Preparation for What is Known

I just love it when biblical writers don’t use proper grammar! It gives me some hope that all of the written world is not perfect. Yet, this text this morning on the Second Sunday of Advent is not a narrative, it’s a proclamation. It’s a proclamation about not only Jesus, but the “one who is to come before him.” It is the preparation proclamation spoken about Jesus through the prophets. It’s a mix of prophetic words from both Isaiah and Micah.

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Preparing for the Unknown

I’m guessing that most of us in this congregation do not like to be awakened abruptly!  We want to ease in to the day, the morning with a gentle roll-over in bed, a cup of coffee, waking up with your children or animals, either choice, a nice easy move into the newness of the day. 

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Now, Listen to The King

Growing up in the Midwest I was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan! Listening and watching faithfully on WGN Channel 9 out of Chicago, the voice of Harry Carry echoed through my house most weekdays after school when the Cubs had an afternoon game, and I could watch it on our little 6 inch Black and White TV.  

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"Can I get a Witness?"

Geddes MacGregor in The Rhythm of God, tells of a priest who, when asked, ‘How many people were at the early celebration of the Eucharist last Wednesday morning?’ replied, ‘There were three old ladies, the janitor, several thousand archangels, a large number of seraphim, and several million of the triumphant saints of God.’   

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"When You Call The Question"

I love this text! To me, this is the text of all texts when it comes to Good News, when it comes to The Gospel. Why? Because it tells us exactly what we are supposed to do, to love! Oh, how easy is that?  

Here at the end of Matthew as Jesus begins his Holy Week in a rampant debate with the Sadduccees, lawyers, chief priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees and their disciples, Jesus is at the heart of his verbal confrontation.  Yet, out of these confrontations he becomes more clever and careful.  He is clever and careful in a way that sets the pattern for our instruction and the instruction of His disciples.  

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"What Exactly Belongs to the Emporer?"

We have been inundated over the past several months, and really over the past several years, about what does belong to “Caesar” or our government. We have trifled with the notions and bills that indicate to us that tax issues, cuts, reforms will make our life in “Caesar’s World” more complete. Give or take which week it is we are squandered about which move is right. We live in a perplexed “Caesar’s World.” 

I am using the term “Caesar’s World” in order to demonstrate the fact that we live in a land governed by rulers we elect and put into power. We live in a democracy; a government that functions on economic terms with a system of checks and balances.  We do not live under a dictator or a monarch, or any other type of government. But, there is a common theme between these styles and that is money! Whether it is taxes or a stipend, or allotment, money has much of the pull in determining what takes place. 

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Learning NOT to be #1

Nobody here has ever quarreled with someone, have you? Never spoken ill of anyone? Never thought ill or evil of any one? Never had an evil thought about an individual or a group? Then my work here today is done! You can exit the building! 

If this were only the case! I’d be unemployed, Jesus wouldn’t be necessary, and we could leave this place and let it grow up in weeds. 

However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “that is not the case,” at least in my life and I would venture to say, not in yours either. 

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“When Swimming Lessons Aren’t Enough” 

I was six years old, scarred to death as I entered the large glass doors of the downtown YMCA. The smell of heat, sweat, and the clammy feeling that seemed to engulf the walls, which of course were that sandy brown and green surgical tile! Even at age 6 I began to think, this must be like a prison. My mother, who in her 85 years of life, still hates water, led me by the hand down the hallway to the foggy glass doors, with the letters POOL in large capital letters blazoned one the glass. I did not know what was on the other side! 

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“Living Through The Pain” 

Have you ever been to a sporting event or game involving your favorite team and your favorite team is getting clobbered? Not a lot of fun, needless to say. 

But at most sporting events these days, there is a lot of action going on around the game and one of those events is the cheering squad, or what us “old timers” call ‘cheerleaders’. Now, I’m not making a specific reference to the cute girls or the muscular boys, rather the excitement that a great cheering squad can muster. Loud, rhythmic, and excited. They bring you to the next level of anticipation and excitement. A good squad will make YOU want to join them! Run down on the field and be a part of them, even if your team is losing! 

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“Love on So Many Levels” 

I have experienced so many levels of love in my life and over the past two and half years, I’m afraid to count the number of times. In less than seven days, I will be married to one of the most beautiful, kind-hearted, loving and gifted women I have ever known. For twenty-eight years, I was married to a woman I deeply loved! I have not one, but two congregations that I love with all of my heart, and I believe that love is mutual. 

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“The Truth Be Told” 

Just what happens when you lie? Usually if you are caught, there is punishment, embarrassment, fear, and often times, exile. We spend a great deal of time in our lives focused on the truth. We have heard countless times that “the truth shall set you free,” and in many cases, that is true. We live in a world where the truth is often called into question, “what is the truth?” “Is this real?” or is this “fake news?” We are constantly “on guard” for what is the truth. 

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Evidence to Believe

If some of you are like me, the little bit of TV I watch is mindless! As is probably 90% of TV anyway, with the exception of Duke basketball and Chicago Cubs baseball. I find myself an evening or two a week watching something that is mindless, adventurous, and that I know will either be solved, or will end, usually with the bad guy in custody. I, like many other Americans want predictability! We want the process which is completed by the shrewd pursuance of evidence. We (or at least I) get hooked on those shows. I think most of us possess a keen desire to follow the evidence until the mystery is solved. 

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Enter My King

The week begins! The week of “church!” The week we have been waiting for nigh on 40 days!! The week, which at the end, we can eat chocolate, drink Coke again, and resume our mottled and mangled life that we had before our Lenten journey.     

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Spirit, It Is!

Well, here we go again! One of those favorite texts we find in Paul’s writing. A text that we can read, assume, manipulate, and make it fit our life. Pretty cool thing to do with scripture, isn’t it? When we work hard to make the scripture meet our needs, our way of living, and the way we want to think. 

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The Light of Lent

Isn’t it a bit odd that we have a scripture smack dab in the middle of Lent, the season known for the darkness of our spiritual journey, that speaks about light? How odd is that? This would make a great Advent text, but how and why is it found in the middle of our Lenten journey? Let’s think about this for a moment. Paul was writing to a group of Christians who were “at best” struggling with what was going on in the Christian camp. They were in the midst of turmoil, attempting to decipher what was to be considered “correct worship and church work.” Pretty much sounds like today’s journey in our American Protestant network. We are all trying to figure out what should be done, how it should be done, and if it should be done. Times have not changed very much. 

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“Baby Food to a Five Course Meal” 

“We are what we eat!” How many times have we heard that cliche used in our lives? Whether it was a science teacher using it as a description to explain the role of the food chain in some boring scientific fashion, or whether it was our parents scolding us (in a kind sort of way) for what we were eating or about to eat; a Big Mac, a Snickers bar, or that half gallon of ice cream we would sneak after they went to bed, knowing good and well that our mother had just bought it that afternoon. Anyway, it was or “is” used to make a point that what we consume has a direct impact on who we are and what we become. 

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