Sermon, Lent, Lent 1C, Temptation, Choices, Wilderness, Luke 4:1-13, Luke 3:21-22, Baptism of Jesus,

Life Is Promise And Risk – A Sermon On Luke 4:1-13

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

Advent 2B, Wilderness, Repentance, John the Baptist, Displaced and Placed, Sermon, Mark1:1-8, Isaiah 40:1-11,

Comfort For The Displaced – A Sermon on Mark 1:1-8 for Advent 2B

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

Lent 1A, John Calvin, Self-Knowledge, Self-Denial, Temptation, Matthew 4:1-11, Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7, Sermon

Two Questions for Lent – A Sermon on Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11

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

Lent, Lent 1C, Temptation, Temptation of Jesus, Matthew 6:1-6 16-21, Sermon, Jesus in the Wilderness, James Tissot

Rethinking Temptation: It’s More Than Just Saying No – A Sermon on Luke 4:1-13

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

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

Temptation is the Way to Salvation, Luke 4:1-13

Picture of a stone and a loaf of breadSo here’s what I wonder. What if Jesus had said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it?” What if he had turned just one small stone into a small loaf of bread? He’s hungry, famished. Why not fill the emptiness? Not a feast or even a big loaf. No butter. Just a little something to get him by. What if he had accepted the glory and authority of all the kingdoms of the world? They are rightfully his anyway. Don’t the ends justify the means? Why not free fall into the arms of the angels? After all he is the beloved son.

What if Jesus had said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it?” Would Jesus have been less beloved? Would he have no longer been God’s Son? Would Jesus have been a failure? Those sound like questions of idle curiosity, speculations, but they’re not. Jesus may not have said, “Ok. Yes, I’ll do it,” but I have. Maybe you have as well. Continue reading “Temptation is the Way to Salvation, Luke 4:1-13”

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”

Leave Home, Get Baptized, Go to the Wilderness – A Sermon on Mark 1:9-15, Lent 1B.

The collect and readings for the First Sunday in Lent may be found here. The following sermon is based on Mark 1:9-15. At some point we all leave home. It is something we do throughout our lives. Over and over we leave home. We’ve all done it. We leave home physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We leave those places that are familiar, comfortable, predictable. Sometimes we … Continue reading Leave Home, Get Baptized, Go to the Wilderness – A Sermon on Mark 1:9-15, Lent 1B.

Searching for Jesus – A Sermon on Mark 1:29-39, Epiphany 5B

The collect and readings for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B, may be found here. The following sermon is based on Mark 1:29-39 Everyone loves it when Jesus shows up. His presence makes a difference. Things happen. Mother-in-laws are healed. The sick are cured. Demons are cast out. Lives are changed. This is true not only for the people of Capernaum in Jesus’ time … Continue reading Searching for Jesus – A Sermon on Mark 1:29-39, Epiphany 5B

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