“Love Without Conditions” May 10, 2020

Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“Love Without Conditions” “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” ~ G. K. Chesterton “The difference between the poet and the mathematician is that the poet tries to get his head into heaven, while the mathematician tries to get the heavens into his head.” ~ K. Chesterton [John 14:1-14] I found a little chuckle that, in a roundabout way, really hits home to those of us who are getting tired of being at home. It seems that the visiting pastor was trying to have a conversation with a child while her mother was in the kitchen preparing the tea and cookies that would add even more pounds to his mid-section. Not really knowing what to say, the preacher asked, “So tell me, what does your mother do for you when you’ve been a good girl?” The little girl didn’t bat an eye. “I get to stay home from church,” she said. See what I mean? It’s hard to imagine we would ever find ourselves considering “staying at home” to be a punishment, but here we are. The upside is that when the time does come that we are no longer “staying home from Church” we are bound to have a new found appreciation for our places of worship. God speed that that day arrives. The 14th chapter of the Gospel of John – I have to say, I don’t know where to begin. There is so much packed into this wonderful piece: “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” “My Father’s house has room to spare.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (One of the ‘I Am’ statements) “When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” This is like hitting the jackpot. There is a great sermon in every one of these little gems. But to be honest with you all, I’m just not feeling it. What I mean is, the more times that I have read through this marvelous text, the more irritable I seemed to get. At first I chalked it up to lack of sleep and aching joints. But I finally came to realize the source of my discontent: the disciples were getting on my nerves. (Jn 14:3) Jesus tells his disciples, When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.” And rather than rejoice and give thanks, it is Thomas who says, Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” to which Jesus replies that he is “the way and the truth and the life.” What follows next is truly the crux of our faith; a truth we hold most dear. The 2nd...

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Notes From the Pastor ~ May 10, 2020

Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Ramblings from Pastor Ken

Notes From the Pastor ~ About three lifetimes ago, I was captivated by the great notion that I might make a good living by falling timber. The idea of working outside in the fresh air and being my own boss had a certain appeal to someone who has never liked the idea of punching a time card. So I purchased a used chain saw and whatever gear I could get my hands on and ventured forth. I had just enough experience, as they say, to be dangerous but I was young and invincible and undaunted. Things were a little rough at first and I learned early on that I had a lot to learn. Because the salary was based entirely on production, there was a huge incentive to get a lot done in a day. Every mistake and every misstep was a source of frustration. They were not only reminders of my lack of experience, but they also cost me in the form of cold, hard cash. Luckily for me, the contractor paired me up with two old timers: Don & Abbey. These two guys had been at it for eons and the thinking was that I might pick up a few pointers from their vast experience. I didn’t see it that way, however. Every day I would watch them plodding along, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, and moving at what seemed to me a snail’s pace. I found myself feeling bad for them a little. This is hard work; what a shame that they should have to work this hard – especially at their age. But at the end of every day, when we compared notes, these two old duffers had out -produced me by an embarrassing margin. Every. Single. Day; and it was driving me to contusions. This, of course, inspired me to go even faster …. and therefore, make twice the mistakes. Finally, I could stand it no more. One day as we were fixing to head to town, I just blurted out, “I don’t get it. What am I doing wrong? What’s your secret?” It was Don who spoke with a wry grin the words that I’ve learned to live by: “You’re working too hard,” he said. “You gotta slow down. You only got so many moves in a day – the secret is to make them count.” I never forgot that advice. Years later when I was in charge of crews myself, I became aware of the acronym “IOF” – otherwise known as Idiot On Fire. This rather unkind term was used to describe the new hires that showed up looking to set the world on fire. They smashed and they crashed and were simply a blur of activity. But inevitably, at the end of the day, they usually hadn’t accomplished much besides making a mess. The sad part was that too many...

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“When Jesus Speaks” May 3, 2020

Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“When Jesus Speaks” John 10:1-10 Some years ago, the question was posed to a small group that I was leading: “What is Jesus to you?” In other words, “How would you describe your personal understanding of Jesus Christ to someone who doesn’t have a clue?” Well, there was some initial chin scratching and nail biting, but eventually folks opened up. Now, “What is Jesus to you” is a pretty broad question – I have to admit that. But it’s surprising, once you put your head to it, how much we find that the life and teachings of Christ really do impact our everyday lives. When I asked the question, a few folks answered with long, deep theological expositions on incarnation and the Holy Trinity and prophesies of the Messiah to come. I had to agree with all that – this is how we understand what Jesus is according to scripture. But the question remains: “What is Jesus to you? How do you sense his presence whether you are praying hard or hardly praying? How does Jesus speak to you?” And then a funny thing happened. One woman in the group spoke up saying, “I’d say Jesus is my conscience. Whenever I’m tempted – whenever I am frustrated or angry or just mixed up trying to figure out what to do next – that’s when Jesus speaks to me. I can’t explain it, really, but I don’t know what I’d do without him.” At that point, I noticed the rest of the group nodding their heads. “Yes,” they said, “that’s the same way with me.” Our Gospel text today is one in a series of the “I Am” statements of Christ found in the Gospel of John. For example, in chpt. 6, Jesus explains “I am the bread of life,” and thousands of sermons have expounded on that truth.  Later, in chpt. 8 we hear, “I am the light of the world;” chpt. 11, “I am the resurrection and the Life” to name a few. One thing is for certain, one thing is constant about the ministry of Jesus Christ: he didn’t seek to impress, he didn’t seek to intimidate. What Jesus sought to do in the short time he was with us was to touch our hearts. He sought to touch our hearts by inviting us in. And this begins with helping us understand – really understand – who he is; who “I AM.” You know, a lot of things will never change with people. One of them is that we will always want to know who you are. Where’d you come from? What do you do? We accept this. It’s an important piece of living in community. Now Jesus could have proclaimed, “I am the great enforcer and I have been sent by God to straighten you people out!” He could have cast visions of pain and suffering...

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