Jesus Christ calls us to be a joyful community that celebrates God's love, transforms lives, and is a force for justice in the world.

Sermons on Luke

Growing Pains

The point is that what we see here in this frantic and tense episode from Jesus’ life is true for all our lives. We belong to God, each of us individually and all of us together. That’s the core truth of Baptism: as children of God of whatever age, God is at work in all of our lives, even we can’t see or feel or know it. God is with us in the growing pains of faith, working out God’s good purposes.

Idle Tales

The people (the women and men) telling idle tales today are those who—like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others—dare to look for life in seemingly dead places, or better yet, people who work for life in places that have only known death. These are people who aren’t visionaries, necessarily, but who are still willing, in the grunt work of daily life, to keep telling stories of what is possible.

A Mirror to Us

This story—the whole story, all parts of it—hold up a mirror to us. In the harsh light, we see the truth of what humanity is capable of. We can see ourselves in Pilate washing his hands saying, “I’m just doing my job.” We can see our reflection in Peter’s betrayal a friend because of fear. We can see ourselves in the other disciples, as they flee; in Mary, who faces the agony of losing a child. We can see our reflection in the fickle crowds who shout “Hosanna!” one day and “Crucify him!” a mere few days later. It’s all there: disloyalty, dodging responsibility, mob rule, persecution, blaming, bloodshed, you name it.

Virtue in the Vice – Greed and Sloth

“Greed is the inordinate love of money and material possessions, and the compulsive behavior that is driven by the need to have more and more of both. The truly greedy person is never content and is willing to sacrifice everything (and everyone) to acquire more… Sloth is more than the cartoon of a couch potato. It’s the sickness of the soul that leads to complete and utter indifference.”

Resist and Rest

Two thousand years later and a world away, what can we learn from how Jesus confronts the Pharisees, while still upholding the practice of Sabbath? I see two relevant take-away points here: 1) resistance and 2) rest. Being faithful and courageous in these times is going to take holy stamina. As we try to follow in Jesus’ footsteps right where we are, Luke reminds us that there’s a time to resist and a time to rest… so we can keep resisting.

…for people

The point is that Jesus meets Simon exactly where he is. Jesus speaks to him in the matrix of his livelihood and culture. He gets in the boat with Simon and shows him how to catch an abundance that yields far more than he could have ever imagined. Simon’s vocation comes in the midst of everyday life. And that’s exactly where Jesus meets us: right where we’re standing.

Go the cliff

To quote Jack Good, “The text, then, is about both calling and task. Those who speak out must be able to report: ‘I cannot refrain from doing this. I am anointed by, pushed by, inspired by One who will not let me express my faithfulness in any other way.’ The opening scene of Jesus’ public ministry left no doubt: a commitment to Jesus involves a commitment to build communities of peace and justice. But first comes the calling.”

Because You’re Loved

But that’s not the molten core of your ministry. That’s not why you are called, at the foundational level of that vocation. You’re called because you’re loved. All that other stuff might be true, but it’s secondary to the fact that God is abundantly pleased with you. You might not hear a voice or see the clouds part and a dove might not descend, but it’s still true. God says, “You are my Child, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

Being With

What counts, what really counts at Christmas time, or any other season of the year for that matter, is being with. Time spent, sincere words exchanged, authentic presence offered— that’s what really matters. We know deep down that money, flattering words, and other “stuff” are poor substitutes.