19 March 2023: Fourth Sunday in Lent

Faithful Conversations #5
Jesus and the Blind Man

1 Samuel 16:1-13
Psalm 23 (5)
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41 (Below)

** Note: This week we pass the mid-point of the 40-day Lenten Journey (40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not counting Sundays). 

“Healing of the Blind Man” by Danish painter Carl Bloch (1834-1890)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am he.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see may see and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.


John Newton (1725-1807)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Born in East London in 1725, John Newton first went to sea at age 11 with his father and was “pressed” into harsh service in the Royal Navy in his teens. By 1743, young John joined the crew of a slave ship and for nearly 20 years, actively participated in capturing African people and profiting from their sale in the Americas. In a 1748 voyage, Newton and his crew nearly died in a horrific storm off the coast of Ireland. He claimed forever thereafter that his conversion to Christianity started at that frightening moment when he thought all was lost, and the evidence bears this out. Though he continued to profit from the slave trade for several years, by the mid-1750s Newton jointed the abolitionist movement and began serious religious studies, becoming an Anglican priest in 1767. In 1772, in part as an illustration for a sermon, Newton penned a poem titled,  “Faith’s Review and Expectation,” clearly based on his ongoing journey of conversion. We know that poem today because of its familiar first stanza:

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

The melody we sing with those words, by the way, did not arrive until 1835, long after Newton was dead. American composer William Walker, applied the words to the tune, “New Britain,” and the rest, as they say is history. The beloved hymn “Amazing Grace” resonates across time. (I have had the pleasure of sitting in front of Keith Brown during this hymn and he booms it out!) Conversion stories, like that of Newton’s, attest to God’s presence in our world and the reference to John 9:25 is plain to see. Newton’s eyes were opened on board that ship.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading recounts an exciting miracle and conversion. It is one of seven “signs” in John’s Gospel — miraculous moments in Jesus’ ministry that authenticate his true identity and encourage the various witnesses to believe in him. The healing of the blind man is the sixth such story (sandwiched between the feeding of the 5,000  in chapter 6 and the raising of Lazarus in chapter 11). In it, we witness Christ’s compassion for the blind beggar whose dismal life is forever changed by the encounter. We also observe the various reactions by those present. Some were astonished by what they saw (I love the presence of those children in the image I included today — check that out!), others were skeptical, and some were mortified . As was often the case, the religious leaders of the day were most appalled by the actions of Christ. Angry because Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath Day, a violation of their teaching — something he did seven times out of his more than thirty recorded miracles — Jewish authorities confronted Jesus in a tough exchange (verses 40-41).

Where do you find yourself in this encounter? It happened THEN, but Christ is speaking to us NOW! Like the blind man, Christ brings us from our spiritual darkness into the light of all that is “good and right and true.”  (Ephesians 5:8-9). Yes, conversion stories are exciting and attest to God’s presence in our world and we are invited into that story every day.

PRAYER (inspired by Ephesians 5: 8-14 and Psalm 23)
Heavenly Father, restore our souls when the valleys of this life overtake us. As we depend on your loving grace to uphold us, help us to walk as children of light in our community and within our relationships. Amen.

And, some humor for our day today (from the world of Charles Schultz):   

12 March 2023: Third Sunday in Lent

Faithful Conversations #4

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 95 (1)
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5-42 (Below)

5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Long ago and far away, it remains a conversation that shines brightly in my memory. As Dr. Herman Larson, Concordia College history professor, entered his office, I was hesitant to even speak. In the course of a few minutes, he opened my eyes to history in a new way. Though forty-eight years past, I remember how he looked and spoke, where we were, what type of day it was outside, and mostly, the intensity of the exchange between this dignified elder and my eighteen year old self. Life’s chance encounters are on my mind this week as I explore the story of Jesus’ and the Samaritan woman.

Before getting into that, an observation about the Gospel of John. The style of John is dramatically different from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and focuses heavily on our “life in Christ” in a more personal way. This comes through a number of extended dialogues or conversations we observe between Jesus and individuals or groups — we get to observe those. Nicodemus (chapter 3) and the Samaritan woman (chapter 4) are two such dialogues.

Back to the Samaritan woman. Among Eastern Orthodox churches, she is called by the name Photini and, in fact, is numbered among the Great Martyrs (you may want to explore more about her fascinating story). Though not named in John’s Gospel, her identity as a Samaritan is significant. Jesus and his disciples are traveling from Judea to Galilee and they chose to take the direct route through Samaria. The backdrop here is that Jews and Samaritans, though distant cousins ethnically, were enemies for a variety of reasons, but most notably their differences over the proper place to worship God. Jews viewed Jerusalem as the center of worship, while Samaritans believed it was Mount Gerizim. This argument among spiritual ancestors seems perplexing to us, but it was critically important two thousand years ago.

