The Foolishness of the Cross

For many of you, this is the first time you will hear me say a few words about faith. Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in West Virginia. I spent the first 23 years of my life in the Mountain State, learning everything from the proper way of eating a hot dog – that would be with mustard, ketchup, coleslaw, chili, and onions – to how to look away from a West Virginia basketball game that doesn’t seem to go your way.

One of the most lasting impressions West Virginia and its culture gave me was a strong work ethic. You worked hard at what you did. There was a strong emphasis placed on proving yourself, showing your worth, and getting the most out of life. You were taught to earn everything you have in life.

Even though this is an ethic I learned in West Virginia, I do not think it is too far from the norm for many of us. We value hard work. We want to earn what we have and prove our worth to people. This is true whether it is in our jobs, our families, or in any other situation that comes before us. We want people to know us by what we do, by what we know, or by what we’ve accomplished. Continue reading “The Foolishness of the Cross”

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Sunday Sermon: I Entrust My Spirit

On this Palm Sunday, we began our celebration by going back to the beginning of that Passover celebration so many years ago. Jesus and his followers triumphantly entered Jerusalem.

It was a celebratory scene of great jubilation and anticipation. The people expected Jesus to come and fulfil the promises of the Messiah and restore the Kingdom of Israel. So, they brought out the palm branches and laid them on the ground – an act that is something like laying out the red carpet today – and shouted “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” All while Jesus humbly rode into town on the back of a donkey. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: I Entrust My Spirit”

Sunday Sermon: I am Thirsty

As we move ever so closer to Good Friday we are positioned to look at, truly, the final words that Jesus said from the cross. For what now dominates our attention are the most immediate words that were on Jesus’ lips in the moment before his death. Two of those words will come from John with an emotional word, which we will look at next week, coming from Luke.

None of these truly final words seem as simplistic as the one that is before us today. Three words that, on face value, do not seem to have much significance. The normalcy of these words might keep us from seeing the depth of its meaning for us. This is a typical writing tactic that John uses in his gospel. What might seem to us like a toss away passage or a word with little to draw upon is often rich with significance that teaches us about the life of Christ and what this life means for us today.

This word from John 19:28-29 is one of those seemingly quaint little passages that provide so much more than what we may initially believe. As we hear this word read, this morning, try to sense what is going on in this moment. Jesus has been on the cross, as we said last week, for about six hours. He is nearing his death. His body is weak. He is in pain. He is exhausted. Picture what this might look and feel like as we come to these words, especially the ones from John 19:28.  Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: I am Thirsty”

Sunday Sermon: Why Have You Abandoned Me?

There is no need to beat around the bush. This is a difficult passage of Scripture to engage.

A lot of aspects to this passage make it difficult for us to interact with. We have the uncomfortable aspect of hearing Jesus cry out in pain from the cross. There is the word “abandoned” or “forsaken” that leaves us wondering about the emotional and spiritual pain that Jesus felt in those moments. We hear these words and we want to move past them quickly, act like they were never said, and go to another passage.

We cannot hide from difficult passages of Scripture. In the examining the harder passages we find elements of truth that speak to us in the difficult moments of our lives. The good thing is that, today, we will walk through this difficult and challenging passage from Matthew 27:45-46 together. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Why Have You Abandoned Me?”

Sunday Sermon: Here is Your Mother/Here is Your Son

During the first two weeks of our Lent sermon series looking at the final words of Jesus from the cross, we have encountered some of the participants who were at Golgotha on that fateful Friday afternoon. They are as much a part of the story of understanding Jesus’ final words as Jesus is himself.

The first week allowed us to look at some of the activity that took place during a crucifixion and how the Roman soldiers would cast lots for the criminal’s possessions. Last week, we looked at the interaction between Jesus and the two criminals who were placed on crosses with him, especially the one who repented of his actions. This week, we turn our attention to Jesus’ who have come to this horrifying place to watch Jesus die.  Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Here is Your Mother/Here is Your Son”

Sunday Sermon – Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise

At our property along U.S. 127, you see a common adaptation of what took place on the Golgatha hillside. Nestled among the hills and overlooking the passing cars are three crosses that serve as a symbol of an event that changed the world.

For on that hillside sits the same number of crosses Scripture tell us were there at Golgatha on the afternoon of Jesus’ death. One for Jesus and one each for the two criminals who were crucified with him. We give a lot of attention, and rightly so, to the one in the middle – Jesus – who died unjustly and committed no act that was worthy of this kind of brutality. Yet, the two criminals play an important role in helping us to understand what took place that day.

To set the scene for us, Jesus and the two criminals have already been placed on the cross. There were two ways someone was affixed to the cross. They were either tied to the cross or were nailed to it. John tells us that Jesus was nailed to the cross. Jesus is facing the deep and unthinkable pain that goes along with the crucifixion. At the same time, he is experiencing the public humiliation that went along with this kind of punishment and torture. Jesus was mocked by the religious leaders who insisted that he put on a show and save himself. The soldiers joined in by gambling for Jesus’ personal items, which was a customary act for a crucifixion. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon – Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise”