Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sometimes I preach: On Covenants and Tea Kettles (8/21/16)

So here we are. The night before Jesus is handed over. The final night with his disciples. We have worked through Jesus’s birth, his childhood, his baptism and temptation, his miracles, his teachings and here we are, the last night.

If you go to Jerusalem, you can visit the the Upper Room. And I’ve actually been there. But I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really remember it that well,  because I was really really hungry because we had been fasting all day and I knew all we had to do was get through this last stop and then we were going to get to break our fast with communion. And so I was pretty preoccupied thinking about the snacks that were waiting for us back on the bus. And the room itself was pretty standard, mostly stone and columns and so when I try to picture the Upper Room, I mostly just picture being hungry.

There is probably a deep theological point to be made there and maybe in a different sermon one day you’ll hear that but for right now , but again, going with the honesty theme, it was not a spiritual hunger. It was regular old “come on guys let’s keep moving, the snacks are waiting” kind of hunger.

Maybe the disciples were too and maybe they were distracted when Jesus was breaking the bread. Maybe they were just really ready for the meal to be done, for church to be over so they could go home, or I mean, for Passover to be over so they could go to bed. Maybe they skipped over hearing the words: this is the blood of the new covenant, poured out for you.

Listen to the rest here:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sometimes I preach: " The Divine Dance" Trinity Sunday (5/22/16)

Meanwhile, while part of the early church were in this debate, trying to come to terms with this divine mystery, other parts were more concerned with the relationship of the Trinity and what they do, rather than trying to define who they are.

These Christians started thinking about how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed before time and creation and how they have been relationship with one another from the beginning.

One monk, John of Damascus, came up with an image to trying to define this relationship using a fancy Greek word: perichoreisis.  

It basically means dancing between. He thought about how God is love and always has been and how the three members of the Trinity have shared in that love since since before time began. That before the world began, there was God, there was communion, there was a divine dance. And they dwell together, circling one another, making space for another.

God at the very core is not solitude but rather community. One in Three, Three in One.

Dancing, dwelling together, making space for one another.

And miraculously, through the in-breaking of Christ into the world, we have been invited to participate in that dance, in that relationship, in that communion. It’s what Jesus says over and over in John that we will be one with him as he and the Father are one. We are invited into that mystery.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sometimes I preach: Wrestling with God (9/13/15)

I think it is a core part of our faith though that there are four, because it shows that one telling of Jesus is not enough. One story cannot fully grasp who is he, he bursts out of the margins and cannot be contained by one version. It forces to recognize the bigness The four gospels each highlight a different aspect of the character of Jesus. With each telling, a different piece of him comes into focus.

In John, we see the divine Jesus. He is all-knowing and in control. He is the Light and the Way and the Shepherd. And the claim that he is the Son of God can never be doubted for a second.

In Matthew, we see the Jesus who was forged out of the stories of his Jewish ancestors. He is a teacher. He is committed to the correct understanding of how to live out God’s law.

In Luke, we see Jesus the prophet, committed to welcoming all, the social outcast, the woman, the foreigner. He is like the prophets of old, but also somehow so much more.

But then we have Mark, which is where our Scripture passage is from today. And Mark is the strangest of the 4 gospels. Most official biblical scholars don’t like Mark too much. His grammar is bad. His sentence structure is awkward. And his Jesus is often...

a little..well, the fancy scholarly word is enigmatic? But the regular word is probably just a little crazy.

He is wild and says strange things and does strange things. Everything happens “suddenly” And Mark’s Jesus feels things, we get insight into Jesus’s emotions. Mark frequently tells us that Jesus is moved to compassion by the people and situations he encounters. He tells us that Jesus feels the compassion all the way into his splaghkna, (the Greek word for guts). Mark’s Jesus has this purpose, but its confusing and people don’t get it and people don’t listen. And Jesus, he just keeps on doing his own thing. This Jesus is wild and loving and determined and if the claim that Jesus looks the most divine in John is true, then it is also true that Jesus looks the most human in Mark.

Listen to the rest here:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sometimes I preach: Advent, John 1:1-14 (SSUMC 12/7/14)

Before anything was, when there was only darkness and chaos, there was the Word, and through the Word, God spoke and from the Word came light. And God saw that it was good. I bring this up because I think it is important during this Advent season when we sing and celebrate the light of the world, to at least acknowledge to ourselves that at times we have chosen the darkness... When there was only darkness and chaos. There was the Word. This is where John’s story begins. And the Word was life and life was the light of all people. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the light came into the world, but the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him. We have a complicated relationship to light. History has shown this to be true. The Bible itself shows this to be true We know light is what we need, but light can unsettling Because the light shows you who you really are; shows the world for what it really is. Shows what you are not yet, but could be. It reminds me of the story in Exodus, where Moses comes down from speaking with the Lord and his face is glowing. It is literally radiant. And the people are so afraid that they beg him to cover his face. Sometimes, when faced with a glimmer of Light that created us, we turn away and beg for it to be hidden. We go and hide in the darkness. Men hated the light and loved the darkness, because their deeds were evil. And some days, it is can be pretty comfortable. We can wrap ourselves in the blanket of privilege and hide in the closet. And sure you might run into some stuff, no one can see your fears, and your insecurities and your misdeeds. I think it’s important to say that out loud: that sometimes we have loved the darkness more than we have loved the light. And yet, I think we know that despite the times we have turned to hide in the darkness, we know that we were not made for hiding in closets, Deep down, even if we are scared, that we were not made for darkness...

(Listen to the rest of the sermon here)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The World Drenched with Grace

God is at work all among us. 

God is at work constantly in the world. 

Theology is not a body of  knowledge that we memorize and put in file cards. 

Theology is a way of perceiving the world as drenched with grace, as filled with the life and power of God.”

Luke Timothy Johnson

May we always have eyes to see it.