Archive for the ‘Faith Resources’ Category

Jesus Ruined My Life

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Sermons, Uncategorized

Sermon preached on June 22, 2014 at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Devon, PA.

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Matthew 10:24-39
24A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
34Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
It seems to me that Jesus Probably didn’t do very well in his marketing classes in business school! His messaging is just all wrong. Take up the cross and follow me?!
He’s calling people to follow him, and he’s selling the idea by telling them that they will be met with opposition—even persecution. Apart from the people that can harm or kill them, Jesus even promises to mess up their family lives: Set sons against fathers, mothers against daughters, making enemies in your own home. How on earth did this movement ever get off the ground?
If Jesus was making his pitch today, I’m sure there would be a focus group telling him that he needs to concentrate more on attracting people and convincing them of the benefits they will reap. If he’s going to insist on using “take up the cross and follow me,” he might want to consider a more savvy approach:
Well, that seems a lot better than what we just read in the Gospel of Matthew? “Follow me and you’ll have a flatter stomach and sexier legs” sounds a lot more appealing than what Jesus is saying in Matthew chapter 10, which is essentially, “Hey: if people hate me, reject me, crucify mejust think what they’ll do to you!” This is one of those challenging messages we encounter in the Bible that makes it very clear, in no uncertain terms, That following Jesus can really mess us all of your plans. You can put all of your time, all of your energy, all of your money, all of your heart, soul, mind and strength into finding the life that you want—creating just the right situation for success and happiness—and then Jesus comes along and says “Those who find their life will lose it,and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” Following Jesus will really mess up your plans. Jesus might just ruin your life.
Last week I stopped at the Starbucks in the Gateway Shopping Center For some caffeine and to answer some emails. I was sitting in a chair and there were two women talking in the next section. The wall between us was like a chain link fence, so I could hear them (and, of course, I listened!). They were talking about a young man from their church Who had just graduated high school. When one of them asked what his plans were, his answer was about following Jesus and serving others, and not about what university and what major he would be pursuing. It sounded Jesus ruined his life. And apparently Jesus had no regard for how his parents felt about this, let alone the poor guidance counselor at his high school who has to worry about the stats for graduates going on to college!
The truth of the matter is that we all need to watch out, because Jesus didn’t just come to earth to find customers. Jesus didn’t come to find admirers or a fan club. I’d even say that Jesus didn’t come to find worshipers .Jesus came to find followers. Are we ready to follow Jesus, even if Jesus ruins our lives? Are we ready to be ruined by Jesus? A couple weekends ago, the members of our council here at St. Luke had a retreat together here at the church. (Let me say what a wonderful, talented, faithful council we are blessed with) Pastor Mary said something that Friday night that caught everyone’s attention. She was telling us how glad she was to be a part of St. Luke and then she said that in the time she has been here she has felt a constantly-growing sense that God is about to do something. Something absolutely amazing. I’ve been thinking about that, as has everyone who was there, and this morning I’m ready to say “Bring it on, God! Here we are!”
Jesus is calling us—each one of you by name—to come and follow, but it just might ruin your life! I’ve been trying to think lately about what exactly my job is here at St. Luke is. I can give you quite a list of everything it entails, but it occurred to me this week that, since Jesus ruined my life, the reason I’m here is to help Jesus ruin your life, too! Consider that your fair warning!
By this time next week, 21 of us will be headed to Appalachia And I can’t wait for Jesus to ruin their lives! I actually don’t have to worry, because some of them went last year, and Jesus ruined their lives so much that they’re going back again. They couldn’t find anything better to do with a week of their summer!
I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of us have already been ruined by Jesus. How many of you Sunday School teachers have been ruined by Jesus because you got face to face with a group of children and realized you could think of nothing better to do on a Sunday morning? How many of you can say, Jesus ruined my life because I went to Feast Incarnate to serve a meal to people with HIV/AIDS and now I can’t find anything better to do when those Tuesday meals roll around?
Jesus is all-out devoted to ruining your life. Maybe you’re not ready to have it all ruined in one fell swoop, but Jesus might want to ruin your week, or your afternoon, or ruin a moment. Jesus just might want you to lose your life in order to find it, because God’s new reality happens when people are ruined by Jesus. The world changes when people can think of nothing better to do.
Two weeks ago, some of us took a moment an wrote ONE Campaign letters asking our Senators to get a bill introduced to expand electricity to Africa. This past Thursday, the Energize Africa Act was introduced in committee! It’s a good thing you didn’t have something better to do that morning! That same morning, I met with Lutherans addressing poverty in Philadelphia. We were at Lutheran Settlement House and in the back of the room there was an order of food that was ready to be shared with a family that needed it. Right in the middle of that food I saw a bag of macaroni and cheese. A bag that looked immediately familiar. A bag that was measured, weighed, sealed, and packaged by a group of people who let Jesus ruin their afternoon in order to pack 20,000 meals. It’s agood thing they didn’t have something better to do! Week in and week out, every Sunday morning here at St. Luke somebody’s life is changed because another person gathered here takes a moment to say “hello” or “how was your week?”, or just sits next to them as they struggle or cry. All because somebody has nothing better to do than to be there.
The question is not if Jesus wants to ruin your life. The question is “how is Jesus ruining your life?” Maybe Jesus wants to ruin your week later this summer by having you come be a part of Vacation Bible School (unless you already have something better to do). Maybe Jesus wants to ruin you morning some day by having you visit or call someone who needs to hear from you. Maybe Jesus wants to ruin your drive home today By inviting you to think about or talk about the people who changed your life because, thankfully, they had nothing better to do.
Jesus is calling you, each one of you by name, to come and follow. If you can think of anything better to do—anythingby all means, do it! But if not, it must be time to realize That Jesus has ruined your life. AMEN.

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

John 1:1-18 – The Word Made Flesh

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION

How have you experienced “the word made flesh” in Jesus?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Luke 2:1-20 – The Birth of Christ

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION

Christ is with you.  How will you make this good news known? How will you ponder it in your heart?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O King of nations, come,
O Cornerstone that binds in one:
refresh the hearts that long for you;
restore the broken, make us new.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Luke 1:39-56 – The Magnificat

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
How will you participate in changing the world into the new reality Mary describes?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

 

O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer;
O Sun of justice, now draw near.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

Advent Week 4 Sunday – Mary

Posted: November 23, 2013 in Advent Devotions
Tags: ,

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Luke 1.26-80 – Mary

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
How is God moving your from “How can this be” toward “let it be with me according to your word”?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
 that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.