Tag Archive: Good News


Loving Your Enemies

I have found myself in a habit of reading or listening to a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. about once a year. So yesterday being a day in which we remember this great leader I Googled to find new sermon to read. (I need to just break down and buy a book with a set of his sermons)  I came across this one. The sermon was called “Loving Your Enemies” was delivered to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1957. He preached from Matthew 5:43-48.  While it is has a few cultural particulars of his day in regards to nuclear energy and communism it seemed amazingly on target for today. While the particular enemies that are depicted on the news and across the internet are different today in certain ways(in some ways they are NOT different) than during Dr. King’s day the message still stands. What Dr. King says is still a timely word of the Good News of God.

Here is just one paragraph, but the entire thing is worth listening to or reading!!!

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Click here to read the entire sermon.

Lord Jesus, may the eternal weight of your love weigh down on us until we can’t take it anymore and we are transformed into a people who love like you.  Amen.

Blossoms and Blacksmiths

Preaching is such a fascinating experience. As soon as I feel like I have found a stride in the art of sermon preparation and presentation something shifts. I have noticed two patterns starting to emerge, and when I live in one of the patterns for a while the other pattern typically shows up and takes me by surprise.

blossom 1443711_95563180One of the patterns is the blossom. I will be reading through the scripture like wandering through a garden and even though I have walked that path before I will turn my head and there, like it was never there before, a flower is blossoming. It is like the scripture just burst forth with life and the sermon blossoms right before my eyes.  I’m not saying that there isn’t any work to be done in studying, preparing, pruning, gleaning, refining, but the Good News comes alive like a flower blossoming before me.

 

Blacksmith_workingThe other pattern is that of the blacksmith. I feel like I am holding a hot piece of metal and blow after blow with a hammer a sermon begins to take shape.  Whether the scripture text is difficult or I am the difficult one, I am not sure. The scripture seems to exert itself on me as I try to fashion a sermon. I imagine I would never want to arm wrestle a real blacksmith, because after years and years of working so hard heating and beating the metal to shape it into something beautiful or something useful (Preferably both) the body of the blacksmith has been shaped, strengthened and molded.

I am coming to discover that both patterns are a gift in their own way. The beautiful surprise of God speaking in unexpected ways and unexpected places offering a life giving message of Good News, or the working with the scripture in such a way that through discipline and sweat God transforms me and in this process God reveals the beauty and power of The Word made flesh. So whatever pattern comes next I am learning to be thankful for the gift. Besides I wouldn’t be surprised if another pattern is just around the corner.

God thank you for your gift of scripture and your revealed love and truth. Thank you for your Good News that we can encounter in so many different patterns. Thank you that these gifts transform us. 

Amen

This is from my former DS in Louisiana.  It is something worth reflecting on as St. Paul UMC reflects on the possibility of a new worship service.

Messages, Methods and Meaning….

Here is one paragraph from his post:

I’m thinking, as only the first example, that the one hour, once weekly worship experience simply won’t be enough anymore. Multiple services, even delivered on multiple days will be necessary to reach more people. I’m not talking about a “longer” service. I’m talking about more opportunities for people to worship. There will no longer be one “main,” or “primary” worship experience. There may be four, or two, or even ten. It will all depend upon each individual context. The reality is that any congregation that continues to insist upon only one worship experience per week will likely continue to plateau or decline. There will be exceptions, but they’ll be just that–exceptions. I’m talking about variety in worship opportunities.

 

More Word Weight

ImageI have been thinking a great deal about the words that come out of my mouth. What I say, what I don’t say. How comfortable I am for awkward silence and when I am. Again I want my words to carry the burden of heaven – I want my words to have mass… gravity.  Not just stuff that is blown away by a gentle breeze and the tick of a clock. So I came across a prayer that Paul asked other’s to pray for him:

As for me, pray that when I open my mouth, I’ll get a message that confidently makes this secret plan of the gospel known….Pray so that the Lord will give me the confidence to say what I have to say.

So that’s my prayer too.  I re-scanned my tv channels the other day.  We are getting more channels and I noticed that channel after channel there were so many people looking right into the camera at me filling the world with words. It seems that most of these words had no gravity. It is not that I want my name remembered, it is I want the transformational power of the Word of God be the words I speak and there to be transformation. I want what I speak to be good news. Real Good News.