That Jesus chose to engage the Samaritan woman in a lengthy dialogue, then, must be noted. In that environment, she had three strikes against her: she was a Samaritan, she was a woman, and one who had experienced a number of marriages, although we do not know the details. In fact, as Barbara Brown Taylor points out in an article titled, “Jesus Talks,” Jesus talked to this Samaritan woman longer than to anyone else in the Gospels and, in fact, she is the first person he reveals himself to as “Messiah” (note verse 26). Both facts are startling and should grab our attention!

As you read through the exchange (or reread it several times as I needed to do!), think about how this encounter with Jesus impacted this woman. Unlike Nicodemus, she is not a curious scholar seeking to understand Jesus, coming to him by night. She simply came to the well for water. Rather, Jesus SEEKS HER OUT and speaks to her in the light of day and in an eye-opening fashion — imagine how great this made her feel! Like Nicodemus, her life was dramatically changed by this chance meeting. In contrast, however, she immediately became an evangelist for Christ and shared her joy with the people of Sychar (verse 39) who proclaimed that Jesus was truly “the Savior of the World” (verse 42).

Heavenly Father, like the Samaritan woman help us to be open to chance encounters that provide a window into your loving grace.  During this time of Lent, strengthen our faith that we may do your work among your people, even those who may be considered “outsiders” in our culture. Amen.

The image included with this post is “Christ and the Samaritan Woman,” by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), accessible through the Public Domain and Wikimedia Commons.  

And, for those of us that grew up Lutheran in the 1950s and 60s . . . . a bit of humor for our day! (Thanks to Charles Schultz for these gems).

5 March 2023: Second Sunday in Lent

Faithful Conversations #3
Jesus’ First Encounter with Nicodemus

Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm 121 (1,2)
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
John 3:1-17 (Below)

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with that person.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen, yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The origin of place names is often fascinating. Founded in 1877 by freed slaves from Kentucky, Nicodemus, Kansas was named for the biblical character in today’s Gospel. They saw the community as a “new birth,” hence the name. Nicodemus is an intriguing character. He appears in John, but not the other three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). We meet him three times: the initial encounter with Jesus in John 3, the second time in John 7 when he defends Jesus among the Pharisees, and the third time in John 19 when he joins Joseph of Arimathea in taking Christ’s body to the tomb post crucifixion. Who was this guy and what should we know about him? 

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and therefore steeped in Jewish law and tradition. He came to visit Jesus at night, perhaps for fear of being seen with him. We must respect his desire to understand all the noise surrounding Jesus. He acknowledges Christ’s divine connection, but struggles with Jesus’ discussion of being “born again.” This idea does not fit with Nicodemus’ religious understanding and you can feel the tension that he is having throughout the exchange. Perhaps this is an example of how religion itself can become a form of idolatry. In a conversation with Pastor Jen this week, she put me on to the word “religiosity” — the idea that we can become excessively devoted to the outward trappings and practices of religion, so much so that they replace our authentic faith in God and distract us from focusing on Christ. Indeed, this may be one of the most common violations of the First Commandment (“You shall have no other gods”).

Nicodemus questioned the notion of being born again, in part, because it did not fit with his logical understanding of the world and his faith practices. Jesus, however, was ushering in a new reality and breaking the bonds of conventional Judaism. We know from the later references to Nicodemus that he was dramatically changed by this encounter and came to see Jesus as the Son of God. Perhaps we can see ourselves in him.

The most famous verse in this Gospel is John 3:16, one of the most often quoted verses from scripture. It seems straightforward — believe in Jesus and be saved. As Lutherans, however, we need to remember that we are saved by grace and not our own actions — it is not “up to us.” Indeed, we need to read 3:16 and 17 together, and verse 17 challenges us mightily every day! God entered humanity through his Son, not to condemn but to save “the world” — all of humanity. Jennifer Chrien, Senior Pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Camarillo, California, puts it this way: God so loved the whole world—loved you, sitting in the pews today. Loved your family, your friends, your neighbors. Loved the people who used to come to church but don’t anymore. Loved the people who were hurt by the church or lost their faith. Loved the people who have never darkened the door of a church. Loved the people who are hungry, and the people who feed the hungry, and the people who don’t care about the hungry as much as they should. Loved our brothers and sisters who are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh—and not on the provision that they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. God loves all of it, all of us. 

Beautiful words and Amen!

One other personal note about this week’s readings: Psalm 121 is my favorite. It is known as the “The Traveler’s Psalm” and I commend it to your reading this week. My father requested this Psalm for his funeral. He liked to say of this life, “we’re all just traveling through.” I learned after his death, that it had been read at his father’s funeral as well. It is a “tie that binds.”


PRAYER (inspired by Nicodemus)
Heavenly Father, In the story of Nicodemus you show us what it means to have a teachable spirit and open mind. We pray for that same attitude as we explore your word. Remind us that we need your guidance to achieve understanding and help us to stay the course. Amen.

The image here is “The Entombment with Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea” by Pietro Perugino, c. 1495 (source: Wikicommons).



