"You Are My Beloved"
Text: Luke 15:11-24
Some of Jesus’ parables are so rich in content, so layered with meaning, that we go back to them time and time again. It’s like that favorite film, or novel, or piece of music which never gets tired; a well that never runs dry. Every time we watch it, or read it, or hear it – whether it’s the second, tenth, or gazillionth time – it seems we’re re-inspired; re-fed; discovering fresh nuances and in- sights.
Text: Psalm 25
1 Peter 5:7
Way back in 1806, Noah Webster offered this definition of “anxiety”: “A painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind, usually over an impending or anticipated ill….accompanied by an abnormal and overwhelming sense of alarm and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” Two hundred and ten years later, does that definition match the experience of anyone in this room?
"Returning with Thanksgiving"
Text: Luke 17:11-19
Their faces were drawn. They had been sick for so long that their skin had taken on a grayish, ashen color. Their eyes were sunken; no sparkle in them, only desperation and hopelessness. We are reminded of those powerful scenes in a film about the Holocaust called “Schindler’s List,” as the camera panned the skeletal faces and bodies of men and women emaciated by abuse and neglect; faces which had forgotten how to smile; eyes which had cried themselves dry.
"Hearing Jesus' Call"
Text: Mark 2:13-17
1 John 1:5-10
There is a massive church in an upscale suburb of a major American city. We’ll call it “Church of All Saints.” For those who have been on my Confirmation Class field trips, think of East Liberty Presbyterian, on steroids.
"Suffering, Hope and the Holy Spirit"
Text: Romans 5:1-5
Pastor Joel Osteen. My impression is that he’s a good guy, and that his heart’s in the right place. He is definitely charismatic and engaging. He incarnates the positive thinking model of Norman Vincent Peale. And he touches more lives than perhaps any other modern evangelist. My problem with Joel is that for all the times I’ve listened to his preaching, I’ve never heard him once seriously engage the matter of suffering. Maybe he has, and I’ve missed it.