Text: James 4:13-16
Title: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.  Myth 4: I Always Know Best

Today, as you know, is St. Patrick’s Day.  Today, all the bars and pubs in Ireland are closed, while the bars in America stay open extra late.  Needless to say, getting bonkers drunk is not the most pious way in the world to celebrate the great deeds of the apostle to Ireland.  I wonder how many churches in America are making a serious attempt to observe today as a religious holiday.  So in honor of St. Patrick and out of deference to any Irish Lutheran pastors who may be in our midst, I’d like to say a few words about St. Paddy.  And I will tie this together with the theme for this week which is to shatter the myth: “I always know best.”

Did you know that there is actually a hymn in our hymnal which is attributed to St. Patrick?  It is a good baptism hymn and confesses a firm belief in the Holy Trinity.

You might be wondering: “Is it OK for Lutherans to commemorate saint days?  Isn’t that Roman Catholic?”  The Lutheran reformers felt that it could be beneficial to observe saint days, as long as the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church were avoided.  We don’t pray to the saints or seek favors from them, but it remains perfectly reasonable to remember their lives and the wonders God accomplished through them.  So we can do that freely, celebrate the accomplishments of God through the men and women who’ve served Him, sometimes heroically, down through the ages.

If you ask people who Saint Patrick was, you're likely to hear that he was an Irishman who discovered green beer or maybe he was a leprechaun.  Something about a pot of gold or a four-leaf clover.  It may surprise you to learn that the real Saint Patrick was not actually Irish.  He was English.

Text: Romans 3:21-24
Title: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.  Myth 3: I Should Never Have to Feel Guilty

We are about half way through our pilgrimage of Lent.  This is our fourth Wednesday together.  I’ve been working with a theme that I’ve called: “Myth-busting, Busting the myths that make us miserable.”  All of us go along through our lives telling ourselves little lies, myths about ourselves that we think will help us somehow have happiness or success, but which, in truth, are the source of our unhappiness and failure.

We revisit our theme of busting the myths that make us miserable.  And tonight’s myth is the idea that I should never have to feel guilty.  

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.  He used to tell of the time when, as a prank, he sent an anonymous telegram to twelve different men, all of them men of good reputation and high standing in society.  All twelve telegrams had the same message.  The message simply said, “I know what you did.  I’m going to tell the world unless you leave at once.”  They were all unsigned.  Within twenty-four hours, the story goes, all twelve of them had left the country.

It’s hard to imagine that this is a true story, but supposedly it is.  If it is true, what does it prove?  Seemingly, it proves that all people have secrets that they do not wish the world to know.

Text: Romans 12
Title: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.  Myth 1: It’s All About Me.

You may or may not know this about us yet, but we love animals.  Among pet owners, some people are dog people and some people are cat people.  We’re non-discriminatory.  We have two cats and a dog.  And they are indeed two very different species.  A dog looks at his owner and says, “This man feeds me; he cleans up after me.  He must be god.” A cat looks at his owner and says, “This man feeds me; he cleans up after me.  I must be god.”

This season of lent, for our midweek services, I am going to offer a sermon series that I am calling: “Mythbusters: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.” Each week, I will talk about a common myth or lie that we tell ourselves.  I think these myths are pretty much universal in the sense that all people basically fall prey to them, at least to some extent.  Tonight’s myth is: “Its’ all about me.”

And that’s where my little illustration of the dogs and cats fits in.  Dogs represent the nature of humanity prior to the Fall into sin.  Before Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s will by eating the forbidden fruit, they existed to serve God and one another.  That’s how my dog is.  She just wants me to be happy.  She exists to serve me.  Her highest desire is to please me.  Because in her mind, I’m like God.

Text:  Matthew 16:24–26
Title: Busting the Myths that Make Us Miserable.  Myth 2: The World Owes Me Happiness

[From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" 

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."]

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 

February 17, 2010 
Matthew 6:1-21

Today, on the church’s calendar, is Ash Wednesday. I wonder, what is the appropriate greeting on Ash Wednesday? “Happy Ash Wednesday” doesn’t sound right. “Blessed Ash Wednesday?” Maybe. I don’t think there is an official Ash Wednesday greeting.

Clearly, Ash Wednesday is not a holiday in the sense that we usually use that word. There are no Ash Wednesday parties. No Charlie Brown Ash Wednesday television specials. Holiday, no, but Holy Day, yes. This day is holy in that it marks the beginning of the holy season of Lent.

Between now and Easter, the Church will be encouraging its members to engage in a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves. Please, take some time each day, perhaps at bedtime to pray about this. Before God, acknowledge all the ways in which you have personally fallen short of His will for us and determine to change your ways. That’s repentance. It’s not easy and it’s not pleasant. We’ll sing hymns with titles such as “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” Serious stuff. But it’s good to be serious sometimes.

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