What I’m going to say today is directed at people who are not satisfied with themselves spiritually and worry about themselves and others, that they may not be growing or may actually be losing ground in their faith. Let me first call attention to our Gospel Lesson today to set the stage for Paul’s words in Philippians. At first, I didn’t see the connection between these two scripture lessons, but now I think I do. Let’s have a look…See full sermon here
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Sermon Text: John 13:33-38
What does the world to come have to do with this one? Sam Harris wrote this critique of doomsday religion in Newsweek Magazine: “Given the most popular interpretation of biblical prophecy, nearly half the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. It should be clear that this faith-based nihilism provides its adherents with absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization — economically, environmentally, or geopolitically.” Is he right? Karl Marx called religion “The opium of the people,” that is, religion offers us happiness in the coming world, so it doesn’t matter what happens to this one. Is Marx right?…See full sermon here
Sermon Text: 1 Kings 19: 8-13
Let’s begin with a quick survey.
How many of you would consider yourself an extrovert? How many would consider yourself an introvert? Just checking. I suspect this message will be more popular with the introverts. We’ll see.
This sermon is called Noise, but really it is about silence.
Silence? Those of you who grew up in large families or have a large family as we speak, may wonder what this thing silence is that I speak of. Some of us like to crank the music up high or for some reason need movies to blast at us through the surround sound. I went to a movie a few weeks back at Tinseltown and I went into their RPX theatre with the speakers all around. It was cool, but almost too much. Some of us of course will leave the room when that happens to seek some peace and quiet…See full sermon here.
Sermon Text: Mark 12:38-44
Once when my family and I lived in Nashville some children down the street were approached by a stranger, who invited them into his car. “We’ll get some ice cream,” he said. But they refused his offer and ran home — thank goodness! My wife Sally decided it was time to have a talk with our younger son Scott, who was then four years old. “Scotty,” she said, “If a man you didn’t know drove up in a car or a truck and said to you, ‘Son, you want to come with me to get an ice cream cone or some candy?’ What would you say to him?” Scott thought for a minute and said, “Please?” Clearly, he needed to be educated about dangerous imposters…See full sermon here
Sermon Text: Ruth 1:8-18
The story of Ruth begins with a famine in Israel that prompts a man name Elimelech to move his family from Bethlehem of Judea in Israel to the plains of Moab in hopes of making a better life there. But while they are there Elimelech dies, leaving his wife Naomi to manage with her two sons. Her sons then marry Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. Then Naomi’s sons both die, leaving her with her two daughters-in-law. Being a widow without a husband or sons to provide for her puts Naomi in a precarious financial situation…See full sermon here
Sermon Text: John 6: 1-14
One of the defining moments of my youth, and maybe one of the most self-indulgent stories I could tell. The 1978 World Cup, Scotland V Holland. Scotland had a terrible World Cup, losing to Peru and tying with Iran. They needed to beat Holland, one of the world’s greatest teams at the time, by 3 goals to qualify from their group. An impossible task. Somehow Scotland found themselves 2-1 up. Archie Gemmill picks up the ball with 5 Dutch defenders in front of him. He slips it past the first guy. Plays it between the next 2, suddenly it has all opened up, just the goalkeeper to beat. He delicately chips it over the keeper and he scores. It was a beautiful thing.
A soccer ball, that’s all it is, I can kick it around and make it look OK, but put it at the feet of Archie Gemmill with the whole Dutch defense in front of him and he does something extraordinary with it.
A simple paintbrush. I can use this and make some form of painting that will not be too pretty, but in the hands of a master, it produces the Mona Lisa. Something that is adored by millions for generations to come.
In the hands of the master, something beautiful and wonderful can be done with the most limited resources. And yes, I did just put Archie Gemmill’s goal against Holland on the same level as the Mona Lisa…See full sermon here
Sermon Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
Our lesson today begins with a definition of faith. “Faith is confidence in what is hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” that is, faith means trusting in the as-yet-unfulfilled promises of God and the invisible power of God. Hebrews seems to use the words faith and hope interchangeably, suggesting that faith is about the future of the world and our own personal future. Faith means not giving up on God, no matter what happens…See full sermon here
According to our lessons today, Paul was on a missionary journey through Macedonia and Greece, and was collecting money from the churches there for the poor church in Jerusalem. The previous year he had gotten promises from a number of churches in that area to contribute to the gift for their brother and sisters in Jerusalem. Now he’s coming back to those churches to collect what was promised and deliver it to Jerusalem.
Something that surprised even Paul happened during this process. The Christians in Macedonia were dirt poor and sorely afflicted - probably by local persecutors of the church— yet they gave generously anyway. Why did they do that and how did they manage to despite their poverty and suffering?…See full sermon here
Sermon Text: Job 1:1, 2:1-10
I wonder if there is anything in scripture as strange as the conversation between God and Satan in chapters 1 & 2 of the Book of Job?
The Lectionary provides us this World Communion Sunday with the passage in Chapter 2. But we must look at the happenings of chapter 1 for context.
But first a quick Job 101. It is one of the books of wisdom in the Old Testament. It is a piece of poetry, bookended with 2 narratives that introduce and conclude the book. It tells of a man called Job, a man who is blameless and right. He has a large family and owns many animals, in fact he is the greatest man among all the people of the East.
Let’s begin with Chapter 1…see full sermon here
Sermon Text: James 4:13-17, 7-11
We Americans are busy people. We’ve always been hard workers, but Time magazine reported, “Sometime in the (1980’s) Americans came to worship career status as a measure of individual worth, and many were willing to sacrifice any amount of leisure time to get ahead.” Money is elastic in the sense that we can stretch it temporarily by borrowing, and it can accumulate in our bank account if we earn more than we spend. But time isn’t elastic. We all have the same amount of it every day, and there’s no way to borrow it or stretch it.
Hurried children skip their youth rushing from school to swim practice to homework to bed. Idleness is the devil’s workshop, they say, but so is a childhood with no time to throw rocks in the creek, chase butterflies, daydream or wonder…see full sermon here