Posts

Showing posts from April, 2017

Beyond The Cross: The Empty Tomb Matthew 28:1-10 (Easter Worship Celebration)

How many of you received an Easter Basket this morning?  If not this morning, how many of you have ever received an Easter Basket?  How many of you like getting or giving Easter Baskets or other “Easter gifts”?  I can hear some of your thoughts now, “Is the preacher really talking about Easter Baskets in our Easter morning sermon?”  The answer to that question is, “Yes I am.”  I will admit though, that there is a great deal of disagreement between Christians as to the appropriateness of Easter gifts.  Some see Easter gifts, Easter egg hunts, and the sort as simply harmless fun for the children.  Others see the giving of Easter gifts and the emphasis on bunnies, chicks, and flowers as participating in the pagan rituals of fertility seeking to ensure that the pagan gods will give blessings upon spring plantings and new life.  Some of those same arguments are made about Christmas and its celebration with trees and stockings and Santa.  What we often forget, though, is that while Christma…

The Light Is Unquenchable John 1:1-5 (Sunrise Service Reflection)

The sun rose at 6:42 yesterday morning and at 7:52 pm it officially set, and, unless you are living under bright city lights, darkness settled in.  Yet, despite the darkness’ arrival, at 6:41 this morning, the sun has officially risen once more, dispelling the darkness moments ago.  The darkness may come, but the light always returns…and according to scientists, that cycle will continue in some manner for the next 5 billion years or so, though life as we know it will be altered in about 1.1 billion years, as the sun grows in intensity as it moves through its life cycle…and several trillion years later it will finally dim to black.  Those of you who are preppers…are you ready for that cataclysmic event?  The sun will eventually be extinguished. We lit this fire in front of the crosses before folks arrived…it has burned brightly…but eventually, as the wood and paper is consumed, it will grow dark…it will burn out and find itself extinguished. The light bulbs that light our sanctuary and …

Peter's Footwashing Reflections - John 13:1-17; 31b-35

You know, I never will forget that night.  It was a night of confusion for most of us.  We did not really understand what was going on.  That was always the case with Jesus.  Every time we thought we had it together, we learned we didn’t.  I still remember the time that I told him that he was the Messiah and he started talking about suffering and dying.  I didn’t like the sound of that, so I told him that there was no way he was going to face anything like that.  You know what he did, he called me “Satan.”  He told me that I was thinking about human things and not what God wanted.  I’ve always had that problem, I’ve always jumped to conclusions and spoken or acted without taking the time to try and understand what was really going on. I did it again that night.  Jesus had gathered us all for the Passover meal.  We were all settled, in the room and enjoying the meal.  Suddenly, in the middle of the meal, without warning, Jesus got up.  He took off his robe, grabbed a towel, a pitcher of…

At The Cross: The Cross Matthew 27:32-44 / John 3:16-17 (Wednesday Lenten Reflection)

Why do folks offer hugs?  They are an act of affection, an act of welcome, an act of love, an act of support, an act of encouragement, and a means of drawing one close. What is the first thing we have to do to offer a hug?  We have to open up our arms.  We cannot offer a hug with our arms crossed in front of our chest.  We cannot offer a hug with our hands planted firmly in our pockets.  We cannot offer a hug with our hands and arms rigidly by our sides.  We have to open up and reach out. In the act of opening up our arms to offer a hug, we make ourselves vulnerable.  Physically we are vulnerable because we have exposed our chest, our abdomen, our sides.  We are easy targets for an attack at this point.  Emotionally we are vulnerable because the person we are offering to embrace can reject the embrace or refuse to return it—rejecting our support, our encouragement, our love, and our care. We often talk about God as All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Everything…and He is.  And yet, our God is…

At The Cross: Blood and Water -- John 19:31-38

This past summer and fall I took on a task that I had never thought I would ever take on.  For me it was unthinkable and frightening, and before the email, it was the furthest thing from my mind.  But that email came.  It informed the parents of many of the children who had signed up to play flag football that because there were not enough coaches, that though their child had been placed on a team, their money would likely have to be refunded unless two coaches stepped up by the end of the week.  Joshua had his heart set on playing flag football.  It was something that he had talked about almost constantly from the previous January until we signed him up in July.  So, realizing that children can get me to do things that no adult would convince me of, I contacted Jordan Wood at the Department of Parks and Recreation and told her on a Friday that I would be willing to coach one of the teams as long as they provided some type of training, as I had never served as a head-coach of any spo…

At The Cross: The Hyssop Branch Exodus 12:21-25 / John 19:29 (Wednesday Lenten Reflection)

How many of you were told at some point in your lives to go out and pull small branch off a tree and bring it back to your parents or grandparents?  Or maybe they just went and pulled the branch themselves and told you to come to them?  There was no question what that meant, was it?   Somebody was in trouble if things ever got to the point that a switch had to be pulled off the tree.  Those are the branches that no kid ever wants to have to gather. Kids will gather sticks and branches though, and quite often, though not always, those sticks are transformed into bo staves, bows and arrows, light sabers, guns, or laser weapons as the kids fight off invisible threats to this world. In our reading today, Moses was told by God to instruct the Hebrew people to go out and gather some fresh branches.  These branches, though, were not for the purpose of punishment, but rather for protection.  No, Moses was not to instruct the people to gather up hyssop branches in order to craft makeshift or ima…

At The Cross: The Wine-Soaked Sponge John 19:28-30

I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am. Nobody’s perfect. I’m only human. I’m not Jesus. Of course Jesus could resist temptation…of course He could remain faithful…after all, He might have been a man, but He is also God.  We’re not. How many times have we said one of these things…or something like these? We say these things most often when we are confronted with the fact that we are continually struggling with sin; when we find ourselves giving into the temptation to do something that we know we really shouldn’t be doing; when we are trying to excuse behavior that we don’t really want to stop or make the effort to stop. And yet…here in today’s gift from the cross…we find those statements, those excuses, fall flat.  The day had been long…walked back and forth from the Sanhedrin to Pilate from Pilate to Herod from Herod back to Pilate…from being drug into the courtyard to be whipped and beaten to being mocked and ridiculed…from being paraded through the streets forced to bear the means of his …