God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity

This Lord’s Day past was that one which rolls around every year on the liturgical calendar, right after the Day of Pentecost.

Trinity Sunday.

And once again, I joined the company of preachers all over the world who approached it, asking: “What can I say about this?”

Not that there’s a shortage of things to say about the Trinity. In fact, that’s part of the problem. What we sermon-writers struggle with is really a two-fold question: “What can I say about this gigantic subject in the slight time available?” and “What can I say that won’t put the congregation to sleep?”

On both counts, this is a daunting challenge.

Continue reading “God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity”

Direct Experience of God: Part 2

Sunday, April 10, 2016 ~ Easter 3

TEXTS: John 21:1-19 and Acts 9:1-20

Let’s continue our reflections about “objective reality” and “subjective reality”—and how each of these can bear witness to the truth about God. Last time, I focused on objective reality—on concrete, undeniable proof—in relation to the resurrection of Jesus. The kind of evidence that presented itself to Mary Magdalene when the risen Christ greeted her outside the empty tomb. Or which confronted the disciples inside that locked room, when Jesus “came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’” and displayed the still-fresh wounds of his crucifixion.

In Luke’s account of this event, Jesus says, “Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (LUKE 24:39). Anyone who witnessed those events would be left with no doubt whatsoever about the literal reality of Jesus’ resurrection. No one present could thereafter deny the truth of the statement, “Christ is risen.” Continue reading “Direct Experience of God: Part 2”

Direct Experience of God: Part 1

Sunday, April 3, 2016 ~ Easter 2

TEXTS: John 20:19-31 and Acts 5:27-32

A young man went to his rabbi and said, “I have lost faith.”

“So,” said the rabbi, “how did you lose faith?”

“I studied Logic at the university,” said the young man, “and I found out that—if you’re clever enough—you can prove either side of any case.”

“I see,” said the rabbi. “Can you prove that you have no nose?”

“Certainly,” said the student. “To begin with …”

But at this point the rabbi punched him—right in the nose!

And then the rabbi asked him, “What hurts?”

My friends, there is an objective reality! There is also a subjective reality—which I’ll talk about next week.

But this week and next week, I will be talking about “direct experience of God.” That’s right. Direct experience. Concrete, tangible, in-your-face evidence that this God whom we worship is real. Not a metaphor. Not a figment of our imagination. But real, and personal, and desiring a relationship with each one of us. Continue reading “Direct Experience of God: Part 1”

Palm Sunday

JESUS SAVES!

March 20, 2016 ~ Palm Sunday

TEXT: Luke 19:28b-40

As [Jesus] was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” (LUKE 19:37-38)

So begins Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The people of the city—or, at least, many of them—catch sight of Jesus, and they go wild with reckless enthusiasm. “Jesusmania,” as Tim Rice called it.*

Yes, the Palm Sunday circus has come to town! And to each and every one of us, it is a familiar account—isn’t it? From years of Sunday School processions and decades of gospel readings, we all know the story of Palm Sunday. Probably, most of us could describe these events without even opening a Bible.

But, did you notice? There’s an important word that’s missing from Luke’s account, which Marlene read for us earlier. And that word is: “Hosanna!” Luke never uses it. He doesn’t mention palms, either—but for me, it is the missing hosanna that stands out. All of the other gospels use that word. Continue reading “Palm Sunday”