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Showing posts from April, 2014

Christ the Lord

(A sermon based on Colossians 1:15-20 for the 2nd Sunday of Easter 2014)

Last October, Amanda Fiegl of National Geographic asked National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorologist Stephen Corfidi why some sunsets are so spectacularly colorful. Here is his explanation:

When a beam of sunlight strikes a molecule in the atmosphere, what's called "scattering" occurs, sending some of the light's wavelengths off in different directions. This happens millions of times before that beam gets to your eyeball at sunset.

The two main molecules in air, oxygen and nitrogen, are very small compared to the wavelengths of the incoming sunlight—about a thousand times smaller. That means that they preferentially scatter the shortest wavelengths, which are the blues and purples. Basically, that's why the daytime sky is blue. The daytime sky would actually look purple to humans were it not for the fact that the sensitivity of our eyes peaks in the middle [green] par…

Remember: He Came to Bring New Life

(A sermon based on Matthew 28:1-10 for Easter Sunday 2014)

When the stone was placed over the mouth of Jesus’ tomb, death with its accompanying anxiety and hopelessness had won again, as it was accustomed to doing. When the stone was placed over the mouth of the tomb, life with its accompanying love and hope had lost again, as it was accustomed to doing.

It was a crushing defeat.

Death, you see, hung over the world and over every life in the world like a dark cloud that was absolutely certain to produce life-threatening storms. Everybody was going to die and so everybody had to live in dread of death; that dread affected everything in life for everybody. Not only was everybody going to die but everybody had to deal with the events and situations in life that drained the life from them—and they had to face them with no real hope for the future.

When the stone was placed over the mouth of Jesus’ tomb, those with the power, the prestige, the privilege, and the pride had won again, as…

Remember: He Came to Die

(A sermon based on John 19:28-37 for Good Friday 2014)

Here is the basic fact that we call to our remembrance on Good Friday: Jesus Christ died on the cross. Often, we add to that sentence this phrase: “for us.” The theologians of the Church have thought many thoughts and have produced many words over the centuries on what it means to say that Jesus died “for us” but the Church—and wisely, I think—has never adopted one approach to understanding exactly how the death of Jesus “saves” us. Instead, the Church has seen that several different understandings each point us to a piece of the meaning of death of Jesus on the cross.

Tonight I want to focus on just one way to think about the cross but I focus on it because I believe it is the most important one since it provides the umbrella under which all the other ways of thinking about the cross sit.

Here is the truth I hope you’ll take home with you: Jesus died on the cross to make real and present God’s love for us. After all, God is lo…

Remember: He Came to Stir Things Up

(A sermon based on Matthew 21:1-11 for Palm Sunday 2014)

“When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’”

The reactions that Jesus got from the crowd that accompanied him as he rode into Jerusalem and that the got from the people in the city were reactions that, we may be sure, he anticipated—indeed, that he intentionally provoked.

After all, he went to Jerusalem with his followers on purpose.

After all, he sent for the donkey on which he would ride into the city, knowing full well that his doing so would make a statement that he was carrying out the prophecy that Matthew quoted in verse 5.

After all, while he at times tried to tamp down the fervor of the crowds over the expectations and hopes that he provoked in them, this time he not only did not try to snuff out the flames but seems to have purposefully fanned them.

After all, the first thing that he did upon entering the city was to go to the temple and cause a commotion there by running off…

Jesus: Forty Days of Testing

(A sermon based on Matthew 4:1-11 for April 6, 2014, the 5th Sunday in Lent. Fifth in a series entitled "Making Good Use of Forty Days.")

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus “in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus always passed his tests. I do not always pass my tests—and neither do you.

It’s important to note that Jesus’ testing in the wilderness comes immediately following his baptism where the voice from heaven affirmed that he was God’s beloved Son. The temptations hit him exactly at the point of what it meant for him to be the Son of God. The most serious temptations that we encounter hit us at the same point: what does it mean for us to be the children of God?

We of the Church are, you might say, the third in a series when it comes to being tested.

First there were the people of Israel who, after their exodus from Egypt, were tested by God in the wilderness; Moses, speaking to the people as they s…