And, a bit of Lutheran humor for you today. This comes from the book, “You Know You Are a Lutheran If . . .” by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann (Johnson) Nelson:

“You know you are a Lutheran if . . You wholeheartedly believe in the cardinal rule: Lutherans don’t sit in the front two pews!”

“You know you are Lutheran if . . . You still, under your breath, say ‘Holy Christian Church’ when the LBW clearly states ‘holy catholic church.'”

It’s good for us to laugh at ourselves!    



26 February 2023: First Sunday in Lent

Faithful Conversations #2
The Temptation of Jesus

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11 (Below)

            Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Today is Ash Wednesday, meaning we are 46 days from Easter (40 days not counting Sundays). Lent is a time of deep reflection for Christians across the globe as we prepare to walk through the events of Holy Week leading to our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

The Gospel for this Sunday focuses on the story of Jesus confronting the Devil and being tempted three times in the wilderness during a 40-day fast. Interestingly, this comes immediately after his baptism by John, a powerful moment in which God identifies Jesus as his “Son, the Beloved.” The temptation story comes in like an immediate test of how Christ will handle that identity, and the Devil engages Jesus at a vulnerable moment, in the midst of a fast.

As a 21st Century Christian, I often struggle with the concept of evil, but the striking presence and reality of the Devil are hard to miss in this story — a good reminder of the cosmic struggle between good and evil in our world (the Devil is also present in the Old Testament reading for this Sunday). Our spiritual ancestor, Martin Luther, wrote a good deal about the devil and there is no doubt that Luther saw our struggle over the “forces of evil” as central in our personal and public lives. Luther used the word Anfechtung to describe “despair” which he viewed as temptation — something he surely experienced in his life. One of Luther’s biographers, Roland Bainton, defined Anfechtung this way: “a trial sent by God to test man, or an assault by the Devil to destroy man. It is all the doubt, turmoil, pang, tremor, panic, despair, desolation, and desperation which invade the spirit of a man.” Wow! That sounds like an apt description for much of what is afflicting humankind in 2023, doesn’t it? As he did with Jesus, the Devil steps and appeals to us when we are most vulnerable.

Luther believed that we must approach this struggle, this test, with constant prayer. In his Small Catechism (written in 1529 for the education of children), Luther said this in his explanation of the 6th petition of the Lord’s prayer (“And lead us not into temptation” or “save us from the time of trial”): “God indeed tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, nor lead us into misbelief, despair, and other shameful sin and vice; and, though we be thus tempted, that we may still in the end overcome, and hold the victory.”

One final thought: I’m intrigued by verse 11: Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Angels — messengers from God — show up numerous times throughout the scriptures and attend to Jesus on several occasions (I want to study that more). Psalm 91, referred to as the “Soldier’s Psalm” was one of Luther’s favorites, and verse 11 is applicable here: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” We are never alone when confronting the Devil.


Lord Jesus Christ, May we follow the example of Jesus in the wilderness when confronting temptations and despair in our lives.  Help us to stay steadfast in prayer and may holy Angels attend to us in our vulnerable moments.  Strengthen us in our weakness and help us to confront evil with clear thinking and the confidence that comes from our faith in you. Amen.

Briton Rivière – The Temptation in the Wilderness (1898)





19 February 2023: Last Sunday After Pentecost

Faithful Conversations #1
The Transfiguration of our Lord

Exodus 24: 12-18
Psalm 2 or Psalm 99
2 Peter 1: 16-21
Matthew 17: 1-9 (Below)

17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became bright as light. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will set up three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they raised their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain and the three Apostles had what could only be described as a “mind-blowing” experience. The presence of Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the Prophets) would certainly have been meaningful for these three men, steeped as they were in the knowledge of the Old Testament. Peter was so overwhelmed he wanted to stay there (“I will set up three tents”).  But, notice that God spoke directly to them and put the attention on Jesus Christ (“listen to Him!”). Moses and Elijah were no longer visible to them — just Christ shining brightly! Ultimately, they had to come down from the mountain and engage in the world once again. They did so, however, changed from their experience. In 2 Peter, 1: 19, we have that beautiful commentary on the Transfiguration: “You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”


Lord Jesus Christ, Help us carry the vision of the Transfiguration in our hearts this day, as a lamp shining in a dark place. Though we would like to stay on the mountain, give us the courage to walk into the world and be a light to those around us. In your name we pray, Amen.

Faithful Conversations

Welcome to “Faithful Conversations!” My name is Paul Rykken and I am among those who lead adult studies at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. And, yes, I am an “Old Lutheran,” who grapples with the challenge of living the Christian faith day to day. While I will contribute to and monitor the weekly blog, our intention is to include others as well.

The ELCA follows the Revised Common Lectionary for both its daily and Sunday reading plan. “Faithful Conversations” is a weekly reflection on the Lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday (Year A 2022-23). I will normally focus on the Gospel reading, but not exclusively. I encourage you to read all four readings for each Sunday as part of the process. Our goal with this blog is to inspire ongoing engagement in God’s word among our parishioners.

Soli Deo Gloria!