Saturday, May 25, 2019


Sermon Summary (5/19/19) “Peter’s Restoration” (John 21:1-19)

We’re continuing our Belief and Hope series.  Today Peter.  Peter who had denied Jesus three times, who wept bitterly in shame when so doing; Peter who believed he was not worthy, and who had decided to return to his old ways as a fisherman.  Peter who had lost hope.  Jesus meets him where he finds him and restores him and commissions him to become one of the great leaders of the church

Peter was in a dark place.  It happens.  It happened to John of the Cross in the 16th Century, to M. Teresa in the last.  We become disconnected from God.  Our relationship severed.  We become like Peter.  We say, “I’m going fishing.”

That’s the human condition.  That’s the story of the Old Testament.  That’s the remedy of the New Testament.  Jesus calls us back.  It is a story for us.

Remember, Peter has best intentions, “Even though I must die with you, I will never deny you.”  But Jesus knows us. “Before the cock crows, you will deny my three times.”

At some point, Peter leaves Jerusalem.  There are seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee some weeks after Easter.  Peter says, “I am going fishing.”  Essentially, I am returning to my old life.  Jesus may never show up again!  They catch nothing.  Their life will be empty.  But, but, Jesus is on the seashore.  “Put your nets down on the right side of the boat.”  There nets are filled, 153 kinds of fish (maybe the known number of species) and their nets do not tear (maybe their commission that all the world is their parish and that not one nation will be lost). 

John says (getting one step ahead of Peter), “It is the Lord.”  Peter, who was bare chested, puts on his clothes and jumps in the water to see Jesus.  “Oh, if he would just forgive me!”  After breakfast, Jesus, three times, asks “Peter, do you love me?”  Three times, Peter responds, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.”  Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” 

This is a story of the restoration of hope and of commissioning.  For us.  Like John, we need to connect with Jesus, “It is the Lord.”  Two, we need to put Jesus in charge of our daily activities, “Put your nets down on the right side of the boat.”  Three, we need to dine with him, “Come and have breakfast.”  Four, we need to listen to him, “Feed my sheep.”  And lastly, we need to respond, “Follow me.”  If the greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” we ought to love someone in the name of Christ each and every day.  “Feed my sheep.”

It begins with our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  It continues with our renewal of hope: That the worst thing is never the last thing, and that Easter changes everything. It is reinforced with our understanding that Jesus “has the words to eternal life.” (John 6:68-69)  So may it be with all of us.  Amen.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Sermon Summary (4/28/19) “Thomas: From Doubt to Hope” (John 20:19-31)

We’re in the midst of a sermon series, “Belief and Hope.” The two main reasons people leave the church are a loss in belief in God and in confronting evil such that they have lost hope.  The resurrection is the source of our belief and of our hope.

Last week we said that to restore our belief and to renew our hope, we should make the resurrection part of our resume: Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and “Because I live, you shall live also.”  Second, to take Jesus to heart: internalize his stories, make them real for your life today.  What if our morning prayer was to ask how we could proactively live out the Golden Rule today?  And third, make faith define our meaning and purpose.  That is what we will talk of today.

Here’s where we’re going: If we will make our goals centered around our faith, we will live a joyful life.  If our goal is a joyful life, we will probably miss the joy and the life.  CS Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you’ll get the earth thrown in; aim at earth and you’ll get neither.”

(This past week we had a tragedy in San Diego when a 19 year old professed Christian walked into a Synagogue and shot worshipers.  How could he be so misguided?  He had been told in his church that the Jews killed Jesus and he made theology the center of his faith, his goal, rather than Jesus.  Can you imagine Jesus in a thousand eternities acting like that?  Jesus is the center of our faith.  Our goal, the center of our belief system matters.)

In John’s story, Jesus appears to the disciples in the Upper Room at evening on Easter.  To give Thomas a break, it wasn’t until Jesus showed the other disciples his hands and his side that they believed in him!  Then they rejoiced.  Resurrection became the thing that gave them meaning and purpose from that point on.  They believed!

