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Showing posts from 2005

Sermon for December 4, 2005

Keeping the Fire Alive
1 Thessalonians 5:16‑24It’s that time of year again – time to fight about public religious displays. We will start to see mangers, flanked by toy soldiers, with Santa on the rooftop to worship the baby Jesus by the light of the Hanukkah candles. Perhaps Tthe holy infant will be wrapped in kente cloth to celebrate Kwanzaa. When it comes to religion in the public square, there are only two options: Get rid or all public religious displays, or include everyone’s. What we end up with is a hodge-podge of symbols that try to include everyone’s beliefs. I don’t find these displays very inspiring.I like to be mindful that not everyone celebrates Christmas like I do. But, what we get is a holiday buffet full of bland offerings and lukewarm sentiment. Sometimes our faith gets that way -- bland, and runny, and so generalized that it stands for nothing. Some people want more. Last week I pulled questions out of the brown bag, and we briefly talked about the qualities of gro…

Sermon for November 13, 2005

Out of Egypt: Deliverance
Exodus 14:15-31; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

For me, one of the most powerful prayers in all of Scripture has no words, no vocal sounds. It’s actually nothing more than the sound of a footstep. The prayer is the amen of action – our inspired response to an encounter with God.

We hear it in the reading from Exodus. The text before us fairly bursts with descriptive power. The Angel of Death has slain all the firstborn children. You can almost hear the Egyptian parents, even Pharaoh and his family, howling in grief over their lost children. The race against time begins. Moses and his lieutenants jostle the people “This is it! Let’s go! Let’ go! Faster!” They have one night the escape the vise of slavery that held them for almost four hundred years -- one night to escape a prison so familiar that it had become like home to them. It was now or never. Everybody knew that by tomorrow Pharaoh would change his mind. Tomorrow Pharaoh would come to his senses and realize wh…

Sermon for November 6, 2005

Out of Egypt: Not I, Lord
Exodus 3:1-15

The search committee for a new pastor was having difficulty making a decision. One member of the committee, who was admittedly tired of the whole process, offered one last letter of introduction from a pastoral candidate. She read: "To the pastoral search committee: It is my understanding that you have a vacancy in your pulpit, and I would like to apply for the position. I can't say that I preach too well. In fact, I tend to stutter when I speak. I do have many different experiences I could share with you, since I am over 75 years old. I recently had an encounter with God and, despite my initial resistance to the idea, I heard a Voice which told me personally that I was the one to do the ministry for you. One never knows when God will appear right before your very eyes. As far as people skills go, I do tend to lose my temper every once in a while. I also tend to want things done my way, and can get violent if it's not take…

Sermon for October 30

The Lion’s Den
Daniel 6:1-28

Imagine you are invited to a dinner party. You’re dressed up. You smell nice. You’re planning on a fun evening. When you arrive, however, you realize the night is deceitfully different than you planned. None of your friends are there. Not only that, everyone around the dinner table hates you. Not only that, the sole reason for your invitation to this dinner is so that your rivals can tell you exactly what they think of you. Not only that, once you arrive, the doors are locked behind you. There is no escape. No defense. All you can do is sit and listen as others verbally attack you. At this dinner party, you are the main course of a meal celebrating your own demise! The guests want nothing better than to consume you by criticism or harassment.

With the holidays coming up, I know many people who dread family get-togethers. They are gearing up to endure unrelenting criticism around the Thanksgiving table. They go to visit family, get swarmed by critique, and hav…

Sermon for October 23

The Writing on the Wall
Daniel 5:1-12

I once had a friend who heard the voice of God. His name was Willie. Willie always made me a little nervous because the things God told him were not very pleasant. God told Willie a lot about judgment and death, plagues, and deadly diseases. No, Willie’s God was not a happy God, and Willie let us know it. For the most part, the messages he shared made me nervous for selfish reasons. I was afraid God was going to tell Willie some secret detail of my past, and I didn’t want to be around if the Lord was going to embarrass me in front of my friends, with Willie as God’s mouthpiece. Let’s just say I haven’t always been the angel I am today.

I had a similar experience once at the Church of Brotherly Love. Sister Bradley, the church’s ancient pastor, invited me out to one of her church’s revival. The speaker was a woman from Florida – a Prophet Lady. After preaching for an hour and a half, the Prophet Lady prayed, and God sent her messages about specific pe…

Sermon for October 16 -- Stewardship Sunday

The Price and Cost of Sacrifice
2 Samuel 24:18-24

“How much does it cost?” How many times have you asked that question? We are obsessed with the price of things. When we see a big house we ask, “How much does it cost?” When we see a luxury car, we say, “Look at the price tag on that!” A big part of shopping is the attempt to find the right price. Some of us will go through store circulars and drive for miles in order to save a few dollars on the price. Some stores even offer low-price guarantees. “If you find our item anywhere else for less, we will refund the difference.”

We don’t want to pay too much for something. We don’t want to pay too little, either. We like to think that a person who gets something for free gets the best value. But, that’s not usually the case. You can pay too little for something just as you can pay too much for it. I know someone who gets his room and board for free. Do you know what else? He’s homeless. His “free” room and board are provided by a homeless she…

Sermon for Oct. 2, 2005 -- World Communion Sunday

Crime and Punishment
Genesis 4:1-16

We have several children’s Bibles in our house. Today’s children’s Bibles are more exciting then they used to be. Engaging stories. Colorful cartoon pictures. It’s a good thing to introducing our little ones to the rhythms of Scripture. We hope the stories will fasten to them throughout their lives. My five-year-old’s Bible storybook takes complicated stories and reduces them to a half dozen simple sentences. Here’s what Genesis 4 is condensed to: Adam and Eve had two sons. Their names were Cain and Abel. Abel obeyed God, but Cain did not obey God. Cain was angry and killed Abel. This was wrong. Adam and Eve were very sad. God was sad, too.

We hope that some day our kids will move on from the simple stories of their children’s Bible to deeper understandings of the stories. It’s hope I have for all of us – that we grow to engage the Scriptures as critical thinkers. Often, our understanding of Bible stories is what we learned in Sunday school. We are a…

Sermon for September 25, 2005

Original Sin
Romans 3:20-26; Genesis 3:1-21

I couldn’t make this up if I tried. My mother calls her tax accountant. The accountant is excited. She says to my mother, “Oh I’m glad you called. Your sister is sitting right in front of me. So is your brother and your mother.” Strange coincidences happen all the time right. It’s really not that unusual. They all use the same accountant. Here’s what threw my mother off. My mother’s mother -- my grandmother -- has been dead for almost three years. We always called my grandmother Mom. I had to ask – how did Mom get to the accountant’s office? And of all the places for the spirit of the dead to visit, why would she choose the accountant’s office? It all started a few months ago when my uncle talked taxes with the accountant Mid sentence, she suddenly freezes, and then she starts to zone off and stare into the distance, and then her eyes roll back in her head. My uncle thinks she’s having a seizure, and when he goes to help, she snaps out of it a…

Sermon for September 18, 2005

Hi All.

Because of vacations and general laziness, etc., I haven't posted for a while. I am back to posting my weeky sermons from TCC on this site. As always, let me know what you think.

Lessons from Creation
Genesis 1:1-2:4a; John 1:1-2

“It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside . . . watched TV “storm teams” warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday. But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party. The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly stor…