This week's sermon...from Luke 11:37-54.
Confession is all about naming reality and acknowledging what is true. It is like that “you are here” marker on a map, pointing out the place that we are at so that we can find our way to where we want to be. Confession admits that we are not yet the bearers of God’s image that we were created to be; it acknowledges that we, the church, are not yet the foretaste of God’s Kingdom that God has called us out to be. We confess because when we acknowledge it, we can then move past it. Naming the truth has a way of releasing us from the power of guilt, freeing us from the hold our sin and brokenness has over us, because confession also goes hand in hand with absolution: the pronouncement of another reality, that God has already accomplished the work to bring us wholeness and healing.
This week's sermon...from Luke 11:37-54.
When Jesus beckons us to follow him on the road to Jerusalem and the cross, he calls us to be all in. There is not delay, there is no hedging our bets, there is no guarantee of comfort. Still, he calls us to a single-minded devotion to God's Kingdom and to Christ's own Way of peace, justice, and mercy all the time, even when it costs us something. Because as it turns out, walking this road cost Jesus everything.
This week's sermon...from Luke 9:51-62.
Christ's glory goes hand in hand with Jesus' suffering. Even in the midst of all the buildup in Luke's Gospel, even after Peter's confession that Jesus is the long-awaited messiah, even after the incredible and mysterious event that we call the Transfiguration...Jesus interweaves the reality that he will suffer and die. This is what it means for him to be Messiah. And even though we, like the disciples, sometimes get stuck on the spectacular and desire glory, our call is to walk the way of the cross alongside our Lord Jesus Christ.
This week's sermon...from Luke 9:28-36.
There is no hierarchy to sin. It's in all of us (whether we like to admit it or not). It is the brokenness that is all around us in creation and the brokenness that resides within each of us. Sometimes it is the brokenness that we choose; sometimes it is the brokenness that is chosen for us. It's easy to think of ourselves as "small sinners": our sins are "socially acceptable sins," things that we can generally keep hidden, things like greed and pride that are easy to ignore but which will tear us apart if we allow them to fester. Jesus wants to heal us and redeem us, whether we are "small sinners" or "big sinners," like the woman who anointed his feet.
This week's sermon...from Luke 7:36-50.
Actions speak louder than words. When John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was "the one," Jesus didn't engage the in theological debates or show them a list of doctrines to believe; instead, he told them to report what they had seen and heard Jesus doing. What if we took a page from Jesus book? What if instead of embroiling ourselves in culture wars and debates and trying to prove how right we are about this and that...what if instead we just acted like we’re supposed to act? Lived like we’re supposed to live? Loved like we’re supposed to love? What if our lives so reflected Jesus that when someone wanted to know who and whose we were, we could say: Tell what you have seen and what you have heard?
This week's sermon...from Luke 7:18-35.
Jesus asks: Is it permissible to do good or to do evil? Or in other words: is it more important to keep all the rules or to live out the values of God's Kingdom? There is a consistent pattern throughout scripture where God's People get caught up in the rules, while God tries to refocus them on the values of the Kingdom. And it's still true today with us. This doesn't mean that the rules should be disregarded, but they are meant to point us toward the values of the Kingdom! What Jesus objects to is when the rules begin to hinder the work of justice, peace, goodness, love and mercy. We are always making a choice: do good or do evil. Let's never let our concern for the rules get in the way of doing good.
This week's sermon...from Luke 6:1-11.
What does a faithful response to an encounter with Christ look like? When Simon recognized Jesus as God's divine agent, as a holy one through whom God was at work, he abandoned everything in order to follow after him. He didn't take the miraculous catch of fish as a sign of divine blessing; he walked away from it, taking it as a sign that he needed a change! May we, too, have the courage to drop everything and follow.
This week's sermon...from Luke 5:1-11.
I wonder what would happen if Jesus showed up at First Covenant today? What would he say if we gave him the microphone? Would we like what he had to say? Or would he push the bounds of our comfort zone, stretching us...maybe even challenging our accepted "orthodoxy"?
When Jesus showed up in Nazareth, he made the good, respectable, religious folks pretty uncomfortable. Maybe we need to be discomforted too...even us good, respectable, Christian folk who show up at church each Sunday!
This week's sermon...from Luke 4:14-30.
John the Baptist isn't just the opening act for Jesus, the guy who gets the crowd warmed up for the main show. And his ministry isn't just a formulaic answer about how things "needed" to happen. Rather, John was a sign that the irruption of God into human history was about to happen. He gave voice to the stirrings and rumblings of the Spirit as God began to move. And so he called for repentance, transformation, and social justice as a means to preparation for the inbreaking of God into creation. Are we ready? Do we heed the signs of what God is doing among us?
This week's sermon...from Luke 3:1-22.
Simeon hits the nail on the head: Jesus brings about both the rising and the falling of many. This is because Jesus' message is one of leveling and reversal; in Christ, God is upsetting the comfortable status quo that gives some privilege, power, and advantage. While this is disorienting to those of us who (on a global scale) sit on the top of the heap, ultimately God is seeking to give us a new orientation: the orientation of God's Kingdom.
The question for us: which side will we be on? Will we be like those who rejected, resisted, or just missed the light of Christ because it was uncomfortable? Or will we be like Simeon and Anna who waited patiently for God to bring about something, and when it finally showed up, they recognized it...as unexpected as it was?
This week's sermon...from Luke 2:21-38.