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Sermon for this week:

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21  -  Ash Wednesday: "Hypocrites"
Various Text     -    "Lenten Sermon Series"

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Matthew 6: It is difficult to find anyone who has a kind word to say about hypocrites. Nobody likes a hypocrite; no one wants to be around one; the last thing one would want to be called is a hypocrite. Hypocrites are, by definition, deceptive, two-faced and treacherous. If discovered, hypocritical politicians are defeated at the polls, hypocritical friends get dropped and hypocritical preachers lose the trusting ears of their congregations.

It may well be that our age is particularly tough on hypocrisy. In some ways, it is our one remaining public sin. We can tolerate embezzlement, infidelity, brawling and addiction in our public figures, but not pretense and hypocrisy. Presidential press conferences are scrutinized not only for major policy shifts but also for flickers of insincerity passing across the President's face, for the subtle twitch of an eyelid, and the vocal cadence of insincerity. To this day I believe that Al Gore lost the presidential election, not because of a Florida recount, or Ralph Nadar taking 3% of the votes away, but because of that one stunt in the second debate when Governor Bush was speaking and Gore got off his stool and walked toward center stage, toward Bush, like he wanted Bush to sit down because he had something more important to say. It was arrogant. And because he was the Vice President it made him look all the more hypocritical. No one has the right to do that, not even a VP.

I want you to understand I am not taking any political position here. I am taking a spiritual position. Every person in public life is a whisper away from having their hypocrisy broadcast to the nation. From President Bush to Ted Kennedy, from Kobe Bryant to Michael Jackson, from pastors in the pulpit to laity in the pews.

Several years ago, when a well-known television evangelist was caught in a seedy, day-rate motel, it was not so much the deed itself that brought him down but the fact that his moral posturing, his wrenching, tear-stained appeals for understanding and forgiveness, did not ring true in our ears. In short, he committed the unpardonable sin, the sin against the human spirit, the sin of trying to pull an emotional fast one -- the sin of hypocrisy. When we see this kind of hypocrisy we say, "Father, do not forgive him, for he knows full well what he's doing."

The specific problem with religious hypocrites is that they are not only "holier-than-thou"; they are also "holier-than-themselves." They are really just as sinful as the secular types who have partied like jackals on Saturday, slept late and then pondered what sort of toppings should go on the Domino's pizza during halftime of the football game. In fact, I consider those who stay at home on Sunday as actually morally superior to the hypocrites who drag themselves out of bed and show up for Sunday school. At least they aren't wearing a pious mask and living a lie.

Jesus does not tolerate hypocrites, and neither do we. But before we assume that Jesus fully shares our views on hypocrites, we should look again, and more closely, at.....

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Sermon Series for Lent: 

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Lenten: A Sight For Blind Eyes
                        David E. Leininger


1.   Lent - Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 

2.   The Devil Made Me Do It  -  Matthew 4:1-11 

3.   Nicodemus  -  John 3:1-15 

4.   Excuses (Alternate Lent 2)  -  Luke 14:16-23 

5.   Unexpected Evangelists  -  John 4:5-42 

6.   Sight for Blind Eyes  -  John 9: 

7.   The Grief Grinch  -  John 11:17-36 

8.   Sometimes Youve Got to Shout!  -  John 12:12-16
9.   The Imperatives of the Resurrection  -  Matthew 28:1-10

Lenten: They Heard Him Gladly
                        James W. Moore

1.   The Common People Heard Him Gladly  -  Mark 12:35-37

2.   Jesus and Andrew  -  John 1:35-42

3.   Jesus and Zacchaeus  -  Luke 19:1-10

4.   Jesus and Bartimaeus  -  Mark 10:46-52

5.   Jesus and Mary and Martha  -  Luke 10:38-42 

6.   Jesus and Mary Magdalene  -  John 20:11-18

7.   When The Risen Christ Comes Looking For Us  -  John 21:15-19

Lenten: The Passion Of The Christ
                        Brett Blair

1.   His Triumphal Entry  -  Luke 19:28-40

2.   His Cleansing Of The Temple  -  Luke 19:45-48

3.   His Teachings  -  Luke 20:27-38
4.   His Last Supper  -  Luke 22:14-23

5.   His Trial  -  Luke 23:13-25

6.   His Death  -  Luke 23:33-43

7.   His Resurrection  -  John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-10



Lenten: The Healing Power Of The Christ
                        James W. Moore

1.   The Healing Of Simons Mother-in-Law  -  Mark 1:21-28

2.   The Healing of the Man with the Withered Hand  -  Mark 3:1-6

3.   The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac

4.   The Healing of Jairus Daughter and the Hemorrhaging Woman - Mark 5:21-43

5.   The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus  -  Mark 10:46-52

6.   The Healing Power of the Cross  -  Mark 15:33-41

7.   The Healing Power of the Resurrection  -  John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-10

Lenten: Encounters With Christ
                        James W. Moore

1.   Jesus & the Man Born Blind  -  John 9:1-12

2.   Jesus and Mary and Martha  -  Luke 10:38-42

3.   Jesus and Nicodemus  -  John 3:1-10

4.   Jesus and the Woman at the Well  -  John 4:7-15

5.   Jesus and James and John  -  Matthew 20:20-28

6.   Jesus and Caiaphas  -  Matthew 26:58-68

7.   Jesus & Mary Magdalene  -  Mark 16:1-7

Lenten: Journey To The Cross
                        James W. Moore

1.   Jesus And The Demon-Possessed Man  -  Mark 5:1-20

2.   Jesus And The Hemorrhaging Woman  -  Mark 5:21-43

3.   Jesus And The Extravagant Woman  -  Mark 14:1-9

4.   Jesus and Judas  -  Mark 14:43-51

5.   Jesus and Simon Peter  -  Mark 14:66-72

6.   Jesus And Pontius Pilate  -  Matthew 27:15-26

7.   Jesus And The Women At The Tomb  -  Mark 16:1-8

Lenten: The Man From Galilee
                        Thomas A. Pilgrim

1.   The Temptation Of His Life  -  Matthew 4:1-11

2.   The Transformation Of His Call  -  Matthew 4:18-22

3.   The Touch Of His Hand  -  Matthew 8:14-17

4.   The Treasure Of His Kingdom  -  Matthew 13:44

5.   The Test Of His Courage  -  Matthew 20:17-19

6.   The Tragedy Of His Victory  -  Luke 19:28-40

7.   The Triumph Of His Defeat  -  Matthew 28:1-10


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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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