The Fourth Sunday in Lent
“Blindness and Sight”
March 26, 2017
Sermon Text: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
There is an old story about Sherlock Holmes and Watson camping out overnight. Somewhere in their journeys they have to sleep out in a field and they rig up one of these old-fashioned tents where you just put a couple of supporting posts in the ground, lay a tarp over them, and then stake the tarp in the corners and you’ve got a tent. So they do this and they go to sleep.
In the middle of the night Holmes pokes Watson and wakes him up. Watson asks, “What’s going on?” Holmes answers, “Watson, look up, what do you see?” Watson replies, “Oh, it is a beautiful night sky. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many stars! And I see a planet over there, and another planet not too far away from it, and on other side of the sky the moon is only half full but it is still so bright! I can see the outline of the galaxy sweeping across the sky. And it all reminds me how grand and awesome our universe is, and how insignificant I am in the midst of it all. I am in awe of its beauty and I am humbled.”
Holmes replies, “Watson, you fool, someone stole our tent!”
Two people can look at exactly the same thing and see totally different things. Depending on your perspective, you might say that Watson saw what was really important in seeing the big picture and his tiny place in it. Or you might say that Holmes saw what was really important and focused on the practical, the here and now. If one of these things is more important to you, you might say that the person who missed that and saw the other thing was blind.
Continue reading ““Blindness and Sight””
The Third Sunday in Lent
“Where Do You Get that Living Water?”
March 19, 2017
Sermon Text: John 4:5-26
Peace be unto you from the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
To say the least, she was intrigued by what this Jew had to say to her. Amazed first that he even spoke to her. A man speaking to a woman who was not his wife or kin and this, out in public. And then there was the fact that Jews did not speak to Samaritans and vice versa.
No surprise really because who we are talking about here is our Savior, Jesus, who out of great love and mercy breaks down, breaks through, ignores and abolishes all barriers that stand in the way between Himself and us and in this case, between Himself and this woman.
A woman that He cares greatly about as is seen in what He does and says here… His concern for her spiritual welfare… her eternal life… and those, all those, who she will speak with and tell about this Jesus… not to mention those, all those, who have heard and will hear this account down through the centuries to the very end of time… that which we are considering right now under the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit.
Continue reading ““Where Do You Get that Living Water?””
2nd Sunday in Lent
“Salvation by God’s Grace Through Faith is not a New Teaching”
March 12, 2017
Sermon Text: Romans 4:1-8
When Moses was called at the burning bush to go back to Egypt to command Pharaoh to free the Israelites, and to speak words of peace and comfort to the Israelites, he asked the Lord, “If they ask me Who sent me, what shall I say?” And the Lord responded, “I am Who I am” has sent you. That word from the Lord, together with the great Shema of Deuteronomy 6, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,” was instrumental in forming the Israelites’ whole notion of God. Those two texts speak of the oneness of God, the eternity of God, the consistency of God, the fact that God never changes. He is always the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, for all eternity.
Now, to be sure, there are places where the Scriptures speak of the Lord changing His ways, repenting that He made man, turning His face again to the sinner and downtrodden where He has turned away, and so on, and so forth. But all those passages are written from the human perspective, they are all meant to be our expressions of our experience with the Lord at any given point in time. He does appear to change from our perspective. But really, deep down, the Lord never changes, just as your father doesn’t really change from the time he’s grounding you for getting in trouble to the time that he’s giving you a bunch of presents at Christmas. It’s only our view of the Lord that changes. He Himself is always the same.
Continue reading ““Salvation by God’s Grace Through Faith is not a New Teaching””
1st Sunday in Lent
“The Faithfulness of the Holy Spirit”
March 5, 2017
Sermon Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Most of the historical accounts in Scripture are stories of seemingly ordinary events played out among human beings. There are some big events and amazing things that happen, grand battles between nations and kingdoms, confrontations between great leaders, tremendous miracles. But all of these things usually occur within the stories of the day-to-day life of people. You almost always have to study the events, and read what the Bible has to say about them, to see the real spiritual struggle that is always going on behind the scenes. Seldom is the veil removed and good seen in its purest form, and evil seen in its most heinous form.
