Monday, March 26, 2018

The Next - Sermon, Part 1

Who here has seen the movie The Sound of Music?

Oh, good, Enough people so that my story is going to make some sense to you. Enough people so that if someone is looking puzzled at your table, you can help him or her along.

Anyway, The Sound of Music is my favorite movie, and it has been since I was very very young. Many many many years ago. The film was released in 1965 and by November of 1966, it was the highest grossing film of all time – at that time. Its release in theaters lasted 4 ½ years. I was probably in kindergarten when I saw it the first time. It was in a theater that had rocking theater seats. Like rocking chairs. It was many years later – watching the movie on TV – when I realized I had fallen asleep in the movie theater and missed everything that happened after Maria and the Captain got married. All those years and I thought the movie ended there.

It didn’t. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember that there is a whole lot of important plot involving the Nazis after the wedding. What had come next was important – and I had missed it.

The next… is often important.

After Monty and I had decided on a date for me to preach at the Lenten luncheon, I asked him if he had a theme in mind for these noon sermons. He said, “Lent.” Thank you Monty, that’s incredibly helpful.

As I thought about Lent, I decided that Lent is about “The next.” It’s about what’s next. Just like a lot of things in Christianity, that doesn’t make much sense until you read the scripture, so let’s do that. This is from Ephesians 2 – verses 1-10, and I’m reading it from a Bible I’ve never used when I preached before – I’ll explain that later. Paul is writing this to the church at Ephesus:

In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins. 2 At that time you followed the world's evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God. 3 Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God's anger.

4 But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, 5 that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved. 6 In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. 7 He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus. 8-9 For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it. 10 God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.

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