“Going Against the Grain” June 3, 2018

Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 in Sermon Archives

“Going Against the Grain” 1 Samuel 3:1-20/ 2 Corinthians 4:5-12/ Mark 2:23-3:6 You know, I’ve said it before: “If you want the bare bones of the gospel, if you’re looking to learn about the life of Christ and his ministry on this earth, and what it means to you, and you are pressed for time, then the gospel of Mark is for you.” David Lose calls it a narrative whirlwind. For example, in the first chapter alone, Jesus is baptized, tempted in the desert, announces his ministry, calls his disciples, casts out an unclean spirit, heals a bunch of people gathered at Simon Peter’s home, goes on a preaching tour, and cleanses a leper. All in a mere 45 verses! And by the end of all this, his fame has spread so far and wide he finds it hard to even go out for bite to eat without getting mobbed by a crowd. So you get the idea; a narrative whirlwind. Now, I’m telling you this because for the next 8 weeks we will be reading from the gospel of Mark, and so a little back story would be a good idea. Folks thought for years that Mark was written by John Mark who had traveled with the Apostle Paul for a short time, but scholars pretty much agree that’s not the case. We’re not really sure who wrote it, but we do know that Luke and Matthew both borrowed from it. The gospel of Mark, then – at least to me – has a certain air of authority to it, if for no other reason than it was written first. But there is more to it than that. Our study today takes us late into the 2nd chapter, and Jesus’ new found celebrity has put him crossways with – wouldn’t you know it – the authorities. And not just your regular run of the mill authorities; no, and this is the crux of our lesson today. I find it incredibly interesting that Jesus’ first confrontations aren’t with the Romans, or with the local politicians, or with those living on the fringes of society; but with those who are the most religious. And it goes without saying that these confrontations only gets worse until finally the Pharisees and Sadducees have the ultimate satisfaction of seeing Christ on a cross. Today’s brouhaha starts out innocent enough: it’s a fight over the Sabbath; a fight over who enforces the rules. I have un-fond memories of working on Forest Service timber sales. The rules were hard and fast and woe to anyone who thinks they can ignore them. The date for the beginning of fire season, if I remember, was May 20th. After this date, all equipment had to have the proper fire safety tools or you were simply shut down. There were times when we considered putting anti-freeze in the water...

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“No Guts, No Glory” May 27, 2018

Posted by on Jun 2, 2018 in Sermon Archives

“No Guts, No Glory” Isaiah 6:1-8/ Romans 8:12-17/ John 3:1-17 There was a party going on in this particular cruise ship. Yes, I understand that every day on a cruise is supposed to be a party, but this was special. The grand ballroom was packed and the ship’s purser had been given the miserable task of counting heads; miserable because no one would sit still. It seemed that every passenger on the ship was there and they were all milling around, talking, and laughing and everyone was in high spirits. It was one heck of a party, especially for 1:00 in the afternoon on a Monday. At the front of the ballroom was a long table with a blazing white tablecloth and seated at this table was the caption, the first mate, and pretty near the entire staff of the cruise ship. Every one of them was beaming as they laughed and joked with passengers and fellow staff members alike. Like I said, it was a special gathering and spirits were high. Now, at the center of the table, between the caption and the 1st mate, sat an elderly man. He stood out by the obvious fact that he was the guest of honor. He also stood out by the obvious fact that he was not having a good time. In fact, he looked downright miserable. He squirmed in his chair and kept looking off to the side doors as if he was planning his escape. But he was the guest of honor and all eyes were upon him. You see, the day before, the unthinkable had happened on this pleasure cruise: someone had fallen overboard. The alarm had sounded, but by the time the crew arrived to toss in the life buoys to save this poor woman, it looked like she was about to go under for the last time. That’s when everyone noticed the guest of honor flying through the air and into the water below. He immediately swam to the drowning woman and was able to cling to her long enough that a life raft could be deployed and soon everyone was back on deck, safe and sound. So, yes there was reason for celebration and the time had finally come for the fidgety, uncomfortable guest of honor to stand up and address the crowd. A hush fell upon the room as every single man, woman, and child held their breath to hear the words that this wonderful, brave man might have to say. “This is a moment we will never forget,” they thought to themselves. And they were right, because as the old man cleared his throat and scowled across the room, every man, woman, and child heard him say the words, “All I want to know is which one of you pushed me in!” Now my point is: this is not bravery. I mean,...

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“Where’s The Fire?” May 20, 2018

Posted by on Jun 2, 2018 in Sermon Archives

“Where’s The Fire?” Psalm 104:24-34, 35b Acts 2:1-22/ Romans 8:22-27 John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15   Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is the Sunday that we celebrate that moment in history when Jesus made good on his promise that he would send to his disciples a helper- an advocate, a companion, a comforter – through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Did he dream this up; did he create this power out of thin air just for the occasion? No, he did not. The scriptures are full of references to God’s spirit from the Psalms and the prophets all the way through the gospels and writings of Paul. So I have to ask, what if someone from off the street walked up to you and said, “So tell me, what’s the skivvy on this Pentecost thing? There has to be more to it than a bunch of guys with their hair on fire talking a bunch of gibberish.” What would you say? Well, you might start by saying that the Jewish day of Pentecost celebrates the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai; that is, when Moses was given the laws by God that were to rule the nation of Israel. That’s the technical definition. Then you could explain that our fascination with Pentecost comes from the event we read from today in the book of Acts – an event that has been called many things: the awakening of the Spirit, the coming of the Spirit, and the birth of the church. You might say all these things and chances are you will be met with an awkward grin and something like, “O, I see,” when in fact, they don’t see at all. And so, we go on to explain what it all means: that the tongues of fire are a reference to John the Baptist who told the crowds (Matt 3:11) “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” So, OK, that makes sense. But why did the disciples start talking in different languages to the point where some folks thought they were drunk? To this you can reply that it signifies that the Good News of the Kingdom should be and will be told throughout all the earth. That’s why this event is often called “The birth of the church.” And there you have, but that’s about as far as you’re going to get. That’s as far as you’re going to get if you wrap up the Pentecost experience and then tie it with a big red bow. Maybe this person on the street or at the diner or on the airplane is satisfied with this perfectly concise explanation and you can part ways the best...

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