It's the beginning (again), not the end!

Well today is the last day on the ancient Mayan calendar, so I expect there will be a lot of jokes and memes all over social media. Since the doomsday prediction is coming from a different religion, I doubt that the far-right fringe of the Christian community will embrace it. I did see a new phrase that has been coined by the Daily Beast: the Barackalypse, which refers to the way that Obama's reelection has sealed the world's fate. I remember when the turn of the millennium was approaching, … [Read more...]

Isaiah 11: making lions into lambs (a sermon in slides)

I've decided to keep things simple. Here is the audio from this Saturday's sermon:And here are my slides.[slideshow] … [Read more...]

Jesus come back ('cause we've gotten off track)

This is Advent translated into hip-hop for Christians who are able to admit that we don't always do a good job of taking up our cross to follow Jesus and want to try again to serve our king by marching for His kingdom. Lyrics are below. … [Read more...]

Occupy the manger #8: A season of peace?

Yesterday, I had to do the devotional for our church staff meeting so I chose Isaiah 9:2-7 which is the Old Testament reading for this final week before Christmas. This is the passage that describes Jesus as the "prince of peace." We pondered together what it means to understand peace as the agenda for Christmas. … [Read more...]

Waiting on God’s revolution (2 Peter 3)

Sermon preached at Lifesign, Burke UMC 12/3/2011 Text: 2 Peter 3:8-15Have you ever wanted to hit the reset button on life? I remember the original Nintendo had two buttons: power on the left and reset on the right. And whenever my friends would talk too much smack about beating me at a game, I could always hit the reset button so that the score would disappear and we would start over from scratch. I’ve had a similar feeling in adult life whenever my wife and I clean house together and the h … [Read more...]

Occupy the manger #3: the eternal Word (Isaiah 40)

Isaiah 40 is our Old Testament reading for Advent this week. Isaiah 40 is famous for being the prophetic text about John the Baptist: "the voice of one calling in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord," etc. But I was drawn to a different aspect of the passage when I read it: All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them... The grass withers and the flowers fall, … [Read more...]

Occupy the manger #2: a landscape of glory (Psalm 85)

The word "glory" is one of those Biblical words that we use a lot without necessarily contemplating what it really means. I know there's a movie Glory about black soldiers fighting in the Civil War that I've never seen. In one of my favorite childhood Disney Channel movies, The Fighting Prince of Donegal, Prince Hugh says before the climactic battle, "The greatest glory shall go to him who takes the greatest risk." And then of course, there's the popular church hymn that says, "To God be the … [Read more...]

Occupy the manger #1: God’s poverty

For the duration of Advent, I'm going to be focusing my blog posts on the concept of "occupying" the manger of Jesus, or making it our central focus in a time when so many things are competing for our attention. Every week in Advent, there is an Old Testament reading, a psalm, a gospel reading, and an epistle reading. I will be looking to these for inspiration as well as Mike Slaughter's book Christmas is Not Your Birthday, which we are reading together as a congregation. My first devotion comes … [Read more...]

Preparing the Way of the Lord

Sermon for Advent, 12/4/2010 Text: Matthew 3:1-12Let me just be honest. John the Baptist frustrates me a little bit. He’s like the crazy uncle you invite to your Christmas party since he’s good for some laughs, and he ends up going on an awkward, angry rant that makes everybody leave. Instead of telling stories about his adventures in the desert eating locusts and honey, John calls the guests a “brood of vipers” and says that God is ready to cut them down with an ax if they don’t have “fruits w … [Read more...]

Lust, Advent, and Foucalt’s Panopticon

Seven Deadly Sins Sermon Series, 7 out of 7 --11/28/2011 Text: John 3:19-21So what do you do when your seven deadly sin sermon series spills over into Advent? And the only deadly sin that hasn’t been addressed yet is lust because it’s the most awkward one to talk about? Advent is the G-rated time in the Christian calendar. It’s about angels and babies wrapped in swaddling clothes and petting zoos with three year-old shepherds. It’s about Mary’s giddiness upon having her first child that caused … [Read more...]