Palm Sunday: Proceed, Without Caution

Palm Sunday

Bob's Blog of Wonder

(In a downloadable mp3 form, too.)

Save Us!
Matthew 21:1-17

This was a strange procession. A guy on a donkey. (No doubt the scoffers likened him to that poor animal.) Tagging along with him were a bunch of fishermen, rural herdsmen, and even (shudder) a taxman. A crowd, mostly of just plain folks, got into it. They’d apparently heard about this Jesus of Galilee (v. 11), and had a high regard for him. Maybe this was the man who’d save them from the hands of the Roman conquerors. Maybe this was the man who’d save them from the effects of a chasm that set the keepers of the Temple system apart from the ordinary Jew. Maybe this was the man who’d save them from their own frustration and loss of hope in the God who chose them.

So they laid palm branches before him as he went in, and cried…

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Fifth Sunday in Lent

Bob's Blog of Wonder

Ezekiel 37:1-14 ;
Romans 8:6-11 ;
John 11:1-46

“This wouldn’t have happened if you’d been here!”

Martha said it. Mary said it. Some of the mourners were likely to have said it. Lazarus had taken ill. Surely if Jesus were there, He would have healed him. After all, He had healed all sorts of strangers — many of them were the strangest of strangers. Now, the brother of two of his most devoted followers gets deathly ill, and what does Jesus do?

He waits.

And waits..

And waits

… until Lazarus dies. Jesus lets him die!

It would seem unseemly to talk about a purpose behind the act of not acting to heal Lazarus. But Jesus Himself raises the issue. He says, “It’s good that I wasn’t there.” Huh?? How could that be?? Jesus had something bigger in mind than just another run-of-the-mill, everyday, amazing sensational miracle healing. It…

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My Facebook responses to Online quizzes

These are real responses I wrote in the past month. #online #quizzes

Which Medieval Theologian Are You? (
I got Thingol of Withal. Legend has it that he formulated the belief that God intended all humans to lay around and sleep as much of the day as possible. Dream sleep, he held, was our communication with God. He tried to have a 96-hour snooze several times, but got up and left the premises after 20 or so hours, mostly out of sheer boredom.

What is your mental age?  (

What Instrument Would You Play In Your Fantasy Band? (
I am the Cowbell Player. I double on tambourine. (Anyone can double on tambourine. Even bassists.) I get girls after the keyboard player and before the drummer; we all get the ones the lead guitarist leaves behind. Fortunately, he has very lousy judgement in women.

Which European Country Do You Actually Belong In? (
I got Malta. It sits out there in the middle of the Mediterranean as time goes on, busy with being itself.

Which Mythical Creature Are You? (
I am the arrow that struck Achilles’ heel. That’s the mythical option, so mythical Buzzfeed didn’t think of it.
The real-life option is that I’m the insect that bit Alexander. He’s called ‘The Great’? Ha? Not after what *I* gave him! Yeah, I didn’t live to see him die (he was a good swatter), but mine was the last laugh.

Which Monarch Are You?  (
I got Emperor Pedro II of Brazil. I know Buzzfeed never heard of him, but anyway… He ruled for 50 years, was highly popular, was overthrown by an unpopular cadre, which he didn’t resist and may have welcomed, and has since been held in high esteem for his shaping of the early independent Brazil.

So *there*. first-world snobs.

I took Zimbio’s ‘Princess Bride’ quiz and I’m Inigo Montoya! Who are you?
This quiz does not mean what you think it means…

I took Zimbio’s ‘Avengers’ quiz and I’m Loki! Who are you? (
I’m Bjorn. He was a blind Norse farmer who ran over several Norse heroes with a plow while they were resting in a field after a hard-won battle. He was also the first person to wear a cheese hat for a helmet. His descendents married Swedes, including the ancestors of the renown Muppet, the Swedish Chef.

What animal are you?  (
I am a Gila Monster. I felt like a big deal in the lizard world, until Godzilla came to town.

My Travoltified Name is Derren Mertin! (
Rod Wonman

I got Michel Foucault.! Which Philosopher Are You?
I get Engelbert Lifschutz. He created the philosophy in which mobile phone selfies are the true measure of self-worth.

