Category Archives: podcast

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.

Stop Fearing – Here’s Why

Biblical Text: Matthew 10:21-33
Full Sermon Draft

As we start the long green season the readings have dropped us into the Missionary Discourse. That is a fancy way of saying Jesus’ sermon on sharing the faith. We read the start of it last week. This week in the middle we have Jesus both telling us what to expect, but also his encouragement. The expectation is various levels of persecution. But we are still disciples. We are call to follow the crucified. The core of the argument is encouragement. In the face of persecution the natural response is fear. Jesus three times says stop fearing. And with each tells us a bit of why we should have no fear.

Telling our faith is an appropriate reading for the day. In the Lutheran Church- the Church of the Augsburg Confession – June 25th is celebrated as the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. This is what should be known as reformation day. If you get me going what I’d say is that out of the Reformation came four churches. The first is the church of the Augsburg Confession (1530). Then came what we know as the Roman Catholic Church formed at Trent (1545-1563), The Anglican church with the 39 Articles (1562), and the Reformed Church which had its earliest generally accepted confession in the 2nd Helvetic (1562). The Lutheran versions have always been at great pains to say this is the faith that has always been confessed. Yes, the Romans ran away with the most people, but Augsburg is more true and the first flag raised in the ruins of the old Western Church, caused in much the same way that the missionary discourse begins, with Jesus recognizing the shepherds of the people have abused and left the post.

Worship Note: I left in two of our hymns today. The congregation was in great form especially in the opening, LSB 913, O Holy Spirit Enter In. I also left in our closing hymn, a sentimental favorite that is a great capstone to the text and sermon, LSB 725, Children of the Heavenly Father.

Flayed and Cast Away

Biblical Text: Matthew 9:35-10:8
Full Sermon Draft

Did I ever tell you how wimpy I think our modern translators are? By wimpy I largely mean they are representatives of their class and training. If the choice is between a gritty word and a noble concept, they reach for the noble concept every time. The example today is Matthew 9:36 in the ESV – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” My pushing it translation that I think gets more at what is going on – “When he saw the crowds, his guts were churned for them, because the were flayed and cast away, like sheep without a shepherd.” The point is that the devil, the world and our own sinful nature bleed us dry and throw out the dead bones. We are helpless in the face of these enemies. But that is what Jesus came to change. That is what the Holy Spirit’s indwelling changes. That is what the Father’s compassion changes, sending workers into his fields.

The gospel always comes freely. The question is once we have been freed, are we willing to freely give? Do we accept that our names are written in that lamb’s book right along with those twelve apostles. That Jesus’ mission, their mission, has become our mission.

Worship Note: I left in our opening hymn which I think is one of the few hymns that an update has improved. We sing typically LSB 827, Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling, which is a Starke re-write of the last three verses. He replaces what could often be a moralistic scold toward missions with a moving meditation on some of the parables of our response to the call. It always gets me.

This is the Catholic Faith (A Meditation on the Immanent Trinity and its competitors)

Text: Matthew 28:16-20, Athanasian Creed
Full Sermon Draft

Trinity Sunday is the one Sunday a year that I feel free to talk a little pure theology. It is not that my sermons other Sundays are theology free, they couldn’t be if you were being faithful. It is that there are theological ideas that I think explain a lot in a compact form, but you end up explaining and lecturing instead of preaching, and the point is preaching. Trinity Sunday, with its spotlight on the Athanasian creed (which I left our congregational recitation in the recording), is a day given to deep foundational theology. What God is in Himself. Don’t worry, I connect the concepts of the economic and immanent Trinity to Pixar, Marvel and DC, so I hope I brought it down a little. It is a day to make clear the God we invoke, Three in One, and expose the idols of the age.

