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Take Up the Cross

5th Sunday after Pentecost

Take Up the Cross

Text: Luke 9:18-24

Who is Jesus?  You could make the argument that’s the most important question of all time.  This last week I saw a video of random people being interviewed on the streets of Richmond, VA.  The people were asked a number of questions including that all-important one—“Who is Jesus?”  The answers were all over the place.  “Jesus was a great teacher who lived a long time ago.”  “Jesus is a wonderful example of how to live that people can follow.”  One college-aged woman said, “I believe that Jesus was a real person who lived and taught and claimed to be the Son of God.  But I don’t believe that part because I’m an atheist and I don’t believe there is a god.”

If you polled other people I’m sure you would find other interesting answers, like, “Jesus is the founder of Christianity.”  “Jesus was a prophet like many of the other religions have.”  “Jesus was powerful figure that was looking to overthrow the upperclass regime of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  “Jesus is the ultimate example of love.”

This is not a new phenomenon.  Even when Jesus was walking this earth the same thing was happening.  All kinds of people had all kinds of opinions about Jesus.  Listen to the beginning of the Gospel today: Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’  They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’” Read the rest of this entry

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Something to Boast About

15th Sunday after Pentecost

Something to Boast About

Text: Galatians 6:12-16

Seventeen days ago, on September 4, 2014, comedienne Joan Rivers died.  Though she showed the battle wounds of countless plastic surgeries and several frantic decades of Hollywood life, it seemed to many that Joan Rivers was ageless and would keep going strong for years.  But after complications during a surgery, she finally passed away at the age of 81.  Not to worry though, Joan Rivers had her funeral planned out well in advance.

The funeral was two weeks ago at Temple Emanu-El in New York City.  Here are some of the details of the funeral.  Guests started arriving around 11am and were welcomed by the New York Gay Men’s Chorus singing “irreverent, fun songs” as they were described.  The Rabbi opened with prayers that were followed by Broadway star Audra McDonald giving a moving performance.

Next, several celebrities stood to honor Joan Rivers and share their fond memories and gushing compliments.  The last to speak was Melissa Rivers who read a touching letter that left the audience laughing.

Actor Hugh Jackman ended the service with another spectacular performance that ended with the crowd standing and cheering.  As guests left, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York was one of the songs played.

The funeral was apparently quite the event.  Hoda Kotb, co-host of the Today Show described the funeral this way:  “It felt like a Broadway show with tons of humor, lots of tears and it ended with a standing ovation.”  Hoda and countless other celebrities attended this extravaganza.  Although someone was conspicuously missing—Jesus.   Read the rest of this entry

Follow Christ and Live By Faith

8th Sunday after Pentecost

Follow Christ and Live By Faith

Text: Hebrews 11:24-26

Intro

Are you a value shopper?  I’m sure you are.  The U.S. economy, and perhaps even the Flagler County economy, are both plateauing a bit after rising for a while.  Yet how much America recovers remains to be seen.  The cost of gas is still skyrocketing.  The cost of cheese in Florida is ridiculous.  If I weren’t from Wisconsin I would almost think twice about how necessary it is.  In these uncertain times then, it’s important to be a value shopper.

Clip your coupons.  Go to stores like Walmart or Best Buy that honor coupons from other stores.  Shop the best deals.  Get the “But 1, Get 1” deals at Winn Dixie.  Buy in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco.  Wait for the Black Friday super discount deals.

These days we are trained to find great value buys.  These are the deals where it will never cost that low again.  These are the deals when Mr. Loberger walks into Besty Buy to buy a TV, finds all school supplies on sale, and buys literally every school supply in the store—$3,000 worth of supplies for $300 (true story).  That’s value!

There’s another use of the word value in our culture though.  That’s when something is valuable.  It might be small.  It might be expensive.  But that doesn’t matter if it’s valuable.  The personally autographed photo my dad got from Mickey Mantle when my aunt was in the hospital at the same time is priceless and valuable.  The copy of the red pew hymnal my family has signed by my grandfather who was on the hymnal production committee is priceless and valuable for a different reason.  My wedding ring is modestly pricey, yet still priceless and valuable.  The look on the kids’ faces when they found out we were going to Disney World a few weeks ago cost nothing but was priceless and valuable.

Almost everything we have we discuss in terms of value.  We have Zillow and other web sites or appraisers to value our homes.  Kelly Blue Book tells us how much our car is worth.  The Antique Road Show on PBS tells us how much the ancient garbage in our garage is worth.  The dollars flying out of our wallet tell us how much our spouse or our children are worth.  We love things that are either a bargain value or things that are valuable. Read the rest of this entry