MARK 6:1-13

The root word of axiomatic, axiom—a self-evident truth—comes from the Greek axioma, meaning "authority”. We use it to describe compact, often pithy statements that have the authority of truth about them.

For example, “Out of sight, out of mind” is axiomatic because we all know it experientially as true. “Familiarity breeds contempt” is too.

It’s the latter Jesus confronts in this week’s Gospel reading, and he does it with an axiom of his own.

Our Turn for Tragedy

MARK 5:21-43

On Thursday, June 28, Annapolis experienced terrible violence. The 'somewhere else' for which we have so often prayed became 'here and now' at the Capital Gazette.

The best-known verse of Lamentations claims: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 

Is this still the case for us and our neighbors this morning?

In response to the calamities which came upon the people of Israel, the writer of Lamentations finds that there is nothing that can save them apart from the Divine Help of God. Only that help was yet to come.

Is God's help still yet to come for us?

I certainly hope it won't be long...

Fear of Widths

JOB 38:1-11
PSALM 107:1-3, 23-32
MARK 4:35-41

Steven Wright, a comedian known for his lethargic, deadpan delivery of ironic, philosophical, and sometimes nonsensical humor once said about fear, “A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me. I’m afraid of widths.”

The definition of an irrational fear is, of course, “someone else’s.”

But fear—genuine fear—is a very real, and potentially debilitating thing.

And have you ever noticed the vast difference between being told, “there’s nothing to be afraid of”, and being asked, “why are you afraid?” The former can come off as condescending (and wrong), while the latter leaves open the possibility that there may, in fact, be something there.

It’s the latter Jesus asks of some friends in a boat—and by extension, us—in this week’s Gospel reading.


EZEKIEL 17:22-24, PSALM 92:1-4,11-14, 2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-17, MARK 4:26-34

Becoming an instrument rated pilot—one who can fly and land safely without ANY outside visual references— isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a painful and arduous process. It certainly was for me.

It involves learning to trust something you’ve never trusted, but more than that, unlearning to trust what you’ve always trusted (and everyone else trusts).

It’s the unlearning that’s hardest.

This isn’t dissimilar from something provocative St. Paul wrote in this week’s Epistle. It’s not just learning a new way, but more than that, unlearning the old. And that’s a painful and arduous process. It certainly was for him.


FUTAB is Chat for “Feet Up, Take A Break.” FUTAB might be what you imagine when you hear the word Sabbath: aimless rest. Mandatory aimless rest, actually.

But if that’s all you imagine, you’re falling way, way short.

Because Sabbath has a definite aim.

Believe, And Be Saved

One of the three affirmations of the Christian faith which the Anglican Church shares with a great many other Churches is the Athanasian Creed, which begins rather insistently:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence.

Why would our ancestors in the faith have commended to us in such certain terms, such a specific and nuanced way of describing and understanding God? Isn't it enough to simply believe in an almighty creator? Or that Jesus died for our sins? Or to receive the Holy Spirit?

On this Trinity Sunday we will explore this mystery together, and perhaps grow to understand why so many who have lived their life with God, pray in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Maybe this prayer tells us more about the Gospel than we might think a simple ritual ever could.

A Faith more than 'Love Jesus and Try Harder'

Bishop Martyn Minns

We welcomed Bishop Martyn Minns to Redeemer on Pentecost Sunday. +Martyn was the founding missionary bishop of CANA until his retirement in 2014 (he was succeeded by +Julian). Prior to becoming a bishop, he served as the rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, VA. 

+Martyn was born in Nottingham, England, and prior to his theological training in the US, graduated with degrees in mathematics and statistics from the University of Birmingham in England, and served as an executive with the Mobil Corporation in NYC. 

+Martyn and Angela have five children and a bunch of grandchildren.

