Archive for December, 2021

Sermon 12-19-2021: “For He Who Is Mighty Has Done Great Things for Me”

December 22, 2021

Scripture: Luke 1:35-56

Many years ago, I was talking to a woman who had been visiting the church I pastored at the time. She really, really liked our church, and wanted to join it… Except…

As a lifelong Roman Catholic, she asked, “Why don’t y’all love Mary more?”

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Sermon 12-12-2021: “Your Prayer Has Been Heard”

December 16, 2021

Scripture: Luke 1: 5-25

I’m always intrigued by the way angels are depicted in Hollywood. Think, for example, of Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life. Think of Michael Landon in Highway to Heaven. Think of Roma Downey and Della Reese from Touched by an Angel. All these depictions of angels have one thing in common: the angels are completely nice, friendly… non-threatening. They would never do anything for which they would need to say, “Fear not”—because no one who encountered them would ever be afraid of them!

Needless to say, Gabriel, the angel who shows up to talk to Zechariah in the sanctuary of the Temple—he’s not a Michael Landon/Roma Downey kind of angel. He’s a “fear not” kind of angel! 

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Sermon 12-05-2021: “The Gospel According to John the Baptist”

December 15, 2021

Scripture: Luke 3:1-18

Be honest: As you look forward to celebrating Christmas in a few weeks with family or extended family or friends, is there anyone that you really don’t want to see… or someone that you’re not looking forward to seeing… or someone that you’re dreading spending time with or having to make small talk with? You know… like the cousin whose table manners are only slightly more polite than Ralphie’s little brother in the movie A Christmas Story… like that uncle who insists on volunteering his opinion about your favorite politician at the dinner table… like the in-law who passive-aggressively criticizes your cooking, or child-rearing, or homemaking skills…?

But you know what I mean… right? There’s often someone that we wish would just stay away from our Christmas celebration!

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Sermon 11-28-2021: “Your Redemption is Drawing Near”

December 15, 2021

Scripture: Luke 21:25-36

Welcome to the first Sunday of Advent. The ancient church decreed at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 that the first Sunday of Advent would always be the Sunday following Black Friday… Just kidding. But this Sunday does follow Black Friday, of course… So I have an unenviable task in front of me: While the rest of our culture rushes headlong into the monthlong Christmas shopping season, people 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 celebrating the coming of God’s Son into the world at Christmas… But we’re not there yet!” 

To make my task even more challenging, traditionally, on this First Sunday of Advent, we don’t even get to look at Elizabeth and Zechariah, much less Mary and Joseph, or the Wise Men, or King Herod, or the shepherds abiding in the field, or Simeon and Anna—those people are coming, of course. But on this first Sunday of Advent, preachers like me prepare you for celebrating the first coming of Christ by focusing on the Second Coming.

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Sermon 11-21-21: “Your Faith Has Made You Well”

December 2, 2021

Scripture: Mark 10:46-52

Like some of you, I’m a longtime fan of actor and comedian Bill Murray. I was a young child when he was on Saturday Night Live back in the ’70s. And Saturday Night Live, of course,was way too grown-up for me at the time—plus my bedtime was long before the show started. But that did not stop me from trying to watch it whenever I could—I would sometimes sneak out of my bedroom and tiptoe down the hall, and secretly watch it from the hallway, if my older sister or babysitter was watching it in the den when my parents were out. So I have fond memories of Bill Murray from way back then.

But I’ve actually grown to love him more in recent years—now that he’s older, funnier, and more… eccentric?

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