Sermons on Luke

Sermons on Luke

If Stones Could Shout

If Stones Could Shout Luke 19:28-40 Palm Sunday is one of those Holy Days where worship tends to find its most memorable expression not so much in the liturgy of the day, but in the optimistic atmosphere of the moment. In other years than this, it meant children, herded by their church school leaders, streaming along the sanctuary aisles, clutching armfuls of palm fronds to share with the congregation. It is the Church’s version of a Super Bowl victory parade…

Magnify the Lord

Luke 1:39-56 “My soul magnifies the Lord.” With those words Mary begins the wonderful song of faith and praise, that has come to be known as the Magnificat, which is the Latin word for magnify. My soul magnifies the Lord. What do you suppose it means though to magnify the Lord in your soul? One definition of magnify is to praise someone or declare the greatness of someone. So, to magnify the Lord with our soul means that we declare…

No Peace Without Peace Within

Luke 1:26-38 and Isaiah 40:1-11 An article in the NY Times caught my eye last week. It was titled: Pandemic-Proof Your Habits. The article was more psychological than spiritual in tone. But it had a lot to do with the topic of peace. The gist of the Times article was that human beings have a brain that is genetically wired to pursue that which gives us a sense of peace and security. We develop routines in life that make us…

Trail Magic

Luke 24:13-35 Those who hike, especially those who hike the Appalachian Trail, have an expression they use to describe the unexpected, awe inspiring events that sometimes happen to them on their journeys. “Trail magic,” they call it. Trail magic can be something natural, like a glimpse of wildlife, or the majesty of an awesome sunset. Trail magic can also be the unexpected kindness of strangers, such as a family offering to share its picnic with a passing hiker, or any…

X-Ray Insight

Luke 2:22-40 Appearances can be misleading. Case in point, a 400-year-old painting on wood of John the Baptist. The painting, which was housed in the Bowes Museum in England, had suffered some deterioration. Before a plan for restorative work could be begun, x-rays were taken to determine the extent of the damage to the wood beneath the paint. What was discovered has been called a “Christmas miracle.” The x-rays revealed another painting that no one knew was there because it…

Are We There Yet?-Peace

Luke 1:26-38 and Isaiah 2:1-5 This morning we lit the Advent candle of Peace. Which almost sounds like an oxymoron. Because for most people, Advent is a season characterized by everything that is contrary to peacefulness. Advent, or as most people call it, the Christmas Shopping Season—is a time of high anxiety and stress. The story of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear God’s Son however, is a surprisingly peace-filled Advent moment. There is a palpable…

Are We There Yet? -Hope

Isaiah 40:1-11 and Luke 1:5-17 Zechariah had served God faithfully as a priest in the Temple for all his life.  In fact, he and his wife Elizabeth were descended from priestly families whose roots stretched back to the time of Moses and Aaron. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. There was, though, one holy act of service, that had eluded Zechariah. Until this day. When the…

Do Not Be Weary in Doing What Is Right

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 and Luke 21:5-19 A Boston born and raised comedian named Steve Sweeney is known for his jokes about the pessimistic way New Englanders look at life. Like, if one New Englander says “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” you can count on another one coming back with a remark like, “Well, don’t get too used to it, there won’t be many more like this for a while.” We usually think of Jesus as being as optimistic as they…

Who? Me? A Saint?

Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31   Several Sundays ago, the Roman Catholic Church canonized five new saints. Which is news that might have easily slipped under the radar for many Protestants. Except that, in his eagerness to celebrate the event, Pope Francis tweeted out the message: Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. The Pope might be considered infallible in some things, but Francis was obviously ill informed about one thing. Little did he know that #Saints is…

Justification for the Back Pew Crowd

Luke 18:9-14 and Romans 3:19-31 I recently read an article that contained a tongue-in-cheek list of justifications for not sitting in the front pew in church on Sunday mornings. Since the front pews are the least populated neighborhood in the sanctuary, I have paraphrased a few of these justifications for you. If you sit in the back pew, there will already be money in the offering plate when it gets to you, so no one will even notice how much…

The Path of Much Persistence

Luke 18:1-8   Emmitt Smith used to be a running back for the Dallas Cowboys. Back in 2002, Emmitt set the NFL rushing record- a record that still stands-at 16,743 yards. It took him 13 years to reach that milestone. Which is a pretty impressive lifetime achievement. Until you do the math and figure out that 16,743 yards turns out to be… only a little over 9.5 miles. I cover that much distance every week, just walking Satya around town. Of…

True Life, False Loves

1 Timothy 6:6-19 and Luke 16:19-31 The Mazatec Indians in Southwestern Mexico are interesting people. One of the most intriguing things about them is the fact that they seldom wish one another well. This odd behavior stems from a cultural concept of “limited good.” They believe there is only so much good to go around. To wish someone well means you have just given away some of your own happiness. The Mazatec Indians’ entire approach to life is rooted in…

Stories We Tell; Stories That Tell Us

Luke 15:1-10 and 1 Timothy 1:12-17  We all have stories that we live by. These stories evolve early in life from messages that we pick up from others, or from the things that happen to us. But, at some point, we internalize these stories, so that they become stories that we begin tell ourselves about ourselves. After we’ve told ourselves these stories long enough, the stories we believe about who we are, acquire the power to shape the choices we…

