This week we read the story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as told in Acts 6 and 7. We observe the struggles of the early Christian church as it grows from a small and homogenous movement to a large community of both Judean and Hellenistic disciples. We discuss the apostles’ neglect of the Greek-speaking widows and the community’s efforts to care for its own. And we discuss the trial and stoning of Stephen, part legal proceeding and part lynching, as he challenges the practice of establishment religion among the Jews of Jerusalem.
This week BibleWorm reads Luke chapter 24:13-35. We try to put down what we know as readers and step into the moment of this text -- the grief, the swirling confusion, the sadness of Jesus’s followers. We wonder why Jesus disappears just at the moment of recognition and begin to see a faith that will always be a little bit beyond what any individual can grasp hold of. We connect this unfolding, multi-part revelation with the revelation at the beginning of this gospel: many individuals get a piece of the puzzle, but in order to make anything of it, they have got to find one another, share what they’ve seen, and trust in other experiences, too.
This week BibleWorm reads the Easter story as told in Luke 24:1-12. We ponder the witness of the women, dismissed by the male apostles as an idle tale, and wonder whose testimonies we may dismiss today. We wrestle with the angels’ question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” realizing that the Easter story itself would never have unfolded if the women had not gone to the grave to attend to the dead. And we grapple with the significance of remembrance in this resurrection story, which insists that we already have what we need to imagine a new future, even if we just can’t quite recognize it yet.
On this special Good Friday episode, BibleWorm discusses Luke’s telling of the crucifixion in chapter 23:32-49. We notice the haziness around the question of culpability for what has happened - what people or forces are responsible, and did they ever realize they had this power? We see a lot of compassion from Jesus even as he suffers. And we wonder whether the second criminal is really any more honorable than the first, or whether he’s just more savvy. More importantly, we wonder whether that matters to Jesus.
This week BibleWorm reads the story of Palm Sunday in Luke 19:29-44—except in this version there are no palms and no one shouts “Hosanna!” Can we even call it Palm Sunday? We talk about Jesus orchestrating a donkey-jacking and the implicit claim that Jesus is lord of all. We comment on the tenderness of the people in the midst of a tragic story, as they lift Jesus up on a colt and spread their cloaks in front of him. And we wrestle with our addiction to systems of violence, which prevent us from living in peace if we cannot manage to see God in our midst.
This week, BibleWorm reads Luke 18:31- 19:10. We imagine the awkward silence after Jesus’s followers once again cannot grasp the increasingly detailed prediction of Jesus’s imminent suffering. We pause to think about the faith of the blind man who cries out to Jesus, and wonder about the life experiences that gave him the faith and courage to ask for what he needed. And we meet Zacchaeus - either a stigmatized fellow whose been ostracized from his community, or a sinner who sees the light only after his encounter with Jesus. Either way, you’ve got to appreciate someone who will scamper up a tree for his faith.
This week BibleWorm reads Luke 16:19-31, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. We discuss the lavish lifestyle of the rich man, who uses his gated home as an excuse to avoid responsibility for the needy man outside his gate. And we talk about poor Lazarus, who suffers at the gate in life and yet would cross a great chasm to show the rich man compassion in death. And we wrestle with our own privilege, wondering what barriers we construct to separate ourselves from the very relationships that might transform us into better members of God’s community.
This week, BibleWorm reads Luke 15:1-32-- three parables of things that were lost and have been found. Somewhat in spite of ourselves, we can’t help but melt into the sheer joy of the finder. We wonder about the experience of those who were never lost. And Amy manages to embarrass herself so thoroughly that this episode is 1 minute too long because we couldn’t bear to cut the story out. It has to do with middle school - so you know it’s bad.
This week BibleWorm reads Luke 13:1-9 and 31-35, which includes Jesus’s discussion of the causes of suffering, the parable of the fig tree, and Jesus’s lament over the city of Jerusalem. We wrestle with the popular theology that bad things happen to the worst sinners and with Jesus’s apparent counterclaim that all of us, in fact, are sinners who deserve punishment. We ponder Jesus’s parable of the fig tree, which offers a model for nurturing rather than threatening people into repentance. And we encounter Jesus’s tender lament over Jerusalem, the city he wishes to embrace, but which is so enthralled with its own power that it cannot receive his prophetic voice.
This week BibleWorm reads Luke 10:25-42 -- the story of the Samaritan who is sometimes called good, and the story of Jesus’s visit with Mary and Martha. We watch Jesus skillfully reframe the lawyer’s questions, from “how to attain eternal life” to “how to live”, and from “whom must I love,” to what love of neighbor looks like. We see ourselves in the very human desire to make and carry out plans. And we hear the call of these stories to re-focus -- to be present in the moment, to see what emerges, and to respond to the person in front of us, whomever that may be.