Pretty Much Ignored

Everyone knows Christmas and Easter are integral to the Christian faith. But what about The Ascension? Is it integral as well? And if so, why is it pretty much ignored? Maybe because it always falls on a Thursday...forty days after the Resurrection, and ten days before Pentecost. Maybe we just don’t understand its significance. Yesterday was The Feast of the Ascension. Did you know?

But have you ever wondered why Jesus said in John 16:7 that it was better for us that he go away?

It’s because The Ascension has profound implications for the Church as a whole, for you, and for Monday mornings.

It’s too good to be ignored.

Darah’s question

“Mr. Pfenson, can I ask you a question?”  She was sitting in the front row.  I steel myself for what’s coming, because you really never know where that question leads...

I am the true vine

Robert Burns is the head Protestant Chaplain at the United States Naval Academy and a dear friend of Redeemer. We were thrilled that he would come and preach to us.

Good Shepherd

Dave Bena, Assisting Bishop in CANA East preached and led our worship on this day for our confirmations.


In a culture that seems to be growing increasingly ideological, “both/and” is something you’re hearing less and less. We’re increasingly attuned to “either/or”: Democrat or Republican. Environment or Economy. Conservative or Progressive. Paper or Plastic (I know, this last one’s not truly ideological, but I really prefer paper even though I feel guilty about it).

The Church, because it’s full of human beings, isn’t immune from an either/or way of seeing things in its orientation to worship. It’s often expressed as Word or Sacrament.

But Jesus, on the evening of the first day of the week in Emmaus practices both/and.

In fact, it’s how he’s known.

Peace. Receive. Go.

Jesus said 'unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit' (John 12:24). What does he mean?

Jesus went to his own death with the certainty that through his suffering and resurrection the whole world would be blessed. Sounds great but what does it mean? We will hear on Sunday how he appeared to his Disciples when they were afraid, and sent them to do the impossible.

Much fruit has come from Christ's resurrection. You're probably already living it.

Meaningful or Meaningless?

Read the following paragraph at normal speed. Don’t skim or give up halfway through.

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is a better place than the street. At first it’s better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it’s easy to learn. Once successful, complications are minimal. Even young children can enjoy it. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs lots of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. A rock will serve as an anchor. If it breaks loose, however, you will not get a second chance.

Now, ask yourself: Is this paragraph meaningful or meaningless?


Holy Week begins this Sunday with Palm Sunday, also called The Sunday of the Passion. From triumph to death—from Sunday to Friday—it clearly signals what lies in the week ahead.

There is, however, another harbinger lying just beneath the surface in this week’s lectionary.

A short and beautiful hymn, quoted by St. Paul, signals why Jesus did what he did on Thursday...and why we’ll do what we do.

Merch in Church

The church where I grew up regularly hosted visiting musical groups. They’d always have their LPs (yes, LPs) and other stuff—their “merch”—to sell, but at our church they weren’t allowed to do this. At least not in the foyer where most people entered.

The rationale came from John 2:13-22 when Jesus cleansed the temple. Jesus clearly didn’t like it when folks hawked their wares around the temple, and therefore we shouldn’t sell stuff around the sanctuary.

To be sure, the place of worship in first-century Israel and the auditorium of a conservative Baptist church in Southern California don’t exactly correspond, but true to Jesus’s words, my church didn’t want the place of worship to be co-opted as a place of commerce. And that much is right.

But is merch in church really the heart of the issue...or is it something more invisible and insidious? 

Cardinal Point

There are cardinal numbers, cardinal directions, cardinal virtues, and Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. None of which have anything to do with either the bird or the color.

Cardinal is the Latin word for hinge, like a door or a gate turns on.

This week’s Gospel describes a cardinal point in the ministry of Jesus.

From Peter’s perspective, in one brief moment the whole thing takes a turn. And not for the better. 


“WWJD”, wrote Dallas Willard, “is speculative; whereas WDJD is substantive.”

WWJD explains a lot about why most in the modern Western church preferred roses rather than ashes Wednesday.

WDJD, however, explains a lot about why Lent matters.