Posts Tagged ‘Luke 6’

Confirmation Questions 11-3-13

Last Sunday I preached on Luke 6:20-31, which is Luke’s account of the Beatitudes. You can find that sermon here.

One question came up from the sermon notes submitted by the confirmation students. I’ll try to address it here.

-Why is it that people who are full will be hungry when those who are hungry will be full?
Great question…and really gets to the heart of this particular passage. Jesus makes 4 different comparisons. First he says “blessed are you [who have it rough], for [it will get better] but woe to you [who have it good now] because [it will get worse].” As I read this passage over and over again, it really seemed to be pointing towards what an individual is putting their hope in. Jesus speaks to those who are suffering now, due to hunger or lack of resources to let them know that if they trust in the promises of God, there will be something more for them following this life. Eternal life in heaven. But on the flip side, when Jesus addresses those that have much, I believe he is saying that we are not to place our trust in those resources…because they can fail us in this life, and they won’t earn our salvation.  This whole passage seems to be saying “be careful what you place your hope in” because things of this world will fail you.

Life’s A Roller Coaster

Today’s sermon came from Luke 6:20-31. You can listen to it here.
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/lifes-a-roller-coaster-11-3-13

In this sermon I tackle Luke’s account of the Beatitudes. I explore the comparisons between the “blessed be…” statements and the “woe to…” statements. I explore how life is full of ups and downs like a roller coaster…and how that back and forth is like Luther’s teaching that we are simultaneously saints and sinners.  You can read along here. Disregard the odd punctuations and indications to pause. I gotta remember these things somehow.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Back in April of 1997, my senior year of high school, the administration of the Graettinger Community School district approved something that they hadn’t allowed in many years…an overnight senior trip. My class of 24 students and a few chaperones headed to the Des Moines area for a couple different class activities…the most prominent in my memory being an afternoon at Adventureland.
Now, Adventureland is, of course, an amusement park…and as most of you likely know, amusement parks are best enjoyed in sunny, warm, calm weather.  Iowa in early April…not overly sunny, warm, or calm…We had a breezy overcast day…and so you can imagine…there weren’t a lot of crowds flooding the gates of Adventureland that day…and so for this group of 20 odd high school seniors…we pretty much had the run of the park.
As we all jetted around the park, trying out the various rides…the lines were short…if there were lines at all…and the anticipation of trying out a new ride was very short lived…we pretty much spied a ride…and hopped right on it…including the park’s roller coasters.
Now if you’re anything like me…you like roller coasters…They are exciting…they are a thrill…especially the first time you ride it because you really don’t know what to expect. The twists and turns…flying around…side to side…up and down….all those reversals. (pause)
That first time on a roller coaster…now that’s livin right there…but then…each time you ride it again…it loses a little something doesn’t it? Sure, its still exciting…but you start to develop an awareness of what’s coming…and the thrill of the unknown begins to drain out.
That day at Adventureland…about 8 of us hopped on the main rollercoaster…no line…no waiting…we just ran up the ramp and hopped on…and away we went…screaming our heads off in excitement over that first ride…and it was exciting…when we came pulling back in at the end of the ride, one us hollered “THAT WAS AMAZING!!!! CAN WE GO AGAIN?” The guy looked…saw no one else waiting…and said “Sure…looks like you kids can go as many times as you want to.” We hollered out approval…and went out on lap number 2…and 3…and 4…and 5…and 6…and 7…and finally 8. (pause)
By lap number 8…it was getting a little old…and when we pulled in that last time…we just wanted to get off the ride. All the thrill was gone…and in the end…the ups and downs…well they were just making us sick to our stomach. (pause)
Ups and downs…does that sound familiar to anyone? We experience plenty of ups and downs in our lives don’t we? We experience a lot of reversals…and we see quite a few reversals in today’s scripture lesson don’t we?  Luke’s account of the Beattitudes…a little shorter than Matthew’s account…a little more blunt…and also…we’ve got the woes in there don’t we? (pause)
This is one of those passages when I’d like to go in and switch up the order of the verses a little bit. Luke starts off on one foot, goes for a few verses…but then drops the hammer.  He starts off with the blessings, but then flips the switch…but I think it’s a little more eye opening if we pair them all up together. (pause)
Blessed are you who are poor…for yours is the kingdom of God…but woe to you who are rich…