Thomas reasonable doubted.  There is honest doubt and dishonest doubt.  When we honestly doubt, we are open to new information, new facts.  Examination of our doubts can lead to even greater understanding.  When Thomas saw Jesus’ hands and side, he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”  Not just “My Lord” but “My Lord and my God.”  This is the greatest statement of the Christ’s divinity in the Bible!

John concludes the story with “These stories have been told so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that in so believing, you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

The goal is not just believing, but “life,” “eternal life.”  Heaven.  “Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you’ll get neither.”  So may the goal of all of us be life!  Amen.


Sermon Summary 4/21/19, “Hope in a World of Disbelief” (Luke 24:13-27)

This week I found that a friend’s wife, Nancy, has a recurrence of cancer.  There is nothing that can be done.  Then just yesterday, another friend put his wife, Sally, in hospice after a long struggle.  A home visit made known another with terminal cancer.  What kind of world do we live in?  What kind of a God do we believe in?

What kind of God?  If my God is my puppet dancing on a string, I will soon time of him.  If he is my servant, always doing my will, I will soon misunderstand him.  If I believe God is not keeping his end of the bargain, I will soon reject him, even disbelieve in him.  What is the bargain?

The disciples on the road to Emmaus were in despair and without hope: “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”  Their bargain in following Jesus was redemption.  The death of Jesus did not hold up the bargain they believed in.  They were in despair. 

John completes his Gospel with our bargain: “These [signs] were written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and in so believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)  Life, Eternal Life is God’s bargain.  It is God’s plan for our salvation.

But we have doubts.  Rosemary’s sister, Dorothy, a woman of great faith, needed assurance when here mother then her son died.  She wrote everyone under the sun even getting responses from Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham.  She wanted assurance that God was keeping his end of the bargain.

So what kind of God do we believe in?  A God who created us to love, wants us to love him in return, have dominion over his creation and as God’s agents live a moral life.  And one thing more, we have a God who has a plan for our salvation!  You remember, 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

What are we to do to restore our beliefs, renew our hope?  First, make the Resurrection part of our resume.  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and “Because I live, you shall live also.”  Second, take Jesus to heart, internalize his stories, life them to apply to us today.  And third, make our faith define our meaning and purpose.  More about that next week.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Sermon Summary 4/21/19, “Easter Changes Everything” (Luke 24:1-12; John 14:1-3)

My first recollection of Easter was Yellow Marshmallow Easter Bunnies.  What I came to find out is that Yellow Marshmallow Easter Bunnies change nothing, but Easter changes everything.  I was away from the church for a while. I lived in a Good Friday world.  When tragedy came, I just as well have been depending on Yellow Marshmallow Easter Bunnies. They didn’t change anything.

Here’s what I’ve come to understand, When we believe in the resurrection, when we believe in Easter, it changes everything.  When we believe in the resurrection, we also believe all the things that Jesus promised us, and that changes everything. 

We’ve all encountered loss.  Remember the story of Mary and Martha when they lost their brother Lazarus?  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died.”  She was living in a Good Friday world.  I can’t imagine a worse thing that losing one that you truly love.  But Easter says to us, “The worst thing is never the last thing, and Easter changes everything!”

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live; and those who live and believe in me will never die.”  Then he adds, to Martha and to us, “Do you believe this?”  Do you believe this?

So what do you believe about Easter?  Does is have a bearing on how you live your life?  Does Easter change the way you love?  Does it provide meaning and purpose to your life?  Is Easter your defining story?

For the apostles, the answers to all four of these questions was a resounding, “Yes!”  They had seen the resurrected Jesus.  They believed in the promises of Jesus.  He had said to them (and to us): “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again to take you to myself.  So that where I am, you may be also.”  He is telling us, we will know him in the resurrection!  We will embrace our loved ones again.  Martha and Lazarus will be together again.  We will hold our loved ones again.  When we believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life, it changes everything. He said, “Because I live, you shall live also.”

He is telling us, the worst thing is never the last thing, and Easter changes everything!  So may it be for all of us!  Amen.