The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Do You Love the Law?"

January 21, 2007
Third Sunday After Epiphany

from Nehemiah 8:1-10 and Luke 4:14-21

Ezra read the law of Moses from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. -- Nehemiah 8:2-3

My sermon outline:

• Depending on your POV of worship, we either owe a debt of gratitude to Nehemiah, or we have a person to blame :) b/c the public reading and interpreting of God’s word, which is central to so many worship services, has its roots in today’s passage from Nehemiah. Although somehow the reading and interpreting has gone down from the original six hours...

• Background and history of Nehemiah, walk through of chapters 1-7, the people ask for the law.
Nehemiah outline:
* People are returned to land from exile. Nehemiah is a governor under a foreign king. Neh finds out that the walls of his holy city are in ruins, and he weeps. Prays to God in confession and repentance and seeking favor.
* Receives leave from his boss to fix the walls.
* Gets there and people catch his vision and work day and night, giving of themselves and their resources, working with all their heart, praying with all their might to rebuild God’s city.
* Completed in 52 days (project 6:15).
* God is glorified, enemies are frightened because of the display of God’s power. People return to the holy city.
* And now chapter 8: they ask for the reading of the law.

• They ask for the law and its reading causes them to weep. Scripture doesn’t specify why they weep, although mourning is mentioned.

• Peter in Luke 5:8, Peter introduced to Jesus, miraculous catch of fish, Peter says “Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man”. Mourns sinfulness.

• DCLA altar call story (2003) and mourning sinfulness

• that was also a weeping of joy in salvation (the story of their people enslaved and freed, given a land and a relationship, returned to promise)

• Ps 119 is a love poem about the goodness of the law:
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin... I rejoice in following your statutes, I delight in your decrees. How I love your law. I meditate on it all day long. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. I gain understanding from your precepts, therefore I hate every wrong path. Etc etc.

• people also weep for joy because in the word of God they find their identity.

• law provides parameters: In the beginning earth was formless and void and God’s word created order, hallelujah

• we skipped last week’s reading from Luke about the wilderness temptation, but remember he quoted Deuteronomy: man cannot live on bread alone...

• and then today’s Luke reading Jesus proclaims his identity, his purpose based in God’s word.

• So come, hear the word, find your identity and proclaim your purpose, celebrate your salvation, and go about the business of God as hearers & doers, so that it may go well with you.

Deuteronomy 26:16-19
This very day the Lord your God is commanding you to observe these statutes and ordinances; so observe them diligently with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have obtained the Lord’s agreement: to be your God; and for you to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, his commandments, and his ordinances, and to obey him. Today the Lord has obtained your agreement: to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments; for him to set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor; and for you to be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 71 in worship.


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