Do I Still Have Flesh?

Text: Chirstian Questions and Their Answers 19-20

This is the conclusion of the six week Lenten Mid-Week series. The self-examination ends with a couple of practical questions. For the believers it ends with both a reminder of why we desire the sacrament and the encouragement to seek it frequently. The final question is more perplexing in that it addresses the situation where maybe the prior 19 have fallen on deaf ears. What if I don’t feel the need? The answer is something has captured your soul. This is your chance to free it.

Them Bones

Biblical Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14

The text is one of the most famous in all of scripture – Ezekiel’s Dry Bones. It’s famous, because of how it works on the heart if you allow it. If this field of scattered bones is the whole house of Israel, if the chosen people can come to this, what about us? And you’ve got to think about it because the Spirit takes you there and places you in the middle of it. And God asks you the question, “Can these bones live?”

Ezekiel has a reply, not an answer. The answer is God’s. But it is not the easy triumphalism we want. Nor is it a counsel of despair. It is a promise. It’s the Word proclaimed. This sermon hopefully opens the heart and lets that work on it.

The Only Real Motivation is Love

Text: Christian Questions & Their Answers 17-18

The first three groupings of questions asked the who, what, when, where and how type questions. The stuff that can be mostly intellectual. These questions ask the why? What motivates Jesus/You? Why? For me this is probably the center of any self-examination. There are all kinds of reasons. But the only valid one is love. But even within the realm of love one has to question is love properly aimed. Lots of things are done for the love of money. These questions help us both understand the proper aim of love – The Father – and how The Father’s love encompasses us through the Son.

It’s Not Fair

Biblical Text: John 9:1-41

This is one of the rare sermons where I think in the preaching I added a bit compared to the draft. 16 years in, I’ve got a hand of oral writing, so the drafts are usually pretty clean compared to the preaching. That and I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist about what I take into the pulpit. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’d like a really good idea of what I’m saying if it is supposed to be the Word of God for those people on that day. But in composing this sermon I had a rough time. First there were too many different themes or ideas jostling to be expressed. Then the one that I thought I was going to go with, when I started typing – when I actually started preaching to my keyboard and myself – isn’t the theme I was thinking of. What comes out of this text for me, every three years as it comes back around, is the strangeness of God. How little we understand Him. And in that strangeness how Good he is and yet that goodness can appear monstrous to us. The Revelation of God to us, which is the revelation of His Grace, sets us on one of two paths. And right now is the season of light. Right now is the season work can be done. Right now is when to invitation to know God in his grace is yours.

Remembrance and Proclamation

Text: Catechism Christian Questions and Answers 13-16

This is the 4th Lenten Midweek service. We have been working our way through the Christian Questions and their answer from the Small Catechism. These Questions and Answers are a model of “fitting preparation” to receive the Lord’s Supper. To me they run in expanding cycles. The first cycle is the simple proclamation of sin and salvation. The second cycle expands on that from the creed. This third cycle is very Lutheran. It always goes back to faith, but it also is not afraid to ask the question “why should or do I believe this?” The Lutheran understanding of the faith has an answer. That answer might not be satisfactory to all, but it has the advantage of being how the Bible talks about the origins of faith. And it has the advantage of being grounded in the cross. We remember and proclaim the cross as the ground of our faith. This sermon meditates on that.

Revealed Desire

Biblical Text: John 4:4-26

John 4 is a New Testament example of a “well scene”. It’s a stock backdrop that comes with some expectations for what is going to happen. John plays with these expectation is playful and revealing ways. If we are willing to hear, I think it reveals our desires that we often chase in all kinds of places – appropriate and inappropriate.

Who is Christ?

Text: Catechism Self Exam Questions 7-12

This midweek service sermon picks up from last week. The apostle Paul says we are to examine ourselves before receiving communion. The Catechism gives us a series of questions and answers that are a model of that self examination. This midweek series is walking through them and meditating on what they encourage us to think and live. This second grouping is what I’d call creedal stuff. (Stuff, a highly technical term there.) Part of a good self examination is some solid understanding of the God we are worhsipping as He has revealed himself. That is what these questions and this sermon meditate on.

What is Love?

Biblical Text: John 3:1-17

The Gospel text is the full text in which “the gospel in a nutshell” is found. Which usually means a springboard into some gaseous ramble about love. Now I’m crazy. The less concrete a word is, the more I hate it. And you don’t get less concrete today than love. This sermon is about say “What is love.” Which is pointing at the cross. You want to know love, look at the cross. That is a concrete as it gets. God works in his way – “The Spirit blows where it wills” – and “the son lifted up is His way.”

Self Examination pt1

Text: Small Catechism Q&A 1-6

In preparation for the Sacrament Paul tells us to examine ourselves. The Small Catechism provides a section of Christian Questions and their Answers that is given as a fitting examination. The Lenten Mid-Week services this year are going to be looking as these as our fitting preparation for Easter.

Testing or Temptation

Biblical Text: Matt 4:1-11

The primary text is traditionally called the Temptation of Jesus. It takes place right after his baptism and continues the theme of Israel reduced to one. When Israel fails in the wilderness, Christ succeeds. But, this sermon is about something I think is an important distinction that often gets lost in the modern church. It was important to me to figure out because Luther makes a statement in the Small Catechism that always seemed to fly in the face of reality to me, at least reality if you take the scriptures and the universal experience of the faith as witnesses. And you wish to take ordination vows seriously. Luther says “God tempts no one.” And that honestly felt like this polyanna-ish statement completely foreign to the great man who was always “calling a thing what it is.” So, this sermon attempts to talk about the difference between temptation and testing. And how we can affirm that God tempts no one, even if the answer to that 6th petition of the Lord’s prayer isn’t always positive in the short term. But the will of God is not for this moment alone, but to give you the eternal victory in Christ.