God’s Greatest Gift For You (Luke 2:1-20)

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2014

Text: Luke 2:1-20

Theme: God’s Greatest Gift For You!

           How do you decide which present to open up first? – It’s a relevant question this time of year. You have a stack of presents sitting in front of you, which one do you open first?

How you answer partially depends on how patient you are – do you save the best for last, or do you open the best first? Either way, one of the fun parts about opening up presents is trying to judge a gift by its wrapping – to try and guess what’s inside.

In my family, my siblings and I had to take turns on Christmas. We couldn’t just tear into our presents willy-nilly – we got to open one present and then we had to wait for everyone else to open a present before we could go again, so the order mattered. For me that meant deciding which presents looked boring from the outside and which looked like they had potential – I’d open the boring ones first so my present opening could end with a bang.

One of the first things I’d look at is the size. If it’s a really big present, there’s some natural intrigue. What could be hiding behind all that wrapping paper? Sometimes the really small presents are the interesting ones – bigger doesn’t always mean better in the world of presents. If it was about 18”x12”x3” (in my present opening experience), it almost always means clothes – as a kid what I considered a pretty boring gift.

Sometimes the gift giver influenced the decision.

If it was from Mom and Dad, it was probably new socks or a new church outfit. But if that gift was from Grandma Eva, or from Santa, it stood a better chance of being one of those big ticket presents – the ones that made me bounce off the walls in anticipation – because you expect fun, big, exciting presents from people like Grandparents and Santa.

What if this year you found a present under the tree address “From: God?” What kind of size, wrapping, and content would you want in a present from God? Continue reading

John the Baptist, a Witness to the Light (John 1:6-8, 19-28)

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Advent (12/14/14)

Text: John 1:6-8, 19-28

Theme: John the Baptist, a Witness to the Light

As a pastor and missionary my mind is always coming up with some harebrained scheme or another to introduce people to Jesus. One idea came to me this last week that I’m really excited about.

Next week instead of meeting here in this building for worship, we are going to meet down at Algonkian Park, right down by the Potomac. That way we can worship in a place that really just exemplifies the wisdom and power of our God who created this beautiful world we live in. You may need to bundle up a little bit, but I think, in general, this will be a great outreach move. We’ll get out of the stuffy confines of this formal church and out in the real world, in the beauty and freedom of God’s creation.

And oh yeah, just a heads up, I’m gonna look a little different when you show up next week. Instead of a suit or robe like you usually see me wearing on a Sunday morning, I plan on getting my hands on some camel hide this next week, to make myself a new outfit. And if I look a little green in the face, or my breath smells a little funky, don’t worry. I’m just starting a new diet – one that will take some getting used to. I’ll be living off a diet bugs and honey for the foreseeable future.

So what do you think? I have to imagine that if your pastor started eating bugs, preaching his sermons wearing camel skins down by the Potomac, we’d stand a pretty good chance of making some headlines. I have to imagine we’d bring in a few interested spectators to see just what all this fuss is about down by the river. Seems like a pretty good outreach plan to me (kind of a “shock and awe” outreach plan, draw them in with something crazy and, hopefully, they’ll stick around for the message) – after all, it worked for John the Baptist, right? Continue reading

The Greatest Sermon You’ve Ever Heard (Isaiah 40:1-11)

Sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Advent (12/7/14)

Text: Isaiah 40:1-11

 Theme: The Greatest Sermon You’ve Ever Heard

           “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863.

“My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK, Inaugural Address, 1961.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

There are some speeches that will live on in the minds of Americans for as long as America endures – speeches given at critical moments in our nation’s history by some of the greatest leaders this country has seen. These speeches were immediately recognized as life-changing, they inspired the hearts and minds of those who heard them. They continue to inspire the hearts and minds of those who read them, as they are memorialized, memorized, and reread in cities, schools, and homes all across our country. I’m confident that most of you could have joined me in reciting those famous lines from those legendary speeches I just quoted.

Well boy do I have a treat for you! Today you get to hear just such a speech. Today you are going to hear the greatest sermon you will ever hear – one that you will never forget, one that you will brag to your children and grandchildren that you got to witness firsthand, one that spoke to you in a time of need, one that will be memorialized, memorized, and reread in cities and homes across this country for generations to come.

Are you ready? Are you excited to be a part of history? Are you set for the best sermon you have ever heard?…

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Continue reading