Archive for December, 2020

Sermon 12-20-2020: “Mary, Most Likely to Succeed”

December 21, 2020

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

In last night’s SEC Championship game, Florida was down by six with seconds remaining on the clock. On this last possession, they had one goal: to advance the ball to midfield—so that Kyle Trask, Florida’s quarterback, could then heave the ball as far as he could throw it toward the end zone. If he were able to do that, many Florida receivers and many Alabama defenders would be gathered at or near the goal line. Florida’s receivers would try to catch the ball, score a touchdown and extra point, and win 53-52; Alabama’s defenders, meanwhile, would simply try to bat the ball down and hold on for a victory.

Florida wasn’t able to run that play, of course. Because time ran out before they reached midfield.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 12-13-2020: “You Can Be a Star”

December 17, 2020

Scripture: John 1:6-8; 19-29

December 21 is the longest night of the year—the winter solstice. And this year, it’s also the night of an astronomical event that hasn’t happened in 800 years. Astronomers tell us that for the first time since the year 1226, we will be able to see with the naked eye an alignment of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky—such that these two planets will almost appear as one bright, shining star. This is such and unusual and interesting event that astronomers call this conjunction of planets the “Star of Bethlehem”—and many Christians have even speculated that God might have used this very event over 2,000 years ago to inspire the magi, or Wise Men, to travel the 700 miles or so from modern-day Baghdad to Jerusalem, looking for the Messiah.

Whether God used this natural event, or whether he used some supernatural event, the result is the same: Remember, these magi were literally world’s foremost experts in astronomy. So God spoke to them in a “language they could understand”—the language of astronomy. And what God told them through these stars is, “Go to Israel and worship the newborn king of the Jews.”

It was very gracious of God to do this! It’s unlikely that anything else would have gotten their attention! But as a result, these magi were saved—and if we are in Christ, just think… we will even have an opportunity to meet them some day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 12-06-2020: “More than ‘Muddling Through'”

December 11, 2020

Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11

I love Christmas music. I’m one of those weird people who begins playing Christmas music around November 1. Like many of you, one of my favorite Christmas songs is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”… except… I hate that line, “Someday soon we all will be together/ If the Fates allow.” The Fates? Those are three goddesses in Greco-Roman mythology! Anyway, I’m relieved to know that that wasn’t what the songwriter, Hugh Martin, originally wrote. See, Martin was a Christian. And he originally wrote “if the Lord allows.” But the producers of the Judy Garland movie, Meet Me in St. Louis—where the song originated—didn’t want it to be too religious—heaven forbid!—so they made him change that line.

Anyway, turns out that wasn’t the only lyrical change that has happened to the song. Do you know what the very next line is? “Someday soon, we all will be together/ If the Fates allow/ Hang a shining star upon the highest bough”? We know it like the back of our hand, don’t we? Except that’s wrong!Go back and watch the movie Meet Me in St. Louis: Judy Garland sings, “Someday soon, we all will be together/ If the Fates allow/ Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.” 

We’ll have to muddle through somehow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 11-29-2020: “How to Stay Awake”

December 11, 2020

Scripture: Mark 13:24-37

Welcome to the first Sunday of Advent. While the rest of our culture rushes headlong into the monthlong Christmas shopping season, preachers like me are supposed to say, “Hold on! Not so fast! It’s not Christmas yet! It’s Advent… it’s a season of preparation for Christmas.” And traditionally, on this First Sunday of Advent, we preachers prepare you for celebrating the first coming of Christ by focusing on the Second Coming.

So… While I’m not oblivious to the fact that our culture has already started the Christmas season, I’m hoping that preaching these traditional Advent texts will help us celebrate Christmas more joyously when the time comes!

Read the rest of this entry »