Sermon, Repentance, San Bernardino Shooting, Luke 3:1-6, Advent, Advent 2C

Repentance, Responsibility, and San Bernardino – An Advent Sermon on Luke 3:1-6

Repent. Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight. Valleys shall be filled. Mountains and hills shall be made low. The crooked shall be made straight. The rough ways shall be made smooth. By themselves those words have no meaning. They need context. That’s true for any word. We might be able to define a word but it really has no meaning until … Continue reading Repentance, Responsibility, and San Bernardino – An Advent Sermon on Luke 3:1-6

Advent 3B, Sermon, Season of Advent, John 1:6-8, 19-28

Advent, A Season of Uncategorized Life – A Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28

Most of you have heard enough of my preaching and teaching to know that when it comes to either/or questions my default response is “yes.” Is it this or is it that? Yes. This isn’t about playing a game, being evasive, or trying to be difficult. I am simply trying to be faithful. We encounter this kind of yes in the church all the time. … Continue reading Advent, A Season of Uncategorized Life – A Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28

Mark 1:1-8, Season of Advent, Advent 2B, Wilderness, John the Baptist

Advent, A Season in the Wilderness – A Sermon on Mark 1:1-8

The wilderness, John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord. They are three major images in today’s gospel, Mark 1:1-8. They are three signposts on the Advent journey. They are three windows into our heart. I want us to think about them in the context of last Sunday’s gospel, Mark 13:24-37. Last Sunday was the First Sunday of Advent and I told you that … Continue reading Advent, A Season in the Wilderness – A Sermon on Mark 1:1-8

Recognizing the One Who is to Come – A Sermon on Matthew 11:2-11

“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another” (from Matthew 11:2-11, Advent 3A)? That doesn’t sound like the guy we heard from last week. So what’s happened to John the Baptist? Last week he was a name calling wild man. He stood in the wilderness announcing that the kingdom of heaven had already come near. He demanded that … Continue reading Recognizing the One Who is to Come – A Sermon on Matthew 11:2-11

Too Content to Repent? A Sermon on Matthew 3:1-12, Advent 2A

“Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (From Matthew 3:1-12, Advent 2A). Those words drew the people to John the Baptist. The people of Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region along the Jordan went to him. I wonder what they expected? Were they really ready for St. John? Did they expect to hear a truth teller, one who would tell the truth about … Continue reading Too Content to Repent? A Sermon on Matthew 3:1-12, Advent 2A

Repentance Means Becoming Human

repentance-before-godThere comes a time when we realize change is needed. Things don’t work out. Something happens. Someone says something. The tried and true ways become tired and trite. It may happen suddenly or slowly over time. Either way, we realize we can’t go on like we have. We must not only do things differently we must be different.

That’s what happened to the people who heard John’s peaching. Something about his message of change, preparation, and repentance has taken root in them. It is the Church’s Advent message that in the coming of Christ we, our lives, and our world cannot continue on in the same old ways. That message was enough to draw the crowds out to John and it is John’s message to us today.

The crowds have heard a word in the wilderness of their life. It is a prophetic word, a word of deep insight, by which they recognize that all is not well in their life and world. It is also a word of hope and rejoicing, a word of God, that says all can be well. It is a word that joins the wilderness and paradise and makes them two sides of the same reality. Continue reading “Repentance Means Becoming Human”

A Welcome Word in the Wilderness

Each one of us could tell a story about the wilderness. I am not talking about the scenic overlook along the highway, the unspoiled beauty of nature, or that quiet, back to nature, weekend getaway from the hassles of life. No. Our stories would be ones of struggles, ups and downs, highs and lows, stories of being lost and overwhelmed, stories of stumbling, falling down, and wondering when, how, or even if we will get up again.

The wilderness of which I am speaking is not the geography around us but the landscape within us. This interior wilderness brings us to the limits of our own self-sufficiency, it leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed, living on the edge. In the wilderness there are no distractions. There is no place to hide. In the wilderness we face the truth of who we are and what our life is like.

Fresco of St. John the Baptist
Fresco of St. John the Baptist by Meister von Gracanica, 1235 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes we go to the wilderness, other times it comes to us. Either way it is hard work most of would rather avoid. There is, however, no quick fix. There is no way out of or around the wilderness. The only way is through the wilderness. That’s what John the Baptist knows and proclaims in today’s gospel. Before him it was Isaiah crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

There’s something about the wilderness. It’s the place where our lives can be transformed, the place we are most open to changing and being changed. Hidden within every wilderness is the beauty of divine presence. That’s why every year at this time the season of Advent takes us not just to the wilderness but to our wilderness. Continue reading “A Welcome Word in the Wilderness”

In Whose Name Shall I Baptize You?

Seeing you, O Christ our God, drawing near to him in the river Jordan, John said Why are You who are without defilement come to your servant, O Lord? In whose name shall I baptize you? Of the Father? But you bear him in yourself. Of the Son? But you are yourself the Son made flesh. Of the Holy Spirit? But you know that from your own lips you give him … Continue reading In Whose Name Shall I Baptize You?

Witnesses and Interrogators – A Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28; Advent 3B

The collect and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent may be found here. The following sermon focuses on the gospel, John 1:6-8, 19-28. There are, today’s gospel suggests, two ways of approaching life and God’s presence in the world. One way is demonstrated by John. The other way is demonstrated by the priests and Levites. We are either witnesses or interrogators. John was a … Continue reading Witnesses and Interrogators – A Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28; Advent 3B

When Exile and Words of Comfort Meet – A Sermon on Isaiah 40:1-11, Advent 2B

The collect and readings for today, The Second Sunday of Advent, may be found here. The following sermon focuses on Isaiah 40:1-11. “Comfort, o comfort my people.” These are God’s ancient words to his people; spoken through the prophet Isaiah in the 6th century b.c. Their relevance and timeliness, however, are not lost on us today. It is not hard to find people in discomfort, … Continue reading When Exile and Words of Comfort Meet – A Sermon on Isaiah 40:1-11, Advent 2B