The promise and risk of life come to us asking for a response. Jesus had decisions to make. And so do we. We make decisions everyday of our life; decisions and choices about what to do, who we want to be, how we want to live. We sometimes call them temptations. We feel torn and pulled between the promise and the risk. Temptations hold before us the illusion of promise without risk. But that’s not the way the wilderness works, and Jesus knows that.
With each decision we’re betting that the future will be better, not because it necessarily is, but because it might be. And that “might,” the possibility of a better future, of more life, is what gives us the strength, the faith, the hope, to risk a decision and remain open to the future, even when we don’t know how it will turn out. Continue reading Life Is Promise And Risk – A Sermon On Luke 4:1-13
Maybe Lent and the gospel of Jesus are not primarily about being good, a program for changing from a bad person to a good person, so we can get a future reward. I’ve got nothing against being a good person (whatever that might mean) but I’ve never read where Jesus said, “I came that you might be good, better, an improved version of yourself.” What I have read is that Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Throughout the gospel he shows himself to be giving life, revealing life, and calling to life. And that’s not about tomorrow, after you die, or some heavenly future. “Now is the day of salvation,” Paul tells us (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now, in this time and in this place. Life is now. Continue reading Life Before Death – An Ash Wednesday Sermon
There comes a time in each of our lives when understanding and knowing give way to the darkness of not knowing and not understanding. The journey of faith, it seems, is a journey through the darkness. Maybe we all come “to Jesus by night.” Continue reading In the Nighttime of Life – A Sermon on Genesis 12:1-4 and John 3:1-17
Lent 1A: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11 Over the last several years I’ve begun to see and understand Lent and temptations, the struggles in my life, in a different way. It used to be that I thought about those things in terms of self-denial: just say no, don’t do this, don’t do that; and everything will be fine. But then life got complicated. It … Continue reading Two Questions for Lent – A Sermon on Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11
Most of us likely understand or have been told that Lent is a penitential season. We give something up, take on a new discipline, work to change our ways. None of this is wrong. But what if Lent is more than that? Continue reading Longing for God
Where we begin our Lenten journey is not as important as where it takes us. In the same way, what we give up, take on, or do for Lent are not as important as what those things do for us.
Continue reading Giving Away Our Hearts – An Ash Wednesday Sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
What should I do for Lent this year? What should I read or study or give up or take on? These are good questions, but they are not Jesus’ question. Jesus wants to know what we treasure. Jesus is getting to the heart of the matter—our hearts. Continue reading Treasuring Hunting for Lent – An Ash Wednesday Meditation
Luke 4:1-13 Jesus overcame the temptations in the wilderness. He made it possible for us to overcome our temptations. Be like Jesus and just say no. Does that sound familiar? I wonder if that’s how we often hear today’s gospel (Luke 4:1-13). I’m guessing most of us know the just say no story or some variation of it. Maybe it’s what you were taught or … Continue reading Rethinking Temptation: It’s More Than Just Saying No – A Sermon on Luke 4:1-13
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Several years ago someone said to me, “One day I finally realized people were not spending nearly the amount of time thinking about me as I was spending thinking about them thinking about me, and wondering what they saw when they looked at me, what they said about me, and what they thought about me.” The man who told me this story … Continue reading Yesterday’s Palms, Today’s Ashes – An Ash Wednesday Sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
As I write this reflection it’s the third week in Epiphany and I’ve been thinking about Lent for a couple of weeks now. I am thinking about Shrove Tuesday; the pancake supper, the palms we will burn, and the ashes we will prepare for the next day’s liturgy. I am thinking about the fragility of life, mortality, and the ashes that will mark our foreheads … Continue reading I Don’t Want To Do Lent This Year