Below, you will find the text of Pastor Brad’s sermons (and occasionally the sermons of guest speakers.) If you would like to see all the sermons pertaining to a particular topic or series or book of the Bible, or even if you would like to view sermons by the date they were preached, please click on the appropriate box to the right.
Y’all, it’s so simple, and yet it’s the secret to life. Every time you try to live for yourself or a few select people who are in your family or are otherwise your favorites in life, you are rejecting the power of resurrection. ONLY when you choose your primary identity to be a follower of the RESURRECTED one will you truly live in response to resurrection, will you truly LIVE.
Folks, Christ is risen. That fact might have confused and perplexed the followers of Jesus who first visited the empty tomb, but it shouldn’t have. It just FITS with everything that had come before, and I don’t just mean Jesus’ often confusing words. Christ is risen because resurrection, new life, real, true life, the kind of life that is TOV, is what God has always wanted for all of us, for YOU.
My friends, today is Palm Sunday. It is the day we have shouted Hosanna’s with the crowd. It is the beginning of the Holiest Week of the year for us. But it is also the day we remember that the crowd FORGOT. It is my hope and prayer for you that you will not give into that same temptation…so that the highs of your experiences with the ever-living Christ will not be confined to once a week or once a year or even a few times in your life but will rather become a constant in your life.
Folks, all around us, as in the time of Moses, people are dying. Literally, everyone dies. Metaphorically, people are dying to the ways of this world long before their earthly bodies give out. Just as the people of Moses’ time had to gaze upon the serpent if they wanted to live, people of our time must gaze upon Christ, must look up to Him and experience Him and make a decision to follow Him, in order that they might have the new life God offers through Him. Will you give them a chance to see Christ? Will you help them look up?
It’s time to get rid of the metaphorical sellers and money changers in your life – whatever is tempting you to choose values that aren’t God’s values – and to replace them with people and things that reinforce God’s values in your life.
I suppose we could all lament that God’s ways are not our ways. After all, it feels like human nature to want our way, doesn’t it? But Jesus reminds us that something else is true. Life, real life, is found not in seeking our will but in seeking God’s will, God’s ways. And if God’s words through the prophet Isaiah are true, God’s ways – for the most part – will NOT be your ways, so you’re going to have to work with the tools God has provided to resist the temptation of your own way and instead give over to God’s ways. What’s it going to be? Will you try so hard to save your life that you will lose it, or are you willing to give up your way to God – to lose your life for Jesus’ sake – so you may gain REAL life?
Fast forward to the present time, to YOUR life. When you are tempted, when you are abut to give into temptation and do something every bit as against God’s desires, every bit as evil or wicked as the people of the earth in Genesis 6, aren’t you happy that something has changed with God? Isn’t it great that God now KNOWS what it’s like to be experience temptation…that God wants so badly for us to not give IN to temptation but wants something BETTER for us…isn’t it wonderful that God now KNOWS even what we NEED to RESIST temptation because, thanks to Jesus, thanks to Emanuel, God in the flesh, has BEEN there. Folks, just like God desired more for humanity than for us to be wiped out completely so long ago, God NOW desires more for us than to allow us to give in to the temptations of society and culture. SO God offers us EXACTLY what we need.
I started today by talking about lighthouses. And I told you Jesus becomes a lighthouse in today’s gospel text. And he really does. Not only does he become a beacon of light, showing his inner reality as light, but, like a lighthouse, Jesus directs us AWAY from danger and TOWARD safety. And we NEED that lighthouse that is Jesus. Like Peter, we are tempted to listen to another voice – maybe the voice of the tempter, maybe the voice of society, maybe our own voice – but we’re tempted to listen to another voice that is constantly calling us to make choices and take actions that would lead us to the dangerous rocks, even if it sounds like the voice is leading us to the comforting place of staying the same while Jesus calls us toward the seemingly dangerous place that is the cross, that is reaching out into the unknown and doing things that aren’t so comfortable but that give REAL life, life in God’s kingdom. So God sent us Jesus, and God said, “listen to him.”
Folks, the reality is, we ARE the body of Christ in this time and this place. Our job is to BE Jesus, here, now…to do the kinds of things he did so that the world might draw closer to God and God’s kingdom might increasingly break into this world. How are we doing? Can we do better? Will we?
Folks, these epiphany texts, they are a call for us to consider Jesus’ identity, Jesus’ absolutely amazing and life-changing identity, and to consider whether or not we are really accepting that identity and letting it make a difference in our lives. And if we’re not, it’s time to WAKE UP.