A New Camaro; An Endless House

Biblical Text: John 7:37-39, Romans 12:2, Ephesians 3:17-19
Full Sermon Draft

The picture above is our confirmation class. Today was both Pentecost and our Confirmation day. Both of those things are closely connected to baptism, so that makes an appearance. This sermon is roughly divided into two halves. The first half is the Pentecost and Confirmation as a day portion. Why do we observe these things? What do they do? How do they relate to the gospel? The second part is more specific to the confirmands. I went old school and instead of letting/demanding that the confirmands choose a verse, I assigned them one. That verse becomes both a charge and a blessing – the old duties of a bishop, to teach and to bless. That second part is where the title comes from in preaching those confirmation verses.

Memorial and Ascension

Biblical Text: 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-11
Full Sermon Draft

Memorial Day is always a tough one for the church. Everybody, including the preacher, wants to acknowledge the sacrifice of those slain in the nation’s wars. The problem with that is our memorials are not just about the individual, but they are judgements or statements about the cause. When the church simply baptizes the secular memorials, it does something that it doesn’t have the authority to do. What this sermon attempts to do is make a distinction between worldly glory and the glory of God. When we understand that distinction and their basis, we should be able to be in world, including giving proper recognition to patriots, but not be of the world, which would mean uncritically agreeing with a state’s declarations. Because there are times when the state’s demands are something the church cannot give. In those times we recognize we are Peter’s elect exiles, bearing the little while, for the exaltation to come.

Organ Dedication

Organ Dedication Program
Organ Dedication Homily Text

We dedicated our new organ this Sunday. The full program recording is below. It was wonderful having Mr. Loomer. You won’t get the stereo sound out of our recording, which is why you should have been there. It was a good day.

Athens and Jerusalem?

Biblical Text: Acts 17:16-31,32-34
Full Sermon Draft

The text is Paul in Athens. I could tell you very quickly what the core of the sermon is about, but then you might not listen. If there is one thing that we in the modern world are mistaken about it is the pace of truth. We think it is an intellectual exercise as quick as a download of information. And we expect it to be complete. Run the bit check on that download. Not that truth is more organic and takes time. But when you hear it, and you know you’ve heard it, well. That is what this is about.

Worship Note: I’ve left in our Hymn of the Day LSB 832, Jesus Shall Reign. The words are Isaac Watts’, the best hymn writer in the English language. The tune should be familiar from Easter, Duke Street, which is the common tune of I Know the My Redeemer Lives. It is a great hymn which captures the breadth of Paul in Athens.

The High House and The False House

Biblical Text: 1 Peter 2:2-10
Full Sermon Draft

I think the lectionary makers have stuck us with the end of one devotion and the start of another. I think 2:1-3 complete the chapter 1 thought. Peter then picks up a new thought in 2:4. The first devotion moves from new birth to craving pure spiritual milk. It is a devotion about growing up in Christ. The second devotion moves from that individual and early growth in faith to the communal nature and its maturity. As individuals we are newborns (baptism), babes (milk) and eventually grown up into salvation. As the church we are living stones built into the new temple, the royal priesthood, a holy nation. When we are grown we come into our maturity which is as a people.

This being mother’s day, the childhood analogy works well. The bridge from the childhood to the communal is that the church is the feminine or mother image. God is building his church, and he builds it from the stones that are rejected by the world. We living stones conform to Christ, the rejected cornerstone, with all the rough angles of the cruciform life. In this there are always two building projects: the world’s and God’s, the false house and the high house. Mom, the church, is the means by which we are built as the living stones of the High House. (Note: I’ve stolen those labels from an enchanting work of fantasy (The Evenmere Chronicles by James Stoddard).

Music note: I lost most of the music in the recording, but I think I kept the best piece, although as a congregation we got off to a rough start on it. LSB 645, Built on the Rock, captures the spirit of the text and the sermon quite well.

Recording note: I’m sorry for the overall quality. The volume level was quite low (our line volume ghost came back). I had to re-record the lesson as the early parts were unusable. I’ve normalized the volume levels to the best of my ability, but you will notice the change from a studio sound to the live static.