Did you make any New Year resolutions for 2020? If you did, how is that going? Resolutions are really like repentance: acknowledgment that we have not lived up to our full potential –are not the people we should be. That means acknowledging the need to change, and then acting to move ahead. That is a key component to conversion which, in our tradition is not a one- time thing but a continual turning back to God. That, in turn, means what biblical Greek calls “metanoia,” or thinking again, which requires us to be open and attuned. The story is told of two farm brothers, oneRead More →

Sir Winston Churchill once quipped that a political opponent of his was a “sheep in sheep’s clothing.” He was certainly playing on the perception of sheep and lambs as peaceable creatures. But what might first-century Jewish people have thought in response to the statement attributed to John the Baptiser in today’s gospel reading [John 1:29-42]? (Remember that John’s gospel is written about seventy years after the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry thirty years about the Temple was destroyed.) John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God who remits the world’s sin. For a Jew, at least in the time of Johannine gospel, that wouldRead More →

Peter planned a nice quiet afternoon on the roof. Meditation, maybe a little light reading, sunbathing, a nap. All sorts of possibilities to be followed by dinner at the house of fellow-Jew Simon Tanner. (Good choice, as Jews were not allowed to entitlein a gentile home). But suddenly all heaven breaks loose! Peter has a vision, a trance, out-of-body experience. He sees a huge sheet containing every imaginable kind of animal and a divine voice saying that God no longer classifies clean and unclean. Peter takes this to apply to people, as well as animals for food. He says “Now I am beginning to understand.”Read More →

Legendary material notwithstanding, we know that the Roman world began with settlement of the Palatine Hill in Italy about 1000 years, B.C.E. Soon there were inhabitants on the surrounding six hills, and they all coalesced into the city of Rome. By skirmishes and later outright warfare, Rome began to expand its borders. By around the end of the third century, C.E. the Empire extended across Europe and North Africa, all the way to the Atlantic in the West and Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the East. At that height it constituted 4.4 million kilometres. One of the keys to successful growth was the forming ofRead More →