How Much More?

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

I’m going to venture out on a limb here this morning and suggest that there is one word in today’s reading from the Sermon on the Mount that hits close to home for a majority of us in worship this morning.

The word I am referring to is worry.

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Let Your Light Shine

The Beatitudes are the list of “blessed are the…” people that we read together just now. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in heart. I have never really felt like I fit this list very well. I’m sure my sisters would affirm that I am indeed not terribly merciful, meek, or pure in heart. And that’s a problem, because we so often use the list as a checklist. Are you poor in spirit? You get the kingdom of heaven! Are you pure in heart? You get to see God! Have people been reviling you on account of Jesus? Your reward is great in heaven! You don’t fit any of these descriptions? You get nothing.

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If You are the Son of God…

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Amen

Make bread, perform a miracle, and worship another. Why these three test’s and why did Jesus refuse? Why couldn’t Jesus have just turned every stone to bread and feed the entire world, why couldn’t Jesus have performed a stunning miracle in the capital city, demonstrating the power of God and bringing everyone present to their knees. Why not placate this tempter if only to rule the world with peace and truth, bringing an end to the political and social unrest? We are left wondering if instead of 3 years of grueling ministry, Jesus could have changed the world with 3 easy wishes; the genie in the bottle promising worldly glory and recognition, power, and satisfaction. Easy, tempting, and in many ways disconcerting for us when we think about how Jesus fails to see the positives of these actions. It can’t hurt to create bread and do miracles can it? It wouldn’t be a bad thing for Jesus to have the world would it?

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Locusts, Vipers and a Dove

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

I’m not an angry preacher this morning it’s just that I’ve always wanted to try this from the pulpit, just to see what it feels like.

It feels kind of strange to be honest with you because I know you are not a brood of vipers and I like you.

I don’t know if John the Baptist liked the Pharisees and the Sadducees or if he didn’t like them; it doesn’t really matter does it? But I suspect there was a strong sense of urgency on John’s part.

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God’s Plan

I could say something right now about how my daughter is two years old or under. I could talk about how this changes the tragedy and terror of this text for me. But to be honest, it doesn’t. Not because I’m some heartless woman who doesn’t feel absolute horror at the thought of any harm coming to my child, but because you don’t need to have a 16 month old, or a toddler, or a child at all, to know that this text is completely awful. It is awful because in it, innocent people – innocent children – die violently to suit a whim. Herod’s anger, insecurity, and vindictiveness result in a loss of life so sweeping, so merciless, that no one can be untouched. Whether these are your children or not, whether you have children or not, you know that this is tragedy of the worst kind.

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Naivety at the Nativity

I have a confession I need to make. I have never seen Avatar. I know, I know it’s the largest grossing movie of all time before adjustment for inflation, a groundbreaking work in visual effects and the forerunner, trendsetter, of the modern 3D movie experience, and it should be on my short list. I should have seen it in theatres. It’s not like it wasn’t on my radar. I read the reviews. I even know the entire plotline. But somehow all this knowledge did not get me out the door to a local movie theatre. Five years later my experience of the biggest blockbuster in movie history is entirely void. A shameful confession of any self-proclaimed lover of films.

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Wrapped in Light and Peace

It is called the peace light. We have it here with us tonight. It has traveled a long distance.

“Each year, a child from Upper Austria kindles a flame from the “Eternal Flame” from the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The light is then flown to Austria from where it is distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations from across Europe who take it back, with a message of Peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services throughout the Continent. Scouts and Guides can then take the light on to other churches, hospitals, old people homes, prisons, and places of public, cultural and political importance – to anybody that appreciates the significance of the “gift”. [i]

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Jesus, Them, and You

In any place in the Bible, but especially as we read through the prophets, some texts can feel a little obscure. What’s going on? Who are we talking about? It can be tempting to think, “I just don’t get it”, and move on to a passage where you feel a little more comfortable. Don’t give in to that thought. When you encounter a text where the meaning isn’t readily apparent, don’t skip past it. That passage has wisdom to reveal and it’s worth the work.

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For Such A Time As This

Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. Scripture can be quite grim at times. This is why Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. Mordecai was a Jew. What I just read for you is the order that was written by the King at the request of Haman. Haman hated Mordecai and he paid the King so the King would write this decree to annihilate all the Jews in the country.

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