A sermon for the fifth Sunday of Lent

Take away the stone, he says. Open the grave.

The dead man’s sister protests: He died four days ago, she says. It will stink.

But Jesus tells them to take away the stone, and they do it.

Then he looks up to heaven, and he prays. He looks back to earth and cries out in a loud voice: Lazarus, come out!

And even in death, Lazarus hears Jesus calling his name. He hears the voice of the one who knows each of his sheep by name, whose sheep know his voice and follow him. He hears that voice, calling to him, Lazarus come out!

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A sermon for the third Sunday of Lent

Who in your life has been a channel of faith and grace for you?

Who has shown you what it means to live in God’s love, and inspired you to want to live that way yourself?

We talked about that in the little group that made it through the snow to our Lent study group on Wednesday. We didn’t do the full lesson that was planned for that day, because we’re saving it for the whole group this coming Wednesday. But we did talk about some of those people in our lives who have been most significant in bringing us to faith.

We’ve been talking about what we call the five marks of love, or five marks of mission – not a checklist of things we must do to prove that we’re Christians, but basic things that demonstrate that we are “marked as Christ’s own,” as the title of the program says. These marks are five things that demonstrate God’s love at work in our lives.

The first mark of love is that we “proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom,” which we can abbreviate simply as “tell.”

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A sermon for the first Sunday of Lent

When we talk about character, we mean that particular individual set of qualities that make people who they are. Their basic identity, in other words.

Character matters.

What you know about someone’s character can tell you something about how that person might behave in a situation they’ve never encountered before, a situation that’s unprecedented – that’s the word an investigator used in the movie Sully to describe the emergency the pilot faced when a bird strike took out both his plane’s engines shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia.

208 second later, Sully put the plane down on the Hudson River, without any loss of life.

Later, when the investigator commented on the unprecedented nature of this crisis, Sully was surprisingly cool about it.

“Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time,” he said.[1]

Those of us who watched the movie together here Friday evening learned something about Sully’s character from the way he handled that emergency.

We learned that he was unflappable under unbelievable pressure, that through skill and experience he had a sense of how to pilot his aircraft almost by instinct, and that he cared deeply about the people whose lives were in his hands – all very good qualities to see in a person you have to depend on in any unprecedented situation involving your airplane.

Character matters.

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