I took Zimbio’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘ quiz, and I’m Giles! Who are you?
I came up Herman from the City blood bank. He has this uncanny knack for pulling a lot of blood out of people who are hanging out around vampires. With the lack of blood, there is less interest by the vampires in biting them. Saves many a life.

What animal are you?   (
Hmmm…. It says I’m an Asian Long Horned Beetle. I make my living killing maple trees. I’m invasive, and pervasive, and abrasive, and I don’t need to be persuasive.

I got Abigail! Which Biblical Heroine Are You?  (
There is psych theory that says your real personality is shown by your pop-culture choices. Not that Buzzfeed would ever do that much work to make their pop culture polls. And not that they’d ever point someone to Keren-happuch (Job 42:14), no matter how obsessed she is with makeup. They only point to ‘heroes’, like Disney points to princesses.

Anyone come up with Jezebel yet? 😉

Which European Country Do You Actually Belong In? (
I got San Marino. No significance whatsoever.

I got Late ’60s John Lennon! Which Beatle Are You?  (
Did anyone come up with ‘Dead-Paul’? We had that too, for a short while.

I got Late ’60s John Lennon! Which Beatle Are You?  (
Hmm… I came up Stu Sutcliffe…..

I got Upper West Side! Where Should You Actually Live In New York City?
According to this, I’d be living alongside the Gowanus Canal. I’d find the third eyes and third and fourth arms I’d grow to be quite useful. Though it would be hard to hide at night, since I’d be glowing green.

I got Political Science! What Should Your College Major Actually Be?
It says my major is Advanced Meme Creation. With a minor in Anger Mismanagement. Yes, I’m a man of my times.


Second Sunday in Lent – Nicodemus Meets Jesus

Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4

John 3:1-17

He had to come by night.  He couldn’t let others see him. After all, he was a leader among the Pharisees, and his colleagues were already starting to get nasty about this Jesus from Galillee.

But Nicodemus had questions. As a Pharisee, he was well-trained in asking and testing the Torah and among his colleagues about the daily details of living a holy life. He was really good at that. But being a leader among his people didn’t quiet the questions within him.  He had different kind of questions in mind.  Bigger, broader ones.  Questions that went to the core of it all, to what lay beneath what we can sense, to what drives it all. Questions of what life itself and especially the life of faith were all about.

Nicodemus had heard of the wonders Jesus was working, and knew Jesus was a teacher. If Jesus really had the power of God moving him, then this was the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to get to the bottom of this.

What Jesus told him astounded him.  Rebirth — an adult, starting all over again from birth?  Born to be fully free in the very Spirit of God? If the matters of life were so consuming of his thoughts, how much more mind-boggling were the matters of God?

John’s gospel, no doubt, gave us just a very brief, one-minute taste of this encounter.  Just enough to teach us what it was about. One can only imagine what more was said. The keys are: (1) that Nicodemus wanted to learn the ways of God, and (2) that he had finally come to the One who could teach him — Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God.

What are your questions for God?  Go ahead. Ask. You may be astounded.

God, the font of all wisdom, give us the courage to dare to ask You about what perplexed us. Open us to Your answers, and Your questions. Amen.

A Lenten challenge: take some time just to think about just one question that keeps coming back at you. Whatever it is. Write it down. Spend at least one hour today in prayer and study of Scripture and what others have learned about it. You probably won’t come to an ‘answer’, but God may reward you by moving you further along in your search.

First Sunday in Lent

Bob's Blog of Wonder

(Also, as an mp3 audio file.)

Scriptures :
Genesis 9:8-17; Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-7; Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

Psalm 91; Psalm 103.
1 Peter 3:18-22

Matthew 4:1-11;
Luke 4:1-13;
Mark 1:9-15.

