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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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What Was It Like?

Transfiguration

What Was It Like?

Text: Luke 9:28-36

What Was It Like?  What was it like for two million Israelites to camp in the desert at the foot of Mt. Sinai?  After more than 400 years of slavery in Egypt, their God had led them to freedom.  They walked through the middle of the Red Sea on dry ground and turned to watch as the Lord crushed their enemies with those massive walls of water.  Now their God had asked them to camp and wait as he spoke with their leader Moses on the mountain.

What Was It Like to wait 40 days and 40 nights for Moses to come back down?  What Was It Like to watch our holy God envelope a mountain with a massive cloud, thundering and shaking the mountain with his awesome presence?  What Was It Like to know that you are so unholy, so unworthy that if you so much as even touched the mountain you would die?  What would you have done for those 40 days and 40 nights?  What would you have thought?  What would you have told your children was happening?

What Was It Like to see Moses finally coming down from the mountain, but to see his face was shining so brilliantly from the glory of the Lord that he had to cover his face?  What Was It Like to know that our God is so mighty that even a fraction of his glory reflected on a human face was too much to handle?  Read the rest of this entry

Sermon on Luke 9:28-36

Transfiguration Sunday

Inspiring Glory

Text: Luke 9:28-36

Intro

I’m about to ask you to do the one thing a preaching pastor never wants the congregation to do.  When they teach us homiletics (preaching class), they tell us this would certainly be a sign that your sermon is not going well.  But I’m willing to take the risk today.  Are you ready?  I’m going to ask you to close your eyes—But wait!  NOT YET!  There are a couple of rules for closing your eyes.  1) You must open your eyes at some point and continue to pay attention and 2) I want you to envision the most awe-filling and inspiring scene you have ever witnessed.  Maybe it was when you stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon.  Maybe it was having Hawaiian waves crash on your feet while watching a sunset.  Maybe it was watching a hurricane rip apart your yard or house.  Maybe it was watching your children being born.  Whatever is the most awe-filling and inspiring thing you have ever seen, close your eyes and envision it right now.  Go.

(Pause for imagination)

Alright, open your eyes again.  (I mean it!  Open your eyes!)  What did you see?  Something that left you speechless? Something you had to snap a few pictures of?  Something that left you dumbfounded and amazed?  Something that put a lump in your throat?  Certainly something inspiring.  We all love to share with others the things that inspire us, because we all love those things that inspire us.

Well buckle your seatbelts, hold on tight, and focus your eyes of faith because today you are going to see something so grand, so amazing, so awe-filling that you will never forget it—and you will just have to tell everyone you know.  Today you are going to see Inspiring Glory. Read the rest of this entry