This week's sermon...from Luke 17:11-19, 19:1-10.
The paradox of life with Christ is this: the gift of Christ's salvation is a free gift that costs us everything that we have and everything that we are. But if we flip that paradox around, we see that in exchange for giving up everything we have and are, we receive something that is abundantly more valuable than what we gave up. By dying to ourselves, letting go of our wealth and possessions, and turning away from selfishness, greed, retaliation, striving, grasping at power, and our desires, we receive God's life, joy, peace, grace, and love. We are set free from the chains and bondage to those things that always leave us feeling inadequate, weak, like we don't have enough; instead, we live in God's abundance, live in right relationship to others, live a life of joy and peace.
This week's sermon...from Luke 17:11-19, 19:1-10.
Are you sure you want to follow Jesus? Because following Jesus is not a cake-walk, not a stroll down easy street, it isn't for the faint of heart. Truly following Jesus (not just jumping on the bandwagon and going along to see the show) is costly...it is nothing short of carrying a cross. And we're not taking about the nice sentimental, sanitized cross...we're talking about the tool of intimidation, torture, and terror. Far from issuing an altar call and inviting everyone to come along, in Luke 14, Jesus is in fact winnowing the crowd, urging those in the crowd to count the cost of coming after him on this journey, and telling them that if they are not serious, they had best just turn around now.
This week's sermon...from Luke 14:25-35.
There is a collision coming; it is imminent. It is a collision between the sinful and broken structures of this world and what God is bringing about. Jesus sees it; he perceives it. And he steadfastly holds to his course, knowing what it will cost him, even as he laments the ways in which God's People have chosen the way of conflict and destruction.
The time of collision and judgement is coming. But God's judgement isn't about fire and brimstone raining down. It's about God setting all things right. It's about God destroying injustice, violence, hatred, greed, and the like. It's the burning away of the chaff and impurity that is within each of us. If we choose to cling to ways of injustice, greed, and violence, then judgment will sting. But Christ calls us to repent and to bear the fruit of the Kingdom. May it be so for us.
This week's sermon...from Luke 13:1-9, 31-35.
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.