The text focuses on two things, first the reiteration and extension of the covenant promise to Abraham and not explicitly through Sarah, and second circumcision as the mark of the old covenant. That first point focus is about the sovereignty of the God. The Kingdom of God comes how and when it wills. That second point invites the comparison of the old covenant and the new. What are the signs that the Kingdom has come to us? Namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Along the way we talk about ways we try to hurry the kingdom and where our hope comes from.
The testing of Abraham is one of those texts that honestly a 21st century American preacher doesn’t feel qualified to preach. But there is so much in it that is for our good. The types of Christ are clear, but what I wanted to concentrate on in this sermon were two things: the trial or test and offering up a trial to God or drawing near to Him. The trial doesn’t tell God anything about us that he didn’t know. The trial tells us what God already knows about us. And it gives us the chance to draw near to God. This sermon, through Abraham’s experience, attempts to understand what that mean and how we can be prepared for the day of trial.
Ash Wednesday is typically about repentance. Now there are a bunch of ways that our need for repentance can manifest. This is a sermon about what that feeling of weariness that I think we are all feeling it telling us.
The fancy word is typeology or archetype. The meaning is a person or character or action that is a distilled example of human experience. What makes the scriptures so powerful, at least if you catch the vision of them, is that the experience of Israel with GOD is the distilled archetype. The New Testament is THE specific example. The life of Christ is the fulfillment of all the archetypes, because in this one life we have God meeting one in on Christ. And seeing as our lives are conformed to his, they are going to rhyme with Israel’s experience. This sermon first looks at a couple of the rhymes of Elijah and Elisha in broad strokes. Then it looks at the specific call of our text and how our lives might rhyme with “the chariots and horsemen of Israel” and asks if we want them to.
Winning solves a lot of problems; losing brings on a lot of questions. And man was Israel on a losing streak. The good news is that each question drew Israel back towards God, to knowing the God who had entered into covenant with them more fully. This sermon examines a couple of those questions, Isaiah’s answers to them, and how they apply to us.
The text is Moses’ promise of “a prophet like me”. Prophet is one of those words that feels slightly archaic, but it just isn’t. It is used all the time. What this sermon does is hopefully three things:
Define what a prophet is
Understand what “a prophet like me” means, how that is different from many standard uses, and how Jesus is the only one who really qualifies
And finally equip everyone how to not get suckered by people claiming Moses like prophetic authority.
The Jonah story is so much more than just a fish tale. It is a tale of repentance. It is a tale of what moves God. It is a tale of prophets going the wrong way while everyone around them goes the right way. It is a tale about learning to desire grace. It is a tale of seeing the signs and applying them to ourselves. It is about walking in joy even if the way is strange and hard. In short it is a tale of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. This sermon attempts to bring that stuff into the foreground, and put the whale in background.
I’m sorry for our technical difficulties for any who attempted to stream the service. After checking things out I don’t think it was on this end. Changing nothing, it all worked about 2 PM. I usually don’t post funeral services because they feel like a close private thing, which the internet is not. But, due to the troubles earlier, I’ve edited and put together the lessons and sermon from Gene’s service.
Sometimes you feel like you live in a time of Eli. Just to be clear what that means is old, blind, uncaring, casually cruel, dismissive of almost everything as beyond your ability to do anything or even care. Like Ezekiel staring a valley of dry bones – Can these bones live? And it seems pie in the sky to say yes.
Yet this is how God works. He works by death and resurrection. And the form or the means of God’s work is His word. Just when we might think “the lamp of God” has gone out, it hasn’t, and it calls out “Samuel, Samuel”. And if comes and stands in our presence and speaks to us anew.
The renewal of the Christian life always starts with “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.” That is what this sermon ponders.
This sermon is a bit more philosophical that I typically get. It is also leaning of a work of systematic or dogmatic theology I’ve been reading by the Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson. Classic theology is build around what in Latin are loci. In English it is much less impressive, merely subjects of focus. And the classic first loci is God.
There is a blatant problem with that. Absent revelation we can know nothing about God. Most everybody would disagree with that. That is the inspiration for every rational and forced mystic quest for God. It is the thinking behind “seeking”. And all those quests seem to have the same goal, to get under or behind or beneath our existence to the eternal timeless reality. But the God of revelation is not timeless; He is the creator of time.
This sermon invites us not to be driven by fear into seeking some unchanging reality, but to hear Jesus is risen as the invitation to a way through time, through God’s good creation from alpha to omega.