“Friend, Move Up Higher” (Luke 14:1-14)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 28, 2016

“Friend, Move Up Higher” (Luke 14:1-14)

Suppose you’re invited to a banquet–a wedding banquet, for instance–so you get dressed up in your best clothes, and you get there, and you see some seats that are open at the various tables. You figure you’re a pretty important person, or you’d like to be seen as such, so you go up and take a seat up front, maybe even at the head table. But then some other guy comes in, and he doesn’t look all that impressive, and the host or the waiter comes over and tells you that you need to move down so that this guy can sit up front. Well, you wouldn’t like that very much, would you? You would feel put out and embarrassed. “Why don’t I get one of the top spots? And who is this guy that he should get more attention and a better place than I do?”

Well, that’s kind of the situation Jesus describes in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 14. But what Jesus has in mind is more important than mere dinner etiquette or table manners. What Christ has to say to us has to do with our place before God, our place in God’s kingdom, our place for eternity at the heavenly wedding banquet. Better to be called to move up higher than to be told to move down. Thus our theme this morning: “Friend, Move Up Higher.”

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Published in: on August 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Strive to Enter through the Narrow Door” (Luke 13:22-30)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 21, 2016

“Strive to Enter through the Narrow Door” (Luke 13:22-30)

Suppose there’s a big party, a grand banquet that you’ve heard about, and you really want to go and be there for this great event. So you go to the banquet hall, and you see a door there, and you walk up to it and try the handle. It doesn’t budge. The door seems to be locked. “Okay, no problem, I’ll try another door.” Which you do. You pull on the handle, it doesn’t move, same thing. Hmm. What’s the problem? “Oh, wait! Let me see if there’s another door around the corner of this wall. Ah, there is!” Oh, no. It’s locked, too. This is getting frustrating. “OK, I’ll go around to the next side of the building. Oh, there is a door on this side. Just one door, and not a very big one, but I’ll give it a try.”

It doesn’t open, but you hear some voices inside. So you say: “Hello! Anybody in there? Hey, I’m here for the banquet. Can you let me in?” “What’s your name?” You tell the guy inside your name. “Sorry! You’re not on the list. I can’t let you in.” “But, but, this is supposed to be the biggest event of the year! I really want to get in there.” “Sorry, you’re not on the list. I can’t let you in unless your name is on the list.” “Really?” “Really.” Disappointed and disheartened at not being able to get in, you trudge off with a profound sense of being left out. What a bummer!

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Published in: on August 20, 2016 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Fire, Distress, and Division: This Is the Gospel of the Lord?” (Luke 12:49-53)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 14, 2016

“Fire, Distress, and Division: This Is the Gospel of the Lord?” (Luke 12:49-53)

“‘I came to cast fire on the earth. How great is my distress! I have come to bring division on earth. From now on households will be divided.’ This is the Gospel of the Lord.” Huh? Am I missing something here? “Fire, Distress, and Division: This Is the Gospel of the Lord?” How is this “gospel”? How is this good news?

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Published in: on August 13, 2016 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Do Not Be Anxious: Faith Overcomes Fear” (Luke 12:22-34)

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 7, 2016

“Do Not Be Anxious: Faith Overcomes Fear” (Luke 12:22-34)

“Do not be anxious. Do not be worried. Fear not.” That’s what Jesus says to his disciples in our Gospel reading for today. He says we shouldn’t be so worried about our stuff, to not seek after more and more, like we’re obsessed about it. “Do not be anxious. Do not be worried. Fear not.” Well, OK, Jesus, I guess I’ll try. I’ll try not to be anxious. I’ll try not to be worried. I’ll try not to be afraid. And maybe I can do it. I mean, after all, I’ve got a nice place to live. I’ve got food in the fridge and the freezer and in the pantry. I’ve got clothes in the closet–well, actually, in two closets and in the dresser and some downstairs. I probably should go through those things one of these days. “Do not be anxious. Do not be worried. Fear not.” Yeah, I suppose I can manage that.

