Sunday, August 25, 2013

Raise your weary arms, steady your trembling knees: 21st Sunday OT

I mentioned Vince Lombardi last week, and I’m afraid I’m going to do it again. If he can win back-to-back Superbowls, he can be in back-to-back sermons. In case you don’t know, he was the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, winner of the first two Superbowls, the guy the Superbowl trophy is named for, at or near the top of anybody’s list of greatest coaches of all time in any sport, and a Catholic daily Mass-goer. Early one morning after he’d moved to Washington, a priest answered his doorbell and there was Lombardi, requesting that the 7:30am Mass be changed to 7:00am to fit his schedule better. Anyway, Lombardi once said “I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline.”

"Man who can catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything." - Mr. Miyagi

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Halftime Speech of the New Testament: 20th Sunday OT

Pope Gregory the Great wrote about one of the difficulties in preaching: you’ve got people with very different situations and challenges and you have to address all of them as best you can. Maybe somebody on the left side has become what we call “scrupulous,” obsessing over everything, living in fear that he hasn’t earned God’s mercy. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I thought about doing a slow roll through a stop sign. I didn’t do it but I thought about it and now I’ve lost all hope of salvation.” This person needs a sermon about God’s mercy, about relaxing a little and trusting God to make up for your weakness. If you throw fire and brimstone at this guy, you’re going to aggravate his problem. 

Trouble is, someone across the aisle has the opposite problem. He’s been getting really lax about Christian life. This guy won’t be seen anywhere near a confessional, but if he was, he’d be saying “Bless me Father, for I have... well, ‘sinned’ is such a negative word... but anyway I’m having an affair but I have really good reasons and I’m actually a really fantastically wonderful person.” This guy needs a little fire, a little spiritual kick in the pants. Preach to him about relaxing and trusting God’s mercy, and you’re probably making his problem worse.

So what’s a preacher to do? Even Gregory the Great didn’t really know. Try your best and try to kind of balance things out.
Yeah, that's rough... good luck bro.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Leap of Faith: 19th Sunday OT

Some of the most important words are hardest to define. Do you know what ‘beauty’ means? Sure you do. Okay, then define it. Whatever you say, you’ll probably end by scratching your head and saying, “no, that didn’t quite capture it.” Or take my personal favorite, “love.” Define “love.” You can talk and talk, but at the end you’ll still feel that your definition leaves something out.

“Faith” is one of those words. If I ask you to define it, you might stumble around a little. Go around asking other people to define “faith” and you’ll get lots of different answers.