Sunday’s Sermon: Resolution 2015 – Love

One of the things that I have struggled with throughout my life is love. I have a hard time receiving it and, to be honest, there are times when I have difficulty sharing it with others. 

Much of my difficulty with love is rooted in some deep hurts in my life. It is hard to feel the sting of not being loved by those who were unwilling or unable to do so. I have felt the painful rejection of friends, and even family members. The loneliness of connection, for an extrovert, can be quite difficult. My own hurts and pains, throughout the years, have created a wall that makes it difficult at times to receive and experience love.

It is painful for me and, to be honest, a reality that we all confront. In one way or another, we have all been hurt by love. As a result, we all struggle with love at some level, either in its giving or receiving. All of us know what it feels like to be rejected. We have struggled with sharing our thoughts with someone close to us. We have been hurt, broken, saddened, and frustrated by our attempt to share love or receive love. Writer and theologian Eugene Peterson writes about our desire for love. He says, “In no other human experience do we fail so frequently, get hurt so badly, suffer excruciatingly, and get deceived so cruelly as in love. Still, we continue to long for it, dream of it, and attempt it.”  Continue reading “Sunday’s Sermon: Resolution 2015 – Love”

What if We Prayed for the “Other” Political Party?

This morning, my devotional reading took me to one of the most challenging passages of Scripture. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus invites those who seek to follow him to love our enemies and to pray for them.

It is a word that is as uncomfortable as it is challenging. No one is naturally inclined to love their enemies. No one really wants to even pray for them. Our natural inclination is to despise our enemies. We don’t want to show love or concern for them. Yet, Jesus calls us to the deeper and more difficult way of life that sees our enemy as our neighbor and calls us to see them as a child of God created in God’s very image.

That is hard to do. Many have reflected on how this passage calls us to care for the personal enemies in our lives, those people who just seem to get in our way or make life difficult for us. We’ve also reflected on how this passage calls us to find ways to pray for those who would do us harm. None of those things are easy, but it is the way of Christ who showed what this looks like when he prayed for those who crucified him on the cross. Continue reading “What if We Prayed for the “Other” Political Party?”

Sunday’s Sermon: Resolution 2015 (Giving)

New Year’s Day has its varied traditions. Many of these traditions are cultural and regional in nature, such as eating black eyed peas or putting a coin in cabbage. Some of these traditions are centered on the idea of seeking good luck and fortune for the new year. Personally, I never understood how one could gain luck through eating cabbage or black eyed peas.

Among those traditions is one we are most familiar with and, perhaps, one we participated in a few days ago. That is the new year’s resolution. The idea that we will resolve to do something different in the new year that we did not do not as much in the previous.

Problem is that it seems we just recycle previous resolutions. Our resolutions often cycle around the common themes of losing weight, saving more money, and finding more ways to relax. Resolutions, though, that are appropriate coming out of a season of heavy eating, tons of purchases, and stressful calendars. For the record, my resolution for 2015 is to find more time to relax and not to stress about the little things in life. We’ll see how long that lasts. Continue reading “Sunday’s Sermon: Resolution 2015 (Giving)”

Is There a Limit to Our Sports Obsession

Former Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis coined a phrase that has become familiar to all, regardless if you spend your evenings watching whatever game is on ESPN.

He said, “Just win, baby!”

Just win.

Many of us have ascribed to this philosophy when it comes to our favorite teams, whether it be the professional or collegiate ranks. (For the purposes of this column we will focus primarily on college athletics.) We want the thrill of victory and will accept almost anything to be victorious when the game is over.

Sports is about winning and there is nothing wrong with wanting our teams to win. It is part of what makes sports fun and enjoyable. I have often told my wife that if West Virginia University ever wins a national championship in anything besides rifle that it would be one of the happiest days of my life. She got a brief taste of this excitement in 2010 when West Virginia advanced to the Final Four and I immediately ran out of the house screaming for joy. Continue reading “Is There a Limit to Our Sports Obsession”