A good “April Fool” joke is some false claim that is presented so convincingly, you think it’s true. And just when you surrender to the claim, the joker yells “April Fool!” If you came here this morning expecting me to tell a bunch of jokes, “April Fool!” – I’m not going to do that. The Good News I have to share with you this morning might have felt like a practical joke to the disciples who first heard it, but they quickly realized the truth, and the truth was way more amazing than they could have imagined. Continue reading →
Entrance to Holy Week
March 28, 2019 Watch a video of this sermon here.
The line “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread” first appeared in Alexander Pope’s poem An Essay on Criticism, in 1711. The phrase usually refers to inexperienced people diving into things that people with more experience would probably avoid. A few other lines from this poem are also well known – such as “to err is human, to forgive divine;” and “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” But Pope’s “fools rush in” has become an idiom in its own right.
Throughout Mark’s story of this final week, fools are rushing in everywhere: Continue reading →
By now, you’ve probably figured out that wandering in the wilderness to follow Jesus isn’t just senseless meandering. It doesn’t mean going around in aimless circles. But it does require turning our expectations and assumptions around. It requires becoming vulnerable, having enough humility to accept ridicule, even.
But Jesus submitted himself to that kind of humiliation, and if we are to be his followers, we have to accept that it is only in dying we can experience resurrection. It is only in humility that we can be exalted with Christ, and it is only in asking the seemingly foolish question that we can find the answer that leads to eternal life. Continue reading →
Are you getting tired of Lent, yet? If this were the fourth Sunday of Advent, we’d be nearly done with the purple of penitence and preparation. We would be anticipating the celebration of Christ’s coming in less than a week – Christmas Eve would be just around the corner!
But this isn’t Advent. It’s Lent. We have a ways to go before the end of this 40-day journey into the wilderness. There are still two more weeks before we can wave palm branches at the entry into Holy Week. We have three more weeks to fast and pray and prepare our hearts for Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning.
Here in the middle of Lent, we could sure use some joy. I think that’s why, centuries ago, someone thought it would be a good idea to make the fourth Sunday of Lent be Laetare Sunday, a Sunday when we get to ‘rejoice in the Lord.’ It’s kind of like that third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, when we light a rose-colored candle instead of a dark purple one. And what better gospel passage to bring us joy, than the third chapter of John? This is where we find the famous verse that sums up the whole gospel message – “For God so loved the world…”
And this brings us to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a rabbi, who comes to Jesus under cover of darkness. Maybe Rabbi Nic comes to Jesus at night to keep his conversation a secret from the other Pharisees. Maybe he doesn’t want to admit publicly that he is in contact with Jesus. Continue reading →
We are smack dab in the middle of Lent this week. We’ve been wandering in the wilderness, tempted by Satan to grab power wherever we can get it, to look for affirmation in all the wrong places. Like Peter, we want to make Jesus fit into our limited idea of what a Savior should be. And, like Peter, we tend to deny that we know Jesus when it matters most, instead of denying ourselves and taking up the cross Jesus asks us to bear.
Bearing our cross means living our lives in a way that should raise questions among the people we meet outside the church.
What makes Christians different from everyone else?
Why do Christians stand out in sharp contrast to the ways of the world around us?
How do they manage to give sacrificially, and still have enough to be satisfied?
How do they always seem to know exactly the right thing to say, or the kindest thing to do when someone is hurting?
How do they manage to show so much love to people they barely know?
In first century Corinth, people had stopped asking those questions. And the church was in deep trouble. Made up of several groups that met in homes, what we would call house churches today, this church was a mess. One of the church leaders, a woman named Chloe, had sent some of her people to ask Paul for help. So Paul writes a letter, not just to Chloe, but to the whole church at Corinth. Continue reading →