Friday, March 28, 2008

Experiencing Celebrate Life with Cynthia and Ragan Clawson

There is not a traditional sermon at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City this week. We are going to experience "Celebrate Life" with its orginial creators, Ragan and Cynthia Clawson. I am excited about this event because it is the Jesus story presented in a powerful musical format. So often we get so caught up in what is said in the sermon that we can miss the movement of the Spirit and the whisper of God's voice through music. I can hardly wait for Sunday.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Who are you looking for? John 20:1-18

Just the mention of Christmas stirs emotions within us. Images of a babe in a manger, gifts beneath the tree, Christmas carolers quickly come to mind. Each summons a sense of warmth and wonder. Easter’s images are more difficult; a rugged cross on a barren hillside, the darkened sky and quivering earth, an empty tomb. But, without the pain of cross and the miracle of the resurrection then Christmas looses its meaning. We will share two worship experiences on Easter at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. At 7:30 am we gather for a sunrise service that breaks the quiet of the early morning with the wonderful pronouncement that “He is Risen!” Our 10:30 am service is our larger, more exuberant service. We’ll look at John’s resurrection account found in John 20:1-18. It asks the question, “Who are you looking for?” It is no secret that many choose to go to church on Easter that rarely otherwise wander into its hallways. I think that they know that there is something of value in the Easter message, but they have not found the kind of relationship with God that impacts their everyday lives. The John resurrection story portrays what happens when one who was earnestly looking for Jesus finds him. Jesus’ voice strikes a cord deep within her heart. My hope is that in tomorrow’s worship service we can help folks hear that voice for themselves. My hope that you will look for the kind of relationship with God that can give you the sense of hope and peace you long for. If you go looking for Jesus and listen for his voice, then you will find him.

Because He Lives! Tom

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Matthew 21:1-11 Journey Home

On Sunday morning we will be looking at Matthew 21:1-11. Although it is the week's lectionary passage of the palms for the week, it is one of the lesser used entry stories. It offers a remarkable picture that contrasts the humble entry of Jesus with the ever present symbols of brute force power displayed by Roman occupiers. While we do not encounter the picture of Roman soldiers walking our streets, the unadulterated images of power are unmistakable. You can see it in the dramatic corporate logos that declare their presence outside of dramatic structural facades. You can see it in the strident walk of community leaders forever attached to their blackberries. You can see it in the hallways of the capital where state senators and representatives huddle in the small clusters quietly negotiating bills that will impact the daily lives of their citizens. It seems that quest and exercise of power is at the heartbeat of our culture and the humility of Christ seems strangely out of step.

As we begin our journey toward the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter morning, which vision of power will we claim? Will we be drawn in by the cries of culture or touched by the vision of the Son of God coming in on a simple donkey? Will we be moved by the cheers of the crowd or shaped by the humility of the one named Jesus?

The passage will challenge our cultural presuppositions and call us to begin our Holy Week walk with a changed approach to life and faith. It will demand that we rethink our understanding of power and invite us to claim a more humble way. It will not be easy because it is countercultural. But, it is a way that will draw us to be more like Jesus.

May we join a parade of humility.

Grace and Peace, Tom

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ezekiel 37:1-14 “Them Bones"

Ezekiel is one of my favorite prophets. I think the reason that I like him so much is that he is given a really lousy task and then tackles it with gusto. God gave Ezekiel the task of carrying a message to His people that is difficult and unpopular. God even warns Ezekiel that he is carrying his message to a people he calls rebellious, impudent, stubborn children. He lives this task through the book that carries his name. But, just when it seems that it seems the story is over God offers Ezekiel a vision of hope.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 is the well known vision of the valley of dry bones. My first childhood image related to this passage was the Saturday morning School House Rock “Them not so dry bones” animated story of the skeleton. It begins with a barbershop quartet singing “Them bones, them bones, them dry bones, Now they're the working of the Lord.” I know that many of you join with me in this childhood flashback. It sets the context for the prophet’s grand vision of the resurrection of the dead. God tells him that the vision is the picture of the restoration of the people of Israel. It is a hopeful picture for me because it reminds me of God’s redemptive nature. It offers me, and you, the promise that God is in the life business and is calling us to a future of new life, new hope, new ministry.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Children of Light Ephesians 5:9-14

Our focal passage invites us to become children of light. Paul contrasts that with the darkness of the secret shames that cause of us to settle for being less than the people God wants us to be. Too many of us are haunted by a secret or captured by shame that act as barriers in our relationship with God. This is not what God intends for us. Rather than being consumed by the shadows, I believe God wants us to head for the light of faith and redemption.

The way of light is clearly understood as the way of God, a symbol of purity and holiness. I think it is hard for us to think about what it means to be a childhood of holiness and purity. It is too easy to see our flaws and failings. It is too easy to see remember moments where we dream of doing the right thing – even a great thing for God – but fall short. Paul sets our course for us. It tells us that our quest is to Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. The verse used her to convey the idea of trying is not the kind of trying we do when we go on a diet, where we try for a little while and then are distracted or tempted and stop. This kind of trying does stop. It is a present future, we try and will keep on trying – never cease trying. It is the kind of trying that continually leads us into the presence of the one who is light, so that a little bit of it rubs off on us.

May God's love and grace rub off on you.

Grace and Peace, Tom

Sorry for the delay

Sorry for the delay in posting today's blog. I am having some technical issues with my account. I will try to post the blog related to tomorrow's sermon as quickly as possible.
Grace and Peace, Tom