Sermon for March 29, 2020

The First Commandment

Exodus 20:1-3

 

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.

Sermon for March 22, 2020

Introduction to the Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1-17

 

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Message from Rev. Moore – February 2020

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

Philosopher Herbert Fingarette, while musing about death, said that “In my arrogance, I thought that I could conquer death with logic. But now I know that I only used logic to suppress my fear of death.” Dr. Fingarette lived and mused his way through most of his 97 years of life that death was nothing to fear, that he could muster enough arguments as a buffer to blunt the fear of death! It was only now at his dark stage of twilight, that is while the dusk of death was falling rapidly, that Dr. Fingarette realized his arguments were only a defense mechanism to suppress his fear of death. Fingarette had good reason to fear death. The Bible teaches that the fear of death has real power over our lives, a power that subjects us to “lifelong slavery.” The tragedy of Fingarette is that it wasn’t until he was near his end that he realized his human “logic” only served to numb him from the fear of death. It didn’t conquer his fear of death as he arrogantly thought all those years in his “ivory tower.” Because of that, he treated the most important existential issue in all of life with an escapist attitude! This escapist attitude contemplated that “since life is short, let’s just enjoy it!” The power of death does that: it has the power of dread and it has the power to create an escapist attitude to avoid such dread. But either way, dread is real! Who has this power of dread over humanity? Scripture says the devil:

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb 2:14-15 ESV)

But the good news is that Jesus destroyed the power of Satan who has the power of death. How? Jesus’ death on the cross destroyed death and the power of death which is the power of dread! When Jesus says that he is the “life,” that’s what he meant: that is to say, he’s the only way that can deliver man from the power of dread; He’s the only truth (Fingarette’s logic) that can deliver man from the power of dread! All the other ways and truths that man uses to deliver him from the power of dread are arrogant, merely ivory tower approaches of escapism doomed to fail in this age and in the age to come.

As I write this, we are all hearing the tragic news about Kobi Bryant and his untimely death as a young and extremely accomplished man. Our prayers go out to his family and friends, as well as others whose family members died in the helicopter crash. Whether we live a long full life like Dr. Fingarette, or our life is cut short like Mr. Bryant, may we prepare for a long eternity after this life! However, there is only one way to prepare: in Christ alone, through Christ alone, and by Christ alone!

In Christ,
Pastor Carl

Message from Rev. Moore – December 2019

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”   22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”  (which means, God with us).

Mat 1:18-23 ESV

The term incarnation is a theological term used to describe the nature and person of Jesus Christ! The word incarnation means to enflesh or give bodily form, literally the act of being made flesh. This is what John 1:14 teaches: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”  The word flesh means human: God became a human being! The Incarnation teaches two important truths: Jesus is God; Jesus is human!

Have you ever considered the beautiful irony of the birth of Christ—the Eternal Son of God becoming man? During the holy days of Christmas every year, we have the chance to revisit this irony and no matter how many times I revisit this leitmotif in Scripture I always marvel at the profundity of God’s love, a great love vouchsafed in such a little package.

In conclusion, during this season of Christmas consider anew this beautiful irony. To help us ponder, listen to St. Augustine’s ironic description in two of his sermons from the 4th century:

Our Lord came down from life to suffer death;
the Bread came down, to hunger;
the Way came down, on the way to weariness;
the Fount came down, to thirst.
—Augustine, Sermon 78

He so loved us that, for our sake,
He was made man in time,
although through him all times were made.
He was made man, who made man.
He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.
—Augustine, Sermon 188,

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Carl

 

Message from Rev. Moore – February 2019

“it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
(1Cor. 13:6-7 ESV)

We have all seen what has happened at the conclusion of the annual March for Life in Washington DC., where a short video clip was posted online to the internet, seemingly showing a group of white teenagers from a Catholic High school from Kentucky who had attended the March for Life rally, mocking, provoking, and teasing a Native American man as he beats his drum and chants his prayers. Initially the narrative was that these boys accosted this Native American man. Why? Based on what? The boys were white, teenagers, pro-lifers, Catholics, and supporters of the president (evidence by their Make America Great Again hats). However, when a video is later released showing that in fact the boys were the victims— that the Native American Man and a third party (“Black Hebrews” shouting profanities) were the ones that confronted the boys and verbally abused them, that these boys were accosted by adults— then the narrative flipped. Many pundits admitted their error and rush to judgement, while others doubled down with the original narrative. Tuesday on the View Whoopi Goldberg said:

“Many people admitted they made snap judgments before these other facts came in. But is it that we just instantly say that’s what it is based on what we see in that moment and then have to walk stuff back when it turns out we’re wrong? Why is that? Why do we keep making the same mistake?”

Goldberg is asking an honest question and good question. Why is that? Why do we assume the worst in people? There is a psychological phenomenon called “confirmation bias.” In an article from Psychology Today entitled “Wishful Thinking” it defines confirmation bias this way:

“Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.”

There is a big difference between what we like to be true and what is true. What we like to be true is based on the bias of love of self. In contradistinction, what is true is based on the bias of love of God and neighbor. The former is the judgement of prejudice, hate, and judgmentalism that come in many forms: e.g., racism, ageism, antisemitism, male-chauvinism, feminism, etc. The latter is right judgment based on love. This is what the apostle Paul means when he refers to the judgment of love, love that “believes all things.” Theologians call this the “judgement of charity.” The judgment of charity gives people the benefit of the doubt. Contrary to confirmation bias, judgement of charity celebrates the truth, doesn’t make quick judgments (i.e., quick to hear the facts first and slow to speak on the facts, e.g., James 1:9), and doesn’t think the worst of people, but thinks the best, the best unless, and only unless, the facts do not confirm one’s bias of love. The reason why we assume the worst in people, and are quick to judge, is because of our bias of hate toward the other and love of self (and others like us). In short, it’s because we are sinners; it’s because humanity is radically corrupt. Confirmation bias is just one aspect of our radically corrupt nature.

But the good news is that there is a cure for this sin, like all other sins. The cure is the gospel. Not only does Jesus forgive us of our confirmation biases, but Jesus also purges and purifies us of our confirmation biases with the truth of the gospel. The truth is this: if Jesus could love without his personal biases (being a Jew) distorting how he viewed other people (Gentiles), then can’t we also commit our ways to Christ’s way? In this life we will never totally be free of our false judgments of prejudice, hate, and judgmentalism, but by the grace of God we can fight against this temptation, knowing love “hopes all things.”

In Christ,
Pastor Carl