Tag Archives: ascension

Memorial and Ascension

Biblical Text: 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-11
Full Sermon Draft

Memorial Day is always a tough one for the church. Everybody, including the preacher, wants to acknowledge the sacrifice of those slain in the nation’s wars. The problem with that is our memorials are not just about the individual, but they are judgements or statements about the cause. When the church simply baptizes the secular memorials, it does something that it doesn’t have the authority to do. What this sermon attempts to do is make a distinction between worldly glory and the glory of God. When we understand that distinction and their basis, we should be able to be in world, including giving proper recognition to patriots, but not be of the world, which would mean uncritically agreeing with a state’s declarations. Because there are times when the state’s demands are something the church cannot give. In those times we recognize we are Peter’s elect exiles, bearing the little while, for the exaltation to come.

The Powers That Be

Biblical Text of Sermon: Mark 1:21-28
Full Text of Sermon

So, if you are not from a pentecostal denomination, when was the last time you heard a sermon about powers and principalities or demonology? There is probably a good reason. Denominational pastors are by and large an educated lot (often over-educated) and talking about spiritual forces just seems “icky” and doing so feels like sacrificing any respectability. The educated world is thoroughly materialist in philosophy and to preach on the “powers” means a thorough-going super-naturalist stance depending solely upon revelation (unless the preacher has had a mystical experience and then its still revelation for the hearers and no longer biblical but personal). Add in the fact that popular understanding of the powers is summed up in Halloween and The Exorcist part 18, and you just kinda pick a different text. Or worse you preach on the exorcism text and explain it away through various “they just weren’t that bright” mechanisms.

But the gospel according to Mark just doesn’t allow that. If you are going to preach on Mark, you have to come to terms with the powers that be, because that is who Jesus is to Mark. Jesus is the one who breaks the backs of the powers. Jesus is the one sent to put away that greatest power – death.

And right there I think is the intersection with the modern world. Even though we are materialist in philosophy allowing smaller spiritual forces to hide, death doesn’t hide. We try to hide from him. We do our best to move him out of our sight. And the materialist will try even at funerals to say something like, “death is part of life”. But most people react in horror at that banality. We all have an intuitive reaction that this isn’t right, this isn’t how it was supposed to be. We have nothing to support that – other than revelation.

Jesus came with authority to break the back of the powers – including death. From the very start of his ministry Jesus commanded the spirits. His death and resurrection has disarmed them. In Christ as part of His body the church, we are already part of a resurrection body – something that even death has no power over.