The Christian Grabs Life by the Horns (I Timothy 6:17-21)

Sermon for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost (8/17/14)

Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-21

Theme: The Christian Grabs Life by the Horns

Part 4 of a sermon series identifying What Christians Look Like

            How many of you know the slogan of Dodge (the car company) of the top of your head? I’m sure you’ve all heard it before: Grab life by the horns.

            This year marks 100 years of Dodge selling cars in America, an incredible achievement. To celebrate they have put together a special commercial. Have any of you seen it?

            It’s really quite clever. Dodge, a 100 year old company, interviewed a handful of 100 year old people, asking them what they have learned over their hundred+ years of life.

            The sound bites they collected off these old folks create a powerful commercial that plays off the rebel in all of us that wants to grab life by the horns.

“Live for now, because life is good – you make it good. Don’t complain. Don’t be afraid. Don’t always do what you’re told to do. Don’t be a sissy. Suck it up. Hesitate and you lose. Be a bad boy. Raise hell. Put the pedal to the medal. Live fast. Grab life by the horns.”

I couldn’t help but think about this Dodge slogan when I read the lesson from Timothy for today, because Paul (the author of Timothy) says essentially the same thing, doesn’t he? Paul encourages us to “take hold of life” – which sounds an awful lot like grab life by the horns, doesn’t it?

But there’s a difference, isn’t there? Continue reading

The Christian Is Faithful, Fruitful, and Mindful of the Harvest (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

Sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost (8/10/14)

Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Theme: The Christian is Faithful, Fruitful, and Mindful of the Harvest

Part 3 of a Sermon Series What Christians Look Like

Déjà vu, French for “already seen.” It’s that feeling you all have felt at one point in your life or another, that feeling like you have been somewhere or done something before.

Have any of you been experiencing a little Déjà vu this morning? Because I have. I’m guessing that those of you who were here last week are experiencing it too. Some of the names and words have changed, but so far, we’ve heard a whole lot this morning that is pretty similar to one week ago.

It started with the baptism, right? Just one week ago we also had the privilege of witnessing a new child being welcomed into God’s family. But that’s not where the similarities end.

Did you experience another Déjà vu moment this morning? Did you hear something familiar, perhaps in this week’s reading from Matthew?

“Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Again this morning, just like last week, Jesus has something important to say to us – so important that he explicitly tells us that we need to listen to him. We only have record of Jesus using this phrase three times in the Gospels. Last week we heard one of those three in the parable of the sower, and today we get a second.

So let’s do what we did last week. Let’s put into practice some good listening techniques and find out what is so important that Jesus would grab us by the shoulders and say, “You have ears, so you need to be listening to what I have to say today.” Continue reading

A Christian Keeps His Ears Open to the Word (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)

Sermon for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost (8/3/14)

Text: Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

Theme: The Christian Keeps His Ears Open to the Word

Part 3 of the Sermon Series What Does a Christian Look Like?

                I think it was in sixth grade, or sometime near that. I was sitting next to one of my best friends, and the teacher was lecturing on something – what it was I don’t really remember because as sixth grade boys are apt to do, I wasn’t really paying attention.

Well this friend and I, noticing that neither of us were really paying attention, started having our own little whispered conversation with each other. We thought we were being sneaky, we thought we were being quiet enough that the teacher, Ms McKenzie, wouldn’t notice – again displaying a little of that ignorance and lack of common sense that sixth grade boys are apt to display.

Needless to say, Ms. McKenzie did notice. Now what made this occasion memorable is what Ms. McKenzie did next. She didn’t yell at us. She didn’t call us out. She didn’t immediately dole out discipline… She just stopped talking. Right in the middle of her lecture, she just stopped talking.

Now all the other kids, who were paying attention, realized right away that something was going on. But my friend and I, so engaged in our own conversation, didn’t notice right away. But little by little, what our ears were hearing (or in this case, not hearing) started to sink in. We looked up from our little conversation and realized that every eye in the classroom was fixed on us.

Chalk one more up to Ms. McKenzie… she had our attention for the rest of that class…

There are different ways that we humans go about communicating to people that we want their attention. If Gideon is running toward a busy street, I’m going to yell. If Molly is playing with a toy and I want to tell her to do something, I ask her to look me in the eye. If Laura has something to discuss with me on a Sunday afternoon in the fall, she will ask me to turn the tv off before beginning the conversation.

We humans do all sorts of things to communicate the fact that we want someone to pay attention to us.

In our gospel for today we see Jesus doing just that. Jesus says to us today, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” And while this phrase may seem odd at first glance, because it’s not the kind of language we use today, Jesus is doing the same thing Ms. McKenzie did – the same thing I am doing when I yell at a toddler running toward the road. He is telling us that what he is saying here in Matthew 13 is important. He’s telling us to look him in the eyes and listen to what he is saying because this matters and we need to hear it. “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Continue reading