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Showing posts from January, 2010

Sermon for Third Sunday after the Epiphany, "Filled: With the Spirit"

Sermon 1/24/10, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:4-21
Filled: With the Spirit Every time I come across this week I the lectionary cycle, I’ve chosen to focus my preaching on the gospel text of Luke. It’s one of my favorite passages. It’s Jesus’ first sermon of sorts, at least the first that is included in the biblical narrative. In it, he returns, filled with the power of the Spirit, to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, as was his custom, we read. He stands up to read, and he reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then Jesus rolls up the scroll, sits back down, and says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In reading this text from Isaiah, Jesus sets out, from the very beginning, with a very clear announce…

Sermon for Second Sunday after the Epiphany, "Filled: To the Brim"

Sermon 1/17/10, John 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11Filled: To the Brim You might have noticed that last week and this week our sermons have had the theme of: filled. We’ll continue on with that for the next couple of weeks as well, and I chose this focus because I suddenly noticed, as I was preparing my preaching schedule, that the gospel lessons for several weeks in a row contained the word “filled.” And I think “filled” is a perfect word to describe how God wants our lives to be. My very favorite Bible verse is from John 10:10b – “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus is all about giving us life – but not just any life. Full life. Abundant life. We live in a culture that is so full – of sounds and sights, of must-haves, of things an stuff – and yet people feel amazingly empty, always trying to fill up with the wrong things. The message of Jesus, though, is pretty clear. God is supposed to be the one filling us. Things certainly have seemed quite full to…

Every Member

This year, one of my resolutions is to visit every (local) member and constituent in my congregation. My hope is to spend some time talking about each person's relationship with the church (How did they start attending? Why? What have they been involved in?), and also talking about visions/hopes/dreams for the church in the months/years ahead.
If you had the opportunity to speak with every member of your congregation, what questions would you ask, and why?

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, "Filled: With Expectation"

Sermon 1/10/10, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Filled: With Expectation Today, we find ourselves turning back to a part of a text we studied during Advent – a scene with the people gathering before John the Baptist, preparing to be baptized. Earlier in this chapter, John preached to the crowds about bearing fruits worthy of repentance. He called them a brood of vipers, and instructed them in ways of living that would prepare them to be good fruit. And today, we pick up with the tail end of his comments. We read that the people are filled with expectation, and they are wondering if John is the Messiah. But John says, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Then, suddenly, we read: “Now when all the people wer…

Sermon for Epiphany Sunday, "Until Next Time"

Sermon 1/3/10, Matthew 2:1-12Until Next TimeToday is Epiphany Sunday, and it marks for us the change between the Season of Christmas and the transitional season after Epiphany that marks time until Lent begins in late February. Epiphany day is technically January 6th – 12 days after Christmas – making today technically the 9th day of Christmas. But we celebrate the Epiphany on the closest Sunday before January 6th when it doesn’t fall on a Sunday. Epiphany is the day we remember the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi, men from the East from a sort of priestly class, men whose religious practices included an interest in astronomy, to see the Christ-child. The Wise Men visit Mary and Joseph and the child sometime after Jesus is born – he was maybe already a toddler by the time they arrived at his home, even though we see many Magi in nativities. They brought gifts for the child, believing he would be a king – gold and frankincense and myrrh. Gold for a king, frankincense for priestly signi…

Sermon for Christmas Eve, "This Time"

Sermon 12/24/09, Luke 2:1-20
This Time All Advent, we’ve been talking about time – The Time is Near. The Time In-Between. Time’s Up. In the Fullness of Time. And now, at last, the time really is here, the time that we’ve been waiting for, counting down to, preparing for, some calmly, others frantically. But however we got here, now the time is here. This is the time. And so that is our theme tonight – This Time. Luke seems to be right on program. He is so careful to pinpoint the time at which things happen in his gospels. He gives a little context. Because, after all, we might talk about the date when something happened – 1991, but then find it more helpful to remind our listener of the context – you know, when the elder George Bush was president and Iraq invaded Kuwait. Some context, to make sure our listener knows what we’re talking about. And so here, as he does elsewhere in his gospel, Luke describes exactly when these events are taking place. “In those days a decree went out from …