Showing posts from September, 2014

Phil 2- humility and divinity

Read the passage here Phil 2:1-13 Hear the sermon here
It’s amazing to see the power of celebrity on some people. I remember seeing old news footage of the Beatles and watching girls in the crowd go absolutely bananas. They are screaming and fainting and jumping up and down. It looks like they are on the verge of a riot. To them the Beatles were larger than life. The power some rock stars and movie stars have over people is amazing. We see them on TV, in movies or hear them on the radio. We see them in magazines as we buy our groceries and it is as if they are from another world. They are beautiful and rich and talented. We see the royal family in palaces, and they almost don’t seem human. They can seem more than human to us mere mortals. In the ancient would it was like this too. A great military leader like Alexander the Great (who conquered most of what he knew as “the world”) or the Roman Emperor Augustus (who ended a major civil war) was considered divine. (See NT Wright's comme…

Has God mistreated you? Matt 20

Matthew 20:1-16
Hear the sermon here
A common phrase used in advertising is, ”you deserve it”. I’ve seen it in car commercials- “you deserve a car this good”. I’ve seen it in bank ads, fast food ads, and beer ads. This phrase is everywhere. Why? Because it works on us. There is a part of us that feels entitled. Part of us is always feeling like things just aren’t fair and we deserve something more than we are getting at the moment. We have become hyper-sensitized to fairness. So we look at those who have more and we start to think we deserve what they have too. Be begin feeling entitled. This way of thinking can sometimes creep into the church too. We can start to feel like we have been mistreated by God. We can think about how much money we have given to the church, or how much time we have given volunteering at the church, and then we reach some difficult patch in our life and we get upset at God as if God owes us something better for the way we have supported the church. Or we get up…

Is there a limit to forgiveness? Matt 18

Matt 18:21-35 Hear the sermon here
Both last week’s gospel reading and this week’s gospel reading have to do with us getting along as the church. Jesus assumes that this will be an issue. I take a certain amount of comfort in that because it can be disheartening to witness Christians not getting along because the church is supposed to be such a beacon of light and hope for the world. If we can’t even get along then what business do we have attempting to be a beacon? If our light isn’t bright, we aren’t much good as a lighthouse. But, it is reassuring to see that Jesus assumed that we will have problems amongst us in the church. We will sin. We will hurt each other. It will happen. This is not news to Jesus. When Jesus taught his followers to pray he said “forgive us our sins”, so he assumed that we would sin on a regular basis even as we were attempting to follow him. It is a sad reality, but it is also comforting that he knows and wants to give us guidance when we sin against each othe…

Jesus' advice on dealing with conflict- Matt 18

Matthew 18
We sometimes have the impression that if the church was what it was supposed to be then there should be no conflict in it. Jesus speaks about his followers as salt, which preserves and brings out flavor. Jesus speaks about his followers as light that shines into a dark world. His followers are the ones who put Jesus’ profound teachings on love into practice. And if not us, then who? We are to be a people shaped by God’s love.  This means that, as Christians, we are God’s missionaries in this world. As Abraham’s spiritual ancestors we are to carry the blessing of God into the world as inheritors of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis that his ancestors would bless all the families of the earth. So we might assume that the church would be a kind of utopia where everyone always gets along and a smile is always on every face. …Sometimes it can be that way. Sometimes everything seems to go well, but it often doesn’t last very long. We often see drama and conflict among members of…