Biblical Texts:Mark 1:8-15, Gen 22:1-18, James 1:12-18
Full Drafft of Sermon
The first Sunday in Lent. All the texts are about testing or temptation. And If you are listening it is hard to read the testing of Abraham and then read James right after it. There would seem to be a contradiction, and its about something as important as the nature of God. Does God test/tempt? James says don’t say that God does. Abraham is told by God to take Isaac. Jesus is thrown into the desert by the Spirit. Luther, he of calling James an epistle of straw, sides with James in the Catechism. “God tempts no one.”
I think that is something that gets held in tension. Its something we probably don’t see clearly right now. And the overwhelming feeling felt in the texts and often in out lives is of being alone or being abandoned. We might have to live in the tension in the difference between the words testing and temptation, or that awful dodge God allows but doesn’t cause, but the feeling of being alone can be resolved. God has been abundant in his mercy so that you are never alone. The specifics on that are in the sermon…
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It is probably unseemly for a minister to express too much pride, but this sermon works. The core meaning of the text is who is this Jesus – he is God’s son, he is the new Israel. The question is what does that mean for us? We could imagine a world where God would send his son on a victory tour of sorts. Ha, Ha – losers, you are all going to hell. Bet that is not the identity of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. The Jesus we know is the new Israel. He fulfills, his is faithful, he is obedient where we were not. He comes meek, and humble and putting his power aside. As the new Israel, he starts the new people of God. He makes us into God’s children. As we struggle in this world, we should be formed by that simple recognition, we are the children of God through Jesus Christ. All the devil is trying to get you to do is forget your identity. But nothing in all creation (and that slanderer is part of creation) nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.
March 8, 2011 – Circuit Meeting
This is the sermon delivered at the pastor’s meeting. If you heard the transfiguration sermon below, it is similar, but modified in a couple of ways for the audience. 1. I brought in the text for this coming Sunday hopefully to give the pastors a step or a bridge on this week’s meditation. (They really fit together, but that was something that got cut on transfiguration day as too confusing. The pastor’s have the advantage of holding both in their heads.) 2. The application is mostly reworked. Where the congregation sermon focused on individuals being open to the transfiguring grace of God, to the pastors the charge was both personal and as shepherds of congregations. 3. The personal story was ditched in favor of a tie into a presentation title given by the District President.
In one way, audience matters a lot. In another, the gospel is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. The best parts of these sermons probably could have been boiled down to a couple of paragraphs. But I like hearing my voice. Just kidding, a little. What I do think is that this sermon given to the pastors is probably a better fit of message and audience. I was probably thinking a little too much about this one when I was composing Sunday’s.
…That lostness in our culture. The fragmentation and the pain caused by it. The anxiousness and distrust and conflict. Understandable – we’ve misplaced God’s story.
But today, and this season of Lent, are your chance to reclaim it. Find who you are in God’s story. You are a chosen person. You have been called out of the darkness and into the light…