Intent on avoiding even the appearance of competing with John, whose disciples the Pharisees had goaded into a quarrel with his own, Jesus decided to withdraw from Judea to pursue his mission in Galilee. To do so, however, he must either travel by way of Perea, fording the Jordan twice as many of his countrymen did, or cross the full length of Samaria, which divided the two provinces. It was a choice of no mean significance inasmuch as the Jews and the Samaritans had long since severed relations with bad blood between them.
Ron Love Mark Ellingsen Bob Ove Frank Ramirez Bonnie Bates Bill Thomas
Policies and procedures are sometimes the bane of a pastor’s existence. There are those, in some churches and denominations, who think that only church members should have their children baptized. I get it. Churches are concerned about members and about the time and energy their pastors utilize. But how can anyone turn away someone who seeks to be welcomed into the family of God?
“If you don’t know where you are going,” says an ancient source, “any road will get you there.”
To live in a different way requires some goals that pull us toward the narrow path that leads to the Kingdom of God. Goals don’t have to be big or outlandish or extravagant. They must, however, be important. In the preface to his magnificent novel Moby Dick, Herman Melville says, “To write a mighty book you must have a mighty theme.”
Some years ago I baptised a beautiful child. She was nearly three, so a little older than most children who are brought for baptism. She had golden curls and blue eyes and the sweetest smile you could wish to see. But she was unable to sit or stand unaided and she was unable to speak, for she had suffered brain damage at birth.
What is a preacher to make of a parable or extended allegory about a vine in an urban and industrial culture? If you are living in a small town or a rural area, people might know something about growing grapes. They might know about the need to prune back old growth since the grapes only form on the new growth. But how many in a large city would know about cultivating a grape vine so that it produces a good crop? For them grapes are something you buy in the produce section of the supermarket.