Take A Flying Leap
December 5, 2101
Second Sunday of Advent(A)
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalms 72:1-2,
7-8, 12-13, 17; Romans 15:4-9;
"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven
is close at hand" (Mt. 3:2).
On his return from a trip into the wilds,
a birdwatcher told this story of an encounter
with a bear. "I was hiking through the woods,
" he said, "and came to a big clearing.
When I got into the middle of the field
I found myself face-to-face with the
biggest bear I had ever seen. He was
at least twelve feet tall and his paws
were at least a foot wide. I turned
and ran for my life toward the only
tree standing in the field. It was a very
tall tree and the first branch was a good
twenty-five feet above the ground."
"What did you do?" cried one of his
listeners. "What could I do?" the man
replied. "The bear was right behind me.
I could feel his hot breath on my neck.
So I took a flying leap for that branch."
"Did you make it?" the listener asked.
"Well, no," said the birdwatcher, "not
going up. But I caught it coming down."
In today's Gospel Lesson, John the
Baptist is preparing his followers for
the coming of the Lord. John was a
powerful preacher. He called the
Pharisees in the crowd a "brood of vipers.
" He laced into those who were always
trying to flee God's judgment, instead
of coming under it. Many made their way
to him, "and as they were baptized by
him in the river Jordan they confessed
their sins." Then he issued a call for
radical reform, radical change. He told
the people that unless they took that
flying leap into a whole new way of life,
their souls would wither and die, like
the tree that doesn't bear good fruit and
is thrown into the fire. Matthew tells us
that "In due course John the Baptist
appeared; he preached in the wilderness
of Judea and this was his message:
'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is
close at hand'" (Mt. 3:1-2).
Repentance penetrates the crust of piety
we wrap around ourselves to keep us
from facing it.
Repentance begins deep within and
turns life upside-down for us, and right
side up for God.
Repentance reverses our priorities,
upsets our values, turns our pockets
Repentance shatters our systems of
security and hangs us on the thin thread
we call the Will of God.
Repentance revolts against the sin we
have loved and reconciles us to God,
whom we have not loved.1
Anything worthwhile demands a high price.
If you want fullness of life, if you want your
life to come to something better than the
kind of dull, gray existence you see going
on all around you, there is a price to be paid.
John the Baptist sums it all up in one word in
today's Gospel Lesson: Repent! That is the
price of Faith in the Lord Jesus: change; turn
your life around; forget the shabby old life you
have been living. It is not worth remembering.
It is not worth keeping. This means giving up
the pleasure of blaming others and looking
deep into your own soul for a clue to what
ails you. This also means that pursuing the
fullness of life Jesus offers will put you at
odds with much that is going on in today's
world. This means that a committed Christian
is likely to be out of step with things as they
are. This is part of the price to be paid when
one chooses to answer "Yes!" to the call for
They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy
mountain; for the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover
the sea (Isaiah 11:9).
Here is something for you to remember
especially during this holiday season.
(from a devotion by Pastor Ken Klaus)
Jesus Christ-our brother and King-is here with us.
He guides us in humility and meekness and teaches
us to treat one another in the same way. He who
came to this world as a little baby shared our
humanity, our sorrows, and our disappointments.
He suffered from the cruelty and murderous hatred
of His own people. He wore a crown of thorns and
died on the cross for all the sins we committed
against our God and against one another. But now,
risen from the dead, He works to bring healing,
peace, and harmony to us and each one of our
Holy Lord, tame our wild impulses, forgive our sins,
and change our rebel hearts so that we may no
longer cause any hurt or harm. We pray this in
Jesus' Name. Amen.
It's Time To Move On
December 12, 2010
Third Sunday of Advent(A)
Isaiah 35:1-6,10; Psalms 146:6-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
"Happy is the man who does not lose faith in me" (Mt. 11:6).
One Sunday morning a certain country preacher opened a sermon on faith with these words: "My dear brothers and sisters, your fields are drying up and you have come here to pray for rain. But where are your umbrellas?"
At the age of four, I knew that God was everywhere. I spoke to Him...But as I grew toward manhood, the more I learned, the less I believed in God...When I was twenty-one, my superior intellect told me that God was a fake. Heaven could not be "up" and Hell could not be "down" because in space there is no up or down. And I knew that everything in creation dies, including the smallest insect and the biggest star.
These words were written by Jim Bishop, the author of many best-selling biographies and histories. "Then one day," he said,
I felt a new experience. I saw the miracle of birth -- Virginia Lee, a child of my own -- and it turned my wandering mind around. I began to doubt my doubts. Gradually I lost faith in my intellect. It was not supplying the needed answers.
