Sermon: Teach Us to Pray, Our Father

It was a busy time for Jesus and his disciples. Since Peter, James and John experienced a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, Jesus and the disciples were traveling with a purpose. They were on a mission to get to Jerusalem. When they get there, the disciples believe Jesus will lead a revolution to overtake the religious authorities and Roman Empire. Instead, Jesus is on a journey that will take him to the cross.

This season of Lent allows us to experience what took place on this journey. As Luke describes it, this journey to Jerusalem featured a lot of different ministry. Previously, Jesus sent out two groups of people – the 12 disciples and a larger group of followers – into the mission field. He also taught the Parable of the Good Samaritan and visited Martha and Mary.

We join the journey at a place where we will remain for this season of Lent. It is here where we find Jesus after a time of prayer. It was typical for Jesus to spend time in prayer after a time of intense ministry. The disciples listened to Jesus as he prayed. They are curious. They want to have the same kind of prayer life Jesus has. Continue reading “Sermon: Teach Us to Pray, Our Father”

Soul Prayers

One of the television episodes ever, at least in my opinion, is the second season finale of “The West Wing.” The episode was entitled “Two Cathedrals” and centered on President Jed Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, as he dealt with the presidential crisis surrounding the disclosure of his multiple sclerosis and if he would seek re-election, as well as the death of his long-time assistant, Mrs. Landingham.

Some of the episode’s most moving moments occur at the National Cathedral following Mrs. Landingham’s funeral. The part that is most interesting, for us, comes after the funeral. It is then that Bartlett talks with his chief of staff, Leo, who wants him to return to the White House. Leo wants Bartlett to focus on the final preparations for that night’s press conference where Bartlett would answer questions about his condition and possible re-election. Bartlett, instead, wants a few minutes alone in the sanctuary. Once the cathedral is cleared, Bartlett, a Catholic, begins to express his frustrations towards God. The frustrations focus on the events surrounding his life and if God was punishing him. After a few choice words spoken in Latin, Bartlett walks away from the church, in anger, and returns to the crisis at hand.

For many of us, this is a type of conversation with God we find uncomfortable. We sometimes believe that we’re not to get angry at God, even though there are plenty of examples in Scripture of saints of our faith who expressed their frustrations towards God. We want to believe that God only desires prayers of praise. Part of this is that we believe that if we have hurts, pains, or frustrations that it is an expression of “God’s will” or that we are not strong in our faith.

None of that is true. It is not God’s will for us to experience pains, frustrations, or hurts. It is not God’s will for us to experience evil. God wants us to talk to the Lord about what is going on in our soul. God can handle our pains, our hurts, and even our anger. It doesn’t make us less of a follower of Christ to share these feelings. In fact, our willingness to share and express these feelings towards God is an expression of our desire to seek after the Lord’s own heart. Continue reading “Soul Prayers”

Sunday Sermon: A Prophetic Voice

There is a lot of noise in society today. There is a lot of talking in our world today. 

Just turn on the cable news networks and this becomes apparent. There is a lot of noise in our world today. Our news presentations feature a steady stream of people constantly talking at each other. This talking is presented to us as debates, when we know that it is far from it. 

What we are given is a form of loud talking that is often more about selling a point than entering into a discussion. Those who spend a lot of time talking on television often are simply wanting to defeat their opponent, give out a few talking points, and get retweeted or posted instantly. The process makes it hard to understand what is being discussed and difficult to discern the truth in the topic.  Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: A Prophetic Voice”

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?”

Fan or Follower: Followers Love All People

We live in difficult and challenging times. Everyday we are bombarded with images and news stories that remind us that the world that we live in has become unfamiliar to so many of us. We live in a time that is filled with disagreement, frustrations, violence, and pain. Much of these things we have experienced, not only on a personal level, but also on a societal and cultural level.

Part of the reason for this is that what we so often focus on are our differences. We live in a time of political polarization that, for more than 25 years, has created deep divisions within our culture based upon the ideas we hold dear. We live in a time in which racial, cultural, economic, and geographical differences continue to be boundaries that prevent true relationships. Even within our churches, our theological perspectives, worship traditions, and other practices sometimes prevent us from working together as one body in Christ’s love. We live in challenging times that are unlike any that we have known in our lifetimes. Continue reading “Fan or Follower: Followers Love All People”