Showing posts from December, 2013

The Return of the King - Sunday After Christmas: "I Know The Plans"

This week we are concluding the sermon series that took us all the way through the season of Advent , and has now shamelessly encroached on the season of Christmas--which lasts until Epiphany, in case you were wondering.  Oh yeah, baby.  Christmas is far from over for the Church.  That's how us mainline Protestant-types roll. There's this song on the Beatles " Rubber Soul " album that came to mind as I was preparing for this week's sermon.  Sometimes the Beatles just happen when you're sermonizing.  Trust me on this. The song?  "In My Life."  It goes a little something like this, in case you've forgotten or if you have no concept of good music and have never heard it: There are places I remember All my life, though some have changed Some forever not for better Some have gone and some remain All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life I've loved them all

The First Noel - A Christmas Eve Reflection

I have an unusual name:   Leon Bloder.   I am the only one of my kind as far as I can tell.  I am named for my grandfather, whose parents were Austrian immigrants. They originally named him Leopold, but then changed it.  I'm rather glad of that, actually. Of the many jokes that have been made about my name over the years, there's one that always tends to crop up around Christmastime .  It goes like this: "Did you know that your name spelled backwards is "Noel?"  "Yes," I'll usually say, "I know."  Once I decided to feign ignorance.  "Really?" I nearly shouted when the joke teller let me have it.  "I had NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE! That's SO AWESOME! My name spelled backwards is Noel, how do you like that?  HOW FUNNY! You thought of that all by yourself?  MAN you must be a GENIUS." Come to think of it, that's the last time that person ever spoke to me again. Hmmm.  Maybe it's just as well. We all k

The Return of the King - Advent Week Four: "The Return of the King"

This week we are celebrating the Fourth Sunday of the Season of Advent , and the fourth installment of the sermon series, "The Return of the King ."  Our inspiration for this series has been the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien , who both wrote wonderful stories about a returning king--Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings .  Advent is a time of anticipation, but it's also a time to remember.  We remember that the King of kings, Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God has arrived, born in lowly circumstances in first century Palestine over two thousand years ago.  But we also anticipate his promised return when all things would be set to rights at last. Our passage of Scripture for this week's sermon is Matthew 1:18 -25, the birth narrative from the First Gospel .  Matthew's account of Jesus birth is devoid of the pageantry that Luke's Gospel introduces, but it's full of drama and intrigue nonetheless.  The first Chris

The Return of The King - Week 2: "The Herald"

When I worked at Walt Disney World many moons ago, I recall several visits that we were paid by Michael Eisner , the Chairman and CEO of the Disney company at the time. As Eisner walked through the Magic Kingdom park during his visits, there would always be a team of people who would find out where he was going, and who would go before his entourage to prepare everyone along the way. Everything had to be perfect because Eisner was notorious for picking up on the slightest imperfection.  He was fond of retelling the story of how he walked by a gate in one of the parks on the way to lunch and casually remarked how it would look better blue.  After lunch he and his posse walked by it again, only this time it was blue--re-painted while he ate. It was considered an honor if Eisner walked through your area of the park and didn't have anything to say about it.  He was gracing us with his presence, essentially.  I will never forget those moments.  Like a king, he had heralds wh