Monthly Archives: July 2017

Don’t Turn Away. This is the Reign of God…Now.

Biblical Text: Matthew 13:24-43
Full Sermon Draft

Parables and the purpose of the parables have in the last couple of generations of interpreters have had two dramatically different purposes. In the hippy era, the parables were these nice earthy stories that allowed the interpreter to say whatever odd but nice things popped into their heads. Think Godspell, parable edition. Almost as a reaction to that, some interpreters latched on the evangelists’ quotes of Isaiah on the purpose of the parables. Parables were not meant to be understood except by disciples. Parables became an exercise not in creation homey communication, but in esoteric teaching. Both of these, at least in my reading, are horrible over-shoots. (I think the hippy version itself was a reaction to an overly stiff German “there is no allegory, there is only one meaning” parable dogma.) Part of what this sermon does is attempt to avoid both inviting the listener to imagine how the parables could have been a natural development from the actual ministry of Jesus.

I lean quite heavily on Jeff Gibbs for this, but I think he nails it. The parables themselves are preached to the crowds, and they are invitations to not turn away. Yes, this Reign of God doesn’t look like what is expected – a messy field, small, scandalous – but this is God working. In this they are a statement of the now. The sermon comes in two part though. Jesus moves into the house, and his explanations are to the disciples. To those who are following however haltingly, the emphasis isn’t so much on the now. They know the now. Jesus’s emphasis is on the not yet, the eschatological promise.

Worship note: with two “seed” type parables in a row, you really burn through those hymns. One of them, which we sang today is a little tricky. Not a surprise because LSB 654 (Your Kingdom, O God, Is My Glorious Treasure) is a hymn from 2003. Modern hymns so often have tunes or metrical phrasing that is just harder for congregations. So, I didn’t include that one, but instead left in our closing hymn, which is a classic. LSB 921, On What Has Now Been Sown.

Some 100, some 60, some 30…

Biblical Text: Matthew 13:1-9,18-23
Draft 1.0 (Vacation Sermon)

I was on vacation, so I didn’t deliver this sermon, one of our members gave it. I hope I didn’t throw him off too much writing in my own voice. As I say at the start, this is a favorite text to preach on and to worship with the hymnody associated with it.

I must apologize, I don’t have a recording. I could record it I suppose, but that wouldn’t be the sermon delivered. So, I’d invite you to read and ponder. The main hymn that is echoes through the sermon is Lutheran Service Book 584, Faith and Truth and Life Bestowing.

At That Very Time…

Biblical Text: Matthew 11:25-30
Full Sermon Draft

Ever felt that everything was going to crap? That something you had invested all your hopes in was coming up snake-eyes? That moment in the ministry of Jesus is what this sermon is about. That moment is the Word of the Cross. That is what I hoped this preaches.

Swords and Due Rewards

Biblical Text: Matthew 10:34-42
Full Sermon Draft

This is the completion of the reading of the Jesus’ missionary discourse or sermon on mission. The sermon is full of striking images, but this section has one of the most striking. “Don’t think I have come to bring peace, but a sword.” If the first part was about the inception of mission, the middle portion was about encouragement during mission, this last portion is about the results that can be expected. One of those expectation is the division of the cross. But the other expectation is the ultimate success of the mission. The preaching, teaching and ministry of the cross may bring a sword, but it also ensures due rewards through the work of the Body of Christ.

Worship note: I left in a song that we sang as a congregation for the first time. LSB 661, The Son of God Goes Forth to War. I’m have not in the past been a big fan of they hymns with martial images. That is not because the church militant is not a worthy theme, but I think even the hymnody that uses it often abuses it. Instead of aiming the martial spirit at what Jesus would – sin, the life of holiness – it become a triumphal “yea, us.” But in the context of the missionary discourse and the body of Christ this hymn sets it right. The invasion that started and was won by Jesus on the cross, continues from age to age in the church. Who will follow in their train the hymns asks? Those gathered singing – the prophets, the righteous and the little ones.