What do you do when your prayer is not answered, the budget doesn’t work out, expectations are not met? What do you do when your plan doesn’t come together, a relationship ends, or life is interrupted? What do you do when it’s a hard day and you just want to say no and run away?
Today’s gospel sets before us two choices. We can either resist, forbid, and try to prevent what is coming to us, which is what John wants to do. Or we can permit it and “let it be,” which is what Jesus tells John to do. Continue reading Consenting To Life – A Sermon On Matthew 3:13-17
The Third Sunday in Advent, Year A – Matthew 11:2-11 John yelled at his disciples, “The Messiah is doing what!?” His voice escaped between the bars of his cell and echoed throughout the prison. Maybe his disciples told him what Jesus was doing. Or maybe he overheard the guards talking about it. Maybe he found out from other visitors. Jesus has been going throughout Galilee … Continue reading Filling The Jesus Gap – A Sermon On Matthew 11:2-11
The Second Sunday in Advent, Year A – Matthew 3:1-12 What if I preached like John the Baptist? What if I was as blunt and direct as he is? What if one Sunday I began my sermon like this? “So what brought you slithering in here today? You sons of … snakes. Why are you here? To get out of the cold? To see your … Continue reading Life Can Be Different – An Advent Sermon On Matthew 3:1-12
I remember asking the what-to-do question in my teen age and early adult years as I thought about and made decisions. I asked it during my separation and after my divorce. I asked it after our son Brandon died. I’ve asked it after I said or did something that hurt another. I’ve asked it when I felt lost, overwhelmed, powerless, scared, or guilty. I’ve asked it when the pain of the world is palpable, when those I love and care about are hurting, when others are dealing with the hardships and the difficulty of life. What then should I do? Who and how do I want to be in this moment?
Does any of that sound familiar in your life? When have you asked the question? And what was going on? Continue reading It’s About Ordinary Life – An Advent Sermon On Luke 3:7-18
What do you see when you look at your past?
What are the feelings and thoughts?Regardless of how we view our past, regardless of what did or not happen back then, to the degree we are enmeshed, entangled, or enslaved to our past, “we can expect the future to look like the past” (Caputo, The Weakness of God, 169). We repeat the same patterns, tell ourselves the same old stories, and listen to same old voices. And not much changes. Life becomes static and we are stuck in the past trying to live a life that is no longer.
John’s call for repentance is the call for us to face and deal with our past. Continue reading What Has Laid Claim To Your Life? – An Advent Sermon On Luke 3:1-6
Maybe the greatest barrier to seeing the divine presence among us is that we already have an idea or image of who that one is or should be and what that one should look like and do. In other words, we think we know and we stick with what we think we know. We can’t see the one because he or she does not meet our expectations or fit our categories of who he or she can be. Sometimes, we don’t see the one among us because he or she stands outside the box of our beliefs. And more often than not we see and hear in such a way that it only confirms what we already believe. Continue reading The One Among Us – A Sermon On John 1:6-8, 19-28 for Advent 3B
In what ways are you living as a displaced person? What parts of your life feel uprooted and disconnected? What is your displacement?
“Comfort, O comfort my people,” are God’s words to displaced people. Isaiah first spoke those words to people exiled in Babylon, people whose lives had been uprooted. Those same words come to the displaced people of God today. In some way the prophetic word is always directed to displaced people. And we long to hear those words of comfort. We want to find our place. More than anything displaced people want to be a placed people. Continue reading Comfort For The Displaced – A Sermon on Mark 1:1-8 for Advent 2B
John 3:29b-30. “For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” I wonder what John the Baptist’s disciples are thinking when they hear him talk about becoming less. Their numbers are decreasing, and Jesus’ group of disciples are increasing. I can imagine them thinking, “And what are you going to do about it, John? This is a problem.” John … Continue reading A Positive Decrease
Matthew 3:1-12, Advent 2A If last week’s gospel (Matthew 24:36-44) called us to wake up and be watchful of the worlds within us and around us, then this week’s gospel (Matthew 3:1-12) calls us to respond. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” What does that mean for you? What is John the Baptist asking of us? What has been your experience of repentance? … Continue reading Beauty, Hope, and Repentance – A Sermon on Matthew 3:1-12, Advent 2A
“What then should we do?” That question is at the center of today’s gospel. It has its origin, however, in last week’s gospel and John the Baptist’s call for repentance. Today’s gospel (Luke 3:7-18) is the continuation of last week’s (Luke 3:1-6). You may remember the refrain from last week: Repent. Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight. Valleys shall be filled. … Continue reading What Then Should We Do? – An Advent Sermon on Luke 3:7-18