From Joshua passing the river Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant, 1800, by Benjamin West. Wikipedia.
Last Sunday, November 5, 2017, I preached from Joshua 3:7-17, the account of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River. Joshua was connected to the past because he and Caleb were the only ones of their generation to endure and reach the promised land. But, Joshua was also a new leader for a new day in a new place. God’s promise to Joshua was “I will be with you as I was with Moses.” Here’s the audio of “Connected to the Past, Facing the Future,” which has insight for our churches today. I hope you find it helpful.
Today I preached from Genesis 45:1-15. It’s the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers who do not recognize him. Of course, there’s a lot to this story, and it’s one of the great stories of the Hebrew Bible.
It is also a timely story for the circumstances we in the United States are facing today. Where Joseph could have demanded retribution and revenge because his brothers sold him to passing merchants, he instead offers grace, mercy, and peace. Joseph is able to do this because he realized that God was at work in the life of his family and the nation. By offering forgiveness and reconciliation Joseph turns the brothers’ guilt and his father’s grief into joy and unity. I also ran across a great story that I think you’ll enjoy. Here’s the audio podcast:
Yesterday I preached on the story of Joseph and his brothers from Genesis 37. Arrogant Joseph with his multicolored coat, and his brothers who plotted to kill him when they saw him coming. This story resonates in light of the violence and hatred and death in Charlottesville, Virginia, just 110-miles north of where I live.
Joseph and his brothers illustrate the worst in our society today — division, hate, racism, and violence. Often, our first knee-jerk response to those with whom we disagree is to violent, vengeful thoughts. This Joseph story — with its division, hatred, and violence — is as old as humanity, and sadly often repeated.
Here’s the audio of my sermon yesterday. It’s only 18-minutes, but I think you’ll find it helpful. This is not about confederate monuments or free speech or political parties — its about violence, hatred, and vengefulness. These are never morally right, whether the cause is repugnant or righteous. Jesus has called his followers to respond in a totally different way from our society’s default to violence. Listen and tell me what you think. And pray for Charlottesville…and our nation.
Last Sunday I preached on the expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar from the family of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 21:8-21). We spend a great deal of time on the Isaac story — the promise of God to make Abraham the father of a great nation — but, we often overlook the Ishmael story. God also promised to make Ishmael the father of a great nation. And, Ishmael as part of Abraham’s household is circumcised as part of God’s covenant with Abraham. In addition, Isaac and Ishmael never fight, and both attend the burial of their father Abraham. What does this Ishmael story say about our attitudes toward the descendants of Ishmael, the people of the Arab countries? Listen to the podcast and let me know what you think.
On Father’s Day, June 18, 2017, I preached from Genesis 21:1-7, the story of the birth of Isaac to Sarah and Abraham. Considering Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, his first Father’s Day must have been memorable! Here’s the audio of that sermon:
Ascension Sunday too often is overlooked in our transition from Eastertide to Pentecost. But, the Ascension of Christ is a pivotal event that bookends the entire life and ministry of Jesus. Here’s the sermon from Acts 1:1-11 that I preached on Ascension Sunday, May 28, 2017, titled, “Why the Ascension Matters.” I hope you find it helpful.
Sunday, June 4, 2017, was Pentecost Sunday! In our church we all wore something red, which is the liturgical color of that Sunday. And, of course, I preached from Acts 2:1-21, Luke’s account of the Day of Pentecost. Here’s the audio of that message: