Archive for March, 2012

This week, I was caught by the contrast of two images – the scribes in their long robes, saying long prayers for the sake of appearances, and Jesus in his long robe as the high priest of heaven.  His prayers, though, offered with loud cries and tears, wouldn’t seem to be for the sake of appearances.

For the Sake of Appearances, Hebrews 5:1-10 and Mark 12:28-40

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 25 March 2012. (The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

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The work of Lent this year, at least for me, is grappling with the question of  who Jesus is. As long as I’ve been struggling with this question, you’d think I’d have the answer worked out by now! But, just when I think I’m close, I find myself surprised by something I never noticed before. The text for this sermon came from Mark 11:27-33.

If You Have to Ask, You’ll Never Know

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 18 March 2012. (The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

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Jesus Saves

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different ways we imagine Christ, trying to understand who he is. Our physician, our shepherd, our king. His disciples called him rabbi, teacher, and he certainly speaks like one with wisdom. Throughout these weeks of Lent, however, Jesus has been showing us different colors. Maybe these are his true colors, as a prophet of God? Yes, yes – that must be the right way to think of him, as God’s chosen and anointed messenger. But then last week, as I was contemplating Mark , I decided Jesus’ anointing was actually that of a martyr, a witness to God – after all, what else could it mean to give yourself as a ransom for others? This week, I’m neck-deep in Hebrews, and I discover, clearly, I was wrong. Jesus’ anointing is as the high priest. Or as the perfect sacrifice. Or both.

In a few weeks, we will be talking about Christ as the victor over sin and death, which he is. But how does he save us? Is it that he relived our experience as human beings, but got it right this time? That’s what Paul’s talking about when he calls Jesus the new Adam.  Perhaps he’s our trailblazer to heaven? – he found the way through, and so we can follow. Or it may be that he’s the intercessor, who can put in a good word for us because, strangely, he loves us. I even have to entertain the thought that Calvin might have been correct – perhaps we are bound to Christ by the Holy Spirit – kind of like super glue? – and when we stand before the judge, all God sees is the beloved Son he loves. Is this the way we are saved? If we stand close enough in Jesus’ cross-shaped shadow, the only way God can see us is through the prism of Christ’s pure light?

We seem to haggle a lot about how Jesus saves, and miss the miracle. He is all these things, and much more.

It’s the “much more” that gives me such deep hope.

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Endless Song …

There is an old hymn that has been something of a “theme song” for me for years. It captures the feelings of both restlessness and hopefulness with which I have always lived (or maybe they live with me – either way, we’ve been together for a long, long time).

My life flows on, an endless song,
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn,
That hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing? 

As I get older, it feels as if I have a higher vantage point than I used to – more perspective and a broader horizon. I don’t know it changes much – still can’t avoid or evade what’s coming, it’s just that now I see what’s headed my way in relation to the other events I’ve managed to weather. Still holding on tight. Still singing.

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