Keep Persevering

There is nothing better than baseball in October. The thrill of the playoff chase. The tradition of the World Series and hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of the season. The tradition that the Cubs will lose.

At least, that is my yearly hope. You see, I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan which means that cheering for the Chicago Cubs is one of the worst thing you can do in sports. Some friends of mine who share my opinion have gone as far as to say we are “NeverCubs.” My few Cubs friends tell me this is the year. That this is the year the curses will be lifted and that a championship will return to Wrigley Field for the first time since 1908 William Taft was preparing to make William Jennings Bryan the Chicago Cubs of presidential politics. Look it up and you’ll see what I mean.

My few Cubs friends tell me that all their troubles center around a goat named Murphy. Legend has it that a storeowner, Billy Sianis, tried to bring his goat to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series. When he was asked to remove the goat, Sianis became irate said that the Cubs would never win another World Series. The Cubs were up 2-1 in the series and would eventual lose the series.

Truthfully, though, as much as I cannot pull for the Cubs I do admire the perseverance of Cubs fans who continually believe, “This is our year.” Even when things seem too difficult to believe or the season does not go as they would hope they never give up. They continue to believe that something good, another World Series title, is coming their way. Continue reading “Keep Persevering”

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Turn Out the Distractions

Every Sunday before the sermon, I try to gather us together with a centering prayer. What this prayer does is it gives us space to catch our breath, collect our thoughts, and to prepare ourselves to hear what God wants us for us today. I know, for some, the sermon is a time for a nap, but this time is truly a time of deep discipleship where we are encouraged and challenged to grow closer to God’s love. This is the most important time of the worship service.

The importance of this time is why I try to include this phrase in the pre-sermon prayer each week: Turn out the distractions of our days and of our lives so that we may be attentive to your voice and what you have for us this day. Sound familiar? These words are important for all of us, because I recognize we often come to worship distracted by the concerns, worries, and moments in our lives. Continue reading “Turn Out the Distractions”

Sunday Sermon: Run the Race

Today’s sermon will be a little different than normal. This morning, I want to specifically speak to our five youth who were confirmed today. In doing so, I hope I might say something that will impact each of our lives, and that includes my own.

This is a momentous day in each of your lives and in the ministry and life of this congregation. What each of you have done is to make several public proclamations. By your presence, you have proclaimed your thanks for those who have walked with you through the years and have taught you about faith, about Jesus, and about what it means to follow the Lord. You have proclaimed your desire to live for Christ with your every word and breath. Finally, you have proclaimed your intent to be a witness of Jesus Christ through your example and actions in this world.

It is a huge responsibility and blessing you have committed yourselves to today. It is not something to be taken lightly. For as all of us can attest, living for Christ and seeking to be his witness every day are some of the hardest things we will ever attempt to do. That is why stories like the rich young ruler, who wanted as little of Jesus as he could without the Lord wrecking his life, speak to us. We want to proclaim our faith in Christ without the life Jesus desires for us ever messing with the life we want. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Run the Race”

Sunday Sermon: Not That Heavy

It was a short walk, maybe about 10 steps, from my bedroom to the kitchen where my mom would sit at the table. Often I would make those few steps to go to her with a question on how to do something.

How do I solve this problem? How do I answer this question? How do I get out of this bit of trouble?

We all go to our parents, especially our mothers, for assistance, because we trust them and know that they will help us. So, we go with our questions looking for help and trusting that our mothers will try to lead us in the right direction.

So it is with questions in mind as we gather today. I think all of us gather for worship each Sunday with a very basic question on our hearts. That question is this: How do we live this life that Jesus desires? In other words, how are we to follow what Christ desires for us today in a world filled with all of its challenges, obligations, and influences? Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Not That Heavy”

Sunday Sermon: What Sustains You?

This has been a very difficult week. One of those weeks where the events of the past seven days cannot be ignored.

It began with the images that came out of Nepal as the people there began to look for survivors after a devastating earthquake and aftershock. Nearly 7,000 people lost their life in this tragedy, and it is expected that the number will grow.

As the week progressed, we were met with the images from the events in Baltimore. We watched as the city burned and people protested – many peacefully and some less so – the events surrounding the death of Freddie Gray.

The question that I keep thinking about after this week is: what sustains us? What keeps us going? We look at these events and it is easy to allow them to overwhelm us or even to lead us to the perspective of “is the world even worth it?” What keeps us focused on the main thing when we are overwhelmed by so much hurt, pain, and sadness in our world?

It is a question that I think about when we think about the news of our own lives. What sustains us when life gets overwhelming, or difficult, or challenging?

All of us know what it means to experience the difficulties of life. We have faced the loss of close friends and family members. We have experienced the break-up of friendships. We have experienced the pain of financial struggles and other difficulties. What keeps us going in these moments? Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: What Sustains You?”

Sunday Sermon: God is at Work

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s enjoyed a bit of nostalgia this week. Some of the cast from “Saved by the Bell” reunited and performed their iconic roles on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

It was a hilarious modern skit of a show that transformed Saturday morning entertainment and provided pre-teens and teens with a relevant and engaging show of their own. There was Zach, Slater, Kelly, and Jessie. Even Mr. Belding made an appearance as the group tossed out their classic lines and even sang about how they would always be “friends forever.” Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: God is at Work”

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)”