Posts Tagged ‘La La Land’

Sermon 03-05-17: “Will Jesus Say That He Knows Us?”

March 7, 2017

This sermon is about the series of warnings with which Jesus concludes his Sermon on the Mount. I pay particular attention to his frightening words in verses 21-23: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” 

What will our Lord say to us on Judgment Day? How can we know that we’ve entered the narrow gate, or walk on the narrow road, or bear good fruit, or build our house on the solid foundation? Can we be assured of salvation? How?

Sermon Text: Matthew 7:13-29

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

Friends, it is my sad duty to report to you that, as of last month, the thimble is no more. The thimble… I’m referring to that classic game piece, or token, in the board game Monopoly. Parker Brothers has “retired” the thimble in response to a recent online poll. They asked the public to vote on which piece to get rid of, and apparently the poor thimble was the latest victim of modernization. Parker Brothers explained that while a thimble was a part of everyday life when the game was introduced back during the Depression, it’s no longer “relevant”—and that they’re going to replace it with something more relevant, like a cell phone.

The thimble will be no more in new versions of Monopoly.

Did you know that the iron and the horse-and-rider have already been replaced? Unbelievable! When I was a kid, the horse and rider was my favorite!

Well… I suspect that if, heaven forbid, we submitted all the sayings of Jesus to a popular vote, and excised from our Bibles the least popular sayings of Jesus, many of the the words from today’s scripture would surely be voted out. Last week, when I was on vacation, I let my friend Sonny preach on some of the most popular words. But I’m stuck with the least popular. I’m guessing that many people in our culture would say that Jesus’ strong words about judgment and hell, about the exclusivity of the way of Christ, and about how difficult it is to be saved, are no longer “relevant.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ash Wednesday 2017: “The Reason for Lent”

March 2, 2017
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Jordan Horowitz handing over his trophy.

The following manuscript is adapted from last night’s Ash Wednesday sermon. For the complete sermon, listen to the audio file below.

Even if you didn’t watch the Academy Awards, you likely heard about the terrible mix-up that occurred last Sunday night when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty—otherwise known as “Bonnie and Clyde”—announced the year’s Best Picture Oscar. They announced the wrong movie: They said that La La Land won best picture, when in reality the movie Moonlight won the award.

Whoops! The producers of La La Land were nearly finished with their acceptance speeches before they found out what happened. My son Townshend was watching the show with me, and he said, “You know who the happiest man in America is right now? Steve Harvey!” And I’m sure he was right. In 2015, Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe Pageant, but the Academy Awards are a much bigger deal than Miss Universe.

But… It was almost worth the mix-up in order to see how at least one of the producers of La La Land responded. And for that reason, Jordan Horowitz is a hero to me. Shortly after giving his acceptance speech—while he was holding the Oscar in his hand—he went to the microphone and said, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture. This is not a joke.” And then, as the producers of Moonlight were taking the stage, he said, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.” And he handed over his trophy. And to his great credit, he didn’t even seem disappointed. He seemed perfectly O.K. with it.

And I thought, “This is a fitting symbol for this season of Lent, which begins today.” Lent is about learning to give trophies that don’t belong to us to their rightful owner. Lent is about learning to step away from the spotlight that’s shining on us so that it can shine on the One who deserves the spotlight. Lent is about learning to be O.K. with the idea that we’re not entitled to a single iota of glory for ourselves; rather, the glory belongs entirely to God alone.

Lent is about learning to say with John the Baptist, “[Christ] must become greater; I must become less.” Read the rest of this entry »