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.

Seeing What is There

Biblical Text: Luke 16: 19-31

I’m not sure a recording happened this week, and I don’t have my good mike yet to record it after the fact. The trouble with moving.

This sermon reflects on two facts of the text. Father Abraham tells the Rich man in suffering that “Moses and Prophets” are enough to be heard. It should not take a miracle to see. The second fact is that Dives (“The Rich Man”) obviously never heard Moses and the Prophets, and so he never saw Lazarus sitting at his gate. His dogs did, but he never did. The first time Dives notices Lazarus is when he “lifts up his eyes” while in Hades. In the Spiritual life, hearing is important because it creates faith. And what you believe changes what you see. And these two things have eternal consequences. The sermon develops those ideas

Counting the Cost

Biblical Text: Luke 14: 25-35

In the text we have one of the notices of “great crowds”. The fame of Jesus’ ministry can be gaged by the modifier to the crowds. And when they get to “great” he always says something like he says in the text today. It’s always a warning about discipleship. Discipleship isn’t about numbers. It’s about the heart. The disciple of Jesus has to know that The Way is The Way of the Cross. And they have to reckon that way the way of life. Also a way that we have no ability to follow in and of ourselves. This sermon is about how the way of grace is absolutely free and terribly costly.

Solid Spiritual Words

Text: The Athanasian Creed

It was Trinity Sunday. Probably the one Sunday a year where I don’t have a very specific biblical text as the basis of the Sermon. That’s ok, because the Creeds in the Lutheran tradition are part of the Confessions, sometimes called the symbols. The Bible is the Norming Norm, but the Confessions are the Normed Norm. The creeds are meaningful texts for preaching because they are faithful expressions of the faith. They are norms of doctrine and life which have been normed by the Scriptures.

In this case I had a specific teaching I wanted to cover: the faith which believes vs. the faith which is believed. Then I wanted to think a bit what it means to ponder the faith which is believed. The creeds point at that Holy Spirit given stuff – the faith which believes – while giving us sound Spiritual words to talk about the faith which is believed. Call it a teaching with an invitation to meditation on the unity of the Trinity.

Doctrine, Mission and the Experience of God

Biblical Text: Luke 5:1-11

Those first two points have unfortunately become a polarity in the church. Yet they go together. One grows out of the other. The life of faith finds its start and its proof in obedience to the Word. The text is the amazing catch of fish, but you never get to the catch if Peter is not obedient twice to the Word of Jesus. But both the faith and the mission rest on the experience of God. This sermon attempts to experience along with Peter that presence of God through obedience to the faith and the call to mission.

He Came to Make Us Holy

Biblical Text: Luke 4:31-44

The text details a Sabbath Day for Jesus in Capernaum. It is a day full of demons and healing. And what it makes completely clear is that the cosmic battle has come to earth. Christ has come to make us holy. The confrontation in the Synagogue with the demon sets the conflict. The demon thinks that “us” is mankind and the demons. The Holy One of God has nothing to do with that us. But Jesus rejects the demon’s definition of “us”. To Jesus us is God and man, God with us. And Jesus intends to make us holy. And he does this by His word. The sermon examines the authority of that word and what it calls us to be and do.

Receiving What has been Fulfilled in Your Hearing

Biblical Text: Luke 4:16-30

The text is Jesus returning to Nazareth to preach in his home synagogue. His message in the first place is right in line with what they all hoped and expected. He announces that he is the messiah. He also describes what kind of messiah he is – one that is bringing the Year of Jubilee. That is on OT concept the sermon explains a bit. Jesus is our Jubilee. But his message in the second place is much tougher. So tough that the Synagogue of Nazareth, full of people who knew Jesus from childhood, wants to cast him over the cliff. The text says they are full of wrath as the words of Jesus. The contrast is Jubilee and wrath. And that is what is put before us. Which way shall we choose. God has given us the kingdom, and he’s given us the kingdom in times and ways he feels best. Do we live in wrath against God for any perceived slights, or do we join the Jubilee?

Marriage, Faith, Good Wine

Biblical Text: John 2:1-11

Preaching on John is always interesting. The wedding at Cana is one of those texts that you just can’t drain it all. 180 gallons of good wine will do that. This sermon has three movements. The first is doctrinal. The wedding at Cana reminds us how much God loves and blesses marriage. The second is personal. Mary is the picture of Faith. The interaction of Jesus and his mother is a picture of the test of faith. And what God gives through that test. The last movement is what the church used to call a spiritual or mystical reading. Why six stone jars, why water to brim, and what about the wine? This one goes in the keeper file.

The Two Edged Nature of Baptism

Biblical Text: Isaiah 43:1-7 (Luke 3:15-22)

Sorry for the delay in getting this uploaded. Busy weekend.

What this sermon encourages you to think about is a very Lutheran topic, the roll of faith in the sacraments. The sacraments, in this specific case Baptism, are the physical promises of God. They are a word made flesh if you will. They do what they promise. But to receive that promises for us requires faith. Faith in the promises and faith in the giver of the promise. That leads to the two edged nature of the sacraments that is so highlighted by Luther’s baptismal prayer. The flood destroyed the world, yet saved Noah and family. The Red Sea swept away hard-hearted pharaoh and all his host while Israel walked on dry ground. Baptism grants us forgiveness, new life and eternal life for those who believe. But for those who walk away, the condition is worse than before.