Sermons

Does God Cause Our Suffering?

 

A Sermon for Covenant
“Does God Cause Our Suffering?”
Luke 13:1-9
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
Third Sunday of Lent
March 3, 2013
Kyndall Rae Renfro

 (To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

This text was a conundrum to me all week. Perhaps, if you were able to give it a read on Lectionary Tuesday, it perplexed you too.

First Jesus seems to be saying how wrong it is to blame tragedy on sin. Do you really think the Galileans who were killed by Pilate while they were making their sacrifices in the temple were worse sinners than the rest? No, of course not! Do you really think the 18 people killed at random by a falling tower were more guilty than the rest of us? Of course not!

Then Jesus says the oddest thing of all, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Wait a second. What? “These tragedies are not the result of sin,” Jesus says, “Now repent or you will die too.” He just said those people died through no particular fault of their own, and now we must repent . . . or else? These statements seem to contradict. Read more →

Mother Hen Faces Fox

 

A Sermon for Covenant
“Mother Hen Faces Fox”
Luke 13:31-35
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
Second Sunday of Lent
February 24, 2013
Kyndall Rae Renfro

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

Jesus has set his face like flint toward Jerusalem. He’s just finished telling the people, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last,” and if you can imagine, that was upsetting to a few folks, the Pharisees in particular. So they weasel up next to Jesus and pretend to be friends concerned for his wellbeing. They whisper slyly in his ear, “Oh Jesus, have you heard? Herod wants to kill you!” Then they shake their heads regrettably, they sigh deeply to one another, they wipe away a tear. “Leave this place and go somewhere else,” they warn Jesus. It will be so hard to see you go, they sniffle and sneer. Read more →

The Forced Fast of a Fierce Landscape

 

A Sermon for Covenant
“The Forced Fast of a Fierce Landscape”
Luke 4:1-13
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
First Sunday of Lent
February 17, 2013
Kyndall Rae Renfro

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

A three-year-old once asked his mother, “Mom, what do you know about the devil?” The mother hesitated, then answered in the best way a parent can, “What do you know about the devil?” she asked. “Well, the devil talked to Jesus, and the devil was mean,” he answered. And then he whispered, “If we were at a store, and you and Dad were in one aisle, and I was in another aisle, and there was candy, the devil would say, “You should take some!”

“Honey, if we were at a store, and Dad and I were on one aisle, and you were in another aisle, and there was candy, and the devil said, “you should take some!” What would you say back to the devil?”

“Oh! I would say thank you!”[1] Read more →

When You Glow

 

A Sermon for Covenant
“When You Glow”
Exodus 34:29-35
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
Transfiguration Sunday
February 10, 2013
Kyndall Rae Renfro

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

I’ve always been fascinated by this story where Moses glows. I’ve never been troubled by the seeming unbelievable quality of it—you know, the fact that while toys might glow in the dark, people do not. I’ve just never felt alarmed or even skeptical that Moses came down from the mountain so shiny the people backed away.  Somehow it seems right to me no matter how fictional it sounds that of course Moses would glow after meeting God on a mountaintop. Read more →

When You Speak

 

A Sermon for Covenant
Jeremiah 1:4-10
“When You Speak”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
February 3, 2012
Kyndall Rae Renfro

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.) 

This dialogue between God and Jeremiah sounds all too familiar to me. I seem to have this same conversation on a weekly basis. I start feeling panicky about the sermon, so I try to tell God I’m too young; God rolls the divine eyes, “Heard that one before. Not buying it.” I pout, then run to Nate for some real sympathy. “I can’t do this. I don’t know what to say!” Every time I whine and fret. I cower in a corner at least once a week because I just know this is going to be the sermon that’s an absolute stupid wreck.

Jeremiah. Who feels sorry for that guy? He had it easy. Biblical prophets got their material verbatim from heaven, right? At least, that’s what I always assume when I see those huge introductory words, “THUS SAITH THE LORD . . .” Read more →

When You Listen

  (,

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here. Note: Sermon introduction for this sermon available by audio only. Rest of text below.)

“When You Listen”

The Good Lord bestowed upon humanity five senses
—one of which is hearing, but there are others—

Taste, by which we enjoy our food
Sight, by which we view the earth’s colors
Touch, by which we experience our bodies in relation to other things
Smell, by which we sniff the air for invisible signs of what exists around us

Read more →

Reading the Signs

“Reading the Signs”
Linda Cross
Covenant Baptist Church
San Antonio, Texas
January 20, 2013
John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Read more →

Baptism Burns

 

A Sermon for Covenant
Luke 3:16b-17
“Baptism Burns”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
The Baptism of the Lord
January 13, 2012
Kyndall Rae Renfro

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand,
to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary;
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
~Luke 3:16b-17~

The Baptism of our Lord typically conjures up warm, cozy images of a gentle cooing dove descending from heaven and the voice of the Father speaking the cherished words, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with you I am well-pleased.” These lovely images are how Jesus’ baptism ends, but warm and lovely is not how the story begins. Instead, things begin with John, who was known for many traits but lovely wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t much for warmth either; his prophetic tongue had only one temperature: blazing hot. Thus the story of Jesus’ baptism begins with John’s rather ominous proclamation about the Messiah: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear the his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Read more →

The Not-So-Pious Pilgrimage

 

A Sermon for Covenant
Matthew 2:1-12
“The Not-So-Pious Pilgrimage”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
Epiphany
January 6, 2012
Kyndall Rae Renfro

(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

In his book, The Sacred Journey, Charles Foster says, “Pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have.”[1]

Which is why I am enthralled by the Wisemen. They did something so drastic with so little evidence. These Magi had the reverent impudence to get up, pack their bags, and pilgrimage to a distant town in search of a baby. I don’t know whether to liken them to explorers, gypsies, hippies, mad scientists, or vagrants, but whatever they were like it was different, edgy, and brave. They carried in their packs some strange confidence in the stars, and what do you know, it worked! They got to where they were going, despite not knowing the destination. They found the treasure without a map, laid their own treasures down at his feet, and went back home again by a different way. It was all so magical, mystical, and mysterious, this journey of the Magi from the East. I love it. Read more →

A Christmas Homily

 

A Christmas Homily for Covenant
Isaiah 9:2-7
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
December 30, 2012
Kyndall Rae Renfro

 (To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)

I saw a facebook status of a friend this week whose son said to her, “Mom, the best gifts are things you can’t buy in stores.” She smiled down at him, full of pride, until he continued, “Like my Amazon kindle. You ordered it online, right?” Isaiah prophesied about “rejoicing as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder,” and in my childhood experience of Christmas, the prophecy was fulfilled in this way: the “harvesting” of a great many gifts from under the tree. My sisters and I started off every Christmas by “dividing the plunder”—picking up packages, reading the tags, and distributing accordingly.

It was the “harvesting” and “dividing” of presents that defined Christmas for me as a child, but as I’ve grown older, things have lost at least some of their significance. As so often happens, your dreams and hopes for your life and for the world transform in conjunction with the pain you’ve seen and known. You experience some of life’s harshness, and you begin to yearn for that which can’t be bought with money, like health, family, hope, healing, reconciliation, justice, mercy, love. Your wish list for Santa pales in comparison to the deep prayers of your heart, your longing for wholeness in the face of brokenness. Read more →