Kyrie Eleison (Psalm 6)

by jpserrano on January 24, 2017 · 0 comments

“I am weary with moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with weeping.  My eyes waste away because of grief they grow week because of my foes.  Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:6-7a,8b-9 NRSV).

There are periods, sometimes long stretches, when all we can do is despair. We like the psalmist flood our bed with tears, drench our couches with weeping. We find ourselves in the mire of pain, hopelessness, and doubt about our current situation and we struggle with hope for the future. These low periods are not to be avoided. We need to enter into these places and deeply feel the pain of our circumstance. It is counterproductive to the well being our souls to cover over, push down, or ignore the darkness we’re in.

Jesus himself entered into despair before his crucifixion. He asked the Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt 26:49). Jesus wanted out of his situation but in great strength acknowledged that God’s will comes first. But, his submission was not without pain. Scripture tells us, “In his anguish [Jesus] prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Let us never gloss over the fact that our Lord, God in flesh, was in anguish. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted” according to Isaiah 53:7.

But, we must not hold on there. It is not healthy for our soul, nor is it productive for the Kingdom to stay in the trenches of hurt, doubt, and despair. Jesus himself entered into the darkest of humanities terrors, but he didn’t stay. He moved from death to life. His way forward is now a marked path. But, it’s not of our own volition that we come out from the suffering. We cry Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy, and because the Lords accepts our prayers, he will lead us out of it.

The hope that Jesus offers is that it will not always be this way. There will be an end to sin and their will be an end to the pain that sin brings.  In Jesus there is hope that we are not stuck but moving from death to life.

God, help me to look towards you in the midst of my pain.  Pull me out of the depths, and lead me to the way of your Kingdom. Amen.

 

{ 0 comments }

What’s in a name?

by jpserrano on June 28, 2016 · 0 comments

I just heard a very thoughtful Pastor (Gypsy Pastor) ask the question, “I wonder why we get so wrapped up in proper names?”

I think it’s a question worth asking.  I have to confess, I do find myself getting wrapped up in proper names. I think proper names are important; when I use proper names, its because I want to show respect to the person who has given me their name.

I appreciate when I am in an environment where people can self-identify using the name they want to be called, the gender they wish to identify as, the pronouns they want others to use about them. I think names are important because they tell others how they want to be identified.

I know a tiny bit about multiple names.  As a twin I go by two names.  If you call out my name, or my twin brother’s name, in a large crowed of people, I will respond to both.  Not because I’m my brother, but because I understand that other’s may be making an honest mistake.  I am never bothered when people call me by my brother’s name unless they’re being rude and are trying to tell me that I am my brother.

We leave room for everyone to self-identify, yet we seem to have trouble with that when it comes to God. God has chosen to reveal God’s-self in a specific way, yet we seem to just give only a slight nod to that and say, “there must be more.”  So instead of focusing on how God has chosen to reveal Gods-self, we see similarities in other religions and proclaim “Look, God is there too.”  I am not denying that God is at work in other places, at the same time, we seem to neglect the place God has promised to be revealed, and that is through Jesus.

Proper names are important because they identify and differentiate the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from Ba’al, Molech, Ashtoreth, and for all you Game of Thrones fans—The Many Faced God and Lord of Light. 

On the one hand, Christians praying to “Allah” should be no big deal—we’ve been doing that for thousands of years—Allah is God in Arabic.  On the other hand, if by Allah we mean the God of Islam then there’s something that needs to be clarified. The God of Islam is not the same God revealed in Jesus Christ nor are the Gods’ of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Sikhism (among others).

In fact, it’s offensive to many in those other religions to claim that they worship the same God we do—Jesus by another name.

So, I think it’s important that we allow God to self-identify, as Christians believe God does in Jesus.

We as Lutherans have a ground up, earth to heaven, physical to metaphysical way of doing theology. We begin all of our understandings about God through God’s self-relation in Jesus Christ who we believe is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1).

Jesus is God on earth according to scripture.  When we look at Jesus way of being in the world, we are looking at God’s way of being.

For in him [Jesus] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col 2:9)

He [Jesus] is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being (Heb 1:3)

Likewise we know who we are to follow as God’s revelation.  We follow Jesus because we believe that he is God’s self-disclosure to the world, especially in his act of sacrificially love.

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son [Jesus]… (Heb 1:1)

It is to this God. This self-revealed, specifically named God, that we pray, “Hallowed be thy name.”

When we use a name for God from other religions and call all God’s the same we are no longer identifying God in the way God chose to be self-identified.  We are not taking God’s self-revelation to heart.

I think names are important and I get wrapped up in proper names because I want to show respect to the person named, including God.

With all that said, I don’t have a problem referring to God as the Great Spirit, or Creator, or Olodumare, or Waengongi. Let us be clear in what we are doing though—we are using foreign names and appropriating them to identify the God revealed to Abraham and Moses, who came to earth as Jesus, and who is the One God now and forever. 

-jpserrano

{ 0 comments }

What does a Lutheran look like?

When I first became Lutheran I understood it to be a theological movement.  I was brought into a church by a pastor who said, “If you can mix your Catholic upbringing with your recent Evangelical faith, you will do well in the Lutheran Church.”  That pastor went on to mentor me in the Lutheran Confessions, […]

continue reading… →

Confession (February Newsletter)

The basis for our teachings at Good Shepherd and all Lutheran Churches is: the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds; and the Book of Concord (The Lutheran Confessional Writings). These works provide the anchor points for everything we do. They act as aides in helping us enter into […]

continue reading… →

Blessing (Oct Newsletter)

Since last year we’ve (Good Shepherd) done several blessings during our celebration of the liturgy on Sundays.  We’ve blessed bikes, chalk, backpacks, ashes, palms, people, and this month we are blessing our pets.  But, that’s not even the half what we could do.  The ELCA also publishes resources to bless new communion-ware, bells, organs, windows, […]

continue reading… →

Get up: A Sermon on Mark 5:21-43

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen   Who do you identify with? So, who do you understand most in this Gospel?  That’s to say,  who do you identify yourself with the most here?   Are you the crowd? The crowd doesn’t know what to make of […]

continue reading… →

Easter Sermon

You can hear this sermon here.   Christ is Risen! Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord. Amen. Intro This last week, I heard a scene unfold between my wife and 4-year-old son that was straight out of the Cosby Show.   I heard her say,    “Benny, you can’t just […]

continue reading… →

Keep Awake!

Preached @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Concord, CA)

continue reading… →

Lasting Security

Preached @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church 11.16.2014 23rd Sunday After Pentecost

continue reading… →

Confession & Christian Identity (Sermon on Matthew 16:13-30)

Preached @ Faith Lutheran Church of Castro Valley on 8.24.2014

continue reading… →

Pentecost Sermon 2014

Preached @ Faith Lutheran Church (Pentecost in the Park)

continue reading… →

If You Love Me (Sermon on John 14:15-21)

Preached @ Faith Lutheran Church of Castro Valley on May 25, 2014.

continue reading… →