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Showing posts from December, 2012

Growing Up

(A sermon based on Luke 2:41-52 & Colossians 3:12-17 for the 1st Sunday after Christmas Day)

The 2008 movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” told the story of how the title character was born as an old man and how as he lived he grew younger and younger until finally he just ceased to be. Reflecting on that story, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to carry the experiences of old age with you into middle age and those of old and middle age into young adulthood and those of old, middle, and young adulthood into adolescence and childhood. After all, what adult among us has not said, “If I had known then what I know now”?

That is not, though, how it works. We are born as babies and we grow into adults who become older and older adults until finally we die.

Since Jesus was a normal human baby, he grew up in the normal human way. As a baby he nursed, he burped, he spit up, he messed up his diaper, he cooed, and he cried. As a toddler he learned to walk and to…

Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me

(A message delivered at the Christmas Eve service at First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA)

“Wait, wait…don’t tell me!” It’s something you say when someone asks you a question and the answer is right on the tip of your brain but won’t quite make the leap to your mouth. You hear it when people are playing a quiz game or when a teacher asks a question or when someone is trying to guess what is in that funny looking package under the tree.

“Wait, wait…don’t tell me!”

That’s probably not the answer you would give were I to ask you, “What are we waiting for tonight?”

No, your initial and quick (and correct) reply would be “Jesus”; you wouldn’t need for me to wait for you to come up with that answer.

But what if I followed that question up with this one: “And what does that mean?”

“Wait, wait…don’t tell me!”

OK, I won’t. Perhaps you will allow me, though, to give you some things to think about as you formulate your answer.

Jesus is already and always here; we are waiting for …

Jesus Is Coming—So Live!

(A sermon based on Micah 5:2-5a & Luke 1:39-55 for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

Here on this fourth and last Sunday of Advent, on the eve of Christmas Eve, I want to talk with you about being pregnant.

While I suspect that most of the children (and I reckon all of the adults) present know the meaning of the word, allow me to tell you that our English word “pregnant” comes from a Latin word meaning “before child”; it thus came to have the meaning of being “with child.” A pregnant woman is a woman who is going to have a baby, then.

Our Gospel text tells us about two pregnant women, Elizabeth and Mary, who were kin. Did you ever see the movie Father of the Bride, Part 2? The story involved a middle-aged mother and her young daughter who were pregnant at the same time; it being a movie, they delivered their babies at virtually the same time on the same day in the same hospital attended by the same doctor. The story of Elizabeth and Mary is not quite like that—they were likely cou…

Jesus Is Coming—So Be Joyful!

(A sermon based on Luke 3:7-18 & Philippians 4:4-7 for the Third Sunday of Advent.)

The candle of joy is now burning on the Advent wreath.

But how can we talk about joy in light of what has happened this week?

That is the question that has haunted me since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Friday.

Then another question occurred to me: how can we talk about joy in light of what happens every week? While the deaths at Sandy Hook are shocking and heart-rending, especially when we consider the deaths of so many children, the truth is that many violent deaths occur every week. There were 14,612 murders in the United States in 2011; that averages out to 281 per week.

All tragedies are not due to violence, though. For example, some five million children in developing countries die each year due to malnutrition.

This is not even to mention the many public and private tragedies, the innumerable “little deaths,” that so many of us bear in our daily liv…

Jesus is Coming—So Look!

(A sermon based on Luke 1:68-79 & Philippians 1:3-11 for the Second Sunday of Advent)

Perhaps you have had an experience similar to mine. I will be asked by my good wife, “Did you see such and such on such and such television show?” I will reply, “No.” And she will say, “But you were sitting right there when it was on.”

There are several possible explanations for that recurring phenomenon. First, perhaps I was dozing. Second, perhaps I was paying attention to something else, like my iPad. Third, and most likely, perhaps I was watching but not seeing; my eyes were open and even pointed in the right direction but my mind and heart were not engaged in what was on the screen.

It’s amazing what you can miss when you aren’t paying attention, when you are not fully present in the moment. If we aren’t careful, we might even miss what God is up to in Jesus Christ—even during this most wonderful time of the year.

That’s ironic because the ability to see what is important is one o…