Thanksgiving Grace

Biblical Text: Deuteronomy 8:1-10

A short homily for a thanksgiving sermon that asks what are we giving thanks for? Certainly, for our daily bread which in this land we have an abundance, but also for “every word which proceeds from the mouth of God.” We give thanks for this body and life, which should lead to thanks for the much greater grace we have been given in Jesus.

King of Kings

Biblical Text: Luke 23:27-43

I don’t think we moderns understand what the word King means. The last Sunday of the church year is often called Christ the King Sunday. King is one of the three offices that are ascribed to Jesus – prophet, priest and king. But we don’t know what that word means anymore, especially if we are basing it off of our images of the modern British monarchy. This sermon attempts to think through what King means and how it might effect our lives.

Two Doomsday Questions

Biblical Text: Luke 21:5-28

The last two Sundays of the church year usually are given over the “last things”. The old word for last things is doomsday which is just Old English Judgement Day. The text for this week is Jesus talking about the Temple. That temple represents everything of the Jewish world. Everything it meant to have a Jewish identity was tied up in that temple. And Jesus is just going to walk out of it. The disciples try and call him back to it. “See the marvelous stones and the offerings?” Jesus replies not a stone will be let on top of another. The entire Jewish identity will come down. That causes shock and two questions from the disciples.

This is remarkably relevant to our situation today. We are lost in conversations about identity. We build identities on some good things, some pretty lies, and some sins. Even the good things can be an idol in the Temple. This sermon thinks about doomsday, identity and the two questions the disciples asked.

Who’s Blessed?

Biblical Text: Matthew 5:1-12

How we use the word saint in the English language has a couple of meaning that are somewhat contradictory. This All-Saints Day sermon ponders those categories of saints a bit and then turns to who and what Jesus calls blessed.

The Law and the Gospel

Biblical Text: Romans 3:19-28 (John 8:31-36)

This is my attempt at a Reformation Day sermon that tries to bring that 500 year old crisis into our day. The core insight of the Reformation is understanding that the Word of God comes to us as a Word of Law and a Word of Gospel. (Gospel has become a churchy word. It simply means good news, but even that feels like a euphemism. I would simply use promise. The Gospel is the promise of God revealed in Jesus Christ.) And I think it might take a bit, but the animating phrase, the phrase that makes it fall into place for me is “do the work.” That’s the modern “woke” phrase and it is so close to the Reformation era phrase “do what you can” or what Luther started with in the 95 theses, “do penance.” The Law demands from us. The law of God is good and wise, human laws less so, but the fact of the Word of the Law is that it always condemns. And our primary strategy is to try and minimize the law. Unleash our internal lawyers to make affirmative cases. Yes, we did it, but it doesn’t matter, because…

The work is never done, except in the cross. That is the gospel. This sermon attempts to make us feel the weight of the law, and to open that bottle of 200 proof grace that Luther stumbled accross.

Grace and Expectations

Biblical Text: Genesis: 4:1-16

Cain and Abel is one of the “Ur-Stories” of the world. Of course the first sibling rivalry ended in murder. You know it’s true. The question for me always was why? And the best answer that I can understand from the text is family expectation. Mom had expectations of Cain, that were not on Abel. This sermon spells out that case. It cleans up what I think is a “preacher story” about the difference in the offerings. Some preacher stories are made up to help the cause, but this one I think hurts it. And then it looks at how families are things of grace, and how our brother – Jesus – is the best brother’s keeper we could hope for.

Wrestling with God

Biblical Text: Luke 18:1-8, Genesis32:22-30

This sermon starts out with a comparison of the metaphors of the hymnwriters for prayer and the strongest biblical metaphors. Our opening hymn of the day was LSB 772 In Holy Conversation (It’s a newer hymn so of course it is under copyright. The link isn’t as helpful as it would be, but it is a start.) The metaphor for a prayer life for the hymnwriters is gentle conversation. The metaphors in use in our texts are wrestling and petitioning an unjust judge. Big difference. The sermon explores the difference and hopefully encourages you toward an intentional prayer life.

Mid-Wit Meme Wedding?

Biblical Text: Ruth 1:1-19

This text used to be a standard wedding text. It is also one of the texts that people use in a certain way that gets under the skin of a certain type of minister – bringing up the mid-wit meme. For my money, Ruth is the best book in all of scripture to really get the gospel. This sermon using that mid-wit meme as a start, attempts to see how Christ is in Ruth, and in so far as our marriages are icons or images or Christ and the church, Ruth’s pledge of faith is exactly right for a wedding.

Why?

Biblical Text: Habakkuk 1:1-2:4

We are ask “Why?” occasionally. The honest answer from the bible is that God just doesn’t answer “why” that often, at least not in words. He does provide an answer in the cross. But the Old Testament text for the Day from the prophet Habakkuk is one of the places where God stoops to give an answer to “Why?” This sermon is a proclamation of both the question and God’s answer. It might not satisfy all, but I find it a deep well.

Unrighteous Mammon

Biblical Text: Luke 16:1-15

The parable of the unrighteous manager is probably the strangest one that Jesus tells. The planting parables we have the key in the explanation to the Parable of the Sower. The Kingdom parables are a little trickier, but if you start with the main character as God they are understandable. But that doesn’t work with the unrighteous steward/manager. It’s not a kingdom parable or a sowing parable. It’s a discipleship parable.

It often gets used for monetary points, and that is present in this sermon. But it really goes beyond that. It uses money I think for two joined reasons. Money is the most changeable liquid thing we have. Money flows to our heart’s desires. Hence the biblical aphorism, “where your money is, there you heart will be also.” And it is in the aphorisms of Jesus the follow the parable that the explanation lies. It’s a parable about a fulfilling life and as such it is a parable about how one uses money, but it is more about how one uses their life. The sermon expands on that.