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Showing posts from November, 2014

What Are We Waiting For?

(A sermon based on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 for the First Sunday of Advent 2014)

We live in the Church and in our Christian lives with a tension between idealism and realism.

After all, we are followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. During the Advent season we look forward to celebrating the birth of the Christ Child who was God incarnate, God in the flesh. In Christ the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and when we open our hearts and lives up to him he comes into our lives and we are drawn into the very eternal life of God. God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, God the Father all come to be with us and in us and we come to be in them.

What amazing lives we should and could all be living! What an amazing body the Church should be!

Ideally, that is.

Here’s what we often tell ourselves, though: “We’re only human. We cannot really live in this world as the body of Christ; we have to settle for much less than that if we are going to get by. But it’s ok because when Jesus c…

The One and Only King

(A sermon based on Ephesians 1:15-23 for Reign of Christ Sunday preached on November 23)

We live in a society that is plagued by shortsightedness. We see that reality in how we live our personal lives and in how our leaders design and implement public policies. We tend to adopt the short-term fix rather than work toward the long-term solution. We think more about what’s good for us than we do about what’s good for the generations that will follow us.

There’s a Bible story that illustrates what I’m talking about. Hezekiah was king of Judah in the eighth century BCE. He received some Babylonian envoys during the time that Babylon was rising in power; he tried to impress those envoys by showing them all of his treasure. When Isaiah the prophet found out about it, he told King Hezekiah that there would come a day when all of Judah’s treasure would be taken to Babylon and some of Hezekiah’s own sons would be taken into captivity. I find the king’s response to the prophet amazing: “The wo…

Counting to Twelve

(A Communion message based on John 13:21-38 and preached on November 16, 2014)

They’re not here. Did you notice? Somebody who should be here is not here. Some of those who are not here have legitimate reasons; some of them would give just about anything if they could only be here. But there are members of this church family who are not here because they have chosen not to be here; they are not here because they do not want to be here. They have chosen not to be here to worship God; they have chosen not to be here to celebrate the baptism of two of our children; they have chosen not to be here to observe the Lord’s Supper.

I wish we were all here. I don’t wish we were all here so that we could have a big crowd; I don’t wish we were all here so that we could talk next week about the large number of people that came to church. I wish we were all here because we are a family and whenever a family gets together we miss the absent ones. I wish we were all here because this is where we all…

Knowing God

(A sermon based on John 14:1-17 preached on November 9, 2014)

Let’s start with a question: Do we even want to know God?

Please note what I am not asking: I am not asking if we want to know about God. I am asking whether we want to know God. Do we want to be in a real relationship with God, by which I mean a relationship in which God is in us and we are in God? After all, such a relationship requires openness, it requires vulnerability, and it requires intimacy. It requires recognizing that while the basis of our relationship with God is God’s love for us, it is not a relationship between equals; God has the right to point out our sins and to expect us to repent of them, to point out our weaknesses and to expect us to strengthen them, and to point out our strengths and to expect us to build on them.

The question assumes that we believe that God in fact exists, that God is God and nothing less than God, and that God in God’s grace wants to be in relationship with us. It assumes that w…

The Tracks of Our Tears

(A sermon based on Psalm 126:5-6 a ndRevelation 21:1-4 preached for All Saints'/Souls' Sunday)

Mourning, crying, and tears will be part of our landscape for as long as we live in this world. That’s because, whether we are looking backward or looking forward, death is on the horizon. A time comes in everyone’s life when for the first time someone significant dies; from that time on, when we look back we will see that life and that death. From the moment we are born our own death is on the horizon; so are the deaths of other people that we know and love.

Something we ought to remember that we often forget is that we are all in it together. There are people who die with no one to mourn their passing and that is unspeakably sad. But 99% of the time, when someone dies someone else mourns. That is the case whether we are Americans, Iraqis, Canadians, Syrians, Israelis, or Liberians. It is the case whether we live in a capitalist or in a socialist society. It is the same whether we…