be made well?"  

  • Easter VII, 2 June 2019:  Putting It Together

    A song from the Sondheim musical, Sundays in the Park With George, tells us that putting things together isn't easy. It takes a good foundation, preparation, lots of earnest conversation, vision but also execution--which is putting the vision into action. That is one way of understanding Jesus' prayer for unity for his disciples.

  • Day of Pentecost, 9 June 2019:  Uncommon Gifts for the Common Good

    On that first Pentecost, the promised Holy Spirit was poured out on the baptized. In baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us gifts for the sake of the world.

  • The Holy Trinity, 16 June 2019:  Bearing Up

    Franciscan theologian, Francis Rohr tells us that to care about the Trinity requires us to orient ourselves in a new way: Don't start with the One and try to make it into Three. Start with Three  and see that this is the deepest nature of the One. What might we see if we follow Brother Rohr's advice? What will we discover about God's character, God's priorities, God's reality?

  • Pentecost II, 23 June 2019:  Goodness is stronger than evil even when all hell is breaking loose

    The gospel story takes us to a scary place and presents strange circumstances. Jesus is met by a man who is raving, naked and trailing broken chains. And yet, the strangest thing of all is that no one seems to be afraid of "Legion," but they are afraid of Jesus!  

  • Pentecost III, 30 June 2019:  No Flying, No Invisibility . . . Just Go, Proclaim the Kingdom of God

    Just how do we go about deciding what matters?  In this morning’s gospel lesson, Jesus has a few wisdom sayings for us to consider as we make decisions about what matters. Keep in mind, discipleship does not include "superpowers" like flying, invisibility or even flame-throwing. Just Spirit-filled, Spirit-led discipleship.

  • Pentecost IV, 7 July 2019:  First say, "Peace to this house!"

    What does it mean to take the good news into a world where violence, prejudice, and discrimination dominate relationships--personally, nationally, and globally? Jesus tells those he  is sending out amongst the wolves, to speak a word of peace.  But first we need to struggle with what peace means and what it looks like.

  • Pentecost V, 14 July 2019: Sermon on the Good Samaritan by Barbara Bernstengel

    Who are listeners of this familiar parable found only in the Gospel of Luke? Who do we relate to in this story? Many relate to the "good Samaritan," but perhaps we should put ourselves in the place of the one in the ditch, the one in need of rescue by merciful outsider. 

  • Pentecost VI, 21 July 2019:  Choosing the Better Part

    Throughout Christian history, the story of Mary and Martha is often thought of as a story that pits one sister over and against the other.  But what if Jesus' words to Martha are not words of judgment or condemnation, but an invitation? What is the "one thing" needed by you right now?

  • Pentecost VII, 28 July 2019:  Help! I Need Somebody!

    Looking back on on prayers prayed and conversations on prayer, it seems that the vending machine is the best metaphor for how many of us experience and think about prayer.  If we put in the correct change and make our selection, we get what we want. We tell God what what we want and we expect to get what we asked for. Jesus, however, has a different understanding of prayer.

  • Pentecost VIII, 4 August 2019:  A Different kind of wealth

    Jesus tells a parable about greed and money. Oh goody!  Jesus has a lot to say about money and possessions throughout the gospels. In the parable of the rich fool, Jesus tells us to be "rich toward God."  Quite a different kind of "wealth management" than we're used to and quite a different understanding of what it means to be rich.

  • Pentecost Ix, 11 August 2019:  Look to the Stars

    Is faith believing in what has occurred in the past will happen again, or something deeper as in believing what has never occurred will happen for the first time?

  • Pentecost X, 18 August 2019:  Divided Up or Whole?

    Jesus challenges his disciples to make a choice about relationships. If we choose God as that one relationship

    then it means our parents, children, spouses, or friends do not determine who we are. It means out jobs, our country, our politics, our possessions do not create our identity. God does. Those relationships do not necessarily have to end. Rather, they exist within the context of our relationship with God in Christ. There will be new dynamics, new priorities and . . . new divisions.

  • Pentecost XI, 25 August 2019:  Unbinding the Bound

    What if the church was known for restoring the stature, dignity, community, and honor to people crippled in all the ways the world cripples them?

  • Pentecost XII, 1 September 2019:  The Highs of Low Places

    Jesus is at a sabbath meal at the home of a leader of the Pharisees where he is being watched.  But Jesus is also keeping watch and he has a few suggestions for a different set of table manners than the Pharisees and society at large are used to.

  • Pentecost XIV, 15 September 2019:  How to Be Lost

    In response to the grumbling and criticism by the religious leaders (insiders), Jesus tells a series of parables that seem to ask who is lost, who is searching, and is it important for for us to learn "how to be lost."

  • Pentecost XV, 22 September 2019:  An Accounting of Some POssibilities

    It's safe to say that the parable of the Dishonest, Shrewd Manager stands out as one of the most obscure of Jesus' parables. Nevertheless, as the children of light of our generation, there are some possibilities we might take into account as we wrestle with this teaching.

  • Pentecost XVI, 29 september 2019:  Faith Alone Can Make A U-Turn and Fill in the Chasm

    Jesus tells a parable that offers another portrait of life here on earth. This time, Jesus points his parable at those who are blind to their love of money.  

  • Pentecost XVII, 6 October 2019: If you had faiith  . . .

    We have all cried out with the disciples, "Lord, increase our faith." But, how do we know whether or not we have enough faith?  In the parable of the mustard seed, is Jesus telling us that if we have enough faith we could miraculously rearrange the landscape?  Doubtful. So what is Jesus trying to say to us?

  • Pentecost XVIII, 13 October 2019:  More than Skin-Deep

    If the gospel for today is true, then 90% of us live life at the skin-deep level. Living at the skin-deep level seeks comfort--physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The leprosy of today is living at the skin-deep level. But Jesus wants more for us. And offers us more. 

  • Pentecost XIX, 20 October 2019:  Stubborn or Persistent?

    Which would you rather be described as?  Stubborn or persistent?  Most of us would probably prefer to be called persistent whether or not we even truly know the difference. Jesus tells a parable about a stubborn judge and a persistent widow.  In the end, is he asking us which one of these two are we most like?

  • Reformation Sunday, 27 October 2019:  Hearts and Treasure Hunts

    Treasure hunts are always exciting especially if the clues are clever and challenging. The treasure hunt Jesus invites us on is the journey of faith. We discover find our heart and our hearts are transformed in the treasure of God's grace for us.

  • All Saints Sunday, 3 November 2019: Loving People, using things

    We are saintly sinners and sinning saints. Some days, God gets the best of who we are and have; some days . . . well, God, there goes your portion.