Tag Archive: preaching


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.

water drop 668869_81880119A small part of a recent sermon that I preached was about identity. We looked how Jesus identity as revealed in the Gospel of Mark didn’t rest on his lineage, and didn’t rest on what he had done. The way we are introduced to Jesus is in his baptism in which God says “You are my son, whom I love”.  Jesus identity rests on who God says he is in his baptism. Similarly in our baptism God gives us our identity by declaring his love for us and claiming us as God’s child. This God given identity should have more weight, gravity, pull, influence, than any other identity that others try to give us or that we give ourselves. It has been interesting that starting the day after I preached this sermon I needed to hear my own sermon. I needed to remember who I really am.  Conversations and situations were threatening to sway me where I found myself in my heart wanting to either defend myself or attack. I had to wrestle with the good news I had recently preached and there was a struggle to remember my identity in Christ. Resting in my identity in Christ would be the only way also for me to truly hear the other person and see them as a precious child of God. Remembering the grace of God which gives me my identity in Christ  frees me up to repent and be transformed. Reconciliation and unity within the Body of Christ are possible when I am not posturing myself against the other, but when I take a baptismal posture that recognizes my identity in Christ is secure.

Gracious name calling God, thank you, that when your baptismal waters flow over us you name us as your own. Help us to grow into the security of your covenant love so that we may be perfected in that love and share that love perfectly even when the dry wind of resistance blows in us and around us. Amen

Doxology

I am now in my 4th year of seminary while serving as a student pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church. As the season of seminary will be drawing to a close after this year I am now participating in the process to become a Provisional Member of the North Carolina Annual Conference. This process involves some writing. Before this stage of my adventure in follow God began I had no idea, maybe besides seminary, what any of the U.M. pastors I had known participated in as they journeyed to become a pastor.

January 2nd of 2015 I have to turn in a large document where I have to write 15-20 pages about my strengths, growing edges, and experiences of leadership, then 15-20 pages about how I perceive my role as a provisional member along with my understanding of personal stewardship including everything from finances, to my health and my relationships. The third section I will write includes 20-25 pages about worship including a sermon manuscript and a video recording of me preaching and presiding at the communion table. The last section is 20-25 pages about my theological understanding of God and creation.

I have been to a number of meetings to prepare us for the writing process and I have begun to feel the stress about what all is required. A temptation has crept in to consider this work as a hoop to jump through. However, after reflecting on what Rev. Greg Moore said about how I am seeking to join a religious order and some other reflections, I have begun looking forward to this process. The level of effort and work will not change (it may even increase), but I am now coming to recognize that I have the blessed opportunity to write a Doxology. I get to write about God and how I have been invited to participate in the Triune God’s love, life and mission in the context of the United Methodist Church. I get to write a praise to God by answering questions like How do you understand the following traditional evangelical doctrines: Repentance; Justification; Regeneration;  Sanctification; The marks of the Christian life? and what is my understanding of the Resurrection and eternal life! I get to write a praise to God for the church and what the church’s role is God’s reign. I get to proclaim in writing the wonders and greatness of God.

I thank God for this opportunity. I pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire my writing so that what I write may truly be a doxology.

Father God, by the resurrection of your Son and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit may our lives be ever moving more and more toward a life of doxology. Amen.

Doxology

If you have wondered if God may be calling you to step in this direction of ministry I invite you to connect with me and in the mean time explore this site: http://thecallnc.org/

Asterisk hymnalWe celebrate Holy Communion during our Community Worship Service weekly, which is on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm. In preparing for a sermon I sometimes intentionally connect the sermon to the communion liturgy. So that the message ends up pointing to the meal which in turn points us to God revealed in Jesus Christ. However, I don’t always intentionally work this out, but more than not as we enter into the sacrament the words of the liturgy have come alive and reaffirm and even magnify the things I had attempted to share in the sermon.

I love that the United Methodist Hymnal has put asterisks * all through the liturgy. The hymnal says the * is for “words appropriate to the day, season, or occasion may be added at these points” I was talking to my brother last night about communion and it struck me that we actually anticipate Holy Spirit to speak. Not only can we highlight our journey through the Christian year by drawing imagery from Easter, Pentecost, or Christmas into the liturgy, we are given the * because God himself is meeting us at the table and it was the Spirit of Truth that has led us in worship, guided the sermon, and spoken through the scriptures and can now interject in the liturgy of communion.  We put the * because we actually anticipate the Holy Spirit to speak.

Recently I experienced this. I did not intentionally work out a connection to communion, but I preached on love and keeping the commandments of Jesus and emphasized the command to love and that God loved us first. Then we entered into communion and before you know it we were reading “Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us.”  My soul wanted to shout with joy – “That is what I tried spending 15 minutes saying!”  Then the first asterisk came after “Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.*”  I couldn’t help but remember out loud that God the Father is Love. The sacrament came alive in the words and in the meal as we shared the love of God in the flesh and blood.

I praise you God that you speak. I pray that you help us to place an asterisk not only in our liturgy, but in our lives trusting that you are going to break in and speak. I thank you for the intimate rhythms of communion and communing with you!