Wednesday’s Ashes

Just had a sparkling moment. A seven-year-old knocked on my office window and asked if we had ashes for kids. I said sure we do. I went and got them, and walked out onto our front porch and imposed ashes for both the little girl and her mom, who told me they’ve been getting help at the food pantry for several months. It was simple, and felt profound.

First of three sermons on the topic: “What Makes A Great Church Member.”

Based on Revised Common Lectionary gospel text for the 7th Sunday After the Epiphany - Matthew 5:21-37 (Jesus’ teachings about anger, lust, divorce and swearing oaths).

Katherine F. Brown’s “Jesus and Lamb” — one of my favorite drawings. Really captures the loving care available to us all. High-res

Katherine F. Brown’s “Jesus and Lamb” — one of my favorite drawings. Really captures the loving care available to us all.

The Great Blessing of Being “Poor in Spirit”

Part 4 of a Six-Part Sermon Series: Making Changes That Last

(February 2, 2014) When Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs,” he raised a lot of questions. One of the most common is the most basic (and is usually accompanied by head scratching!): “What the heck does that mean?”

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At first, we don’t have a clue as to what “poor in spirit” means, but it certainly doesn’t sound like something we should be happy about. And then when Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven will be ours if we’re poor in spirit, we just get that much more confused.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to understand. I’m convinced that he’s actually talking about something very common and pretty straightforward. And that makes it all the more powerful.

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Church: A Place Dedicated to Changed Lives

Part 3 of a Six-Part Sermon Series: Making Changes That Last

(January 19, 2014) This first few weeks of the New Year is the season of making changes. Maybe you’re having success with changes you’ve wanted to make. Maybe you haven’t. If you’ve been having trouble staying with your resolutions, don’t give up. I’m going to talk about a key – the third in this series – that can help unlock the door for you.

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Two weeks ago, I talked about the first key: living into the faithful hope that the world around us really is good at its core. Last week, I talked about the second key: the importance of changing our thinking. Both are essential parts of becoming different and staying that way.

And today, I’ll add a third key to your key ring: becoming a faithful and committed member of a church community. I want to talk about how joining your personal purpose with that of the church can help you make changes that you want to make – and keep them made. Joining a strong and vital faith community is the third key to lasting personal change. There are six reasons why.

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It’s The Thinking That Has To Change

Part 2 of a Six-Part Sermon Series: Making Changes That Last

(January 12, 2014) Last week, we took a look at the first key to making positive changes in our lives, and making them last. That first key was to live into the faithful hope that there is an order underlying all things; that order has a face and a name: Jesus of Nazareth. To live into the faithful hope that he is the creative force upholding and sustaining all things. To live into the faithful hope about the way things are, at depth, whether we can see it or not.

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This week we look at the second key to lasting positive change: It’s one of the most important ideas in the whole Bible, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. You could make a good case that it’s the most important theme in the New Testament – and as such, the single most important theme of Christian life. It’s also profoundly misunderstood. John the Baptist just said it; it’s the Greek word often translated as “repent” or “repentance.”

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