I could not see the air, but without it I would die. Thus it is, I decided, with the spirit of man. I needed something to breathe life into a soul that had been crushed by the dominance of the human mind.
What Jim Bishop needed was faith. "I was a slow learner," he said, But, somehow, somewhere, as I groped my painful way, I found my soul...I knew it was there -- wounded, bleeding perhaps, but alive.
I began to pray, and as faith returned to me, I feared that it might dissolve again. So I prayed for continuing faith.
It was only when I gave up -- when I let go and allowed myself to be carried by God -- that I began to really feel His Presence. He was there, and I knew it!
I had wanted proof -- something for my eyes or ears or hands. He wanted me to believe without it. Faith and trust are what He required of me! And He never rested till I found them.1
We think of faith in terms of belief, and rightly so. Faith is believing something. It has been said that faith is believing what you know is true but cannot prove on any rational level. But in Gospel terms, belief is simply the doorway to the House of Faith. Matthew's Gospel contains an incident in which Jesus spells this out clearly and directly. In the story, the people are trying to bring their children to Jesus and the disciples are trying to get the children out of His way. In their view, Jesus has more important things to do than to be bothered with the antics of little children, and so they are trying to protect Him. But Jesus insists that the children be allowed to draw near to Him. Then He tells the people that if they want to become the kind of persons God wants them to be, they must follow the example of those little children. "Let the children alone and do not stop them from coming to Me," Jesus says, "for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt. 19:14). Earlier Jesus had said to the disciples, "I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt. 18:3).
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought
to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
(James 4: 17)
I'm not sure why, but this short, powerful
verse comes to my mind, especially this
time of year.
We have just celebrated Thanksgiving and
we are about to celebrate Christmas. There
is meaning to these celebrations and somehow
we loose it. We get so wrapped up in the
physical trappings of this world, we forget
what these celebrations are all about.
It seems to me the celebrations of
Thanksgiving and Christmas are about
knowing what is good and doing it. God
knows whats good and He provides for us.
I know that many of us are is some bad
situations, life has not been easy. I have to
admit that this economy has had a big
affect on my life. But there has also been
good in my life and I am so thankful for all
the good things. I'm very thankful for
the good thing God did for us. He gave us
His son and His Son changed my life. That's
the good I celebrate.
Can I make a suggestion for this holiday
season just take some time, in all the
confusion that is about to take place,
and do something good for someone else.
Just as God has done something good for us.
YOU CAN DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR SOMEONE ELSE.
THESE HOLIDAY SEASON PLEASE TAKE TIME TO CARE,
Oh Lord I think about Your goodness
especially this season. Thank you God
for all the good You have done for me. Oh
Lord show me the good I can do for others.
In Jesus Name AMEN
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).
We were so excited when we brought the Christmas tree home, but it never went into the house until the next day. My Dad knew the tree would never last unless it soaked up plenty of sugar water. So he cut a few inches off the bottom and soaked it in sugar water until the next night. I still recall holding in my hands that piece of dead stump he had cut off. It was only an inch or two high, but it was definitely dead.
The Old Testament Lesson speaks about a dead tree stump, "There shall come forth shoot from the stump of Jesse."
Jesse was the father of King David and all his descendants who ruled over Judah-the Southern Kingdom. When those kings turned away from God to lead their people in the worship of false idols, the Lord cut off their kingship and sent His people into exile. The strong family tree was cut off and only a dead stump remained. For centuries not a single king rose from that stump to rule on their throne. All that could be seen was the dead stump of the line of David.
But in the fullness of time a shoot began to grow out of that stump. That shoot was Jesus Christ. He was born a baby and laid to sleep in Bethlehem's manger. He didn't come to claim any earthly kingdom as His own. Instead, he came as our King to battle our enemies: Satan, sin, death, and hell.
Though He Himself was cut down on the cross, and His lifeless body was laid in the tomb, Christ rose again from the grave with power and great glory. Through Baptism He makes us alive to God though we were dead in our sins. Through His Word He makes us wise in the ways of His salvation, and in Holy Communion He gives us His body and blood by which He paid for our sins and won our redemption. Now He lives to guide us on our journey to our heavenly home.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son as a tender shoot out of a dead tree stump. He has saved us from our sins and opened the Kingdom of heaven to us. Help us tell the whole world of His wonderful salvation. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
by Pastor Ken Klaus