Monday, May 22, 2017
We record the sermons at the church where I preach, then post them to YouTube. My sermon yesterday (about the preparation for which I posted last week) concerned serving God and Christ with zealous obedience. During the sermon, just as I paused for a moment, a member's digital Bible began to read out loud to her. She could not silence it! Finally a friend of hers took the verbose smartphone and rushed from the auditorium to find sanctuary elsewhere. I realized fairly quickly that I could not compete with the other voice. The congregation was too distracted, as was I. So, after a moment (or twenty, as it seemed to me), I smiled and said, "You've got to love technology!" Later, I realized that a perfect illustration for my sermon had appeared without invitation right in the middle of it. As Christians, we profess to follow Christ with all our heart, but then...a distraction - someone or something clamors for our time and concentration. We look away from Jesus and follow the distraction. Here's the sermon if you want see the awkward moment, or if you want to ponder how we can serve Jesus with the same zealous obedience with which he served God.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This week I am preparing a sermon from John 2:13-25, which I suspect is not the usual passage most people consider when asking, "What would Jesus do?" In the passage, Jesus marches into the temple court, throws over tables belonging to vendors, then drives out those merchants and the sacrificial animals they had been selling. This is not Jesus "meek and gentle." Countering corruption sometimes takes overt action. Preaching requires capturing the attention of those so ingrained in their sin that they don't realize you're speaking to them when you call for people to repent. On the other hand, Jesus teaches disciples to turn the other cheek, to give more than is asked, to go the second mile. Do you sometimes struggle to discern when to seek reconciliation and when to turn over tables? Answers to our immediate confusion, urgent and elusive though they seem, may be entwined with our awareness of what it means that we have died to sin when we were buried in baptism and that we have arisen into a new life where we seek to keep in step with God's Spirit. What Jesus would do if he were we might not be easy to determine as some might think. However, followers of Jesus still, like him, seek justice and live faithfully. We forgive and seek reconciliation. We suffer. We, at times, act decisively and abruptly to protect the vulnerable and weak. We seek the way Jesus would take.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Another milestone attained recently: I retired from being a military chaplain. After wearing the uniform both full-time and part-time for over two decades, I suspect there will be some difficulties adapting to new realities in my life. Hopefully, my long-time awareness that "Things Change!" will assist me in my transition. Preaching for a local church has brought renewed joy into my life. People seeking to please God by loving others encourage! Let's remember that Jesus came into this world to save it, not to destroy it. Pray hard and live with love.