Title: Tough Love from God
December 5, 2010
Matthew 3:1-12

Have you ever taken one of those surveys where they ask you to name two or three people from history that you'd like to have dinner with? Predictably, a lot of people choose Jesus. Also a lot of people choose great individuals like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill. Or they'll select great entertainers like Bob Hope or Elvis Presley.

I can tell you one person that almost no one would ever choose for a dinner party and that would be John the Baptist. John was probably one of the most dramatic preachers who ever lived. He attracted huge crowds to hear him deliver his fire and brimstone sermons and to be baptized at his hand. One time, Jesus said that John was the greatest man ever born (Matthew 11:11). What does that say about you when Jesus Christ admires you and says you are the greatest person ever to be born of a woman?

But as great as he was, he was also pretty strange. He lived in the desert and he wore camel skins. He ate a diet of locusts and wild honey.

November 28, 2010
Text: Matthew 21:1-11
Title: The Consumer’s Gospel

By my count, I still have 26 more days to shop before Christmas. I always admire people who get their shopping done early. For years, my mom was one of those people. She would ask me for my Christmas wish list in July.

How many of you went to the stores at three in the morning on Friday to take advantage of all those day after Thanksgiving sales? The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because for many stores, it is the day when they first go in the black for the year and start making a profit.

For the last several years, I’ve been noticing stories of people standing in line outside Wal-Mart and Best Buy in the middle of the night to get the best bargains. Two years ago, a 34-year-old store employee at a Wal-Mart in New York was trampled to death when the crowds outside the door literally crashed through the glass a few minutes before 5:00 a.m. A young woman miscarried in the same stampede. Another man was arrested in Tennessee going to Target with a handgun and several phosphorus grenades in his jacket. It’s part Woodstock, part Lord of the Flies. Nothing says the spirit of Christmas like grown men punching each other in the nose to get their hands on Tickle Me Elmo.

November 14, 2010
Luke 21:5-28
Title: And He Will Come Again

Dr. George Sweeting, President of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, tells of the day he noticed an unusual combination of bumper stickers on the car of a man who was visiting the school. One read: JESUS IS COMING! and the other: ESCAPE TO WISCONSIN. Does the message that Jesus is coming fill you with hope or alarm?

Every time we recite the Nicene Creed in church, we say these words: And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead. The return of Jesus Christ for the final judgment is one of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. But do you perceive this as good news or bad news?

In our context, it is almost impossible to talk about the Second Coming without sounding like a crazy fanatic on a street-corner wearing one of those sandwich board signs that says, “The End is Nigh.”

November 21, 2010
Luke 23:27–43

A couple of weeks ago, we had a national election. Some of you are probably happy with the results. Some of you are probably sad. A few might be ambivalent.

I have high respect for anyone who decides to go into politics. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. It would be too easy for me to take a cheap shot by telling a politician joke. For instance, how can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving. That's a cheap shot. And it's not true. Not all politicians are liars and not all liars are politicians.

No matter who you vote for and no matter which political party you align with, it is our duty as Christians to respect all those who are in authority over us. And to pray for them. St. Paul wrote: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:1,2). Even if you don't agree with your leaders, maybe especially if you don't agree with them, we are obligated to pray for them that God would give them wisdom and help them to make decisions which are pleasing to God, and not just pleasing to their constituents. They are God's agents and work for Him most of all, not we the people.

October 31, 2010
Text: John 8:31-36

Have you ever heard about the Martian invasion scare that rocked America in 1938? On October 30, 1938, movie star Orson Welles narrated a radio adaptation of War of the Worlds, a novel by H.G. Wells (no relation to Orson Welles). This radio adaptation took the form of simulated news bulletins depicting ships from Mars landing in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey and attacking the human race. Because of the realistic nature of the program, there were reports nationwide of people contacting the authorities and visiting their neighbors in a panic. Some people drove the to site hoping to see the events unfold. Several people, who had brought firearms, mistook a farmer’s water tower for a Martian tripod and shot at it.

For listeners who missed the opening credits of the show, it wasn’t until about forty minutes into it that the radio station took a break and identified the program as part of the evening’s entertainment.

A lot of us can laugh at a story like that. We say, “Oh, people used to be so gullible back then.”

But what about us? We believe we know the difference between fact and fiction. Most of the time, we can distinguish between the fantasy of broadcast entertainment and the reality of daily life.

Redeemer Mission

Proclaiming to our community in word and deed the empowering love of God as demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Redeemer Lutheran Church

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