Sermons on “1 John”

If We Confess

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

Being a Christian is a strange thing. No I mean it, I’m not joking; being a Christian is a strange thing.

Take today’s topic as part of our sermon series on the elements of worship; confession and forgiveness. On Sunday mornings, right at the beginning of the worship service, the whole gathered community stands up and with one collective voice, basically says that we are not in control of our own lives, that there is something wrong with us.

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Perfect Love

One of the cardinal rules of sermon writing is to never start by saying how hard the sermon was to write. In fact, one of my seminary professors explicitly cautioned against this, saying, “Drawing attention to your effort preparing the sermon will create too much interest in whether or not it was worth your time or theirs.”[1] And still, I confess to you my difficulty in deciding how to talk with you today.

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The Jesus Test, Part 2

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? If you don’t, I encourage you to find one. A favorite Bible verse is something you can return to time and time again, regardless of the circumstances. It’s something that you have memorized that you can recite when you’re happy and grateful, when you’re sad and anxious, or when you’re struggling and lost. It is a verse that you can share with someone in the elevator when they ask you about what you believe. It is a piece of scripture that summarizes for you what your faith is about, and what your relationship with God truly means.

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The Jesus Test

Let’s take a quick survey. Consider the events of the past several weeks. Murder and terror in Iraq and Syria at the hands of terrorist groups. The spread of Ebola throughout West Africa and the threat of infection in our own country. Ongoing military campaigns in Gaza and Syria. Escalating tensions between Russia and the Ukraine. The tragic and terrible death of Officer Scott Patrick. Violence, aggression, and rioting following the death of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri. And these are only the events on my heart and mind that I can list right now. So think about the news that you’ve been getting lately, on the nightly news, on the front page of the paper, in your twitter feed, and tell me: does it feel overwhelming? In fact, why don’t you honk your horn / raise your hand right now if it feels like it’s too much.

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Love: A Field Guide

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and
from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the end, it all comes down to love. If we seek out the basis of the
Christian faith, love is what we find.
This is true on multiple levels. Love is what we believe about God. Love is
what we know about God because of Jesus.

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The Last Hour

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It’s been a horrible couple of weeks for a lot of people.
You don’t need me to make a list for you; you’ll probably have your own things to add to whatever I might come
up with.
Right here in our own city, there was the cold-blooded murder of a police officer, a husband and father, a week and
a half ago.

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What Do You Say?

A few weeks ago, I was gathered with fellow worship leaders Pastor Aune, Kathy Andrews, and Lisa Griffin to plan a year’s worth of worship at Augustana. It is a tall task to sit together and envision what our worship lives will look like together through an entire year, and as we work together we also suggest new ideas and re-envision old ones. As I was suggesting one idea, the always-sage Kathy Andrews asked how it might work from a liturgical and theological perspective. I explained how I thought it would work, and I’ll admit I stretched a little to make the point. She noted that I could probably find a way to make anything make sense. She joked, “If we said we should have a zebra in worship, you’d find a way for it to work.” At which point, I explained that since zebras are white and black they do a good job of representing both our pure, sinless selves and our dark, sinful selves and were actually a very liturgical animal.

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A Practical Faith

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen.
Webster defines practical in this way – pertaining to practice or action; or capable of being turned to use or account; useful, in distinction from ideal or theoretical.
But you already knew that didn’t you.
Practical is something you can use and put into action.
Practical is helpful, hands on, not theoretical or abstract.

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