Tag Archive for 'belief'

Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day April 24, 2011

Acts 10:34-43                                                                      

Colossians 3:1-4                                                                  

John 20:1-18

On all the Easter Days before I was ordained, when I sat where you sit, listening to Easter sermons rather than preaching them, I always came to church with one great question: Will this fellow, the preacher, say that he believes this stuff – really believes – or will he waffle? Will he (it was always a he in those long ago days) just go on about new life and new energy, resurrection as metaphor or image or inspiring story? Or will he say, Jesus really rose from the dead, the tomb was really empty, he really appeared to his disciples, this stupendous and supernatural thing really happened, and I, preacher man, really believe it, really stake my life on it? Which kind of sermon am I going to hear? Coming to church like you, that was always the question I had in my mind.

So this is my last Easter sermon, probably the last one I will ever preach, and I want to tell you right up front that I really believe this stuff – that it really happened, empty tomb, bodily resurrection, miraculous appearances and all. I really believe it, and I really stake my life on it. So there you have it, and the rest of what I’m about to say is all by way of explaining what I’ve just confessed. Continue reading ‘Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day April 24, 2011’

Pentecost 13 August 22, 2010

Hebrews 12:18-29                                                             

Luke 13:10-17                                                                     

This week Anne and I were visiting old friends at their summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve known David since we were both 12 at camp – my oldest really good friend. We shared a tent there, roomed together at college, were in each other’s weddings, and have spent time together nearly every summer of our adult lives. This year was different. David was diagnosed last winter with an inoperable brain tumor and has just undergone weeks of arduous radiation and chemotherapy. He’s on a walker, with balance and vision problems. He tires easily. He gained some strength while we were there, but the future prognosis remains uncertain.

In our time together, sitting on his porch looking out at the sea, we reminisced about the past, caught up on our children and grandchildren, shared some thoughts about the state of the world, joked with each other as we always have. But one thing we didn’t talk about was faith, because David doesn’t believe in God; religion has never been part of his life; he has no time or use for it. He’s respectful of it in my life. Indeed, out of the blue he sent a check for $30,000 to help with the building fund for Holy Cross. But God, Christ, Scripture, prayer, church – for him they’re all a delusion, a waste of time, something to be indulged in an old friend perhaps, but not for him.

So for me it was as though a whole dimension were missing in my time with this dear friend. We could not talk about prayer – was Jesus there at all for him in his weakness, his thoughts of death? Was there comfort in the psalms? Things in his past that troubled him, for which he needed healing and forgiveness? What was his hope for the future, for a future beyond death? How did he see his life in terms of God’s kingdom, of Christ’s great dream for humankind? Did his suffering deepen his understanding of the Cross? These are the questions I think I would be exploring if it were I in his place, but to raise them with David would only have been a mockery, and I would never do that to someone I respect and love. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 13 August 22, 2010’

Easter Day April 4, 2010

Acts 10:34-43                                                                     

1 Corinthians 15:19-26                                                     

Luke 24:1-12

 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. – Luke 24:11

One cold February morning a young man, just 18, woke up in his bed. It was a Sunday and in the distance a church bell was ringing. The young man sat there a moment, then he said to himself quite suddenly, unexpectedly, “I do believe in God and I’m going to do something about it.” And he got up and went to church.

This was a decision he made. He had not been at all sure about God, whether he believed, who or what God was, what God – if there were a God – might have to do with his life. He was far from home, you see, at college, on his own really for the first time. He was being challenged by teachers to think for himself, to make up his mind. “You can’t just go through life in neutral,” one young instructor had said to his class. “You must decide, you must own what you decide, and you must be prepared to defend it and live it out in your life.”

 So he went to church, that February morning. And he has never looked back. And it has made all the difference. That young man stands before you this Easter morning. Continue reading ‘Easter Day April 4, 2010’