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Sermons from Main Branch

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The Inner Side of the Law

Therein lies a crucial difference between having an inner life and not having one. I think we easily recognize it by our own experience. On the one hand, there are those men and women who lack an inner life. They may be interesting, they may be successful, they may be right most of the time, they may be powerful,...but if we recognize them for what they are, we do not see them as salt; we realize that little or nothing is actually illuminated by what they do or say....Those who do have an inner life, on the other hand,...we somehow get a sense of light from what they do, and the taste of the bite of salt. We get a heightened sense of life from them, of its gracious and mysterious depths, and of its exalted heights

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Think Again

According to Matthew and Mark, the first public words out Jesus’ mouth after his baptism, the moment when he became conscious of his mission, were nothing less than “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Jesus tells the crowds this, he is telling them to “think again, buddy.” In large part,...we pretty much never think about Jesus making repentance a key to the kingdom. We prefer to leave insistent calls for repentance to the wild man, John the Baptist; but the fact of the matter is that Jesus, no less than John, makes repentance something that is vitally linked to the coming of the kingdom. This sort of daily repentance and rethinking is, in fact, at the heart of prayer and of reading the Scriptures. For if we enter into prayer, and read the Scriptures with a penitent attitude, with a willingness to think again, we may actually let that Other power speak to us.

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Doing the Right Thing

If we are to be moral, which is to say good to other people and to possess some sort of personal integrity ourselves, we need to take responsibility for our decisions and not hide behind the inflexibility of rules. It isn’t just a matter of following the spiritual rules, as it were, either....An awful lot of people seem to believe that once they are baptized, or once they have had a child baptized, that they are given an exemption from being a part of God’s people. They treat baptism like a magic token, and they assume that it gives them a pass. You are here to give yourselves to God, and you are here to be one with God’s people. You are here in order that God himself may descend upon you, and say of this church, which is Christ’s body, “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to it.”

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The Dying King

No other lord except the crucified king can allow such freedom as Christ allows, and yet still make all things still hang together and not fly apart. No other lord can do that because no other lord has ever figured out that it is humility, and not power, that makes a world of freedom hang together. That is the great mystery of the Christian faith, that by Christ’s death we are reconciled to God, and our sin and our alienation, our strangeness to God, is overcome.

Amen

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