Sermon: Holy Saturday

A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” “I’m the new associate at your local church,” the pastor replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the pastor shut the door. Continue reading “Sermon: Holy Saturday”

Sermon: Good Friday

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A man dreamed of walking through a vast desolate area. In the distant, near the horizon, he saw a cross and immediately altered his course to go see this site. The closer he got, the more detail came into focus and soon he realized that Christ was on the Cross. He knew that these horrible events had happened two millennia before, but the closer he came the more he understood that it was also happening today. A line from the poem, The Dream of the Rude, came to mind:

I saw the God of hosts stretched grimly out.
Darkness covered the ruler’s corpse with clouds,
His shining beauty; shadows passed across,
Black in the darkness. All creation wept,
Bewailed the king’s death; Christ was on the cross. Continue reading “Sermon: Good Friday”

Sermon: Wednesday in Holy Week

Image: https://500px.com/photo/174948193/silhouette-by-jan-bambach

As a kid growing up I was a Boy Scout. I don’t think I ever progressed much further than Second Class, but I really wasn’t in it to progress through the ranks. I was in for getting to do all the fun stuff: camping, canoeing down the rivers, jamborees, etc.

I recall one time we went somewhere – I think it was in Arkansas – where we had the opportunity to go on a guided spelunking trek through one of the caves. The guide was very much a comedian and clearly enjoyed his job. At one point he told us as we entered one of the larger caverns, not much bigger than this room, that if you placed your ear to the rock and listened closely you would hear music. Of course we all got quiet, placed our ears to the rock, and listened intently. After a minute with none of us hearing anything, he said, “Really? It’s called ‘hard rock’”. About half way through it came time to turn off all the lights so that we could experience absolute darkness. The darkness was perfect. Continue reading “Sermon: Wednesday in Holy Week”

Palm Sunday RCL A – “The Crowd”

For three years Jesus ministered on earth. Scripture occasionally tells us that He went off by himself to pray, but for the most part, from the very beginning of his public ministry, there was always the crowd.

There was the crowd at his baptism in the river Jordan, at the wedding in Cana, and at the Sermon on the Mount. The crowd was constantly pushing in. At one point the disciples almost seem amused at the crowd. You’ll recall the woman who had the flow of blood for twelve years. She touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and he says, “Who touched Me?” Peter responds, ”Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”

At another point the disciples rebuke the crowd for pressing in upon Jesus and bringing their children for a blessing. It is here that we receive that beautiful saying of Jesus, “Let the little children come unto me and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Continue reading “Palm Sunday RCL A – “The Crowd””

Sermon: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

John the Baptist does not mince words. Unlike the Apostle Paul, who can sometimes be more than a bit confusing, John says it plain: You brood of vipers. Bear fruit worthy of repentance or burn in the unquenchable fire. We need the Apostle Paul and those like him. We need them to assist us in developing our understanding of God, but we also need those like John who are not afraid to come along and simply smack us on the back of the head when we need it.

We’ve studied the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer several times and I think we have all discovered that he is more of a Paul than a John the Baptist, but there is most certainly a bit of John within him, and it is perhaps nowhere more evident than when he writes of “cheap grace.” This concept of cheap grace is perhaps also one of the topics he is most known for. Continue reading “Sermon: Dietrich Bonhoeffer”

Sermon: John Keble

The Church is like a family and we all have a sense how things operate and our rolls. When something outside of the church family enters in or if something within the church family changes and introduces discord, then like our families at home, the church will work to restore balance and a sense of harmony. Over time, if that balance is not restored, if those negative catalyst continue to impact the church, then you will see a falling apart, because at that stage, the disquiet at church is also affecting person’s personal life; and so, in order to restore the balance in their own life, they will cut out the area causing the disquiet. However, the disquiet is not always bad, because it can bring needed change. And, as I’m certain you are aware, this swing in the balance of the church has occurred almost continuously since its beginning. During the 17th century, within the Church of England, we saw a rather dramatic swing take place with the rise of a more radical protestantism and latitudinarianism. Continue reading “Sermon: John Keble”

Sermon: Lent 4 RCL A – “Mark”

Clotile would haul Boudreaux to church every Sunday morning and make him sit on the front row with her, because, as she liked to remind him on a regular basis, “It was probably as close to Jesus and heaven as he was ever going to get.”

Well one Sunday, as the preacher of the First Atchafalaya Church of the Redeemer was getting his second wind about 30 minutes into the sermon, wouldn’t you know it, but Satan appeared. Seeing who it was, the preacher, Clotile, and all the parishioners were crawling out windows and trampling one another in a frantic effort to get out of there. All except Boudreaux who just sat there calmly staring up at the Devil with a very disinterested look on his face. Continue reading “Sermon: Lent 4 RCL A – “Mark””

Sermon: Joseph

In our study of the Gospels there are always certain characters, outside of Jesus, that grab our attention. There is of course Jesus’ mother, Mary, the disciples, John the Baptist, and even some of the antagonist – Pilate, Herod, the religious leaders. But is seems to me there is always one that fades into the background – Joseph, Jesus’ earthly “step-father.” Perhaps that is where he prefers to be, in the background, but as the head of the Holy Family, he should be looked to as one of the primary figures in the life of our Savior.

What do we know about him?  He was a carpenter, which was honest work and a good trade. He was older than Mary and likely very respected in the community. I don’t think he was wealthy, but given his work he was likely comfortable. It would seem that his life was probably rather uncomplicated, right up until the time that he discovers Mary is pregnant. Because they were not yet married, everyone – including Joseph – assumed that Mary had committed adultery; therefore, Joseph could have accused her and she would have been stoned to death, but instead he decides he will quietly walk away. Yet, the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” So instead of walking away, Joseph did as the angel had instructed him. Continue reading “Sermon: Joseph”

Sermon: Lent 3 RCL A – “The Blessed Virgin Mary”

When he was about thirty, Napoleon Bonaparte became a part of the First Consul of the French government. Five years later, he became the Emperor, crowned by Pope Pius VII at the cathedral in Notre Dame. It was about this same time when the Napoleonic Wars began to rage across Europe and would not end for over a decade. It is estimated that up to 6.5 million people died as a result of those wars.

Throughout these wars, various coalitions would form in an attempt to resist the French invaders, but it was not until the seventh coalition that they were successful in defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Continue reading “Sermon: Lent 3 RCL A – “The Blessed Virgin Mary””