This week’s lectionary reflection comes from my good friend Matthew Burdette, one of the most talented young theologians I know. Matt is finishing his thesis for a Masters of Theology degree from La Sierra University. He is a high school Bible teacher in Redlands, California, and occasionally blogs at Constructing Theology: The Theological Explorations of a Progressive Adventist. I asked Matt to share the lectionary reflection this week at The Suburban Pastor, it comes from the sermon he preached today at the Highstown Church, in Highstown, NJ. Thanks Matt!
Today is a day on which we remember an old story that just about all of us know, a story that all of us could probably tell from memory. It is a common story about a baby, some angels, a some shepherds, a pregnant teenage mother, her bizarre account of how she ended up pregnant, her confused fiancé, a few astrologers, a nervous king, a hotel with no vacancy, and the fate of the world. This is, as I said, a story we’re quite familiar with.
One of my favorite things to do as a child was listen to stories. I had several favorites. Two that I remember in particular were called Milk and Cookies and Are You My Mother? I am certain that the only other persons besides myself who remember this are my mother and maybe my teddy bear. Now don’t be deceived by the title of Milk and Cookies. This isn’t so much a story about food as it is about a baby bear visiting his grandparents’ house, terrified of a furnace in the basement that he is convinced is a dragon. Scary stuff. Likewise, Are You My Mother? is a very dramatic story about a newly-hatched bird who strays from the nest, and suffers all kinds of confusion as he attempts to identify his mother. Again, scary stuff.
As a child, I wanted to read these books all the time. Now, have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that children do this? I remember my little sister Lizzie had a favorite book when she was a kid, and my mom would read it to her all the time too. And I know of other kids that do the same thing, so it isn’t just my family. Why is it that children can watch the same movie over and over again, or read the same book every night? It isn’t bad memory. Kids know what’s coming next. They wait anxiously for their favorite parts. They mumble along with the movies, having memorized all the lines. They correct you when you misread the sentence in the book. It isn’t bad memory. It is something else. Continue reading 'A Christmas Sermon'»
This week is Transfiguration Sabbath at CrossWalk. The lectionary readings come from Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; and Luke 9:28-36, (37-43). I am focusing on the Gospel reading for my sermon this week, but I’m weaving all of the readings together to make my point. Dwelling in these passages leaves me in awe of God’s humility. What kind of a God chooses to reveal his glory to the world through suffering (Lk. 9:57-62) and brokenness (2 Cor. 4)? Would anyone choose to make up this kind of god? We want temples and shrines for our gods. But the God of the Gospels gets things done another way. And our “departure” (Lk. 9:31) is the same—the path of Jesus Christ and his radical call to discipleship. So what are the implications? How about the church is meant to give herself away rather than prop herself up with success, impressing people with her buildings, attendance, or cash (a kind of pseudo-glory)? Seems to me, Jesus’ path is the only way the world is transformed. I think Henry Nouwen would agree:
“Jesus showed us all that the very things we often flee – our vulnerability and mortality – can, at any moment, become the place of holy transfiguration, for us and for our world.”
- Henri Nouwen: Writings Selected With An Introduction By Robert A. Jonas
Here’s a sermon I preached at CrossWalk, Sabbath, January 30. Matt Burdette asked me to post it on the Constructing Adventist Theology blog. So I decided to go ahead and cross post it here for you as well. We are currently preaching through the Revised Common Lectionary. It’s the Season of Epiphany, when the church focuses on Jesus revealing as God’s Son. I chose to preach on the Gospel reading for that week, Luke 4:21-30.
If you watched the NFL Championship games this past weekend, you may have seen the debut of a television ad that’s gone viral on the internet. The ad is for Wal-Mart. And as much as it pains me to promote their business in any form, you’ve got to see it if you haven’t already [I paused the ad just as the Dad was jumping into the air]:
Let’s pause it for a moment; I promise we’ll come back. When was the last time you were surprised? I remember the surprise birthday party my wife threw for me when I turned thirty… last year. Okay, so its been a few years. Anyways, Gina blindfolded me, put me in a car and drove me around town until I was completely disoriented, and then she took me to another house where my friends were waiting to surprise me. I knew something was up since it was my birthday, but you know what really got me? She left me blindfolded for the big “surprise;” I totally didn’t see it coming, literally. Continue reading 'The Unlimitable Gift (A Sermon for Epiphany)'»
The Suburban Pastor is the personal blog of Jeff Gang. I’m pastor for the Anaheim Seventh-day Adventist Church in Anaheim, California. This blog is a place for me to share my thoughts about ordinary life as a Jesus follower, pastor, husband, father of three, friend, and triathlete in my spare time.