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Showing posts from January, 2014

Preaching on the Edge

This week I heard Homiletics Professor Dr. Jana Childers point out that when one person is listening to another person she receives over 50% of the message through the speaker’s body language and only 7% through words; the rest comes through tone of voice. For those of us who experience hard labor in giving birth to our words and who thus love them like only the mother who brought them into this world can love them, that’s a humbling statistic.

Still, it got me to thinking about what my body language says about my message.

Dr. Childers said that when the preacher is speaking about something that calls for concentrated thought on the part of the congregation, it is good for the preacher to stay behind the lectern. Frankly, I have always preferred to stay behind the furniture. I used to think that was because I liked to have some protection between the congregation and me. Now I know that it’s because I want my listeners to give serious thought to that to which I’ve been giving serious …

Does Your Light Shine?

(A sermon based on Matthew 4:12-23 for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany)

Did you hear about Rosetta waking up last Monday (January 20, 2014) after being asleep for two and a half years? Well, it happened. Rosetta is a space probe that was launched by the European Space Agency in 2004. Its primary task is to study asteroids. Soon it will enter into orbit around an asteroid and train its instruments on the body in order to study it. Most interestingly, it will this fall attempt to land a probe on the surface of the asteroid that will be equipped to take and analyze samples from down to eight inches below the surface.

Last Monday at 5:00 a.m. EST a wake-up call was sent to Rosetta which was then about 418 million miles from the sun. It took a while for the sleeping spacecraft to turn on its heaters and warm up enough to become operational but finally, at 1:18 p.m. a signal was received from the ship. Rosetta was awake and ready to get back to work.

But why was Rosetta put to sleep…

Abide with Him

(A sermon based on John 1:29-42 for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany)

My good wife and I met in college and it was on and around the campus that we did our initial dating. After a while, she invited me to go home with her for a weekend. So we drove from Macon through Cordele and on through Albany until we arrived at her hometown of Leary out of which we drove three more miles until we arrived at her parents’ house. We drove up in the front yard and she said, “Well, that’s where I live.” And then we turned around and went back to Macon.

That is not, of course, what really happened. We got out of the car and went inside the house where she hugged her mother and father and introduced me to them—and then we spent the entire weekend there. We stayed there. And because we stayed there, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and I got to know each other better. But we did not get to know each other as well as we would have had I moved in with them and lived with them—then I would have, to use a good bib…

After Baptism

(A sermon based on Matthew 3:13-17 & Acts 10:34-48 for the Baptism of the Lord Sunday)

God came from outside space and time to enter this world of space and time in the person of Jesus of Nazareth--born of a woman, laid in a manger, announced by angels, worshiped by shepherds, honored by Wise Men, and, when he grew up, baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptizer. In undergoing baptism, Jesus did at least two things. First, he identified with sinful humanity. Second, he showed himself to be God’s humble King.

After his baptism and his subsequent test in the wilderness (be aware that baptism leads us into testing and into dangerous territory), Jesus came to Galilee and then to the rest of Israel, to bring in his person, his words, and his actions the good news of that peace—that wholeness, soundness, and integrity—was available through him. Jesus came to people and helped them find that peace by helping them to overcome what afflicted and hurt them.

Then, because Jesus was o…

Mystery Date

(A sermon based on Ephesians 3:1-12 for Epiphany Sunday 2014)

January 6 is the Christian “mystery date”; it is the date that we celebrate the uncovering of the great mystery to which Paul refers in our text: “the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (v. 6). The great mystery that had been hidden away in God’s heart and that was revealed only in the coming of Christ Jesus was that Jews—who had been regarded as God’s chosen people—and Gentiles—who had not been so regarded—were in fact all God’s people through the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus.

The mystery that was revealed was that Jesus came to draw both Jews and Gentiles into God’s family. And, since in the first century way of looking at things there were only two kinds of people, namely, Jews and Gentiles, the mystery that was revealed was that Jesus came to make a way for all people to be in God’s family.

So what do the Wise Men …