Sermons

Giving from the Center

 

A Sermon for Covenant
Mark 12:41-44
“Giving from the Center”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
November 11, 2012
Kyndall Rae Renfro

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

 “‘Tis better to give than to receive,” is what they always tell you, but that hasn’t always been my experience. As a child, it was always the thought of the presents I would receive that woke me bright and early Christmas morning, rather than the gifts I was giving. I remember the impetus to give great gifts as a child was there, but the follow-through was sometimes lacking. Like the year I decided to give my little sister my blankie for Christmas—it was a grand gesture as my most prized possession, but eventually I had to ask her to give it back so I could sleep at night. At a very young age, I learned that giving could hurt.

In our story today, Jesus did a curious thing: he sat down and watched the temple treasury. Why? Why sit down there and why watch? I cannot imagine Jesus picked that spot in order to play judge or so he could gossip later about who gave what. I imagine Jesus came to that place not with a scrutinous eye but with a curious one. I don’t think he was scanning wildly for a sermon illustration; he was just being observant. Jesus was as interested in people as a bird-watcher is interested in birds or a photographer is interested in light. Jesus was mildly curious to see what would happen if he watched the coffer and the people who passed it, and a dash of gentle curiosity is often all you need to find your way to a discovery. And what Jesus learned from the widow that day was so extraordinary, it became a story worth repeating. Read more →

Lazarus Lurches to Life

A Sermon for Covenant
John 11:32-44
“Lazarus Lurches to Life”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
All Saints Day
November 4, 2012
Kyndall Rae Renfro

 *Our apologies: no audio available for this sermon due to technical difficulties. 

The thing that gets to me about Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead is how un-sanitized the whole affair is. When Jesus rises from the dead, the tomb is found empty, linens neatly folded. By the time Jesus makes his appearance to the women, you kind of assume he’s had enough time to arrive showered, dressed, and groomed. I have never, not once, pictured a stinky Jesus still oozing the stench of death on Easter Sunday. I imagine him bright-eyed and clean as a whistle come Resurrection Day.

Not so with Lazarus. He emerges looking more like a zombie than a Christ-figure, still wrapped from head to toe in a scene more aesthetically fitting for Halloween than for Easter, which is a good reminder that coming back to life is more shocking than it is beautiful, as disorienting as it is miraculous, and as untidy as it is holy. Read more →

Stay Loyal to Your Healing

 

A Sermon for Covenant
Mark 10:46-52
“Stay Loyal to Your Healing”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
October 28, 2012
Kyndall Renfro

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

I am struck by his stubborn persistence. The way Bartimaeus refuses to be silenced. That’s guts, or desperation, or some of both. There’s the way Bartimaeus jumps to his feet and leaves his cloak behind. If I were blind, I wouldn’t leave any of my possessions behind, for fear I wouldn’t be able to find them again. There’s the way Bartimaeus walks (runs?) to Jesus when he is called. A whole crowd of people, and the blind guy knows without hesitation which one to walk up to. And then there’s the way Bartimaeus gets what he asked for, but instead of running off to live his life, he keeps following Jesus. Read more →

Winning Third

 

A Sermon for Covenant
Mark 10:32-45
“Winning Third”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
October 21, 2012
Kyndall Renfro

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

Most people want first place, but at youth camp, the desired award was “I’m Third,” given to the most Christ-like camper.  I coveted one, but it was a tricky thing to get. It required that you put Christ first, neighbor second, yourself third, BUT you had to do so discreetly so not to seem like you were trying to win an award, because that would not be putting yourself last at all. You also had to be ever so slightly obvious, because in a sea full of teenagers, you were bound to be overlooked if your service was too quiet. Read more →

He’ll Be Back

 
A Sermon for Covenant
Mark 10:16-31
“He’ll be Back”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
October 14, 2012
Kyndall Renfro

 

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

Was he late to the gathering? Why was the rich man running? Was he tardy, or had he merely been tentative—standing there all along but lingering uncertain?

I imagine he was there, leaning against a tree, watching Jesus bless the children. It interested him to see the way Jesus interacted with the kids, talking to them, defending them, telling anyone who would listen, “The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The Kingdom of God was theirs—imagine that, the Kingdom in the hands of toddlers. They’d done nothing to deserve it except open their arms in unabashed expectancy. Read more →

On Marriage, Divorce, and Children

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A Sermon for Covenant
Mark 10:1-16
“On Marriage, Divorce, and Children”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
October 7, 2012
Kyndall Renfro

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

My father-in-law, who is a minister, quotes Jesus at the end of every wedding he performs: “What God has joined together, let no man tear asunder,” and he proclaims it with this mystical authority that makes you believe it. I love that line; I love the way he says it with deep sincerity, the conviction of a man who has faithfully loved one woman for 32 years. The man, who every Christmas, tells us kids and kid-in-laws how he met his Sarah, and every time he chokes back tears as he talks: he is so in love with her. I guess he’s been telling that story for thirty-two years and crying every time. Read more →

A Tragicomedy Retold

 
A Sermon for Covenant
Esther 7:1-10
“A Tragicomedy Retold”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
September 30, 2012
Kyndall Renfro
 

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

At nightfall on March 7 of this year, a crowd arrived wearing masks and costumes; they passed around candy and food and strong drink. They had gathered to hear an ancient story. Read more →

The Proverbs 31 Woman

A Sermon for Covenant
Proverbs 31:10-31
“The Proverbs 31 Woman”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
September 23, 2012
Kyndall Renfro

 

*Due to a recording glitch, audio for this sermon is not available.  Click here for audio to past sermons. 

Proverbs 3:13-15 tells us that the one who finds wisdom has found a greater profit than silver or gold or any other treasure, and Proverbs 20:15 tells us that wise lips are more precious than jewels.

Proverbs 31:10 begins: “Who can find a woman of noble character? Far beyond jewels is her value.”

Wisdom—that invaluable treasure so hard to come by—shows up quite concretely, quite obviously in the woman of Proverbs 31. Last week we explored Proverbs chapter 1, in which Lady Wisdom becomes elusive, distant, and hard to find. Wisdom started out bold and obvious, but we spurned her voice, and she went into hiding, where only the diligent will ever glimpse her. The book of Proverbs sets us on the trail, leaving breadcrumbs: proverb after proverb guiding the way to uncovering Wisdom. Read more →

Where is Lady Wisdom?

 
A Sermon for Covenant
Proverbs 1:20-33
“Where is Lady Wisdom?”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
September 16, 2012
Kyndall Renfro
 

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

She started out front and center, right in the throbbing heart of the city. Her voice rang boldly in the public square. She beckoned and she persuaded, poured all her heart and beauty and passion into pleading words, she offered without discrepancy holy gifts and invaluable teaching, and she gave it all away for free to poor and rich alike. But the townspeople loved their own ways and didn’t like having her there to interrupt and to distract. So they kicked her out. Shut down her voice and stopped up their ears. Spurned her, ignored her, threw stones and drove her out.

Read more →

Don’t Judge Yourself

 
A Sermon for Covenant
James 1:1-8; 14-17
“Don’t Judge Yourself”
Covenant Baptist Church, San Antonio
September 9, 2012
Kyndall Renfro

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

I need to be honest with you. As a pastor, it is very tempting to use guilt as a manipulative tool. Hopefully no pastor sets out to be manipulative, but the toxic mix of good intentions and our own high anxiety makes guilt seem soooo useful. Read more →