All posts by Pastor Karl Hanf

When our Buts Get Too Big for our Pews

The text for this sermon is Mark 3:19b-35.

What exactly is the unforgivable sin? I am sure if you took this question out onto the streets of Columbus the majority would not have had the luxury of having just read Mark 3 which offers a clue. They would guess crimes that are truly heinous, murder, rape, being a Wolverine fan.  However, you, who likely did not need any clues, have just heard Mark 3:29 read and know that Jesus taught whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit cannot find forgiveness. Continue reading When our Buts Get Too Big for our Pews

Toto, We Ain’t In Oz

The text for this sermon preached on Pentecost Sunday is Acts 2:1-24.

I’ve learned sometimes you don’t get the change you want. In ninth grade I wanted to be cool so bad. So I made a plan. On the first day of ninth grade, I would go disco. Oh yeah, Saturday Night Fever was out and girls loved John Travolta. So I carefully put together my disco outfit to wear. Tight, tight, pants roll on your bed to put them on tight, white pants not blue jeans. A snazzy, shiny, genuine polyester silk like black shirt with a bold design, two buttons casually unbuttoned, with a gold chain hanging wear I hoped hair would show up before school started. If John Travolta had been 14 with blond hair, braces, pimples and thick aviator glasses he would have looked just like me. I nearly danced into the hallways the first day of school. Continue reading Toto, We Ain’t In Oz

Jesus is Risen! Now What?

The scripture for this sermon is Acts 4:32-5:11.

Jesus is risen!  Alleluia! Now what? As unpopular as the answer might be today, scripture is pretty clear that the command is to go forth and build a church. By church, scripture isn’t referring to a building or a denomination.  They mean a community with a hierarchical structure, internal expectations and a guiding mission. All of which is unpopular because people today don’t seem to have a lot of trust in the church. The cover of Newsweek last week was a picture of Jesus with the headline that read, “Forget the Church, Just Follow Jesus”.  A hot viral video last year was a posting by a guy titled, “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus”. For many, the church represents a wrong turn in their relationship with God not the natural next step after encountering the risen Lord.  Continue reading Jesus is Risen! Now What?

Thoughts on Foot Washing

In the nine years I have been at Messiah, one of the greatest gifts for me personally is to walk with people in their last days. It is an honor to be invited into this most private and vulnerable time. People are full of worry for their loved ones, regret at not seeing children or grandchildren grow up, questions come up about God and the bad cards they had been dealt, but also inspiring witnesses of trust and faith in the midst of their pain.  Continue reading Thoughts on Foot Washing

Holy Week, The Entire Story

I got to tell you about a movie that I saw this week. It ended with Miriam showing up at the wedding, dressed like a man, can you believe it?  Her ex husband who was there in full military uniform could not, but since his commanding officer Colonel Gary was the guy marrying his daughter Joann, he didn’t dare cause a scene.  All of this caused the Joann to start crying.  When the priest, Father Tim tried to calm her down, he tripped and fell and inadvertently grabbed at the bride’s best friend and maid of honor Jennifer, who was wearing a low, cut red number in honor of their high school prom, a very significant earlier scene in the movie. The priest grabbed the top of that dress and just pulled down trying to catch his balance and Jennifer was left completely naked at the front of the church. Everyone realized including Tim and Susan what all of us already knew from the boating scene in the middle of the movie that Jennifer was really Justin. What a movie! Continue reading Holy Week, The Entire Story

Paying Attention to the Ten Commandments

The text for this sermon is Exodus 20:1-17, which contains the Ten Commandments.

Test.  Find a list of the Ten Commandments.  Read them carefully.  When you hear one that you have broken in the last few weeks, you can stop. 

What is going on here?  Why is there not one person among us with their hands raised?  What is that all about? The great church founder in the New Testament Paul himself at one point said that he was blameless under the law and he encouraged other Christians to strive to be blameless, too. Even though he preached we were freed from the law, he still thought that we should be following the law. Have we forgotten this as Christians? Does it matter if we are all saved by grace anyway and God promises to forgive us no matter what laws we break? Continue reading Paying Attention to the Ten Commandments

Snakes on a Stick

The scripture text for this sermon is Numbers 21:4-9.

So there were these slaves in Egypt, who had been enslaved for a couple of hundred years or so. They were the Israelites. The one and true God had a special heart for these slaves. Don’t ask me why, they looked like you and I, acted just as bad as you and I, nothing really special about them, but God thought they were special. God heard their cries in Egypt and decided to free them from slavery.

Continue reading Snakes on a Stick

Transfiguration Sunday

The biblical text for this sermon is Mark 9:2-9.

This is what every person of faith hopes for, to brush this close to heaven. Scholars take pains to explain the rich symbolism in the story, for example why Moses and Elijah meet Jesus and not David and Abraham, or what the whole booth thing is about that Peter wants to build. But, you don’t have to be a scholar to understand what happened. Three humans get this close to God, a breath away from heaven. This is a fascinating idea for all of us. I’ve got books on my shelf about near death experiences, following the light, that sort of stuff. We all want to know what heaven looks like, what God sounds like. The disciples hit the jackpot on the mountain that day.  Continue reading Transfiguration Sunday