Beggars’ Banquet

Luke 14:1, 7-14                                                Jesus had been invited to attend a banquet at the home of a leader of the Pharisees. These very upstanding religious leaders were watching Jesus closely, as if they expected him to step out of line in some way. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they kept inviting him to these dinners in the first place. Reading about their repeated attempts to expose Jesus as a phony is painfully similar to watching Wile E.…

Vortex (SUMMER SERIES)

Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Luke 13:10-17 What would a sermon series that was inspired by Sedona be without any mention of vortexes? Ever since the 70’s and 80’s Sedona has been a Mecca for spiritual seekers. One of the prime reasons has been the existence of places–called vortexes–where one is said to be able to encounter concentrated metaphysical energy and heightened spiritual experiences. Vortexes differ from most of Sedona’s other charms in that they are not appreciated with the eyes or…

Devil’s Kitchen (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 12:13-21 Some time in the early 1800’s, the peace and serenity of Sedona was disturbed by the sound of a thunderous crash and the sight of a great plume of orange-red dust billowing up into the air, as if spewed from the bowels of hell itself. Further investigation led to the discovery of a large sinkhole, which was aptly named Devil’s Kitchen. Then, in 1989, a second unexpected collapse event occurred which widened the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole even further.…

Foxtail (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 11:1-13 It was on the Soldier Pass Trail, near the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole, but not quite as far as Sphinx Rock, that we came upon Foxtail. A half dozen of us were hiking with yoga bags slung over our shoulders, following our trail guide/yoga instructor Cherlita. Our destination was a level rock shelf near the Seven Sacred Pools, where we would drop our mats for a yoga class beneath a clear blue sky and surrounded by the grandeur of…

Palo Verde (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 10:38-42 Today’s message marks the halfway point in our sermon series on “Stuff I Learned from My Summer Vacation.” The focus of the series has been how lessons about God can be found in the natural world all around us, if we are perceptive enough to notice them. And this Summer, some of my most memorable lessons about God have come during my vacation in Sedona, Arizona. In fact, the focal point of this morning’s sermon is Arizona’s official…

Devil’s Bridge (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 10:25-37 Devil’s Bridge is one of the most popular hiking trails in all of Sedona.  As is often the case, this trail gets its name from the destination to which it leads. At the endpoint of Devil’s Bridge Trail lies a 50-foot-high natural stone arch called Devil’s Bridge. Great numbers of people start out on Devil’s Bridge Trail, but not all of them end up crossing Devil’s Bridge itself. As the Devil’s Bridge Trail nears the Devil’s Bridge arch,…

What to Take with You, What to Leave Behind (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 The difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable hike often comes down to what you take with you, and what you leave behind. Ideally, your backpack will be light enough to not be a burden. So, you don’t want to pack it with non-essentials that could have been left behind. On the other hand, you want to make sure that you take with you those supplies that you might regret not having if a situation arose…

Century Plant (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 9:51-61 and Galatians 5:1, 13-25 The agave americana is a succulent plant commonly found in the deserts of Sedona. With its enormous leaves, capable of storing large amounts of water and sharp spikes along the edges of those leaves for discouraging thirsty animals from preying upon it, it is clear that evolution has given the agave americana the right tools for living a long and healthy life in the desert. Which is why the agave americana’s non-scientific name is,…

Cryptobiotic (SUMMER SERIES)

Luke 8:26-39 and Galatians 3:23-39 While the plants and trees that grow in Sedona’s desert landscape appear to be rugged and just about indestructible, something I learned on my Summer vacation is that it is actually an extremely fragile ecosystem. At most trailheads there are signs emphasizing the importance of not wandering from established trails just to get a better look at a scenic vista or to take a selfie beside a prickly-pear cactus. “Don’t Bust the Crust” is a…

The Exception to the Rule

Preached FCCW, April 21 2019 (Easter Sunday) Luke 24:1-12 I subscribe to a news magazine that, week after week delivers a pretty comprehensive summary of current events from around the globe. In every issue of this magazine, you will find a section named, “It Wasn’t All Bad.” As the name implies, this section is devoted to showcasing positive and upbeat stories about people acting courageously, kindly and selflessly. It is also the smallest section of every issue. Never taking up…

Some Secrets Are Made for Shouting

Preached Palm Sunday (April 14) 2019 Luke 19:28-40 and 23:13-25, 44-47 Secrets generally fall into two distinct categories. There are secrets that we guard with our very life because they are connected to some deep personal shame within us. We may carry these secrets for a lifetime and never come close to revealing them to another living soul. Because we can’t bear the thought of the rejection that would follow. Ironically, the only way to break the power that such…

The Parable of the Dishonored Father

Preached FCCW, March 31, 2019 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32   Some of the religious folks began to take notice that many people who were coming to hear Jesus teach were not like the audiences other rabbis attracted. And not in a good way. They said, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them!” So, Jesus told them this parable… In other words, this was how Jesus responded to their criticism about the company he kept and what it said about his…