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Pastor Glenn Zimbelman
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America|
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|Pastor Glenn Zimbelman's Sermons
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Some of you might remember this guy. He was the rainbow man. He would dress up in a rainbow colored afro and show up at sporting events. You would see him at the NBA finals, at NFL games and even at Nascar events. He became famous enough that he found himself in Budweiser beer commercial. I always wondered where he got the cash to come up with all those tickets. He was everywhere. But you see it wasn’t just his rainbow hair that stood out. He would also flash a sign that said, John 3:16.
When I first interviewed with the call committee I mentioned to them that the sermons online from Mt. Cross Lutheran in Payson are all done at the contemporary service where I don’t dress up in my pastor’s outfit. Well somewhere along the way, that was missed. When my name was submitted to council they were told, well Pastor Glenn wears street clothes while preaching. So many of you were expecting me to be in my jeans that very first Sunday. So I surprised some of you by having my pastor’s garb on. Some of you are still wondering when and if you will see me in jeans on a Sunday morning. That will happen during our future second worship but I have too much respect for those that appreciate traditional forms of worship to not conduct worship in an alb and a stole.
The Evangelical Church in America is divided up into 65 areas of ministry called synods. We are in the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA. Each synod has a bishop, our bishop is Steve Talmage. Did you know that we also have a person who is known as the presiding Bishop? The presiding Bishop is essentially the top person in our denomination. She presides over our entire church and the 65 synods. She is Bishop to our Bishops. Who hear knows her name? Her name is Elizabeth Eaton. What is cool about the presiding Bishop is that she was my synod bishop when I was in Ohio. When she got elected I told our Bishop Steve Talmage, I bet I am the only clergy person in the state of Arizona that can say they had a glass of wine around the fireplace with our new presiding bishop. I bet all of you are very impressed with your pastor. She was very supportive of me as a mission developer. Well she said something in her pre-election speech that fits our gospel lesson for today. Her words were something like ,” as Lutherans we are grounded in a theology of the cross versus our culture which has a theology of glory.” That was one sound bite that the press quoted. But what does that mean? Why should it matter? Theology of the Cross vs Theology of Glory. I bet you didn’t even know that the heart of what it means to be Lutheran has to do with Luther’s thoughts on the theology of the cross. So listen closely. I bet you didn’t get this in confirmation.
I worked for 6 years as a night chaplain. Once a month I would stay overnight at the hospital and answer any emergency calls. One of the duties was to meet with anyone that requested a chaplain the night before a surgery. So I walk into this gentleman’s room and his entire room was decorated in Georgia Bulldog regalia. There were pennants, pictures, helmets and so forth. Next to his hospital bed he had a Georgia Bulldog sports program. It was opened in the middle to a page where he was honored as an All American at Georgia back in the 1940s. The picture was black and white.
One of the classic kid’s games is Hide and Seek. When I was a counselor at a Bible Camp we would do a counselor hunt. All the counselors would go hide, and then the entire camp full of kids, 150 strong, would go out and try to find the counselors. The camp was located in Washington woods and was about 50 acres or so, so it there was plenty of places to hide. We did this every week, and I was one of the few counselors that summer to never get found. You want to know my secret? I locked myself in the freezer. No, in reality, I had some old green army clothes. I dressed in that, and climbed the tallest fir tree on the camp. I would throw pine cones at the kids below. Here is the thing: They would have found me, all they had to do was to look up.
As a pastor one of my joys is to do hospital visits. Hopefully I won’t have to do that very much here because I know that all of you are eating right, exercising like crazy and none of you have any health concerns. Well ever so often when I go and see someone there is warning on the door. The words are similar to “Isolation Procedures must be followed”. Sometimes it requires me to wash up. Most often it is to put on a gown, wear gloves and to not get too close to the patient. I have never figured out if they are protecting the patient from me, which just might be a good idea I might add, or to protect me from the patient. Isolation procedures.
You probably don’t know this but the Grand Canyon Synod has a policy that every 3 years, all pastors are to undergo Healthy Boundary Training. The training is a reminder to us clergy that we need to think through and keep ourselves accountable through healthy boundaries. Those boundaries include obvious things like adultery or emotional affairs with others, but also ones you might not think of. For instance, if you are a workaholic, is it a healthy time boundary to work 95 hours a week. Even the boundary of having a responsible debt load arises. Those healthy boundaries are good to keep for everyone safe.
Our mission statement is Gathered by the Holy Spirit, Fed with the Word of God, Sent to make Christ known. Let’s say that together, repeat after me, Gathered by the Holy Spirit, Fed with the Word of God, Sent to make Christ known. It is a very good mission statement. Many mission statements are nice words on paper. What makes a mission statement have teeth and matter to the world? It takes people committed to living it out through their behaviors. Sometime I will do a sermon series on our mission statement so that we can ponder the meaning for our lives. Did you know that Jesus had a mission statement? It is found in Mark 1:15,
This morning we are going to talk a bit about voices. We heard a very popular Old Testament story about God calling out, Samuel, Samuel, and Samuel thinks the voice is Eli. Eli figures out that the voice is God, and tells Samuel, the next time you hear that voice, and your name called, respond by saying, Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.
We live in a whole different world when it comes to being a Christian these days. Gallup conducts polls on people and their religious preference. Do you know what the fastest growing preference in America is these days? No, it is not Muslim or Buddhist. The fastest growing religion that is checked is the word None. Christmas has come. Jesus has arrived. Now what?
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