2018 09 23: David: Living with the Powerful Presence of God

Today, we get three pictures of David. First his crowning as king: David unites a collection of divided tribes under one kingdom. Second, David leads a procession to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, where it would reside until Jerusalem was destroyed and taken into exile centuries later. David reigns with the staggeringly powerful presence of God at the center of his kingdom. This will be our primary focus today.

But the third image we see in our Psalm, where we hear from David, fresh off his sin of adultery with Bathsheeba, and his murder of her husband Uriah. There we hear how God’s mercy and steadfast love are the foundation of David’s audacious boldness to seek God’s forgiveness and beg for God’s covenant faithfulness to remain with him even after such blatant and public failure.

2018 09 16: To Whom Do You Belong?

So let us sit with the Israelites, brothers and sisters as we are with them, and hear again the call that God speaks to each of our hearts, and not only to each of us as a person or an individual, but -- with more of that holy trembling -- speaks to us as a community, as a body made of many parts, as people who belong to and with one another, who are responsible for each other, who love one another not only with word but also action, and love not only one another or the people in the pews around us, but even our messy neighbors, and our annoying coworkers, and our exasperating in-laws, and our impossible exes.

2018 09 02: The Call of Abram

In the story of Abram and this covenant, we learn about the character of this God, and we see that he has decided the way to bring creation back from the brink, back from brokenness, is through love, and not just loving people in a sort of wordy, philosophical, or abstract way. God doesn’t just send a check to the homeless shelter or dispatch a stork from heaven, carrying a baby. In choosing a specific hopeless person, Abram, and pouring all that love and trust and hope into him, God shows his love is involved. His love is personal, and invasive, and persuasive, and overwhelming -- dare I say -- transforming.

2018 08 19: What're We So Afraid Of?

There’s nothing wrong with eating cookies, but consistently lying to yourself about why you’re eating cookies, or why you’re drinking wine, or why you’re snapping at your spouse, or why you’re bone-tired; there is something wrong with lying to yourself, with covering up the real wound in your life, with making things more complicated than they actually are.

2018 08 12: The Bread of Life

Today, we celebrate God’s gift of forgiveness and new life in the baptism of Thomas and Stephanie.  God promises in his Word to cleanse them from sin and lift them up to new life, eternal life, in Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord.  Of course, they have no idea that this is what God is doing!  Their parents, with their godparents and all of us in the church coming alongside, will promise to raise them up both with the bread that fills our bellies—with countless feedings, bottles, diapers, and all the rest—and also with the bread of life, that they may know one day the breadth and depth of God’s love for them, and God’s merciful forgiveness that’s there for them whenever they fall. 

2018 08 05: The God Made Known in Jesus Christ

We might try to quiet the roar of discomfort in our hearts with liquor or with food, we might try to save and keep hold of things to comfort us, we might retreat into ourselves -- leaving our communities and relationships with just a blank stare and no response. Even these things become false gods, just like more commonly preached-against evils like the love of money or an addiction to security and insulation from anyone different from you.

Here’s the thing about each of those, and any other thing that draws us from the love of God: false gods can only be used, they can never be enjoyed. They’re made to stuff down the real desires and loves of our lives, to silence the injustice and pain that resides in our broken hearts, false gods numb rather than heal. Only God, the God made known in Jesus Christ, is equipped to heal, to transform, to make new, to feed and nourish and quell thirst and bring new life.