Tag Archives: sermon

A wee little man

As a kid, I grew up singing the song “Zacchaeus” in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I taught the song to my children and to children through the years as a pastor. The song itself is not offensive in any way, and it tells the basic story of Zacchaeus up in tree wanting to see Jesus and Jesus inviting himself over to Zacchaeus house.

What the song doesn’t do, it share the layers up layers of meaning. Zacchaeus or Jesus might have been short, but Zacchaeus and his profession come with a great deal of baggage. It’s no wonder the people “grumble” when Jesus chooses to spend time with a rascal like Zacchaeus.

For my “out” Sunday (which is a previously recorded video statement for the television and online congregation) I actually got up in a sycamore tree. Now I don’t like heights, so this was something to behold!

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It got me thinking about being “treed” and how often  I tree others or am treed myself and need so much for God in Christ to get me out of the tree or the corner and open my heart and spirit. Worship on Sunday focused on that encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus and the transformation that occurred for Zacchaeus and is possible for me as well.

The full worship service is available through this link and the sermon begins around 42: 45.

 

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Lost and Found, Part II

This week’s parables come from Luke rather than Matthew. The fifteenth chapter is a trilogy of stories about “lost and found.” The refrain after each story is that “there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repent than those who need no repentance.” That is until the story that is usually none as the “prodigal son.”

In that story there is no refrain, it ends with a father pleading for his son to come and  join the party “because his brother was lost and is found.” This story is often difficult to accept by those who play by the rules, do what is right,, are dutiful and for lack of a better term, “good.” This story is hard for respectable people and for many church people.

One of the things that Amy-Jill Levine noted in her book Short Stories by Jesus, is that somehow the elder brother was lost too. This wasn’t news to me, but her point about how Jesus’ listeners would have been cheering for the younger and stunned by his behavior caught me by surprise. I spent some time in my sermon  noting how often the “younger” sons come up as heroes in the Hebrew scriptures.

What was more unsettling to me, was when I really delved into the fact that the older son/brother was absolutely ignored in the party planning. I read into the story for the first the hurt, bewilderment and pain the brother must have felt at being forgotten and ignored.

This story by Jesus could be preached and experienced on many levels. Having preached this sermon many times, my sermon from August 6, 2017 is just one small slice of the depth of this story. You can find the worship service from First United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kansas here.

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Third Sunday of Easter

I have told myself off and on that I would post every Monday on my blog. Over the years, it has been sporadic at best. When I began at First nine months ago, I thought, wow, I could just post the link to our worship service each week. I have done that once or twice!

So, today, I attempt again to post my worship video link on Monday. I love the season of Easter. Fifty days to celebrate and ponder that moment, that experience that event is so much fun. Yet, the truth is that mostly once that first Sunday is done, the baskets are put up, we gobble up too much chocolate and go back to the mundane. Or at least I tend to.

I got asked yesterday, “Why are there 50 days in Easter? It was brought up in our Sunday School class and everything else is 40: 40 days and nights in the ark, 40 years wandering in the wilderness, 40 days of Jesus’ temptation, 40 days of Lent.” I said, “Well, it’s actually 40 plus 10. Forty days from the first Easter morning that Jesus walked and talked and shared with his disciples. On the 40th day he ascended into heaven and then there were 10 days that the disciples waited until the day of Pentecost.” Those who know me, know I love this stuff! There are reasons behind the traditions of the church that get lost in the need to have something new and interesting. The traditions of the church were used as teaching tools for the faith, ways in which each person could learn and deepen and grow.

I like to say, “isn’t it interested that we go all in for the forty days of Lent, but after one day of Easter, we are over it.” Perhaps, it is that our world is far more like Good Friday than Easter. That being said, I do, enjoy the celebration of Easter. This year I am doing a sermon series on “Life Lessons From the Games we Play.” Yesterday’s game was Apples to Apples, which my family loves! I didn’t say it well yesterday (in the preaching moment, sometimes things get dropped!), but what I wanted to really point out is, if the green card in the game said “believer” what red cards would be played? Would they include everyone? Women, Men, Old, Young, Straight, Gay, black, white? I continue to pray our community of faith would include all!

Here’s the link to the worship service yesterday:  Life Lessons: If this, then that

 

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