All Praise and Glory

Biblical Text: Ephesians 1:3-14 NLT
Full Sermon Draft

There is a saying that all theology ends in doxology. For those who don’t know, the doxology is simply a hymn of praise to the Triune God. What it means is that at the end of all our contemplation and argument and understanding of God is simply praise. He is God and we aren’t. There are biblical books that operate in that zone: Job, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, some of the minor prophets, but Paul does not work there. There is a joy in Paul even in the midst of his sufferings. And the opening to Ephesians captures that. And that Joy is centered in the eternal workings of Father, Son and Spirit. Eternal workings that have been given to us by the Father’s good pleasure. Eternal workings found in Christ. Eternal workings brought to their completion by the Spirit. Eternal workings for the purpose of praise and glory.

Sent Stability

Biblical Text: Mark 6:1-13
Full Sermon Draft

As I was preparing for this sermon this week I kept bouncing back and forth between two parts of the text. Jesus visiting his hometown is just a fascinating text, especially for someone like me who has lived a few different places in his life, but my kids have only really lived in one. But I was also pulled toward Jesus’ directions to the twelve apostles right after that hometown seen. He is sending them out two by two, but one of the restrictions he puts on them is if a place receives you, stay. The other restrictions, basically go out with nothing, would feed into that stability. After bouncing around it ended up a meditation on a paradox of the Christian life. The Christian life has a motion and a direction to it. We are sent. We are not at home here. The Christian life is one of stability. It can be lived anywhere it is received. How do we reconcile that paradox of sent stability? That is what this sermon ponders. How the spiritual life of the Christian moves out from the childhood home and can’t really stop until we reach the New Jerusalem, but it also it a spiritual life full of stability. I hope it might be a fruitful meditation on living the paradox for you.

I was on the Radio

Hey, I was on the radio. KFUO, the St. Louis based station of the LCMS which also broadcasts over the internet. The particular program was Thy Strong Word with its host Pr. William Weedon who is the LCMS director of worship. We talked Romans 11, one of the best chapters in the bible.

Here is the link

Signs and Wonders

Biblical Text: Mark 5:21-43 (Lamentations 3:22-33)
Full Sermon Draft

The text is a juxtaposition of a couple miracles of Jesus. One a seemingly minor healing, and the other a resurrection. But this juxtaposition soon sucks in not just the miraculous but everything we like to think about. It is status, popularity, wealth and health, faith and doubt, fear and courage. In other words it is a juxtaposition that cleaves to the marrow of life. It is also a message that cleaves a tough spot in my faith. I accept, but I don’t really understand God’s use of actual miracles. I have an intellectual understanding, but my heart still doesn’t like it. This sermon is my attempt to express both that intellectual understanding, but also to reach for something that might begin an emotional peace. I don’t know if anybody else has such a similar problem. I also don’t know if I succeeded. But here it is. A meditation on signs and wonders.

What’s a Prophet?

Biblical Text: Luke 1:57-80
Full Sermon Draft

The day was the feast day of the Nativity of John the Baptist. The Gospel text is Zechariah’s song which is what the Baptist’s father said after his tongue was loosed. And what a good portion of that song amounts to is a job description of a prophet. What this sermon does is compare that description with the modern popular conception of a prophet. It then moves on to why one of those is just as important for us today as it was for ancient Israel. It then ends with a recent example of prophetic work according to the Baptist’s model. The world would like us to dismiss or make silly the prophet, the biblical definition is our daily bread.

God’s Work; Our Growth

Biblical Text: Mark 4:26-34
Full Sermon Draft

The year preaching on the Gospel according to Mark is one of the most interesting. Mark’s gospel has the most cryptic and odd parts. It is no wonder that the current reigning academic model puts Mark as the earliest. It makes sense that some thing like today’s parable or last Sunday’s visit by Mary would be smoothed out later. It makes sense, but I’m not personally convinced. Of the four gospels Mark simply seems to have a sense of the absurd. How crazy and paradoxical and wonderful at the same time life and the God of life actually is. This sermon attempts to ponder the odder of the seed parables. “The earth produces by itself.” It invites you to think of it as a parable of the work of the Spirit. God doesn’t seem to know what he is doing – “he sleeps and rise night and day”, “he scatters everywhere” – but the plants grow and produce a harvest. The Kingdom of God can be absurd that way, but it is God’s work. And he grants us the growth.

Slight Momentary Affliction

Biblical Texts: Mark 3:20-35, 2 Corinthians 4:2-5:1
Full Sermon Draft

I list some biblical texts above, and it is correct to say those are the seed bed for this sermon, but this sermon is more topical that is my normal pattern. The specific topic might be suicide, but the more general one would simply be The Christian Life. It is hard for me to summarize or evaluate this work. There are all kinds of ways I can pick it apart, but I think it stands as an emotional whole. The promise of the gospel is not that it gets better. The promise of the gospel is that what we experience here, any slight momentary affliction, is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory. Today we have this treasure – life – in jars of clay or in tents. Not yet, but soon, we will have the resurrection body, the building not made with hands. And yes, this rests on faith and out experience of God in Christ. So do me a favor, and believe it.

Just What is a Sabbath Anyway?

Biblical Text: Mark 2:23-28
Full Sermon Draft

In the course of my lifetime I’m not sure if there is a word that went from being in general use to almost obsolete more than Sabbath. It might be hard to imagine if you didn’t live through it, but the great deliberative bodies of our nation once spent great amounts of time thinking about a Sabbath and its meaning. Today I’d bet that the vast majority of folks wouldn’t even recognize the word. It is in the 3rd commandment. Lots of the controversies around Jesus are because of it. What is a Christian supposed to do? That is what this sermon is about. What is a Sabbath anyway? And if we are supposed to keep it holy, how do we do that? It is so easy, and yet awfully hard. It is all about the gospel, and yet we so often want a law. But as Jesus says, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So we need to understand how to receive it as a gift, not work to secure it. We have a Sabbath rest, even if we don’t know it. This is about knowing it, and living it.

Pride and Promise

Biblical Text: Isaiah 6:1-8
Full Sermon Draft

This is Trinity Sunday on the Christian calendar. That means a couple of things. The first is that we typically roll out the long creed – the Athanasian Creed. We break it into two logical portions in the service and I’ve tried to capture that here. The second thing that Trinity Sunday invites is a more theological approach. What I mean by that is that the day concerns the nature of God which is something that we can never fully comprehend. If we could, they we aren’t pondering God. This sermon is an attempt to mark out some of the boundaries of pondering God. Not boundaries on God himself, but things that should bind us. And it does this through a contrast between King Uzziah, whom the text starts off telling us died in the year of Isaiah vision, and Isaiah’s vision and call. The contrast I’d boil down to the path of pride and the path of promise. One is the path of life and the other of death. I hope you enjoy this.

Bones

Biblical Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Full Sermon Draft

This is possible the all time greatest preaching text. As a congregant said on the way out, it is time to fix some bones. Yes it is. And we can’t do that. But the Spirit does. And not only does he fix them, he breathes life. I’m sure I can say more, but if there is one sermon I’d let speak for itself, it is this one.