Gen. 1:26; 1 John 4:18-19: Why Relationships

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on January 16, 2019. The quality of our life is best measured by the quality of our relationships—relationships Jesus has come to make healthy, whole and right again—our relationship with God, our self, with others, and with the world around us. In this introduction to our semester-long series on relationships, we ask the all important question: “Why?” Why are relationships so fundamental to our well-being? And if they are so vital, why are we so anxious and afraid of getting close?

Praying In: Deliver Us From Evil

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on Nov. 14, 2018. God leaves the light and enters into our darkness so we can leave the darkness and enter into his light. His first mission is a “search and rescue” mission—”for God so loved the world” that he sent His son into it, not to destroy it but to save it, not to wield the sword but to fall on it. Jesus is both “the bomb” and “bomb shelter.” When Jesus returns, he will rid the world of evil entirely. The only way to be saved is to believe in him, come to him, and seek refuge “in him.”

Praying In: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on Nov. 7, 2018. The temptation to sin, to forsake God, and forge our own path (“you do you”) does not come from God but from the Devil. Temptation is rooted in doubt and distrust. If we believed God was good, loving, and for us, we’d always heed His voice and do as He says. But we don’t. What is it going to take to convince us that God is good, loving, and for us? How can He lead us not into temptation, which is to say, to lead us out of it, through it, over it? We need to see Jesus, listen to Jesus, and rest in Jesus.

Praying In: ...As We Have Forgiven Our Debtors

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on Oct. 31, 2018. Forgiveness is difficult, painful, costly. As Mohatma Gandhi said, it is not for the weak but is “the attribute of the strong.” Where are we going to get the strength and the resources to forgive? In order to forgive, we need 1) to know that God has indeed forgiven the sins of the world; 2) the great depths to which we ourselves have been forgiven; and 3) to join ourselves to a community that values and nurtures forgiveness (i.e., the Church).

Praying In: Forgive Us Our Debts...

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on Oct. 24, 2018. When a prostitute crashes the dinner party of a well-respected member in the community, Jesus responds with a story: “Once upon a time….” In the story that Jesus tells, one person has a large debt, the other a smaller one—the point being that some people’s lives are messier than others, some people have bigger debts to pay. And yet, at the end of the day, even the one with the smaller debt cannot pay the banker back; he cannot make good on his loan; both debtors are bankrupt in the end. Graciously, debt forgiveness is offered to all. However, only those who recognize their need will receive it. What about you? What will you do?

Praying In: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on Oct. 17, 2018. “Praying in” begins, “Give us this day our daily bread”—i.e., give me what I need to survive today, both physically and spiritually. God’s extraordinary care comes to us through very ordinary means—spiritually, through the ordinary means of grace (Word, sacrament, and prayer) and physically, through people like you and me “sharing their lunch.” When we pray this prayer, we will see God’s provision and presence in our lives more and more, grow in gratitude and generosity, be less tempted to fill ourselves with things that won’t satisfy, etc.

Praying Out: Your Kingdom Come Pt 3

Sermon preached at RUF’s Wednesday Night Fellowship on Oct. 10, 2018. Jesus crossed all sorts of lines in order to invite others into fellowship with God and others; to make strangers, family; and to convert enemies into friends. Praying “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” means we (his followers) will do the same.