This coming third Sunday in Advent, we will celebrate the “Good News of Salvation” as proclaimed by Isaiah 61:1-11. Jesus read from this text during worship at his home synagogue in Nazareth and then startled the congregation by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) Jesus cites this text as a description of his mission. For Isaiah and Jesus, “salvation” is not just about getting to heaven, but is a present reality of liberation, healing, justice and peace. Now that is some really good news! To listen to pastor Ernie’s message, click on “The Good News of Salvation”
We all need some good news. This Advent season, I will be preaching on the “THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO ISAIAH,” using the lectionary texts from the Hebrew prophets whose words are written down in the scroll of Isaiah. This coming Sunday, December 10, my message will proclaim Good News for a Hurting People (Isaiah 40:1-11). The following Sunday, December 17, my message will be The Good News of Salvation (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11); then on the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, we will reflect on Good News of a Child’s Birth (Isaiah 9:2-7). We all need some good news. Come, hear, and rejoice!
Click on the following title to listen to Pastor Ernie’s message “Good News for a Hurting People”
In his fifth Beatitude, Jesus declares, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7). A few chapters later in Matthew 9:11-13 critics ask Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answers these critics by saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” Here Jesus cites the prophet Hosea (6:6) to remind them and us that mercy is the central attribute of God, and should be for us as well. May we “go and learn what this means.” Click on the following title to listen to Pastor Ernie’s message: “Blessed Are the Merciful”
What are you hungry for? What are you thirsty for? This is a vivid way of asking, What is it that you most deeply desire? In his fourth beatitude Jesus pronounces a blessing on “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” This coming Sunday we will explore what biblical righteousness is. I’ll give you a little preview. Righteousness isn’t something that we can earn or possess. In fact, we call that self-righteousness. Rather righteousness is something that we can connect to and participate in. Righteousness is a gift from God that transforms us as individuals and communities. May we hunger and thirst for that transformation. Click on the title to listen to Pastor Ernie’s October 8 message, “Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness”
Our study of Jesus’ Beatitudes brings us, on this coming World Communion Sunday, to Jesus’ teaching, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The Greek word praus translated “meek” here is the same one Jesus uses for himself in Matthew 11:29 where he says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle (praus) and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” I find the translation “gentle” which implies self-control and strength, to be more helpful than “meek” which suggests simple weakness and powerlessness. Eric Kobell in his book What Jesus Meant says, “Simply stated: biblical meekness is quiet perseverance in the face of brute rage; it is our staunch refusal either to lay down in submission or to rise up in violence before those forces that oppress us.” I invite you to think about that.
Click on the titled to listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, “Blessed are the Gentle”
The wisdom of the world says “Fortunate and happy are those who don’t let the pain of life and relationships touch them, for nothing hurts them.” But Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn (who love and feel deeply), for they will be comforted.” May we allow our hearts to be broken open by the things that break the heart of God. To listen to Pastor Ernie’s September 24 message, click on the title “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn”
Jesus begins his beatitudes by pronouncing blessing on “the poor in spirit.” It is hard to see how poverty of any kind can be a good thing; certainly none of us wants to be poor. This Sunday we will explore what it might mean to be poor in spirit, and how this could indeed be a blessed state. To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, click on the title, “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit”
This Sunday we will begin a nine week sermon series on Jesus’ teaching on living a blessed life, summed up in eight short sayings known as “The Beatitudes.” I believe it is critically important for those of us who call ourselves Christians to seek to understand what Jesus taught, what he valued, and what he modeled, and then to live that way, as best we can. Of course we will fall short, but still we must do our humble best to live by his values in both our private and public lives. I am dismayed and ashamed by the blatant disregard of the teachings and values of Jesus by many who claim the name Christian most publicly. ”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46), Jesus asks them and us. May we be those who build our lives on the foundation of God’s grace, love and justice, as taught by our Lord.
To listen to Pastor Ernie’s sermon series introduction, click on “Jesus on Living a Blessed Life”
The world is groaning in pain, both the natural world and our social world. How do we understand what is going on? What can we do in response? I find guidance and encouragement in Romans 8:22-27, where the apostle hears the groans of creation as labor pains as a new world struggles to be born and proclaims the good news that God’s Spirit is there to help us in our weakness! We each have a part to play, but it is not all up to us. We can’t do it alone, but we have help. May God grant us faith, courage, and wisdom for the living of these days. To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, click on the title “LABORING TO BE BORN”
What is faith? And how much faith do you need? This Sunday the gospel lectionary passage from Matthew 14:22-33 tells the symbolically rich story of Peter getting out of safety of his boat to walk toward his teacher Jesus. Peter finds himself walking on the water, until he ins’t! As Peter begins to sink beneath the waves, Jesus needs to reach out and save him. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus asks him. How would you answer that question?
To listen to pastor Ernie’s message, “Just a Little Faith (Matt 14:22-3)”, just click on the title. Also included is a prayer for Charlottesville.