Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever seen a movie that didn’t know what it was trying to be? That can be a frustrating experience. You want to enjoy the film, but you only want to enjoy one film, not three or four at the same time. Writing a story (or much of anything for that matter) can be tough. I can speak to this rather personally as I write a few thousand words every week. Not many of those words are for the purpose of telling a story, but writing a sermon requires the same kind of discipline. Too many potentially good sermons have fallen victim to the curse of not knowing what they are trying to be. The preacher starts out making one point, but then just can’t quite restrain himself from making two or three others. The jumbled mess that results from this may feel very inspiring in a moment, but doesn’t often stick beyond that. I recently finished watching a movie that suffers from this very thing. It’s too bad too, because I really wanted it to be good. Let’s talk this morning about the latest offering from the wizarding world of Harry Potter: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

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Morning Musing: Mark 16:5-7

“When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he told them, ‘You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they put him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there just as he told you.”‘” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I’ve talked before about my love of magic. I love seeing the fruit of many years’ worth of hard work and dedication that talented magicians have put in to honing their ability to completely wow me by making something appear where it has no business being or knowing something there’s no way they could have known. One of my favorite categories of magic acts is where the magician looks like he has lost control of the trick. He “messes something up” and it appears you have caught him in the act of deception, only to find out he was perfectly in control of the situation the entire time and you only saw what you were intended to see. The truth is things were always unfolding just exactly like he planned for them to go. On the morning of the resurrection, it looked at first like things were flying out of control. The truth, though, was they were unfolding just exactly like God had planned for them to go. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: John 13:35

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples. If you love one another.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever looked at another person and just known who they were? You didn’t need any information more than a single glance. You just knew. You’re not sure how you knew, but you knew. Now, making those kinds of assumptions about people can be dangerous. It can also be deeply unfair. Too much hatred and strife in our culture has come because people have made snap judgments about strangers that were wrong and hurtful. That being said, sometimes a first impression is the right one. America’s favorite summer reality competition show, still going strong after its 16th season, America’s Got Talent, finished up this week. The winner was magician Dustin Tavella. This morning let’s talk a bit about his story and why I picked him to be the winner from his first audition.

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Morning Musing: Mark 11:9-10

“Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I love magic. I’m not any good at it, but I love watching it. Fool Us with Penn and Teller is one of the shows I make sure to catch every time it’s on. One of my favorite kinds of tricks are the ones when the magician seems to have lost control of the trick, but reveals at the end that he was totally in control of things the entire time. Similarly, I love tricks where the magician leaves you feeling like you know how he did the trick only to do something a few moments later that you can’t even imagine how he could have done it. Those tricks give the audience a brief feeling of having an edge on the magician. But the truth is things were always going exactly how he planned for them to go. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem for what would be the final time, there were points along the way when it seemed like things were flying out of control. The final act, though, revealed that He had things perfectly in hand the whole time. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 7:33-35

“So he took him away from the crowd in private. After putting his fingers in the man’s ears and spitting, he touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’). Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the most famous quotes from the world of science fiction comes from Arthur C. Clarke, author of, among many other things, 2001: A Space Odyssey. He said this: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The idea here is that when we don’t understand how something works, we eventually just use magic as our explanation. Today we have generally been taught to think in technological terms, but if really pressed, most of us don’t have any earthly idea how most of the pieces of technology that have become so fundamentally integral to our daily lives work. They might as well be magic boxes. We just don’t say or even think that because, technology. This technological presupposition leaves us thinking critically when we read about some of the miracles Jesus performed. This miracle is a particularly good example. Let’s talk about one of the stranger miracles Jesus performed.

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