Sunday is coming! “When the sky is falling…Trust God” Mark 13:1-8

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.” (Mark 13:8)

Jesus may not be describing a dystopian future to fear as he is describing the real world in which we live. He is calling a thing what it is: the world is violent and unfair; full of forces more powerful than us we cannot control. Our present day news cycle reminds us of how dangerous and fragile the world is.

This scene takes place as Jesus and the disciples leave the Temple after a few days of teaching and calling out the hypocrisy and corruption of the religious establishment. The cross on Good Friday is only days away. The disciples comment that the buildings are beautiful – a hope built in stone that God is near and they will be God’s people forever. Jesus tells them that the Temple will be razed, the things built by human hands will pass away and all they take for granted will be destroyed. The birth pangs are coming.

What is the message?

Fear? Wrath? Helplessness?

No.

Trust God. Especially when the world is on fire and everything we know seems to be shattering into pieces…

Our sense of permanence is broken into pieces every time our temples lay in ruins.

Our sense of control is thwarted by every new disaster; every new tragedy; every new horror unleashed into the world.

Our sense of justice is challenged every time the innocent suffer and the guilty go free; the impoverished are squeezed as the greedy are rewarded; and the oppressors get away with exploiting the vulnerable.

Trust God.

Nature threatens us.

People threaten us.

Change threatens us.

Trust God.

Jesus does not teach us to avoid suffering or how to escape from life when it challenges our false sense of stability, security and scrutiny. He shows us how to face it when it feels like the sky is falling by living for others.

Do not be afraid. Pray. Act.

Trust God.

God is with you no matter what destructiveness threatens you. Jesus raises you to be part of a new community that brings life to a dying world. Stay attentive to today and all its troubles. Then love your neighbor with everything you’ve got.

PGS

http://2baldpastors.com/sunday-is-coming-when-the-sky-is-falling-trust-god-mark-131-8/

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“All In: disparity, defiance, delight” a sermon on Mark 12:38-44

11/11/2018

Sermon on Mark 12:38-44
“All In: disparity, defiance, delight”

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Old Saybrook, CT

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Everything is Figureoutable

Another mass shooting.

This time is Thousand Oaks, CA.

Last time in Pittsburg, PA.

Another time I may have overlooked.

Many, many, many times before that.

In all likelihood, many more to come.

What will we do about it?

Thoughts and prayers.

Empty partisan responses.

Fear. Anger. Blame. Retreat.

Silence.

Another tragedy is already being planned somewhere, and awaits our (my) passivity.

I would like to believe that we are (I am) better than this – but our (my) track record of inaction speaks for itself.

I weep for the dead and their loved ones.

I weep for those who say it is “impossible” to do anything to prevent this from happening again to another person’s child, parent, spouse, sibling, cousin, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, grandparent or friend. Yet when it happens we will cry out “why?”

I weep for those who see the only response to fear and violence to be more fear and more violence.

I weep for those who whose emotional, physical, mental and/or spiritual state pushes them to implode upon themselves or explode at others.

I weep for our unfettered access to mass destruction.

I weep for the children (including my own) who must live in a world under siege.

I weep for myself.

When will we begin to believe – that our challenges are figureoutable?

That people’s lives are of infinite and eternal value?

That with God all things are possible – even when we feel small and vulnerable?

That the only impossible things to overcome are the things we are not willing to work on?

That what is standing in the way of change is ourselves?

I believe:

Out of the darkness; comes the light.

Where there is despair; there is hope.

Where there is pain; there is comfort.

Where there is doubt; there is faith.

Where there is hate; there is love.

All we have to do is keep seeking it. And when we don’t see it – relentlessly seek it some more.

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

You can too.

We all can figure out this seemingly impossible mess together – but we must first believe that it is possible that we can.

PGS

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2 Bald Pastors Season 3, Episode 5: Stewardship

http://2baldpastors.com/stewardship/

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Sunday is Coming! “Learning stewardship from a poor widow” Mark 12:38-44

But she out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44)
 
After reading through this passage a few times, this scene seems to say much more about faith than it does about financial giving. True, the widow puts her last two bits into the offering while the rich people congratulate themselves about the large sums they have offered. True, many (including this preacher) have used this story as a motivator to urge people to dig deep when it cones to financially supporting the work of the church. True, Jesus wants our whole lives and not just a portion of our time, efforts and possessions. When Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:24) it is a full-time, whole-life devotion he invites us to pursue.
 
But there is another angle to explore in this text that is worth considering. Notice the difference between the wealthy and the poor widow. They don’t give this money for the good it might do, the people it might support, or the programs it might expand or continue. They give it to feel good about themselves. They give it out of obligation. They give it so others can see them because they are concerned about what others think about who they are. This passage calls us to check our own motivations for the good we do (or hope to do) or the things we support through our time, efforts and resources.
Is our giving selfless or for the greater good? Or do we give to primarily serve our own pride?
 
The widow on the other hand is alone. She has no one to impress. She doesn’t give her last bits to feel good; she goes to the Temple to give her last possessions away so she can die. She doesn’t give out of obligation; she gives away all sense of attachment she has left. She doesn’t care what others think; she has only come to be with God. She ultimately puts her life (and whatever comes next) into God’s mercy and care. What attachments keep you from giving your whole life to God? Maybe this is a stewardship text after all – but not in the ways we once thought. The question for us as both hearers of this story and as managers of the lives God has given to us is this: Which of these people we hope to be?
Do we manage what we have based on peer pressure? or can we dig a little deeper than that and focus on our relationship with God? Do our resources and relationships say more about what we hope others think about us or does our time, efforts and resources reflect our trust in God? The widow is an example of faithfulness that brings our stripped-down selves before God saying, 
 There is nothing left to keep me from you. I am yours.”
I hope to trust in God like that. Do you?
PGS
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“Candles for All Saints” a sermon on John 11

11/04/2018
All Saints Sunday

Sermon on John 11:17-44
“Candles for All Saints”

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Old Saybrook, CT

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Sunday is Coming! “Come Out!” John 11 for All Saints

“(Jesus) cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” (John 11:43)

Come out – followers of Jesus. Those whose uncertainty prevents them from trusting that where Jesus is leading or knows what he is doing. Those whose falsely projected courage reveals only their true fear underneath. “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Come out – Mary and Martha; whose pain accuses Jesus of abandoning them in their time of need. Grief kept them from seeing the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) now embracing them. Get up. Turn around. Believe.

Come out – from behind your tears those who are in sorrow. Jesus weeps with you (John 11:35). His love embraces you. His life is given for you.

Come out – of the grave Lazarus. Be raised to new life. Join the banquet. Untie those bandages (John 11:44).

Come out – church. Stop hiding behind closed doors. Be not afraid. Take with you the promise of grace, mercy and peace that Jesus brings into the world. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). Jesus is here.

Death has no power over you.

So why be afraid?

Rejoice and be glad for the Lord is near.

PGS

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”  (Revelation 21:4-5)

http://2baldpastors.com/sunday-is-coming-come-out-john-11-for-all-saints/

Posted in 2 Bald Pastors, Sunday is Coming!