Blessed are you who are hungry now…for you will be filled…but woe to you who are full…
Blessed are you who weep now…for your will laugh…but woe to you who are laughing now…
And finally…blessed are you when people hate you…and exclude you…and revile you and defame you on account of the Son of Man…for surely your reward is great in heaven…but woe to your when all speak well of you…
Isn’t that kind of eye opening?  Last Wednesday night I was talking with the high schoolers about this passage…and we all though it was weird that Jesus seemed to be saying…if it stinks now, it’ll get better, but if you’ve got it good now its gonna go downhill…ups and downs…lots of reversals…just like life.
Because life is full of those reversals isn’t it?  When we stop and think about it, its kind of a no brainer…sometimes things are going great…but then one thing goes wrong…and then another…and then another…and the next thing you know, you feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel…just trying to stay afloat…
And on the flip side, we have those times in our lives when everything’s lousy…nothing is going your way…and then something changes…and before you know it…things are going okay…ups and downs…reversals. (pause)
Now if you’re anything like me, you might be sitting there thinking about the notion of reversals…and wondering just what the heck it all has to do with All Saints Sunday…I wondered the same thing this week…and in yet another moment of personal exasperation, I found myself wanting to smack the people that created the lectionary right upside the head because they seemingly took a scripture lesson that has nothing to do with the saints and put it right in there…smacking us in the face with it…thanks lectionary authors…
But then I stopped and thought about it for awhile…and I thought about All Saints Sunday…and what we’re really celebrating today…Yes, one hand, on this day, we stop and remember those that have gone on before us in the past year…those that have crossed the great threshold between this life and whatever lies beyond…between this existence that we all know…and the next one…that we’ve only caught glimpses of…that’s one of the things that we remember today…but it’s not the only one.
It occurred to me this week that two church festivals…two church celebrations for us Lutherans…are actually closer together than we tend to realize. Last Sunday we celebrated Reformation Day, and today All Saints Day…but they actually fall on October 31st, and November 1st…Thursday and Friday…back to back days…
On Reformation Day we remember Martin Luther nailing the theses on the church door in Wittenburg…and one of the concepts that Martin Luther taught…one of the tenants of the Lutheran faith…something that we recently talked about in confirmation…is the notion that we are simultaneously saint and sinner.
Each and every day we go back and forth between the two…each and every day we feel the effects of sin in our life, yet we recognize that Christ’s sacrifice has made us free from that sin…and each of us…is in essence…a saint…we go back and forth all the time.
And so, when we celebrate All Saints Sunday…we are not only remembering those that have gone on before…but we are celebrating each and every believer across time…those that have gone before, those that are still here today, and those that will come after us.
And while we all fall under both categories…its important to remember just what a saint really is. (pause)  A saint…is someone that has received that which God has promised… (pause) And so we ask the question…just what has God promised?
Well…he has promised that if we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior…our savior from our own sinfulness…that same sinfulness that we feel and experience every day…when we receive that promise in faith…then its done.
And as I’ve hammered into the confirmation students time after time, faith is the key…its not by any merit of our own…but only by faith through the grace of God. (pause)
And what a blessing to be able to hear those promises…we can hear them in many places…one of which is right here in worship…and more specifically, we hear those promises in the sacraments.  In our baptism we are named and claimed as a child of God, secure in the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ…and in Communion, we hear the promise again…that through the broken body and blood of Christ we receive the forgiveness of sins…we hear those promises and through faith we receive them and God has told us that the promise is ours…that’s what makes us all saints despite being sinners…each and every day…not just today.
Martin Luther once said every time you wash your face remember your baptism…and Christ himself said as often as you eat and drink do this in remembrance of me…we live in the promise of God every day…through the ups and the downs…through all the reversals…throughout the roller coaster of life…we claim those promises…and we know that one day…when we cross the threshold of this life into whatever lies beyond…and we join in that cloud of witnesses that has gone on before us…that God will be faithful to the promises that we claim today. Amen.