One example of this is the story of the Exodus. The release of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt is often misunderstood because it is interpreted as being a struggle between Israel and Egypt, or Moses and Pharaoh, or even some kind of metaphor of slavery and freedom. The only way to get to the heart of what the Exodus was all about is to see it as a no-holds-barred war between the Lord and Satan. Only by looking behind the veil of the human actors and getting to that core struggle can you understand what that book is all about.
This is seen even more clearly in the book of Esther, which is another account of the Lord’s miraculous rescue of His people, even though God is never mentioned once in that entire book. But He is there, working through means, as He always does, keeping His promise to His people and protecting them from His enemies and their enemies. Only when you see past the veil can you understand what that book is all about.
Continue reading ““The Faithfulness of the Holy Spirit””
“The Road from Eden”
The First Sunday in Lent
March 1, 2017
Sermon Text: Genesis 3:7-24
When I was probably about 10 or 11 years old I saw a program on TV about the energy crisis and the problem of so many cars burning so much gasoline when gasoline was in short supply. This was back in the mid-70’s, when we first started to talk about these things. After watching that program, I thought about it, and I wrote a letter to someone, somewhere, where I explained that I had found the solution to this problem. Very simply, instead of building cars that run on gasoline, we needed to start building cars that run on water. Gas shortage problem solved. I gave the letter to my mom, and then later found out that she never mailed it. I was very upset, and I asked her why she hadn’t mailed my brilliant letter, and she nicely explained to me that cars can’t burn water the way they burn gasoline and my well-intentioned solution was unfortunately of no use.
That taught me a lesson about getting involved in matters that were over my head and thinking that I know more than I do. As Dirty Harry famously said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Sometimes, we need to defer to someone else who understands more than we do and believe what they say.
Continue reading ““The Road from Eden””
The Transfiguration of Our Lord
“Spattered in Blood”
February 26, 2017
Sermon Text: Exodus 24:8–18, Matthew 17:1–9
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Quite a contrast we have before us this morning. Actually several contrasts that we would do well to consider and take to heart under the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit.
Probably though, it would first be good to do what is sometimes done at the beginning of television shows where it is announced that “viewer discretion” is called for because of the graphic nature of what will be shown.
We read in our Exodus text, “And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” (Exodus 24:8)
Blood dripping down the clothes of the men, women and children gathered there. Doesn’t get more graphic than that. The people of Israel spattered in blood… the blood of the sacrifice made at the base of Mount Sinai. That, indeed, was how a covenant was made, enacted and sealed. It was literally “sealed in blood”… in the shedding of blood.
Continue reading ““Spattered in Blood””
The Seventh Sunday after Epiphany (A)
February 19, 2017
Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 3:11–15
Peace be unto you from the One who is God incarnate, our Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
On March 15, 1986, at 11:24 a.m. all was well at the Hotel New World in Singapore. It was just another day with hotel guests and visitors coming and going and the staff doing their respective jobs. Less than one minute later, this six-story building was nothing but a pile of rubble, flattened, trapping 50 people. Seventeen were rescued, thirty-three died.
Needless to say, there was a lot of initial speculation as to what caused this disaster and one by one, possible reasons for the same were eliminated until one remained. It wasn’t an earthquake, bomb, gas explosion, etc.
As it turns out, the building collapsed because of a faulty foundation. You see, the structural engineer miscalculated the weight that would be upon the same. He calculated the building’s “live load” (that is, the weight of the building’s potential inhabitants, furniture, fixtures, etc.) but completely omitted the building’s “dead load” (the weight of the building itself).
Continue reading ““Whatcha Buildin?””