The Reason for the “Messianic Secret”

Theologian William Wrede drew attention to this pattern about a hundred years ago, and named it the “Messianic Secret.” It has puzzled bible scholars for a very long time. For one thing, Jesus occasionally he does the opposite, and tells the person to spread the word. What’s going on?  I think there is a simple and practical reason that Jesus does this. I’ll bet it makes sense to you as soon as you hear it.

Prayer and the Playground

[2020-1-10] Talking to my grandkids about prayer, I said: “Imagine it is recess and you need to tell the teacher something important. But he is sitting and talking to the other teachers, and not paying attention to you. “But then he begins to pay attention. He turns to you and…

Rage and Statues

In June 2015 my husband and I went to Charleston, SC, to visit family. The shooting at Emanuel AME Church had just taken place and everyone was in shock and grieving. We walked around the area and saw the many, many flowers, crosses, and other tributes laid there.

Thomas Sunday

So think about the fact that “Thomas” means “twin” in Hebrew. (And I always wondered, what did they call his brother?) Thomas might have been *very* familiar with the fact that one person can be mistaken for another. A way to make certain is to check for scars.

An Eerie Dream

Frederica Here and Now podcast recording of this dream One aspect of getting older, for me, is that I don’t remember my dreams as well as I used to—there are just little scraps of dreams that fly away when I wake up. But last spring I had a dream that, even while I was having it, I knew it was important to remember it. Even as the dream was ending, I was already counting up the points I needed to recall. In my dream, we all knew we were going to die. Everyone in the world was going to die. A cloud of air bearing very fine, sharp particles was slowly encircling the earth; when people inhaled, it infiltrated the lungs, piercing the cells and destroying them. There was no way to stop the advance of this fog, and its effects were incurable. Wherever this fog had gone, it had killed the entire population. This cloud was gradually encircling the entire world, and eventually it would reach America.

“First Fruits” Audiobook!

“First Fruits of Prayer: A 40-Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew” has just been released as an audiobook. Many people tell me that they reread this book every year during Lent. Some people have more time to listen than to read, though, so hopefully they’ll find this useful.…

Tearing Their Garments

You know how, in the Bible, sometimes it says people tear their garments? Matthew 26:25, “The high priest tore his garments and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy!’.” I always thought that the women present must have breathed a quiet “Noooooo” at that moment. Think of how hard it is to weave fabric. Look at the sleeve of whatever you’re wearing, and notice how many horizontal lines it takes to make up even an inch of vertical fabric. In that high priest’s time, a person (probably a woman) would make such a garment at a wooden loom, passing a thread carefully over and under, back and forth, through the lengthwise threads. Making any kind of fabric took forever!

“A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”

“The LORD is my shepherd.” Being a Good Shepherd takes a lot of work. I had always pictured David relaxing on a hillside, thinking up psalms, while his contented flock grazed nearby. But I was surprised to learn, in the course of the book, how much hard work the shepherd has to do to protect the sheep from predators, flies, disease, and poisonous plants, and provide them always with grasslands good for grazing.

Mother and Child

This is the earliest image of the “Madonna and Child,” the Virgin Mary holding her son. It’s found in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, and dates to the early 200’s. At the time this image would have been so new that people might have wondered what it was, so the artist depicted a prophet standing beside her, pointing to a star. Perhaps this is the seer Balaam, who said “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17-19). As familiar as the mother-and-child image is now, I was thinking how rare it would have been before Christ came. There’s usually no reason to depict a mother and nursing child. It’s not a heroic image, not particularly glorious or amazing; it’s as everyday as a mother kneading bread or hanging out the wash. And yet we put it in our worship