This was our children’s program, so the order is slightly different. It was also slightly different for us this year. Each year who you have changes, so you work around that. This year we had a bunch of late elementary. So less dress up, also less absolute perfection, but still perfect in its way. Part of the riotous glory of the creation my meditation speaks about the Christ child coming to save. He made it good, and came to live with us. Announced by Angels, to shepherds and sages. Proclaimed by silly preachers and humble children. Come and Worship, Christ, the newborn king.
Biblical Text: Matthew 3:1-12
The Baptist calls Israel back to their core beliefs. God will come down and redeem us. We are not enough in ourselves, but the Lord fights for us. And this God is a creator God, and a re-creator. When God comes down and establishes his reign, he is not limited to what he finds. He shall create all things new. And so what we – what Israel – can do is prepare. We can prepare the way of the Lord. We can make his paths straight. What does that mean? It does not mean that we build the Kingdom. Neither does it mean we melt away into the Kingdoms of the World. What it mean is that we believe. We repent of where we have gone wrong. And we bear the fruits of that repentance. Christ has delivered us from sin, and the power of the devil. And he will deliver us from death. We prepare to re-cross that Jordan.
Biblical Text: Matthew 21:1-11
The first Sunday in Advent often carries over a theme from the previous week – the Kingship of Christ. But instead of concentrating on the fulfillment of the Kingdom, Advent places us back in our temporal surroundings. It reminds us that the Kingdom comes humbly. It comes by invitation and promise. It comes one heart at a time. And yet it is a Kingdom. We are called to watch. It has a King.
This sermon is a meditation in a busy week of what it means in our day to have a King. And I think that most realistic analogy is when we talk identities. This is an advent pondering on putting on Christ.
Collection week is always fun. Getting to talk to the various folks that come in the door is a great remedy to the cynicism we are so often drenched in. None of them have to do this. And there is no immediate pay off unless you count a sticker or a piece of chocolate from me a payoff. But they do it out of charity. And that charity creates opportunities. For us this year was a good year not just in battling cynicism, but also in numbers various. 1,429 shoeboxes collected, 95 cartons, 65.5 volunteer hours, 114 boxes from our own congregation. Soli Deo Gloria.
Biblical Text: Luke 23:27-43
This is the last Sunday of the Church Year which recent tradition has often labeled Christ the King Sunday. The gospel lesson from the year we spend in Luke is a preaching opportunity I relish. The criminal on the cross is the bane of the theologian, but I’d bet one of the best remembered by ordinary folks. He scrambles everybody’s system, but he holds out the greatest hope. And of course is rests simply on the Grace of the King. It rests on sovereign choice. This sermon for Christ the King Sunday, is a meditation on that King’s Choice. Why is rightly causes fear…and why it should cause love.
Biblical Text: Luke 21:5-28
What do me mean when we talk about last things? There of course is the very literal, but other than 10,000 mile stuff, Jesus really doesn’t answer that. Because that is not what we are talking about. What we are talking about is impermanence and our anxiety caused by that impermanence. And that is was Jesus goes after. Even these “noble stones” of the temple will come down. This thing that centers our identity will fail. All earthly props will give way. And Jesus goes on to name them. And then he gives us a promise. “Not a single hair of your head will perish.”
You have both the knowledge and the promise. The knowledge that yes, the world is impermanent. Don’t place your faith in it, in any part of it. The promise that there is a permanent thing, and that you are already a part of it. The Kingdom of God is coming with power and great glory. So straighten up an raise your heads. Because this is your redemption. This is your hour.
We are a Shoebox Drop Off Point for OCC this year. Our days are Monday, November 18 thru Monday, November 25.
Monday – Friday (18th-22nd): 4 PM – 7 PM
Saturday (23rd): 9 AM – Noon
Sunday (24th): Noon – 3 PM
Monday (25th): 7 AM – 10 AM
Biblical Text: Luke 20:27-40
The question I asked in Bible Study to start discussion was “What is the most effective faith killer?” We were looking at the OT lesson for the day (Exodus 3:1-16), and there are a bunch, but what I wanted to build from was phrased by the group as “lack of experience of God”. And there are a bunch of different ways that can come about, but the one I wanted to hone in on was when religion slips into an insider code or a tradition not understood. That is the religion of the Sadducees.
This sermon might be a little rough, but I think it ponders an important point for the church. Has our religion slipped into a barely understood tradition? Is it a code that helps us ID our tribe, but has little to do with our daily lives? We need that experience of God. As Luther would say about baptism, “we daily arise to live before God in righteousness”. Is your religion world weary? Let a little fear of the Lord into your heart.
Biblical Text: All Saints Day Lectionary (Rev 7:9-17, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12) Confessional Text: http://bookofconcord.org/defense_20_saints.php
The day on the Christian Calendar was All Saints (Observed). Actual All Saints is November 1st. The point of the day is slightly different depending upon the tradition you are in. In a Roman Catholic tradition it is about all the minor saints which might not have been celebrated. In the Lutheran or Protestant traditions it is more about a celebration of the church at rest, and how the communion of saint continues to help the church at warfare. In the Roman tradition that is straightforward – invocation or prayer directed toward the saint. In the Lutheran tat is not the case. Instead the saints become for us living examples. Examples of faith and of life. Lives worthy of thanksgiving. This sermon asks the question “What is a Saint” and explores their role in our lives.
Biblical Text: Romans 3:19-28
Law and Gospel is a beloved Lutheran theological slogan. For my money though it has moved from being something that is life changing to being a doctrinal formulation that is barely understood. And part of the problem is how it has been preached and used for the past 50 years or so. It has been used not as law AND gospel, but law and gospel have been set contrary to each other. That is both an abuse of the law, expecting from it what it can’t do, and a misreading of the gospel.
This sermon is my attempt to move law and gospel from a dead doctrine to a life changing reality.