Agape Doesn't Mean "Potluck"

"Agape." Image by 	 Marcelino Rapayla Jr./Wylio (

"Agape." Image by Marcelino Rapayla Jr./Wylio (

This week I got an email from my friend Pastor Jodi Houge of The Humble Walk church in St Paul. Amy Hanson had emailed her asking if, when she’s at Luther, Amy could do her field ed placement at Humble Walk. So afterward when Jodi emailed me she said Oh my gosh thanks for sending Amy our way, I love her already. Jodi loves Amy Hanson already but not because of Amy Hanson’s winning personality, position or portfolio. Jodi Houge does not love Amy Hanson because Jodi’s so nice and has a big heart. Pastor Jodi loves Amy Hanson already based solely on the fact that Amy Hanson is loved by us. Based on the fact that Amy Hanson is our friend she will have an honored place at Humble Walk church in St Paul Minnesota.

In our Gospel text from today Jesus says to abide in his love, to love one another and then he calls his disciples friends. But the Bible tells us that he had other friends too. Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany were Jesus’ friends. He like, totally hung out their house all the time – they stocked his favorite beer in the fridge. And when Lazarus died, Jesus stood at the tomb of his dead friend and wept. These were Jesus friends. And since at our Big Fat Church Meeting after liturgy today we are going to talk about things like sacred hospitality, I started to wonder what kind of hospitality 3 strangers who came to our church might receive if we found out that those 3 strangers were actually Mary Martha and Lazarus. If we knew that the people entering the doors of this, our little House for all Sinners and Saints, were actually Jesus’ friends, that they were those whom Jesus loved then despite what we thought of their personalities, despite how we felt about them or their status in society or their politics, despite any of this they would automatically have an honored place, right?

We would, as Jodi does Amy, already love them not based on how we felt about them, but we would love them with the love Jesus speaks of in our gospel text for today… which in Greek is called agape love.

The Bouquet

Photo by Jenny Burtt via Wylio

Photo by Jenny Burtt via Wylio

Most every Sunday Ruth or Lily Janousek hands me a drawing on the way out the door. I have quite a collection.

Lily and Ruth are budding theologians. They may not know that about themselves, but that’s what they are: budding theologians — they do theology. They do their best to speak of God.

They draw pictures of God and us. Like the one from last Sunday — a drawing of a bouquet with the words:

“God doesn’t love us as a flower but as a bouquet.”

Sermon on Losing Your Life and How Jesus Isn’t Your Magical Puppy

Image by Kelly Richardson /

Image by Kelly Richardson /


How are you? I am fine.

Actually that’s not true.

See, I wrote another sermon this week. A real one. I worked on it all week. And then yesterday afternoon I threw it away and just wrote you this letter instead. Because I realized that in my sermon I was trying really hard to convince you of something.

Sermon on Jesus’ Dream Team: Rank Fishermen, Demoniacs and Sick Old Ladies

"Jesus Healing the Mother of Simon-Peter." Via Wiki Commons

"Christ Healing the Mother of Simon-Peter" by John Bridges. Via Wiki Commons,

That famous yet fictional saint of the church, Homer Simpson once said Well, I may not know much about God, but I have to say we built a pretty nice cage for Him.

So, we’ve been slowly making our way through Mark’s Gospel since December and our reading for today starts exactly 26 verses into the book. Here’s a little re-cap to catch you up to speed: The Beginning of the Good news of Jesus Christ.  John the Baptist appears in the wilderness with his questionable wardrobe and dietary choices and baptizes Jesus. Heavens torn open.  This is my beloved. For which Jesus is rewarded with 40 days in the wilderness with the wild beasts and angels. Repent and believe the good news of the kingdom.

On his way to Capernum he picks up some stinky fishermen.

Then on the Sabbath he’s teaching in the synagogue – and everyone’s like “wow.  That Jesus isn’t totally full of it like the other guys” Finally he casts out an unclean spirit after commanding it to shut the hell up.

And that’s pretty much where we pick up the story today.

Sunday Sermon Superfans: An Introduction

Pulpit of St. Mary le Tower in Ipswich, UK. Via Wylio

Pulpit of St. Mary le Tower parish in Ipswich, UK. Via Wylio

Did you hear a particularly good sermon, homily, teaching, preaching, lesson or message this Sunday?

We'd love it if you'd share it with us.

Please email Cathleen ( with links to audio, video or text versions of the message you heard, and we'll share the best of the best with the rest here on God's Politics.


The Feast of Christ the King

Stained glass panel in the transept of St. John Church, Ashfield, NSW.

Stained glass panel in the transept of St. John's Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Photo by Toby Hudson via Wylio [ht

Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday in our church year.

I always find it a strange feast to celebrate in a democracy, in which the whole point is that we do not have kings, but shared authority vested in the people and temporarily delegated to elected leaders. What does thinking about Jesus as a King mean to folk like us?

This year it is particularly strange, for, with the exception of the marriage of William and Kate, this has been a bad year for kings. Monarchs, tyrants, plutocrats, and autocrats of every stripe have found themselves under assault from a powerful wave of populism, as the citizens of country after country have risen up to hold their leaders accountable for their stewardship of their nations. Throughout the Middle East and in parts of Europe and the United States, the official narrative of power has been held up and judged against another set of ideas, one that speaks of fairness, liberty, and raising up the poor. Ruler after ruler has heard a cry that translates, roughly: “as you did it to the least of us, so shall it be done to you.”

Christ is a different kind of king, and his authority always calls our leaders to account, whatever the form of our government or our political preferences. Christ embodies a form of leadership that is rarely seen in our world. In the ordinary scope of things, our leaders wear nice suits and inhabit the corridors of power and cut deals with the wealthy and the powerful. Christ, however, threw in his lot entirely with those whom the doors of power shut out. He would talk with anyone, eat with everyone, and, in the end, died among the refuse of his people. He was a leader who led from below.