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Showing posts from May, 2020

Sermon on 1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11, for the 7th Sunday of Easter 2020 A, "Christ changes our suffering"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. 1 Peter 4 & 5 tells us that Christians are to expect fiery trials and suffering for the name of Christ, and that Christ endured the same. Jesus Christ, being God’s own Son, and suffering in the flesh Himself, changes everything for us. That God would not remain aloof and distant from our sufferings but come down under it and in the midst of it, and feel the pain, the loneliness, and the struggle of it all, is amazing. No other god has wounds. It’s hard in the midst of suffering not to be overwhelmed by a sense of the meaninglessness or injustice of it all. On the one hand, if a person believes in God, they are troubled by the question of evil, and wonder how God could allow it. On the other hand, if a person doesn’t believe in God, it must amplify the meaninglessness of it all. A cold, impersonal universe with no Creator can have no thought of you or intention or purpose for you in mind. This …

Sermon on Acts 17:16-31, for the 6th Sunday of Easter 2020 (A), "From the unknown to the Kon

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. The Apostle Paul was engaging in what we might call “street evangelism” in our reading from Acts 17. Paul was in Athens, Greece, the famous ancient city known in part for its great philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Paul found opportunities to speak to Jews, people at the local markets, God-fearing Gentiles, and here he goes to the Areopagus or “Mars Hill”, and found the debaters and local armchair philosophers. Everywhere he talked about faith in the True God. 
Paul had to choose a different starting point with this crowd because they didn’t share the common background of the Old Testament, as the Jews and God-fearers did. Paul was provoked in his spirit--he was passionately upset--by all the idols he saw there. Worshipping false gods lowers our human dignity, because it’s a sham, and God’s first commandment is that we shall have no other gods before Him. It should stir up our emotions…

Sermon on 1 Peter 2:2-10, for the 5th Sunday of Easter 2020 (A), "Spiritual Growth"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. 1 Peter 2 beautifully pictures our growth and sanctification in the Christian faith, and teaches what the Christian church is. We aren’t lone individuals, but members of the spiritual house of Christ.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation--if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.  Peter calls us back to the basics.  Infants crave pure milk because it is their life, their growth, and even the sharing of their mother’s immunity. The pure milk we crave is God’s Word. As a new Christian learns the words of faith, they start to explore what it means to trust in Jesus and follow Him. But even mature Christians still depend completely on God for salvation. Jesus used infancy as a picture of our complete dependency on God.  Jesus’ disciples frequently became competitive in an unhealthy way, glory-seeking, exalting themselves,  imagining th…

Sermon on John 10:1-10, 4th Sunday of Easter 2020, "Know His Voice"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.  A rapidly growing technology in our everyday lives is Voice Recognition, which tells one person’s voice from another. They say that our “voiceprint” is unique, just like our fingerprints.  The technology is rapidly being developed, even though it’s been around since the dawn of mankind. God designed our brains to be incredible information processing systems, and all of the mind-boggling “technology” of Voice Recognition is programmed into your mind, and works without you even having to understand how!  Just because it's so ordinary and common to us that we recognize so many unique “voiceprints”--we don’t ever really stop to be amazed by the huge processing and identification task that our brains go through instantaneously when we recognize, oh, that’s mom, or dad, or my sister or my friend from work or church or wherever. Not only do we need a finely tuned and working ear, but also a…

Sermon on Luke 24:13-35, 3rd Sunday of Easter 2020, "Emmaus Road"

Grace, mercy, and shalom to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.  Last week we heard how Jesus re-entered the lives of His disciples in their fear and uncertainty, by bringing His peace or shalom to them by His presence. Today, we walk the Emmaus Road with two disciples, outside the inner group of 11, but clearly recognized and welcomed by the 11 whom they ran to after this encounter.  Jesus finds the Emmaus disciples, Cleopas and an anonymous disciple on a sorrowful journey home. Disillusionment and confusion filled the air as they talked about the events of that weekend. Heaviness filled their hearts. Have you been on a journey like that? Maybe recently? With that choking feeling in your throat or a heaviness in your heart? You know that familiar place down Emmaus Road. And it’s so perfect that God hid Jesus’ identity from them, while He walked along with them. Jesus listened and talked to them unnoticed, before the “big reveal” in the breaking of t…

Sermon on John 20:19-31, 2nd Sunday of Easter 2020, "The Presence of Peace"

Grace, mercy, and shalom to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.  It still feels somewhat bizarre for me to be doing this online form of worship, which we are all hoping is temporary, until things hopefully can return somewhat to normal. Many of us may struggle with the feeling that so many things are out of our control. But really that’s always a reality, and a really good faith lesson--to put our trust completely in Jesus. At every moment of our lives, we are always completely dependent on God, who holds all things together--even when we often have the illusion that we are largely in control. But anyway, it’s good to be back with you, and beginning to reconnect with the congregation here at Emmanuel. I hope in the coming weeks to at least make phone contact with all of you, and please feel free to give me a call. I hope that one of the big takeaways we will all learn from this experience is a greater appreciation for human community, “in the flesh.…