Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nov 30, 2008 - We Are Here to Repent

Nov 30, 2008
First Presbyterian Church of DuPage - The Five O’Clock
Is 64.1-9 & Mk 13.24-37

Proposition: When we see the brokenness of our world, our hearts yearn for God’s kingdom to arrive; yet we must realize how we take part in the sin that is destroying our world and repent for it.

We are here tonight to repent. We have seen God come to save us, we have been saved by God, but we have not lived our lives as those who have been saved, as those who have seen God. We are here to repent.

This is what Isaiah has to say to us tonight. Tonight we are at the beginning of Advent. We lit a candle at the beginning of this service, the first candle in the Advent Wreath. Tradition associates the first candle with hope--the hope of Messiah, exiled Israel’s hope of return to the Promised Land, our hope of Jesus’ return to save us. Hope is powerful stuff--we’ve seen that recently in political campaigns; maybe we even feel that now as we look ahead to Christmas, to reunions with family, with old friends, to a break from the regular droning on of our day-to-day lives. I strongly believe that it is our hope that sets us apart as Christians.

The passage tonight tells us a lot about hope. This is a prophetic song. The song is longer than just the text we read tonight. It starts early in the previous chapter and stretches to the close of chapter 64. The prophet wrote this song in hope.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nov 23, 2008 - Why Are We Thankful

This begins a standing tradition of posting my weekly sermons to this blog. Some may be pretty decent, some may be lousy, some may be full of typos (though I try to be pretty conscientious).  I welcome your thoughts and feedback.  Here's installment #1:

November 23, 2008
First Presbyterian Church of DuPage 8 am

1 Thes 5.16-18 -- “Why are we thankful?”

In four days it will be Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving begins one of my favorite times of year: the get-togethers with family, the waiting and reflection of Advent, and the excitement of picking out or handmaking just the right gift for everyone on our list. And then the hush and wonder of Christmas itself. It’s a beautiful time of year, even with the snow.

But very often the experience itself fails to live up to the hype and expectation. The expected snowfall turns to sleet, happy times with family and old friends ends up feeling awkward and estranged, we mistakenly give all of our friends and family socks and fruitcake for presents. More seriously, this season is often a time of heartache, loneliness, and loss. The cold brings with it pneumonia, the flu, funerals. At this time of year we’re haunted by the memories of those who are not with us. It’s difficult.

So my question this morning is, Why should we be thankful during this season? Do we call Thursday Thanksgiving simply because it makes us feel good to have a day off, a big dinner, and a chance to watch some football? Even more importantly, why should we be thankful at all? We see the world falling apart around us. We see ourselves falling apart, outside and in. Why should we be thankful?

In 1 Thessalonians 5, verses 16 through 18, Paul gives a command that places us right in the middle of these questions. Turn there with me and follow along as I read his words.
[16] Rejoice always! [17] Constantly pray! [18] In everything give thanks! For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

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