Category Archives: John the Baptist

  1. Abraham’s story — and ours (Luke 1.68-79; Galatians 3.1-9, 23-29) [sermon 5-28-2017]

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    May 25, 2017 by jmar198013

    John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, sang a song just after he was born that saw what God was about to do through John and especially Jesus as a fulfillment to the promises made to their ancestor Abraham long before. In Galatians 3, Paul likewise sees what God had done through Christ as a new chapter in the story God began in Abraham. Through these readings, we learn to read scripture as a story of God’s faithfulness to his people and the world. And God’s faithfulness empowers us–like Abraham–to move forward in faith, going where God leads, to be a blessing to the world.

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  2. Sight to the blind (Luke 18.31 – 19.10) [sermon 4-2-2017]

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    March 31, 2017 by jmar198013

    In Luke 18.31-19.10, the meaning of Jesus’ word is hidden from his disciples. A blind man begs for sight. A tiny tax collector named Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see Jesus through a crowd. There’s all sorts of reasons people can’t see. But Jesus cures not only the blindness of the eyes, but of the heart and spirit.

  3. A place at the table (Luke 15) [sermon 03-19-2017]

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    March 17, 2017 by jmar198013

    The story ends with the father saying: “But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.” The father insists to the older son that not only is his place in the family secure; he is his brother’s brother, whether he wants to be or not! That’s where Jesus leaves the story—with the father’s invitation to come join the feast. And that’s where the story is left with us now, too. There’s room at God’s table for us all. Those who stayed and served. And those who were lost, but now are found.

  4. Falling towers and fruitless fig trees (Luke 13.1-9, 31-35) [sermon 3-12-17]

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    March 8, 2017 by jmar198013

    The story of this fig tree receiving special attention—extravagant mercy and generosity—calls us all to see ourselves as that tree. Like Jesus said elsewhere: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much.” We’ve been given much. Maybe we need to see a warning hidden in all our blessings: a judgment is coming if we don’t bear fruit worthy of repentance.

  5. Jesus and John (Luke 7.18-35) [Sermon 2-12-17]

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    February 10, 2017 by jmar198013

    John came calling the people to cry, and he was right. Jesus came calling the people to dance, and he was right, too. The Pharisees and scribes thought John was demonic and Jesus was a drunk. And they were wrong. You know what that means? It means there are times and seasons when we need to hear a call like John’s to weep over our sins and repent. But Jesus also calls us to joyful celebration, to acknowledge God’s justice, and feast on God’s love.

    Children of wisdom will know when it’s time to cry, and when it’s time to dance.

  6. An agenda for ministry (Luke 4.14-30) [Sermon 01-15-2017]

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    January 13, 2017 by jmar198013

    Jesus told his neighbors, in no uncertain terms, that God didn’t intend for Jubilee to be proclaimed only to them. Jesus had come to preach the Good News of God’s salvation to all the poor folk. To heal all the blind folk. To proclaim forgiveness and release to all the captives. Yes, even the tax collectors and Samaritans and … even the Romans. God had sent him to proclaim Jubilee to everyone. Even their enemies. And that’s what got them mad enough to throw Jesus off a cliff. Because there’s this human tendency to think blessing is a zero-sum game. Good news for somebody has to mean bad news for somebody else. There can’t be a “year of the Lord’s favor” without a corresponding “day of vengeance for our God.” Jesus came to show us it doesn’t really have to be that way.

  7. John baptizes Jesus (Luke 3.1-22; Ps. 51.6-17) [Sermon 01-08-2017]

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    January 6, 2017 by jmar198013

    Luke has recorded for us the precise moment when Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach good news to the poor. It was right after he was plunged into the same waters as the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, and those who cried out for God’s favor. In other words, people just like you and me.

    He didn’t save us from on high.

    He got right down in that dirty, muddy water with us.

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