Locusts, Vipers and a Dove

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

I’m not an angry preacher this morning it’s just that I’ve always wanted to try this from the pulpit, just to see what it feels like.

It feels kind of strange to be honest with you because I know you are not a brood of vipers and I like you.

I don’t know if John the Baptist liked the Pharisees and the Sadducees or if he didn’t like them; it doesn’t really matter does it? But I suspect there was a strong sense of urgency on John’s part.

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God’s Plan

I could say something right now about how my daughter is two years old or under. I could talk about how this changes the tragedy and terror of this text for me. But to be honest, it doesn’t. Not because I’m some heartless woman who doesn’t feel absolute horror at the thought of any harm coming to my child, but because you don’t need to have a 16 month old, or a toddler, or a child at all, to know that this text is completely awful. It is awful because in it, innocent people – innocent children – die violently to suit a whim. Herod’s anger, insecurity, and vindictiveness result in a loss of life so sweeping, so merciless, that no one can be untouched. Whether these are your children or not, whether you have children or not, you know that this is tragedy of the worst kind.

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Naivety at the Nativity

I have a confession I need to make. I have never seen Avatar. I know, I know it’s the largest grossing movie of all time before adjustment for inflation, a groundbreaking work in visual effects and the forerunner, trendsetter, of the modern 3D movie experience, and it should be on my short list. I should have seen it in theatres. It’s not like it wasn’t on my radar. I read the reviews. I even know the entire plotline. But somehow all this knowledge did not get me out the door to a local movie theatre. Five years later my experience of the biggest blockbuster in movie history is entirely void. A shameful confession of any self-proclaimed lover of films.

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Wrapped in Light and Peace

It is called the peace light. We have it here with us tonight. It has traveled a long distance.

“Each year, a child from Upper Austria kindles a flame from the “Eternal Flame” from the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The light is then flown to Austria from where it is distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations from across Europe who take it back, with a message of Peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services throughout the Continent. Scouts and Guides can then take the light on to other churches, hospitals, old people homes, prisons, and places of public, cultural and political importance – to anybody that appreciates the significance of the “gift”. [i]

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Jesus, Them, and You

In any place in the Bible, but especially as we read through the prophets, some texts can feel a little obscure. What’s going on? Who are we talking about? It can be tempting to think, “I just don’t get it”, and move on to a passage where you feel a little more comfortable. Don’t give in to that thought. When you encounter a text where the meaning isn’t readily apparent, don’t skip past it. That passage has wisdom to reveal and it’s worth the work.

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For Such A Time As This

Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. Scripture can be quite grim at times. This is why Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. Mordecai was a Jew. What I just read for you is the order that was written by the King at the request of Haman. Haman hated Mordecai and he paid the King so the King would write this decree to annihilate all the Jews in the country.

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Live By Faith

This morning, the prophet Habakkuk reminds us that “the righteous live by their faith” [2:4]. We know truly that our faith supports us, sustains us, gives us life. But sometimes – sometimes it is hard to have faith. Sometimes, there is just too much brokenness and pain and we start to wonder how long faith will keep us holding on. In our faith, we start to demand: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?” [1:2a]

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Remember, Thank, Tell

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Amen

Ebola… Didn’t expect that on for an opener on Thanksgiving Eve did you?

This horrible deadly and devastating virus has gripped the world’s attention for the last few months. It’s outbreak in three West African countries is horribly distressing and worthy of our best efforts to care for and assist those affected. However, our fears seem a little more close to home. A Gallup poll taken in early November found that Ebola went from a nonexistent concern for American’s wellbeing to the third most overall mentioned threat to our health. One in 6 people named this virus as the top threat to U.S. health.

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Deceptive Words, Hard Words, Hopeful Words

Have you noticed; it has been an angry week. First it was the grape salad debacle and who could have imagined the furor this would cause; the outrage.

The whole state of Minnesota has been shamed by the New York Times and their food editor who says the signature thanksgiving food for us hardy folk in the great state of Minnesota is a grape salad. A grape salad baked in the oven no less. What kind of creepy thanksgiving food is that? You would have thought it would be a jello salad with bananas and whipped cream. I think I will cancel my subscription to the Times.

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