“The Strength of Our Faith: God’s Gift to a Parched World” Feb. 17, 2019

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“The Strength of Our Faith: God’s Gift to a Parched World” Psalm 1:1-6/ Jeremiah 17: 5-10 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 Luke 6:17-26   I would venture to guess that everyone here who has owned a television is familiar with the long running series called “Hee Haw.” It was a music and comic variety show starring Roy Clark and Buck Owens, full of one liners, country music, and short skits that entertained in spite of the fact that the show took the concept of cornball to a level no one had ever dared to go in the past. But people loved it and it lasted some 23 years; the final episode was aired on June 19, 1992. Now I bring this up because for some reason while studying our Gospel text from Luke today, I got to thinking about ‘’Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad.” Do you remember that skit? Once a week, Roy Clark would walk into the barber shop to get a haircut, and the barber, played by Archie Campbell, would pretend to cut his hair and engage in some kind of goofy conversation. The ones I remember best were the “Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad,” skits. “Say Roy, I suppose you heard I won the lottery. $50,000!” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad, because the IRS came along and took half of it.”  “Oh, that’s bad.” “No, that’s good, because with that $25,000 I went and bought myself an airplane and took me some lessons to learn how to fly it. I got pretty good at it, too.” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad. See, I got showing off and while I was flying upside down I fell out of the plane and was falling to the ground.” “Oh, that’s bad.” “No, that’s good, because I looked below me and saw that I was heading for the biggest haystack you’ve ever seen.” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad, because in that haystack was a pitchfork sticking up pointing right at me.” “Oh, that’s bad.” “No. that’s good because I missed the pitchfork.” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad because I missed the haystack, too.” Oh, that’s good; no, that’s bad. Like so much of our humor, the funniest stuff is the material that rings the truest. Today’s reading from Luke probably sounds familiar. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blesses are you who weep now, for you will laugh…” These words that Jesus spoke to his disciples in what is called the “Sermon on the Plain” sound a lot like the words he spoke to the crowds in Matthew’s record of the “Sermon on the Mount.” Now we could argue all day about whether these are just two different versions of the same thing or what have you, but...

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“The Joy of Our Faith and Other Great Fishing Stories” February 10, 2019

Posted by on Feb 11, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“The Joy of Our Faith, and Other Great Fishing Stories” Isaiah 6:1-8 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Luke 5:1-11   One of the most memorable fishing trips I have known didn’t start out as a fishing trip at all. I’m not really sure what it was we were doing in the dead of winter that day many years ago out in the brush outside of Keystone, So. Dakota but I do remember I was with a rather disreputable fellow named Jim Green and had my long haired Irish setter named Scarlet with us. We were probably looking to shoot some grouse for supper. I also remember lots of snow. Eventually, we came up to a creek called Battle Creek and I must have made some remark that it’s not very often that the shelf ice can get so thick along the edges like this. It has to get pretty doggone cold to freeze up a mountain stream like this. That’s when Jim had this dandy of an idea. “I bet there’s fish in there,” he said. “Fish in where?” “In the creek, you dufus!” “Yea, makes sense to me. So what’s the plan? D’you want Scarlet to flush them out or do you happen to have a rod and reel in your back pocket?” I said. “Naw, we don’t need a pole,” he snorted, “we’ll hand fish ‘em.” Now, like I said young Jim Green was a little on the unconventional side. He had grown up in the remote areas of rural Alaska and let’s just say, they do things a bit different up there. One of those things, evidently, was hand fishing. “When it gets like this,” he said, “the fish will lay up underneath the ice and just hang out. The secret is not to spook them.”  And as he’s telling me this, he’s handing me his goose down coat and he’s rolling up his sleeve and I’m thinking that he’s going to a lot of trouble to pull off some kind of a joke on me; I just couldn’t figure out what it might be. But when he layed down on the ice and stuck his bare arm in that icy water, I knew he was dead serious. “A little cold, ain’t it?” I asked. “It only stings for a little bit,” he chattered, “then you go numb. But now listen, when you find ‘em under the ice – if you find them – you need to rub their bellies real easy until they calm down and then slide your fingers up to their gills and then…WHAMMO.” And as he said this, a 10 inch trout came flying out of the water and landed on the opposite bank. Scarlet, ever the bird dog and retriever ran over to make sure it didn’t flop back into the water. I couldn’t believe it. “I told you there was fish in...

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“The Courage of Our Faith” February 3, 2019

Posted by on Feb 11, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“The Courage of Our Faith, (Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You)” Jeremiah 1:4-10 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Luke 4:21-30   I’m remembering a large church in my old hometown that I had no desire to ever attend, yet I would go out of my way to drive by this place. You see, they had a large reader board out by the highway and I swear they must have hired a staff whose only job was to find newer and more ridiculous one-liners to place on this board for everyone to see. And as much as they made me cringe or sometimes even moan out loud, I couldn’t resist. It’s like a train wreck: you want to look away but–you-just-can’t. They covered all the oldies but goodies: “God accepts knee mail” is a standard. Some were actually quite clever. “Forgive your enemies; it messes with their heads,” comes to mind. I could go on and on, but let’s just say that we as Christians are quite fond of our one liners. They become part of our everyday, but let’s face it, they are not always as helpful as we might think. The first time someone told me that “God will not give you more than you can handle,” it wasn’t quite as comforting as they had intended. If anything, it made my bad situation even worse. Everything is falling apart and now you’re telling me that it is God who is throwing all this misery at me…but don’t worry, he knows your breaking point. He won’t cross that line. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not helpful. When Jeremiah was called to be a prophet, there wasn’t much chance he could wriggle out of it. This was a true call from God in every sense of the word. (Jer 1:4)  The word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Young Jeremiah was probably about 14 or 15 at the time so it’s no surprise that he answered, Alas, my Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young. (vs 7) But the Lord said to me, “Do not say I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I will rescue you,” says the Lord. And at that point, Jeremiah began a long and unusual career as a spokesman for God almighty; he was appointed (vs 10) over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant. But you know, he was just wild and crazy enough that he pulled it off. Ralph Milton says, “I’ve always liked Jeremiah because he’s wild and crazy and not...

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