Listen To The Sermons
Welcome to our podcast!
Welcome to our podcast!
“Jiminy Cricket! My husband can’t even sit through an hour-and-a-half church service. He wouldn’t begin to know what to do with himself in heaven for all those endless ages. Unless he gets to fish or golf or something like that, he won’t even talk about church or heaven or the life to come.” Such goes an all too common lament. Why is it that Heaven (or the Life to Come) seems so strange to us? For those who suffer, being done with this life means little more than not hurting anymore. But for those who are loving this life, any thought of a life after death seems a little strange and a lot boring. Anticlimactic at best. Unfortunately for such folks, this kind of thinking has kept many people from untold pleasures and greater satisfaction than they ever dreamed possible. For the record, the Life to Come will NOT be boring.
Bishop Salmon loved to say: “We don’t learn from our experience we only learn from the reflection of those experiences.” As I reflect on our 264th year, one phrase comes to mind: Authentic Church, or putting it another way…Deep Church. Today I will share stories of depth and life change that bring James 5 and Matthew 18 to life. My prayer is that we would leave church on this our Festival of Faith, encouraged and moved in our hearts to continually and authentically care for each other with depth and in a way that prepares us for and mirrors heaven.
‘Death comes unexpectedly,’ the preacher shouts in Disney’s classic movie Pollyanna. But then what? What truly lies beyond the grave? Can we even know, or are we left to speculate, hope, and fantasize? For thousands of years folks have wrestled with these questions and come up with a variety of creative answers. But then came the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which turned all previous theories upside-down. Unfortunately, however, this new view of heaven was so radical that even now most Christians still cling to largely pagan conceptions of the afterlife. This morning, we delve into the true nature of heaven revealed in the person of Jesus. And we discover how much better it is than anything we’d imagined before.
“I got shoes, you got shoes, all of God’s childrens got shoes-
When I get to heaven gonna put on my shoes
I’m gonna walk all over God’s heaven (heaven) heaven (heaven)-
Everybody talkin’ bout heaven ain’t a goin’ there heaven (heaven) heaven (heaven)…”
Well, It’s just not fair. As we continue this Easter sermon series on Heaven, the Rev. David Booman gets to preach on what heaven will be like (next week) and I have been assigned ‘who get’s in’! I think I received the raw end of the deal. Thankfully as clergy we are the mailmen and not the author or editor of the message of Jesus, and thankfully while the Bible is pretty clear on this subject, it is also the most inclusive! The joy of heaven is meant for all, yet why does Jesus also say “strive to enter through the narrow door?”
Great Reading on Heaven: Rector Recommendations:
Even in a preaching series, it’s hard to cover every base on such a powerful topic. These recommendations will allow you to go deeper:
They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait. Some say it’s better, but I say it ain’t. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. Sinners are much more fun. Only the good die young. So sang Billy Joel. Terrible theology, but pretty spot-on in terms of how many folks interpret the church’s message about the life to come. “Good (uninteresting, snobby) people go to heaven; bad (fun) people go to hell.” That’s one take. Another is: the really uber-good folks go to heaven and the rest of us don’t stand a chance. Both of those notions get you Billy Joel. (And for the record, these views of heaven and hell trivialize the afterlife and make this life the only arena for true and meaningful existence). For those that really do want to go to heaven rather than hell, the good-bad distinction usually translates to some system that lets in folks like me and keeps out all the weird, wicked and nasty people whose presence I couldn’t possibly tolerate for eternity. So what does the Bible have to say about all of this anyway?
I will never forget it as long as I live. I had spilled blue model airplane paint all over our wooden kitchen cabinetry. I was alone in the house and knew my mother would be coming home soon. I went upstairs and literally hid in a closet. I then heard my mother drive up, get out of the car, into the house and then came the scream! She was so mad! I walked downstairs and took the verbal lashings, but then came the forgiveness. The beauty of those words, “Al, it’s time for a second chance.” Those words brought such comfort to me as an 8 year old. They still do. Today is the eternal and forever day of the 2nd chance. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, today is your day to experience the power of the 2nd chance. We call it the Resurrection of Jesus. Where Jesus dies after hours of torture on the cross, but then supernaturally comes back to life and in doing so, redeems our sin and gives us all a new beginning! So, do you need a second chance? Have mistakes been made that have hurt your soul? Come to the fountain and drink in the waters of new beginnings.
Monday Maundy Thursday
Great leaders stoop down to serve their disciples. God himself stoops down to grab our attention and our hearts through Jesus. Why was it so important for Jesus to wash His disciples feet? Why is it so important to have your feet washed? Indeed!! Why??!!
It is the most chaotic worship service of the church year, because that’s how the first Palm Sunday was! Can you imagine Jesus riding into Jerusalem with donkey’s surrounded by palm waving “Hosanna” yelling children and adults? It was a mad house then and now! We will re-enact that journey complete with a live donkey at the 9:30 and 10:30am services. Today is also the day we end our Lenten preaching series on Repentance, specifically through the sin of indifference. It was impossible to be indifferent on that first Palm Sunday, in fact most people that day began passionately for Jesus but by the end of the week, these same people grew passionately against Him (you will hear both voices loudly and clearly today).
We will begin with the voices FOR Jesus during the Palm Procession. But through this worship service, and after the Eucharist, we will read the crucifixion story of Jesus and how those same voices that praised Jesus now call for His death. This dramatic reading then sets our faces to Holy Week, where we journey with Jesus to the Cross and the miracle of the Resurrection! So, today, pray our Lord removes our own indifference and gives us a continued passion for the greatest rescue mission ever known.
As we continue our Lenten theme on Repentance, we have preached so far on Repentance from:
Sunday, March 22 we got to ignorance, specifically repenting from what I call: “The Gospel of Good.” This false Gospel can be defined this way: “It really doesn’t matter if I’m a Christian or not as long as I’m just morally and ethically good enough.”
I took you to the Mt. Everest of the Bible, Jeremiah 31. Here this prophet removes the layers of our own confusion and fills us with the most life changing news ever to hit the Old Testament! From there to the Gospel Peak of John 12 that points us to the fulfillment of everything Jeremiah talked about!
My prayer is that we would abandon the Gospel of Good, and allow the Love of Jesus to transform us from within, in a way that transforms our lives and desires and aligns them with the purposes of Jesus.