Sunday, May 01, 2016

God Is Our Light -- Sermon for Easter 6C


Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

On the first day of creation, God said: “‘let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good” (Genesis 1:3-4a). Every day when the sun rises the darkness flees, and we rejoice in the goodness that the light of the sun brings to our lives. As the Psalmist declares:
  15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
    who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
16 they exult in your name all day long, 
and extol your righteousness. (Ps. 89:15-16).
When I chose to preach on this reading from the Book of Revelation, I didn’t know that this would be the week that our new lighting system would be installed. I call it providential that we’re celebrating God’s light on the day that this room, which has been rather dark in recent years, gets bathed in new light. As we contemplate the new brightness of the room, we can imagine for a moment walking in the light of God’s countenance. 

Last Sunday we watched as the New Jerusalem descended from heaven to the New Earth. We heard the message that God had chosen to dwell among us. This morning, we hear that the Spirit has taken John to the top of a great mountain. From this perch, he can watch as the holy city of Jerusalem descends to earth. John invites us to use our spiritual imaginations to envision the breadth and length of the city, as well as the glory that radiates from it. If you take a look at the verses we skipped, you will get a good sense of the magnificence of this holy city of God.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

God's Home Is With Us - Sermon for Easter 5C

Revelation 21:1-6


One of the consistent messages of the Book of Revelation is that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all things. To borrow from Aristotle, God is the first cause. Or, as the Prologue to the Gospel of John puts it:  “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And, everything that exists was created through and by this  Word. Finally, a few verses later we learn that this “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:1-18). Not only is God the beginning of all things, but according to the Book of Revelation God is also the completion of all things.   

If God is the beginning and the end of all things, should we not also say that God is also present in all things at all times? As Rick Lowery reminded us yesterday in his sermon at the Festival of Faith, in a moment of theological crisis, the people of Israel learned that God is not limited to a piece of land, but that God is the God of all places and all peoples. No matter where you go, God is there with you. You may not always fell like God is with you, but that doesn’t mean that God is not there.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Drinking from the Water of Life -- Sermon for Easter 4C


Revelation 7:9-17

On this fourth Sunday of Easter we continue our journey through the Book of Revelation. When we last gathered, we found ourselves standing before the throne of God. We were singing praises to God and to the Lamb who was slain. This morning, we again find ourselves standing before the throne of God. We look around and we see a great multitude that is drawn from every nation and tribe and people and language. Together we declare that “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 

There is a company of people robed in white garments standing in the midst of this multitude. One of the twenty-four elders asks John: “who are these, robed in white, and where do they come from?” While John didn’t know the answer, he learned that they are the faithful witnesses who stood firm in the midst of persecution at the cost of their own lives. These martyrs stand before the throne of God waiting to receive their reward. This is their reward: they will hunger and thirst no more, because the Lamb will be their guide. The Lamb of God will become the shepherd who leads them to the springs of the water of life. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Time for Worship -- Sermon for Easter 3C

Revelation 5:11-14


The Book of Revelation is in many ways a book of worship! In fact, I think it is a call to engage our holy imaginations in the worship of God. 

If you’ve read any of the Chronicles of Narnia books, you know that the imagination can have a powerful effect on the way we see spiritual realities. In the best known of these books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy, who is the youngest of four siblings, discovers a pathway into the magical land of Narnia. When Lucy returns from her visit to Narnia, she shares her discovery with her older brother and sister. They dismiss her report as a mere tall tale. When she shows them the wardrobe, all they find is a wardrobe filled with old coats. There is no pathway, no portal, just the wooden back wall of the wardrobe. 

Sunday, April 03, 2016

To God Be the Glory -- Sermon for Easter 2C

Revelation 1:4-8

Easter Sunday was once again glorious! How can you beat trumpet and timpani accompanying the organ as we sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today?” It’s hard to move on from the glories of Easter Sunday, but the journey of faith must continue. As we go forward, the spirit of Easter remains with us as we worship the God who raised Jesus from the dead. Yes, to this God be glory and dominion forever!

The Book of Revelation is one of those books of the Bible that many find to be strange and even off-putting. Because the imagery and the language are so difficult to decipher, there have been many both ancient and modern who would like to evict it from the canon. Luther declared “It is just the same as if we had it not, and there are many far better books for us to keep.” Since the lectionary rarely offers the book, preachers rarely visit it. Despite the preachers mixed feelings, there is good news to be found in this book, and the creators of the lectionary set out a series of readings for this Easter season, which we will be exploring over the next few weeks!