Sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Advent - Luke 21;25-33
We truly do live in a world in which signs in the heavens and terrors on earth are very much real. We don’t have to be 1st century Jews and Greeks to understand this. I still remember going to a hill top in 1986 to see Halley’s Comet pass by. A marvel. Something that won’t come again in my lifetime. That was also the same year of the Challenger explosion. That shocked us as a nation. I have never seen the northern lights but I know many of you have. We have sent men to the moon. Many of you could tell me where you were when that happened. We now have people orbiting the earth in a space station. We’ve sent a rover to Mars. Fascinating stuff. We, however, also receive reports from NASA quite often of another giant meteor passing way too close to earth, again. Dinosaur extinction anyone? We continue to have discussion around Star Wars missile defense, the Space Force, nuclear proliferation. A doomsday clock always moves back and forth towards midnight of doomsday. Thinking that we are just on the precipice of it all.
Sermon for the 1st Sunday in Advent - Matthew 21:1-9
Childbirth is an amazing thing. A new baby. This little fragile life that had to be cradled by the mother for months now breaks forth into this broken world, and it takes all our might as parents to keep them from being broken themselves. I remember when I first became a dad. After my wife did all the work, and this amazing miracle happened of another life being created, I’m holding my daughter and that little hand latches onto my finger and I was done. I was terrified to hold her the first time. To give her a bath. To change her diapers. To feed her. Driving home from the hospital, I never drove so slow or carefully in all my life. Nothing so vulnerable or intimidating as a newborn baby. So small you worry you might drop her. Crush her. Neglect her. But then you also have a job. She needs love. She needs food. She needs cleaning. She needs warmth, naps, fresh air, stimulation, to be taught, to grow, to mature, to test herself, her gifts, her talents, to hear the word of God pronounced over her. Life happening to her, not by her. Eventually baptized in water she did not ask for, and marked with the cross of Christ forever, because this whole Christian life and the work of Jesus is something that comes to us. Happens to us. No us involved apart from being these recipients of the glory of Christ.
Sermon for the Twenty-fifth Sunday of the Trinity Season - Mark 13:1-8
I ask you, what temple have you built? What stones have you hewn from the rock to construct some monument to whatever? God? Church? Self? Something? Anything? I ask because I know, since I do it all the time. Crafting my own savior, with a small “s”. A little deity to take the place of Jesus. Usually, myself. As a pastor, I get sucked into the realm of thought that I am supposed to make everything better for everyone.
Sermon on 2 Samuel 6:1-19
Let me set the scene for you. Watford, England. Late 1990’s. Soul Survivor Church, which is part of the Anglican Church but built around youth and college ministry. Modern worship. Matt Redman is the worship leader. Mike Pilavachi was the pastor and he began to notice something in the church. It had become something else. Something other than what he thought church should be. It was built on the props. The show. The music was great. The feeling of euphoria it left for the people was amazing. But he realized that the worship had become almost stale. Going through the motions. Something to do. The worship time, the music and the feeling it gave to people had become the thing. Basically, like King David here, except no one died because of it.
Sermon for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost - Matthew 22:15-22
Jesus doesn’t have a need to be Caesar. He isn’t living and dying to be an emperor, he’s not running for political office, he doesn’t have the best public relations team. He’s not tweeting at 3 o’clock in the morning about Puerto Rico, dead soldiers, or Russia. Nor is he hoping to rile you up by what those rich people over there are doing, what the racists over here are doing, or what we are told is the truth. Getting soundbites in the news to wrangle you. To harm you. What Jesus does do, though, is upset our moments. He sees through our own hypocrisy to get to the root cause of our fear, our failure. He hijacks the moments we try to make him our Messiah in the way we want him to be, rather than the Redeemer that God has given to us in him.
Sermon for Matthew 22:1-14 - The Parable of the Wedding Feast
Jesus is what you get the person who has everything. He is the gift given to the one who thinks anything has a price. Anything can be bought. If not, then it’s too good to be true, or not worth my time. Invited to a feast to beat all feasts, to a place of fatted beef and fine wines, Jesus is the one whom the feast is meant to celebrate. An invitation is given broadly, throughout the highways and byways, as a stronghold and refuge for the greatest of sinners. A day of celebration, because that is what the Father wants to do. He’s a party animal at heart.
Sermon on 17th Sunday after Pentecost - Mathew 21:23-32
Jesus is done with the blame game. He is done with us finding excuses for our own denial of what it is God has done for us, what God does for us daily. He is done with the desires of human hearts to look for every possible explanation for evil and ugliness in the world besides sin itself. He is done with the thinking that one’s circumstances are the fault of culture, skin-tone, ancestral morality, or religiosity, rather than trusting in someone or something other than God. He is done with our attempts to justify ourselves and to prop ourselves up as authorities on the goodness of one or another.
Sermon for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost - Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus has made a decision about you. In fact, God has made the decision about you in Jesus. A decision that is not earned because of your own ability or niceties. It isn’t based on your time in service or membership in THE club. It is a decision made freely because what God has to distribute, the pay he is giving out, is so priceless that anything you might do to earn it actually makes it less valuable. It devalues it. A decision that is accompanied by the blood of Jesus that flows so forcefully, like the Red River in Spring, that the sound it makes screams – I forgive you.
Sermon for the 15th Sunday after the feast of Pentecost - Matthew 18:21-35
Forgiveness in Jesus is bigger than our bitterness, our anger, our strife, our memory. Forgiveness in Jesus is something sent for freedom, not failure. For transformation, not compulsion. And this is good news for the two siblings fighting in the backseat over who looked at who. Who touched who. Mom, she’s looking at me! Am not! Dad, he’s not staying on his side! Often, attempts to find the trivial, or rather insignificant, to be bigger than they are. Looking at someone the wrong way, saying the wrong things, insults, offence, all around stupidity. Not to say those things are unimportant in this world, but they are small matters in comparison to what Christ sees as the essential foundation of forgiveness.
Sermon on "Church Discipline" (14th Sunday after Pentecost) - Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus doesn’t like headings. He doesn’t like the subtitles in our Bibles. These places we demarcate out that we say – This section is this, and this section is this. We break ‘em up, as Bernie Sanders would say. Breaking up the story. Breaking up the teachings. Never thinking that things in the scriptures go together for a reason, and when the authors and writers actually wrote things down, they organized them for our benefit, that we might actually know what is going on, rather than having a few fragments and hoping we have at least some of the story.