Sermon: Wanting to See Jesus

March 22, 2015 ~ "Wanting to See Jesus" from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at John Knox Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on March 22, 2015.

Psalm 51:1-12
and John 12:1-8

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

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(Click above link for the Scripture texts upon which this sermon is based)

What is your capacity for love?[i]

A friend once sent me an email
of children’s answers to the question “What is love?”

There were all sorts of things in there, from love of pet dogs
to touching stories involving turtles and ice cream.

I think my favorite response was this:
“When my grandmother got arthritis,
she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time,
even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

That is love, I suppose
— sacrificing all sorts of pride and comfort for the one you love.

///
Or how about this story, you may know it,
about a young couple, Della and Jim.
Della and Jim were very poor, but very much in love.

Each had one unique possession.
Della’s hair was her glory.
When she let it down, it almost served as a robe. That’s how it covered her.

Jim had a gold watch which had come down to him from his father
and it was his pride.

It was the day before Christmas, and Della had exactly
one dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy Jim a present.

So, she went out and cut her hair and sold it, for twenty dollars;
and with the money,
she bought a platinum chain for Jim’s heirloom pocket watch.

When Jim came home that night and saw Della’s head shorn.
He stopped, breathless.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like the way she looked, or loved her the less;
She was lovelier than ever. She moved him. Deep in his spirit.

Slowly he handed her his Christmas gift:
a set of expensive, tortoise-shell combs with jeweled edges for her hair.

He had sold his gold watch to buy them for her.[ii]
[Read more…]

Sermon: The God Who Does Not Condemn

March 15, 2015 ~ “The God Who Does Not Condemn” from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at John Knox Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on March 15, 2015.

Ephesians 2:1-10
and John 3:14-21

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

(Click above link for the Scripture texts upon which this sermon is based)

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Why?
The questions of why.

We people of faith are great at them.
Why does a bad thing happen to someone we care about?
Why is that wonderful parent sick?
Why can’t I find a job?

And then, on our more hurried days, what seem to be the questions we get caught on:
Why am I stuck in traffic when I’m so late? Every red light? Really?
Why do I always choose the SLOW line at the grocery store?
Or, before last year, that timeless question:
Why do the Royals always seem to be out of it by late April?
If God is a Good God we won’t revert to our old form this year.

We are good at asking questions. It’s a faithful thing to do, I think.
It’s what we human beings are inclined to: we ask questions; we seek understanding.
It is part of our what makes us human,
an innate desire to understand and to know God
a yearning to fit into a larger design for the world, for our lives.

Sometimes, though, as we are searching for why,
whether the big questions, or the lesser ones,
we might miss what is perhaps the most important question:
Why this—God so loved the world that God gave the only Son.

Why that?

Why would God do that?

Why would God sacrifice the only Son? Now THERE’s a why question.
Why in the WORLD does God love us?

Why DOES God so love the world? Why does God so love me?

///
Best as I can tell, there isn’t much logic to it.

Why does God love this reluctant-to-trust,
reluctant-to-be-extravagantly-generous,
reluctant-to-be-forgiving,
quick-to-judge,
quick-to-harbor-resentments,
quick-to-find-excuses,
quick-to-covet-power-and-CONTROL-everything humanity?

A quick read through the news websites or fifteen minutes watching the Daily Show
tells you all you need to know about how messed up we seem to be sometimes.
All too often, it seems God loves the world, in spite of the world.

Could it be that God is simply more loving than our logic can figure—
so loving that God would sacrifice the only Son
that we might have life eternal, and life abundant…

Questions of faith… [Read more…]