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Posts Tagged ‘sermon’

When I read the Bible, especially the New Testament, I’m struck at how remarkable the message is. God loves the world – the whole world! Now, you may find this peculiar, but the thing that really stuns me about this message is that the love extends to human beings. I have no problem thinking God loves “cats and rats and elephants” (to borrow the words of a favorite childhood song), but it mystifies me that he loves us. ALL of us. For me, the message that comes through loud and clear when I read the Bible is that God’s love for the world is inclusive – it’s already expansive, and still-expanding!

Yet, the germ of Peter’s third sermon here in Acts gets trotted out regularly as proof of the exclusive nature of the Christian faith: “no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, Common English Bible).  I do believe, firmly, there is salvation in this name – God has willed it so, and so, it must be.  But I also firmly believe the Bible’s revelation of God’s complete sovereignty and freedom. The most sensible (and humble) statement I’ve ever heard on the matter came from Heinrich Bullinger in The Second Helvetic Confession (1561), when talking about the preaching of the Word of God: “At the same time we recognize that God can illuminate whom and when he will, even without the external ministry, for that is in his power; but we speak of the usual way of instructing men, delivered unto us from God, both by commandment and examples.” (5.007)  So, Christianity is exclusively inclusive?Or inclusively exclusive? How the heck is anybody supposed to logically hold both those things together?

Ah, there would be the problem. Logic is a great servant, lousy master. All we can do is confess the bit of truth that we’ve been given to know. Turns out, that job is plenty big enough.

In Jesus’ Name

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 29 April 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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Thinking about the ethics of energy usage, and the interplay of  “the powers”  in our lives …

The Transforming Power of Living Lightly on Earth, Acts 3:1-12, 16

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on Earth Day, 22 April 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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Resurrection can be one of those confusing, embarrassing things. Not Jesus’ resurrection, of course. The problem comes when we start thinking about ours. Most people I know opt for the “death is a doorway into the next life” explanation and bypass the resurrection altogether, because why mess with this old body when you can get a new model with wings?  I don’t seem to have a lot of company, but I am comforted by the thought that when I die, I will be really truly dead. I actually think that’s the way God intended it from the beginning. But the idea of a bodily resurrection when God is ready to make good on the promise and make all things new is also incredibly comforting. A God big enough, smart enough, and powerful enough to reassemble not only my body, but my experiences, my memories, and my emotions is big enough, smart enough, and powerful enough to make good on every promise.

The Last Word, 1 Corinthians 15:1-27

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 8 April 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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Three Days Before

There is a certain symmetry to life.  (Or maybe it’s our brains, searching for meaning, I don’t know.)  The gospel presents a beautiful story of an unnamed woman who did a lovely thing for Jesus three days before he died.  But that same day, three days before Jesus died, Judas decided to go talk to the chief priests about the possibility of handing him over.  I’d like it better if the hard and the sad didn’t impinge of the gentle and the joyous, but it strikes that we seldom experience life in its fullness. It’s almost like we need to see the aftermath before we can judge what came before, even if we were there.

 Three Days Before, Mark 14:1-11

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 1 April 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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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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