Posts Tagged ‘ Jesus ’

A Sermon for the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of September 11th, 2001

[I preached this sermon at Brooklyn Baptist Church in Kinston, Alabama. It was certainly an adventure getting to the church (leaving at 4:45) and the delivery was equally adventurous. I hope you receive it as my honest reflection on the life and teachings of Jesus and their relevance for the modern era, even in situations as baffling and devastating as 9/11/01.] Continue reading

AoP/FTE Preaching Camp Sermon #3: Foundations

For the first time ever, I have obtained a video of my preaching! And I think this sermon really encapsulates my growth at preaching camp. (Don’t worry. If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ve included the text below). Enjoy!

Continue reading

AoP/FTE Preaching Camp Sermon #1: A Terrifying Sermon

[[As promised, here’s the first sermon from preaching camp. Keep in mind that the week’s them was the Sermon on the Mount. Enjoy!]]

Last year, around this time, I was having a conversation with my advisor about a course I’m taking in the fall called Jesus and the Gospels. He mentioned that many people found the class difficult and mentioned some of his previous students. “Haven’t they scared you away yet?” he asked.

“No sir,” I replied. “But sometimes Jesus does.” Continue reading

An Open Letter to the Disappointed

To Everyone Who Hoped and Waited for Saturday’s Rapture,

By now, I’m sure you’ve realized that Harold Camping’s prediction of the Rapture and subsequent end of the world was wrong. You, who may have given up everything in support of Camping and his ministry, have experienced what the followers of William Miller eventually came to call “the great disappointment.” Christ did not come back, and for that I’m sorry.

I know that you and those who agree with you have been mocked and ridiculed by nearly every facet of American society. Those of you who had the courage to leave everything and wander the country spreading a message you so fervently believed in were probably ostracized by many. Maybe somebody even had the audacity to text you a quick “I told you so” this morning; that is, of course, if you didn’t already sell your phone.

I have to admit today that I was one of those theologians who laughed hysterically at Mr. Camping and his predictions. I took pot-shots at him in many personal conversations and in various forms of social media. And while I still hold to the eschatological views I held then, I wish to apologize wholeheartedly for my arrogant, smug, dismissive attitude.

This is a day when I have few words. You have been wounded beyond measure. A man whom you fervently trusted and looked to for wisdom has broken that trust by being so incredibly wrong on an issue of such great importance. You have every right to be angry and hurt at such a betrayal. You have every right to hold Harold Camping accountable for his actions. And if you choose to do that, I will be right beside you, demanding justice and restitution for what Mr. Camping has done to those who trusted him.

But when the time comes to move forward, I will also be right beside you. When Sunday, May 22 rolls around, I will be in the pew of my local church, and I invite you to join me. I invite you not out of any smug sense of my own vindication, but because I want you to see that, despite the failure of our human leaders, the Church carries on.

I would invite you to keep the faith because there are many churches out there wherein you can explore a fuller, incarnational eschatology that is so much more than the escapist dualism promised to you by Harold Camping. I would invite you to return to our faith communities sharpened by the events you have witnessed in the past year, perhaps even jaded by them, to help us understand not only the persuasive power of such apocalyptic rhetoric, but to help guard our pulpits against it in the future.

I have to admit that I have not met any of you, but there are many among you who are the bravest people I have ever heard of. While friends and co-workers were hedging their bets, you risked your entire well-being for something you believed in. You sold your possessions and campaigned to tell people about what you believed was their impending doom. I could never do that. Never forget that you are brave people who have simply been taken advantage of.

Harold Camping is going to issue some kind of statement explaining why Saturday was wrong. He predicted the end in 1994, and he was wrong then. I encourage you to use that courage again and not listen this time. Do not fall for the same tricks and mathematical juggling. Do not let him explain away concepts with complicated exegetical squirming. Learn from this, and move forward into a better future.

Come and learn that God does not desires us to be escapists, but to understand that the incarnation of Jesus was the beginning of the end, and that the kingdom ethic is a form of eschatology that is staring you in the face right now. Do not await some kind of escape to the Kingdom of Heaven where everything will be bright and beautiful, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near to you. The Kingdom of Heaven is among you. You don’t have to go away to experience the goodness of Christ. The end is certainly coming, and the end is certainly now, but in a vastly different and disturbingly beautiful new way than any of us would have ever expected.

You have been so brave. Continue to be brave and keep the faith

With sincerest hope,

Aaron

…Today we Speak

It’s the day after. I feel as though I’ve let out a huge sigh of relief. I feel as though the world has been broken and remade overnight. I still feel. We all do. But today we’ve got to talk about this. So far, I’ve avoided naming the issue, but today we have to talk about the death of Osama bin Laden.

Someone asked me (indirectly) why this matters. Why am I trying to enforce my religiosity upon their feelings? Why isn’t it enough simply to let them feel? Well, I’ve admitted that everyone needs time to respond to the news in their own way. And if you haven’t finished with that period of time, that’s fine. Stop reading now and continue to feel. But at some point, we need to move on. I do not mean to offend or to hurt, but I need to begin writing about this, perhaps more for myself than for anyone else. Yet I still hope it can help some of us. I hope my writings, and the writings of others, can remind us and guide us as we react to the recent news and to the days to come. Continue reading

Atonement part 4: Moral Influence Theory

[[With apologies to the Rev. Shannon P. Mullins. I wish I had been able to finish this series in enough time to help you out]]

St. Paul writes in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: ‘bad company ruins good morals.’” Almost all of us understand that those we hang around influence the way we live our lives. Our morality is shaped by the people we live with and the people that we hang around with. Anyone can see this. Think back to a time when you joined a new group. It may have been subtle, but I’d wager if you examine yourself really closely, you began to change your behavior to match or more closely align with that of the group. I know it happened to me when I started playing football in middle school. Interestingly enough, many Christian theologians have based their understandings of atonement on a similar idea. For these men, chief among them Peter Abelard, the life and death of Jesus Christ served not as a mechanism to satisfy or placate the wrath of God, but as an example of how human beings should live. God, Abelard argued, is more concerned with the moral status of humanity than with ownership or satisfied honor. Continue reading

Submit Yourselves to God: Christ as the Key to Submission

[[This is the text of a sermon I preached recently at South Hanwell Baptist Church in the London Borough of Ealing. While the topic is a standard one (submission) I hope you’ll find that I do something a bit different than most preachers when it comes to understanding what it all means. Sadly, as always, the manuscript cannot recreate the preaching moment, but I hope those of you who weren’t there can still find this useful and edifying.]]

Prayer:

“Beautiful Lord, mighty barrier-breaker, we come to you tonight admitting that we have not been submissive, that we have rebelled against you. We are afraid of submission, but we know that you can grant us the courage. Break down the walls in our lives that keep us from following you, from submitting ourselves to you fully.

Dearest Christ, great and submissive one, we come before you this evening desiring to be submissive. We recognize the abuse of the term, but we also recognize that you have modeled for us perfect submission. And so tonight, as we attempt to understand just what this word means, we pray that you might illumine our hearts and quicken our minds to comprehend your example. Be present among us tonight and teach us holy submission.

Whispering Spirit, be present among us tonight. Flow through our lives and empower us to submit. Remind us of what we know and help us learn what we do not. Unite us in submission with you. Amen.” Continue reading

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