I will admit right away that I stole the title of my message this morning from a book by the same name.The book was written by former President Jimmy Carter, who was, in my opinion the most honest man to occupy the White House in over 100 years, and he was even more so than some we’ve seen since.I want to add a little commentary here; I actually had someone several years ago ask me why I would preach a sermon on subjects like what I’m doing today.I told them it’s because that’s the way I was brought up.And then I told him, “When I get to heaven and my maker says to me, “Did you do what I asked?’I will say yes.And when he asks me to prove that fact, I will open my hands and my heart and show him my scars.”
I chose this topic after a couple of people talked to me about the decline in morals in this nation. They were concerned about the future of our country and what was going...
Magnificat is the Latin word for “Magnify.”In this passage Mary was magnifying the glory of God.And for good reason; Mary was not unaware of the talk of the coming of the long awaited Messiah and through the visit of the angel she has learned that she will be the one to give birth to him.
One of the interesting things about this prayer of Mary’s is that there have been some Bible scholars who want to attribute it to Elizabeth instead, but most scholars believe it to be Mary’s.If you read the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 you will find a similar message.Too me this says a lot about Mary’s faith and her upbringing.It shows that she knew something of the writings of the early prophets and she felt drawn to this particular one.
The prayer of Mary has always been one of my favorite Scripture readings in the Bible.It is so amazing to me that this young lady would have such faith; to be quite frank, more faith than...
TITLE:“Gabe and His Message”SCRIPTURE:Luke 1:26-38
DATE:December 7, 2008
After reading this passage a little closer I decided I would try to break it down into short snippets.The main reason I want to do this is that there are some people who have a little trouble understanding the lineage of Mary and Joseph as well as whether or not Mary was actually married to Joseph at the time all this happened.This has been an ongoing controversy in the Church for generations.
In the first two verses of this reading God again sends Gabriel to deliver what was disturbing and delightful at the same time.It was disturbing because of Mary’s age and the fact that she was “betrothed” to Joseph.In the early Jewish traditions betrothal meant more of a courting period than actual marriage, similar to our engagement period.Even in the reading from the New International Version of the Bible it says that Mary was “pledged” to be married to Joseph.
The other interesting point in this passage is that lineage here is traced through Joseph, which wasn’t common in those days. ...
TITLE:“What am I Thankful For?”SCRIPTURE:Psalm 100
DATE:November 23, 2008
Today is going to be a rather lighthearted message.We keep picking up the newspapers and read nothing but doom and gloom so I thought it was time for a respite.I hope that the rest of you can place yourself in this message and I’m sure you can.It is too bad that the only time many people think of being thankful is this one holiday.But, then again, there are many who think of it only as a day off work or a day to watch football.Too me it’s more than that.
When I think of all the things I’m thankful for I can look at my life and believe that it’s been a pretty good one so far.I’m thankful for parents who brought me into this world, especially for a mother who taught me to treat others with respect and they’ll treat you the same way.I’m thankful for great teachers who have taught me how to put a sentence together, to use math in my daily life, to speak before...
TITLE:“How Far Have We Strayed?”SCRIPTURE:I Corinthians 3:1-23
DATE:November 16, 2008
I have mentioned several times about the way I feel the Christian faith has drifted from its original mission.Over the centuries we have split so many times it’s hard to keep track of who’s who.When I was teaching the World Religions course at DMAAC I had made a list of all the different Christian denominations here in the United States.I don’t remember for sure, but I believe that at the time there were over 250.There may be even more than that by now.
The more I have researched the various splinter groups who have broken off from their original base the more confused I get as to how so many have drifted so far from the Doctrine of Jesus Christ.When I say splinter groups, I’m referring to groups like the Heaven’s Gate group, the Branch Davidians, Jim Jones, and the many others who have caused confusion for many who are searching for a spiritual home.
I like to sum up Jesus entire theology in two words, “Do Good.”But so...
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
TITLE:“The Sanctity of Human Life”SCRIPTURE:Ecclesiastes 3:1-17
DATE:November 2, 2008
This has been one of those weeks where you wonder if maybe there’s something to this alignment of the planets thing.I have conducted two funerals this past week and have a third tomorrow.And in between all that, I got a call Monday evening from my oldest sister telling me that the husband of one of our cousins had taken his own life.And then yesterday at the funeral home I was informed that there had been a 14 year old in Grinnell who had taken her own life as well.
Most of you know about my work in suicide and you know that I have been involved in this for quite some time.It started in high school with the death of a good friend.Gerald had been living at a home for troubled youth in Des Moines.On December 7, 1970, our home room teacher informed us that he had taken his own life the previous day.In the meantime I have had three other friends who have followed the same path....
TITLE:“These Two Commandments”SCRIPTURE:Matthew 22:34-46
DATE:October 26, 2008
I don’t usually use the Common Lectionary, but since I couldn’t think of anything else, I decided to check out what the suggested Scriptures were.I was a little sorry I did, but then again, I felt that in the climate of this country today, it might not be a bad idea.
Besides this passage from Matthew, the others were from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, the Psalms and 1 Thessalonians.
Each of these passages relay to us one very important issue, and that is for us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves.In every major religion, with exception to Buddhism and Jainism, the major focus is on the love of God.
I remember going round and round with a professor at UNI about the word religion.He made the statement that the word religion was a made up word.That’s one of those “here’s yer sign” moments.I told him that all words were made up.He said that this one was made...
TITLE:“What Was That Question?”SCRIPTURE:Genesis 1:26-30
DATE:October 19, 2008
I have talked about a specific question asked of me at my ordination interview and I thought this might be a good time to repeat the question and give a more coherent answer this time.I will not mention any names, but I will tell you that the committee member who asked me the question was a minister in the Des Moines area at the time and last I knew she was at another church in southwest Iowa.
The notorious question went something like this, “How would you explain the story of Adam and Eve to your congregation?”My answer sounded like a vice presidential candidate we’ve heard lately.I just rambled, and I know she didn’t like my answer.Rev. Les Borsay, the minister from Central Christian in Waterloo was there with me.That was the last question asked that day so they sent me out of the room to discuss what they were going to do.Rev. Borsay came out to get me and before we went back into the room he said to...
TITLE:“Doing Away With Prejudice”SCRIPTURE:Galatians 3:23-29
DATE:October 12, 2008
We had our Regional Assembly in Des Moines yesterday and I witnessed some of the most bigoted language I’ve heard in a long time.I know of several people I would consider being bigots, and unfortunately some of them are clergy members.I’ve also known some I would consider to be racists.In my dictionary of thought these are two different groups of people.A bigot is one who is intolerant of other’s beliefs. This applies to religion especially.On the other hand a racist is one who is intolerant of any person who is not like themselves.A good example of this would be groups like the Aryan Brotherhood or the American Nazi Party or the Skin Heads.
In reading the entire recorded words of Jesus, nowhere do I hear him speak of turning someone away because of their skin color or their national origin or their political affiliation or their sexual identity.Jesus invited anyone and everyone to follow him.And I invite all to the Lord’s Table each and every Sunday. ...