Showing posts from December, 2016

Sermon on John 1:14, for Christmas Day, "John's Christmas Verse"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Good Christian friends, we have waited and worshipped these weeks of Advent, we have yielded to the call of the messenger crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the Way of the Lord”, we have followed Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds all the way to Bethlehem, to the manger, to the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, just as the angels told. Baby Jesus nestled in a lowly manger, bringing Joy to the World and Peace on Earth. But the Gospel of John describes Jesus’ birth with a different phrase. No mention of Mary, mangers, Bethlehem, or shepherds. It’s John’s Christmas Verse: John 1:14, “ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ” What a deep and wonderful phrase: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us . This is the Christmas mystery; a deep and profound truth that does not cease to be a mystery once you know it, bu

Sermon on Philippians 4:2-7, for the 4th Sunday in Advent, "The Lord is our Supreme Joy!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Though on Maui it might be a stretch—I want you to imagine two people huddled outside in the cold snow, perhaps under a dark shelter—but they are shivering, freezing. Then the sun breaks through the clouds with brilliant force, casting warm beams to the earth. But hidden under the shelter, the two are still frozen cold. Then one enters the sunlight, and suddenly feels the warmth soaking into all their body, face, fingertips, and toes. The other is still miserable, shivering cold in the dark. If the first simply says, “hey, quit shivering, just warm up!” but doesn’t bring them out into the sunshine, it does the person no good—they’ll still be frozen. Their words are empty sentiment. But if they’re brought into the warmth of the sunlight, they will immediately feel the chill and the cold fading away. Another example. In James 2:14-17, James describes a faith without works. He says what if a person was hungry

Sermon on Matthew 11:2-10, for the 3rd Sunday in Advent, "Blessed to take no offense at Jesus"

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Jesus and John the Baptist are talking through messengers in our reading. John, like many others in history, “played second fiddle” to someone more famous, namely Jesus. But John took pains to show that he was content with this role—he wasn’t seeking attention for himself. His proper focus was on elevating Jesus. As Jesus first publicly took the scene, John announced: “ He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). But even though John knew his secondary role—Jesus shows how great this role was. John was more than a prophet , he is the very messenger prophesied seven centuries earlier by Isaiah and four centuries earlier by Malachi. The one to “prepare the way of the Lord”. Just think that faithful Israelites had been anticipating John’s coming for 7 centuries! That’s more than twice the history of the USA! And by waiting for his coming, they were ultimately waiting for the Messiah whom he would announce.

Sermon on Romans 15:4-13, for the 2nd Sunday in Advent, "The God of Endurance, Encouragement, and Hope"

In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. How is God, the 3 in 1, described for us in our reading from Romans today? What qualities or characteristics does it say God has? Today I especially want to look at these three qualities, that God is the God of endurance and encouragement and hope . But though we won’t get to all the qualities named in the reading, notice the other descriptions of God as well. Jesus became a servant, to show God’s truthfulness , and the Gentiles will praise God for His mercy . Verses 4 and 5 show that the first three qualities of God—endurance, encouragement, and hope—are all reflected to us in the Bible, the Scriptures. Perhaps that should come as no surprise, but how would you ordinarily get to know the qualities of a person? Say you meet a new friend, the way you ordinarily get to know them is through personal interactions, time spent together (aka fellowship), and conversation. With more and more people using electron