At the Rainbow’s End

In Genesis 9, God is blessing Noah and his sons, after the flood. At several points, it doesn’t sound all that much like a blessing (for instance, in v. 5, God tells them they and the animals will all eventually die). But then, God does something striking: the God of All, the Flood-Maker, the Flood-Remover, is now bound to fragile, small, perishable beings. (This is called a ‘covenant’, a sort of contract, only, this is one that’s declared unilaterally.) The God of the Flood is promising that the earth as a whole and all its creatures, including Noah and his descendents, will never again be destroyed by flood. And the sign…

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Ash Wednesday: It’s Not What, But Why

Bob's Blog of Wonder

Ash Wednesday Scriptures:

Joel 2:12-17

Psalm 51 or Psalm 103

Hebrews 12:1-14 and 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Gospel : Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21; or Luke 18:9-14

Ash Wednesday, the Start of Lent

On Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, it’s time to take stock of the truths about ourselves that don’t sit well in our guts. There’s one truth in particular that leaves the people of today’s world most uneasy: the universe does not revolve around you. Psalm 103:14, like Ecclesiastes 3:20, reminds us of what we were at the start. Psalm 51 says that we’ve gotten all fouled up. Amos writes about the two-faced trickery of his generation. Our self-obsessed era is no different. We were made very good, but we keep mucking it up. Because you’re not all that good, God demands that you be truthful about it. God says ‘deal with it’. (After all, God did…

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“What are you thankful for?”

“What are you thankful for?”

November 28, 2013 at 1:35pm

Facebook asks me on Thanksgiving, “What are you thankful for?”

To be frank, there are many times I’m not thankful. Each day I live alone makes the next day that much colder. Which as the decades of chill pile up it gets close to being cold enough to liquefy the air around me. An emptiness which makes the vacuity of outer space seem like a sea of lead. I’ve come so close to getting good employment, but I keep falling short. It seems I will never accomplish my career goals, nor take a lead in reviving poor neighborhoods, nor write that book I told Dad I would eventually write. And the time left for such things is running out. No grandchildren; no children; no wife; no lover; no real prospects; no sunlight at that horizon. No one to sink my life into, the way that everything in me craves to do. The bank account dwindles. I can barely feel my feet. I try to write, but nothing much comes out.  I speak, but it has no effect. I offer ideas, but no one follows up – at least, not until someone else comes up with it.  I get compliments, but no complements. No one joins in. Why would I be thankful?

But I am thankful.  I’m thankful for the Internet, which has for 20+ years been a way for me to share ideas and information that has helped many people all over the world. It has helped me establish distant contact with many wonderful people doing some amazing things and coming up with even more amazing insights.  I’m in a college radio station – a glorious, mixed-up mess which can’t do much of anything right but somehow it has many moments where it comes out better than what is found anywhere else. It’s work, but it’s fun, and so are the people there while I’m there. They’re just not in the rest of my life.

However distant my family members may be, they are still close to my heart. And they will have children. And accomplishments.  And troubles – I hope to God they will never have to taste in their lives what I have had to live every day.

I’m still mentally alert (whatever a lert is), still trying new things, still asking questions, still voraciously learning. I’m involved in several charities, though not in roles matching my abilities.  If anything, parts of my poor memory have improved of late, and my sense of humor is sharper than ever, especially in response mode. It’s less important that others hear me; it’s more important that they are finding the path I’ve been on for the past three decades or so and started walking it, following through on the ideas themselves. And they are doing that, in public policy, Christian faith, and music. (Well, not in the radio industry – yet.)

And I’m thankful to God for God. I’ve cursed at God, hurled objects at God, tried to abandon God. But He waits until I’m done flailing and brings to mind what amazing gifts are within even the worst days of life — at times, He has to shake them in my face for me to notice them.  God has at times been angry at me, and justly so.  And very loving.  And more than anything, patient.  The drawback to God’s presence is that He points me back to everyone else in the world around me. “You get it. Now give it.”  But that is where the cold is.  It’s rare that people *let* me give it. I relate to God better than I do people, but I’m here to relate to people.

In the end, I’m thankful for each new day.  Because I haven’t yet run out of time.  There is hope, just by its being there. Something can change. In fact, something will change. Even if not in the circumstances of my own life.  But even there, something will change.  Each day is a precious gift, even when it seems like there’s an old fruitcake under the wrapping. And even if I never get out of my hole, it’s a hole on top of a big mountain. And when the days stop coming, I will at least have my Lord, up closer than ever.  And that will be just fine, when that time comes.

But right now, I still have to deal with the cold.