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Showing posts from May, 2012

Life Breathed into Dry Bones

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The text for this Day of Pentecost is our Old Testament lesson, Ezekiel 37:1-14, which has already been read.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It sounds almost like a scene out of one of my favorite movies, The Sixth Sense.  The young man talks to his counselor, a ghost.
“I see dead people.”
“In your dreams?”
“No.”
“While you’re awake.”
“Yes.”
“Dead people like, in graves?  In coffins?
“No, they’re in a valley, a valley of bones.  Dry bones.  Long dead and completely lifeless bones.”
But this is not a Hollywood movie; it is a biblical account.  The young man who sees dead people is the thirty-year-old prophet, Elijah.  And the Counselor with whom he speaks is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Lord, who has brought Elijah to this valley.  And the “dead people,” “the dry bones,” that Elijah sees are the Israelite refugees returning from Babylonian exile. 
As Elijah writes this, Israel is, for all intents and purposes, dead and gone.  The te…

In the Word and In the World: Jesus Prays for His Church

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The text for today is John 17:11-19, which has already been read.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
What has kept the Church going for the last two thousand years?How do you explain it?The Church has survived persecution, false teaching, and gross mismanagement.It has survived dictatorships, demagogues, and democracies.It has survived popes and councils, voters’ assemblies and synodical conventions, and the meetings that go on after the meetings.Any human organization that operated this way would have long since disappeared, but the Church goes on.
What is the key to the Church’s survival?How could a ragtag band of 120 Jewish followers grow into a Church that quite literally embraces the world across all national and ethnic boundaries?How could a Church whose first recorded official act is to cast lots to see who would succeed a traitor become, in a matter of thirty years or so, a movement that embraced the entire Roman world and dot…

How to Overcome the World: A Sermon for Christians Only

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The text for this morning is our Epistle, 1 John 5:1-8, which has already been read.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This sermon is only for Christians, those who have been born of God and are His children.I know, that sounds harsh, so exclusive in our inclusive age; but it follows the text.St. John makes it especially clear that he is addressing Christians in the verses following: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).And the fact is the actions for which St. John calls can only be done by Christians.They are a fruit of faith, not a catalyst for God’s favor.They can only be motivated by the Gospel not spurred by the commands of the Law.We’ll look at that more in depth in a moment, but first permit me a brief illustration.
This week, in his blog, Pastor Matt Richard, brought to my attention a comedy sketch that featured Bob Newhart as a…

Unless Someone (The Holy Spirit) Guides Me

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The text for this morning is our First Lesson, Acts 8:26-40, which has already been read. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was a big moment, the biggest day of his life, and a defining moment of the young Christian Church, when this Ethiopian eunuch is baptized.In modern terms it might be considered a victory for ethnic diversity and multiculturalism.Certainly in its own day it demanded a significant shift in thinking, a realization that God chooses men and women for Himself from every nation, tribe, and people.But for this man it was the difference between hell and eternal life. That’s good news.But Baptism happens so often that it’s easy to take for granted just what a miracle it really is.So let’s take some time to consider the whole process, to think about everything that had to happen in order for this man’s Baptism to occur in this place at this time.To do so, we need to back up a bit. It started with a charge of prejudice, …