Ministries

“Being Called to See” Matthew 9:35-38

Robert Parham, former Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, contrasted blindness and seeing.  He wrote, “Blindfolded Lady Justice symbolizes fairness without prejudicial considerations.  Behind the statue of Lady Justice is the idea that seeing clouds decision-making and corrupts actions.  Equal treatment under the law, for example, can only be achieved through blindness.  So, we talk about a color-blind society.  Politicians protect themselves from the perception of impropriety by setting up blind trusts.  Blindness is an American virtue.  Seeing is a biblical virtue.”

“Seeing our Blind Spots” John 9:1, 6-9, 13-22, 34-41

After deciding upon today’s sermon title, I googled “blind spot.” I was unaware of an NBC television show by that name. I also didn’t know that Blindspot is a company that produces window coverings, specifically blinds. Merriam Webster offers three definitions (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blind%20spot). First, a blindspot is an area around a car, truck, etc., that the driver cannot see. The Honda we bought back in September has an area which the rear-view mirror cannot reach; this is called a blindspot. Secondly, a blindspot is a small area at the back of the eye that is not sensitive to light; our peripheral vision becomes limited, because of the way our eye is created, thus preventing us from seeing a certain area. Finally, the tendency to ignore something especially because it is difficult or unpleasant becomes a blindspot for us; I hope that because of today’s sermon, we can see some of our own 
blindspots.

 

“Reputation Matters” Luke 14:1-14

It is no secret that the Pharisees did not like Jesus. He represented too radical a change for them. They only associated with people like themselves so that they could remain ceremonially clean; if they hung out with the outcasts whom Jesus attracted, they would not be able to participate in Temple rituals.
The word “Pharisee” actually means “separated one,” and they lived up to their name. They separated themselves from outcasts, but also they separated themselves from anyone who didn’t keep the Law as they did. The quest of their religion was to do the right thing and not do the wrong thing. On the surface, we might agree that their quest was noble, but in reality, they placed the keeping of their understanding of the Law to be above everything else. They regularly placed regulations and rules ahead of individuals and their needs.
For Jesus to have such an adversarial relationship with the Pharisees raises questions with this passage from Luke. Why would a leader of the Pharisees invite Jesus into his home, and why would Jesus accept the invitation?

“Today’s Lepers” Mark 1:40-45

In the New Testament, there was no person whom people avoided more than a leper. Although virtually obliterated in industrialized nations today, cases of leprosy continue to be reported in third world countries. As you probably know, the disease is a skin disorder. Ulcerated whelps form on the skin that can also affect the muscular and nervous systems. Mental decay is assured while the end result is usually fatal; it is also highly contagious. The pain from this dreaded disease is excruciating. I don’t know about you but when I am sick, I like to be pampered. If I’m not feeling well, I find comfort in the fact that someone can and does take care of me. Lepers did not enjoy this luxury. The source of their solace was people in the same boat disregarding their own suffering in trying to grant sometimes unreachable serenity.

“Where Would Jesus Go?” John 4:1-15

Years ago, marketers trended with bracelets, bumper stickers, hats, T-shirts, and other items with the letters “WWJD.” The initials represented the question “What Would Jesus Do?” and came from the classic book “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, which was first published in 1896. It remains a question which I think we should ask, especially when faced with difficult choices or confounding dilemmas.
Today, I am beginning a sermon series which will hopefully complement the question “What Would Jesus Do?” We have heard today from two members of our Adult Spiritual Formation Team about their recent experiences at the Budget Inn. Among other responsibilities, this group directs “Wednesdays Without Walls,” a monthly opportunity to place faith into action by actually leaving the church campus and doing something for someone else by showing the love of God.

“It’s Not Always Easy” Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body on earth but yours; no 
hands but yours; no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which the 
compassion of Christ looks out to the world.  Yours are the feet with which 
he is to go about doing good.  Yours are the hands with which he is to bless 
others now.” 
Jesus is depending upon us.  Today’s New Testament Lesson 
provides a story which I think is relevant to the life of Madison Baptist 
Church now. 
The text opens with Jesus sending spies into cities where he 
intended to go.  He wanted them to go ahead of him to scout out the areas. 
Why 70?  Some think it was because Moses had appointed 70 elders 
to help him.  Others think the reference was associated with the 70 Gentile 
nations at that time.  I agree with the latter reference.  Luke is the gospel 
written for the Gentiles; those who first read Luke’s gospel were not those 
with Jewish roots.  Instead they were Gentile readers; Luke’s gospel