J. Barrington Bates
Now retired, Barrie Bates has served Episcopal and Lutheran congregations in California, New York, and New Jersey over the past 20+ years. He holds a Ph.D. in liturgical studies and serves on the General Board of Examining Chaplains. He looks forward to spending more time on the shores of Lake Michigan, and he welcomes conversation about his sermons.
Sermons and Bible Studies
John 3:16 – it appears a lot of places, and mostly not a quote of the text but just that citation of gospel, chapter and verse. Just the name “John” followed by the number “3,” a colon and the number “16.” It appears on placards at sports events, on signs people post on their front […]
We always celebrate some aspect of the Annunciation on this Fourth Sunday of Advent. Each year, we hear a different part of the great story involving the Angel Gabriel, Joseph, Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. And all of this foretells the imminent birth of the Savior. In today’s story, the angel says to Mary, “Greetings, […]
Today’s gospel passage probably requires a bit of translation. There’s a big difference between the cultural expectations of first-century Palestine and 21st-century America. Not only about marriage, of course – but marriage is what today’s gospel highlights. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a marriage feast given by a slave-owning king. Now, slave-owning kings […]
We have in today’s readings some very difficult texts. First, the frightening passage from Genesis, where God tests Abraham. The idea that God would demand that Abraham sacrifice his own son is so terrifying to us that the compilers of our lectionary removed this passage from its more prominent position as part of the Good […]
Today we celebrate one of the principal feasts of the church – and, no, we are not talking about the Super Bowl! The strange thing is that many will never have heard of it. The Feast of the Presentation occurs each year on February 2nd – exactly 40 days after Christmas. Most years the feast slips by […]
As is fairly typical, in today’s gospel story Jesus replies to a conundrum with a conundrum. He’s given a sort of riddle about a woman who marries seven times – and just not seven times, but seven brothers, in succession. Each brother dies, leaving her a widow. After all, marriage vows are only valid while […]
The Bible stories appointed for today have a considerable resonance. That is actually something quite unusual in these days of the Revised Common Lectionary, as the lessons are no longer chosen to relate to each other. The resonance, therefore, is more coincidence than a result of any intentionality. First, we have the prophet Elijah speaking […]
So very often, the gospel passage appointed for a given Sunday contains one major theme, or one simple story. Not today. Todayâs gospel is chock full of proclamation, imagery, and narrative. Letâs review the major themes in these dozen verses of scripture: â¢ John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and proclaims, âHere is […]
Although there have been many technological developments, fishing hasn’t really changed much in the last two thousand years. In spite of all our diesel-powered boats, radar, detailed and accurate charts of the sea, satellite-assisted navigation, and the like, fishing is still pretty much the same kind of activity it was in Jesus’ time. Fishing is […]
In todayâs gospel passage, Jesus speaks in parables. Again. He does that a lot. Jesus frequently uses this particular literary device to get his point across. And in this passage from Markâs gospel, we hear that Jesus preached only in parables, âas they were able to hear.â Parables are brief stories that illustrate a particular […]
In todayâs gospel, we hear that Jesus went about the countryside hoping to escape notice. And here and there he stops in a village or at a house. And as it appears, he stops not so much by deliberate intent, but by happenstance. At those seemingly random locations, he is reported as casting out demons, […]
In the epistle we just heard, St. Paul beseeches us to be reconciled to God. And his way of being reconciled may surprise you. Paul does not suggest a confession, or propose any self-examination, or lay out a lengthy program or exercise. He tells us that we should simply accept the grace of God when […]
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