Well, we’ll see. But now suppose you didn’t have all those things we just mentioned. Suppose they all got taken away from you, just like that. Imagine you don’t have that nice place to live. You don’t have that food in the fridge–no, imagine you don’t even have a fridge or a freezer or a pantry. You don’t have clothes or a closet or any of your stuff anymore. They’re all gone. Just like that. Now how easy is it to not be anxious, to not be worried, to not be at least a little bit afraid?

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Published in: on August 7, 2016 at 12:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-26; Luke 12:13-21; Colossians 3:1-11)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 31, 2016

“Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-26; Luke 12:13-21; Colossians 3:1-11)

We all want to live the good life, don’t we? I mean, we want to have the best life now that we can have. Financial security, good health, no worries about our future, a nice place to live, happy family life, good friends and neighbors–who doesn’t want all that? Your best life now. Ah, wouldn’t that be sweet! A steak on the grill, a margarita in your hand, relaxing on the patio in the shade. Take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry!

And is there anything wrong with that? I mean, after all, our reading from Ecclesiastes today says as much, that this is about as good as it gets. The writer says: “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.” Well, there you have it: “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry,” in so many words.

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Published in: on July 30, 2016 at 10:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Raised, Rooted, and Walking” (Colossians 2:6-15)

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
July 24, 2016

“Raised, Rooted, and Walking” (Colossians 2:6-15)

“Raised, Rooted, and Walking”: This is the rhythm of the Christian life. “Raised, Rooted, and Walking”: This is God’s will for you, in your life. “Raised, Rooted, and Walking”: This is how Paul describes it in our Epistle lesson for today, from Colossians 2. Let’s take a look.

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Published in: on July 24, 2016 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Interdependence Day” (Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18)

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 3, 2016

“Interdependence Day” (Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18)

On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared their independence from Great Britain. Ironically, just a few days ago, with its Brexit vote, Britain declared its independence from the European Union. What goes around comes around, I guess. But the point is independence. We don’t like other people, or nations, telling us what to do. “You’re not the boss of me!” we think about others.

No, I’m not your boss. In fact, I’m your servant. And you know what? You’re called to be my servant, too. That’s how it works in the church. We are a community of servants, all called to serve and care for and love one another. We will see this in our text for today, the Epistle lesson from Galatians chapter 6. So instead of Independence Day, in the church God declares every day to be “Interdependence Day.”

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Published in: on July 2, 2016 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Following Jesus to the Cross” (Luke 9:51-62)

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
June 26, 2016

“Following Jesus to the Cross” (Luke 9:51-62)

Today Jesus says to us, “Follow me.” “Follow me,” he says. “Come, be my disciples.” “OK, we say. “Yes, Jesus I will follow you.” But do we know what we’re getting ourselves into? What all will following Jesus entail? Shouldn’t we know that before we answer too fast, “Yes, Lord”? Well, today we will hear what it will involve. For the truth of the matter is, we are “Following Jesus to the Cross.”

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Published in: on June 25, 2016 at 11:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Baptized Children of Our Heavenly Father” (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7)

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
June 19, 2016

“Baptized Children of Our Heavenly Father” (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7)

Today is Fathers’ Day, a day when we honor our fathers for the blessing that they are to us. And it is good and right that we do this. Now for many of us, our fathers are long gone. But that does not mean we don’t have a Father to honor today. In fact, I want to suggest to you that this is a great day to thank and praise our Father, that is, our heavenly Father. For you and I, we are “Baptized Children of Our Heavenly Father.”

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Published in: on June 19, 2016 at 4:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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“David’s Sin and David’s Son” (2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:10, 13-14)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 12, 2016

“David’s Sin and David’s Son” (2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:10, 13-14)

Sin has its consequences. But sin can be forgiven. That’s what we learn today in the story of “David’s Sin and David’s Son.”

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Published in: on June 12, 2016 at 3:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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