VBS 2018 – Aug 20-24

Where: St. Mark’s
When: Monday August 20th – Friday Aug 24th
Time: 9:00 AM – 11:30AM
Who: Pre-k to 6th grade
How: Show up a little early the first day or (Greatly Encouraged to be sure we have enough materials) Pre-register clicking here.

Not as the Gentiles Do

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:17-5:2 NLT

Full Sermon Draft

We’ve been reading and working our way through the Letter to the Ephesians this summer, and we have come to the core of the back half of a letter of Paul. If you’ve read these enough you know that the back half of Paul’s letters tend to be concrete application. What he was preaching in a rhetorical way in his intro and main points meets actual life. Earlier in the series we identified three main points.
1. The Father through Christ has blessed us with every spiritual gift.
2. We are being built together though the Spirit
3. We are being built with the purpose of showing the rich variety of the wisdom of God

Last week’s sermon looked at the concrete examples for those first two. This sermon starts Paul treatment of the examples of that third point. What does the rich variety of the wisdom of God look like? Paul’s treatment is deeply tied into the 10 commandments and Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. The sermon brings in Luther’s catechism treatment. All of this demonstrating the remarkable consistency of the order or the wisdom of God. The biggest thing that might shock moderns (as it shocked ancients) is that Paul assumes that we can change. When we were Gentiles (i.e. separated from God) it was potentially reasonable to despair of actual change. But we are not Gentile. We have put off that old life and are being renewed in the Spirit. That is Paul’s emphasis. We are being sanctified which is wild in the variety the God bring out of his free people. So, I’d invite you to listen, and to come back for the next couple of weeks. Paul challenges us who have known Christ to imitate him.

Picture of Perfection

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:1-16 NLT
Full Sermon Draft

Picture of Perfection might not be the best title for this, although that is where is ends up. Maybe the path of maturity, or Growing to fullness. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians makes the switch that his letters often do in the second half. He has a main point to express which has been the last three weeks of chapters 1-3. The sermon does a quick recap of that before digging in. The back half of Paul’s letters turn to concrete practical matters. How does the theology that he’s just proclaimed become real in our lives both personal and congregational. In the case of Ephesians how does every spiritual gift that builds us together look?

It starts with love. It is helped by the concrete gifts of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. And when is all strives toward maturity, we get a picture of the perfection or the completion intended. A church not blown astray or led away by some pied piper because it is perfectly fit together in the bond of love. This sermon expands on this growth to maturity.

Displaying the Wisdom of God in Rich Variety

Biblical Text: Ephesians 3:10-21
Full Sermon Draft

We are continuing our reading of Ephesians Chapter 3. The formal assigned reading begins at verse 14, but to me just picking up Paul there clips off the entire thrust of his story in this chapter. Verse 14 forward is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (and all the people of God) based on the revelation in the prior verses. Verse 10 – “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph. 3:10 NLT)” – is the hinge to me. Prior I hope we know from the book of Acts of Galatians and the first two chapters of Ephesians. But Paul adds this rich line about God’s purpose. This sermon examines that line in all its richness and terror. And then it seeks to understand Paul’s prayer for us in light of that calling to display the wisdom of God. This is the Christian life in its cosmic purpose. This is the Christian life connected to its deep meaning.

Built Together

Biblical Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
Full Sermon Draft

Today we welcomed back Tim Bayer (and family) who is our seminarian. So I got a week off from the pulpit. This is Tim’s sermon continuing our study of Ephesians this summer. I put the title Built Together on this. We are built together into Christ regardless of our identities prior. Our one true identity is a child of God through Jesus Christ. Enjoy.

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.