Sermon: Trolling Jesus

October 19, 2014 – “Trolling Jesus” from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at John Knox Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on October 19, 2014.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
and Matthew 22:15-22 
(Click above link for the Scripture texts upon which this sermon is based)

Editorial note: I’m working on correcting spacing issues. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.

XelaDiaDeLosMuertos

Dia de los Muertos decorations, Xela, Guatemala 2010.

 

Writer and humorist David Sedaris tells a story of when he was eight years old
and moved to a new town where the only family on his block
who didn’t own a television were the Tomkeys.[i]

Instead of a TV, the Tomkeys had a boat,
and on the weekends,
they would leave town and head for the lake.

That year, Halloween fell on a Saturday.
David and his sisters dressed up and went
from house to house collecting candy.

The next night, as David and his family sat watching TV, the doorbell rang…
…and there, on their doorstep, stood the Tomkeys,
the parents dressed normally
and the two children in Halloween costumes.

The father explained that they had spent the weekend at the lake
and so the children had not been able to trick or treat.
“So I guess we’re trick or treating now, if it’s not too late.”
“Of course it’s not too late,” David’s mother said.

Then she told her children to go and get the candy.

“The candy’s all gone,” one of David’s sisters said.
“We gave it all out last night.”

“Not that candy,” their mother said. “The OTHER candy.”

“Do you mean OUR candy?” another sister asked.
“The candy we earned?”

The children knew this is what their mother must mean,
especially when she fixed them with THAT LOOK
that mothers can give.

They hurried off to their bedrooms.

In his room, David grabbed the brown paper bag marked “My Candy. Keep Out.
He dumped it on his bed
and started searching for the crummiest candy,
the only things he would even consider giving away.

As he divided his candy into piles according to what he liked best
he knew that any minute
his mother would come into his room
and indiscriminately grab whatever she could
to give to the Tomkeys.

Then it occurred to David that the only thing to do
was to eat as much as he could right then and there.
So he started unwrapping the miniature chocolate bars
and cramming them into his mouth.

Moments later, his mother entered the room, and in desperation,
he started breaking apart the candy he couldn’t fit
into his mouth because, as he explained,
while it hurt to destroy them,
it would have hurt even more to give them away
.”

As his mother grabbed a roll of Necco wafers, he pleaded with her,
Not those. Not those,
and as he did, bits of chewed up chocolate
sprayed from his mouth.

His mother just looked at him and said,
“You should look at yourself. I mean, really look at yourself.”1

It is the invitation the Bible offers us every day: look at yourself.
What is your life built upon?
What matters?
Who are you, really?
What are you capable of doing and being?

[Read more...]

Sermon: The Peace of God

October 12, 2014 ~ “The Peace of God” from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at John Knox Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on October 12, 2014.

Matthew 22: 1-14
and Philippians 4:1-9
(Click above link for the Scripture texts upon which this sermon is based)

Editorial note: I’m working on correcting spacing issues. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.

Prayer-Flags-Ama-Dablam_imagelarge

Last May, you might remember, May 2013,
a horrific tornado flattened a path through Moore, Oklahoma.

A week later I read this story
about Jeff Akin, who had travelled from his Wisconsin hometown
to the wreckage there in Oklahoma
to see what he could do to lend a hand.

He was just a part of a disaster relief group
that grew out of volunteer efforts
in the years after Hurricane Katrina

And now here he was,
walking through the suburban Moore, Oklahoma neighborhood
of twisted and flattened homes,
handing out sandwiches and bottles of water from a Styrofoam cooler.

He talked with bystanders,
and invited people he met to a local community center,
where they could find meals and clothes and tetanus shots.

And in the midst of all of this—he offered them his prayers:
“God bless you people”
he called out to the families and the workers,
clearing debris left by the tornado
that ripped through Moore
killing two dozen people
and causing more than 2 Billion dollars worth of damage.

He paused for a moment and sized up what he was looking at:
“I can’t believe this; I’m almost in tears” Akin said,
as he looked upon the unrecognizable mounds of fallen brick
and splintered wood.
“I am just so grateful that I could be here.”[i] [Read more...]