Category Archives: Sermons

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.

Truly, Truly, I Say to You

Biblical Text: John 10:1-10
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the fascinating precursor to the “good shepherd” passages. In the context, precursor is the wrong word because the first 6 verses of John 10 are the basis. Verses 7 through 10 are an expansion or a change of emphasis. The good shepherd verses are elaborations on these initial “truly, truly” sayings. What this sermon attempts to do is meditate on those sayings. It asks the confirmation question “what does this mean” about the structure. After answering is examines three things: a) how God acts in this world as explained by the parable, b) our duty after “hearing the voice” and c) what Jesus means by abundant life. I think this is a rather thick sermon, but worth a listen

Great Expectations

Biblical Text: Luke 24:13-35
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the Road to Emmaus. Luke likes road trips. Chapters 10 through 19 are known as the road narrative as all the action is suppose to take place while Jesus is walking from Galilee to Jerusalem. The Emmaus Road I think is Luke’s poetic description of the Christian life. I don’t comment on in in the sermon, but imagine Luke himself for a moment. He interviewed all these people: Peter, John, James, Mary, Paul. All these people who knew the physical Jesus and testified to the resurrected Jesus. Luke knew him through them, and through the breaking of bread.

Life is full of expectations. The road to Emmaus present in the sermon is how we have wise expectations instead of foolish ones. The main part of that is recognizing Jesus. And we are given to recognize him in the Sacrament and the Scriptures – Word and Sacrament. Our life here, after that recognition is a walk toward the New Jerusalem. Now the walk and the witness, next year in Jerusalem. And as on of the metaphors has it in the sermon, next year happens. I’m a Cubs fan. It does.

Witnesses to Easter

Biblical Text: Acts 5:28-42
Full Sermon Draft

This is typically the Thomas Sunday, but the first lesson from Acts just struck my imagination too well this year. Gamaliel’s tolerance and wisdom typically gets pride of place, but I think that discounts Saul in the background. The sermon attempts to tell both the foreground story of Peter preaching repentance to the High Priests who a month ago crucified Jesus and the background story of Saul (soon to be Paul) who wouldn’t listen to his teacher’s advice. The point of preaching, of Peter’s and of ours, is repentance and salvation. It is not justice or balancing the scales. It is not getting back at anyone. It is simply repent and believe. That repentance is a gift. It is part of faith. Caiaphas or Annas, the High Priest, heard the preaching and knew what was going on, but they did not repent. Saul, did not repent, yet. The call of those who have repented is to be witnesses to Easter. Pray for the repentance of the unbeliever while bearing the cross for those who won’t, yet. In this we witness to Easter and the Great Easter to come in the resurrection of all flesh.

A Singular Occurance

Biblical Text: Matt 28:1-10
Full Sermon Draft

I forget where I heard it but I heard a great quote recently. “It is not that people don’t believe in the resurrection, it is that they don’t believe it happened only once.” Or something close to that effect. This Easter Sunday sermon takes a look at what resurrection really means and how it is part of our existence contrasted to apparently both popular and elite understanding. The primary touchstone is that it is not generic resurrection, but it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Resurrection is in Christ.

Worship Note: You can’t really capture Easter Service on a recording. The Spirit might work in different tongues, but recorded is not something that captures him all that well. I’ve left in our Choir’s piece, the Easter standard Christ the Lord is Risen Today. I’ve also left in the closing hymn Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds, LSB 465.

Seven Words – A Good Friday Meditation

Full Draft

Our Good Friday service tonight differed from our normal community reading of the passion story. Our choir took on the task of Carl Schalk’s Seven Words from the Cross. That piece formed the reading. It was followed by a short meditation on those words and then a congregational response in the form of LSB 447, Jesus in Your Dying Woes, which is a form of the Seven Words devotional itself. One of the seven candles are put out after each of the words. The recording is the full service.

Maundy Thursday – Confessional Address

Full Draft

The Confessional Address in the title was something we as a congregation heard at the start of the service. If you have a Lutheran Service Book you can see one very much like it on pg. 290. These things as the sermon will say used to be standard in communion services. They would be prior to the Lord’s prayer and remind all what and why we are doing in the Lord’s Supper. Seeing as the entire point of Maundy Thursday is to receive Christ’s mandate, whether that is taken as “love one another” or “do this in remembrance” it seemed a good liturgy to use and understand.

Messiahs – Tyrants and True (Palm/Passion Sunday)

Biblical Texts: Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday Matthew 21:1-17, Matthew 27:32-66
Full Sermon Draft

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew exactly what was going to happen, what was going to happen was a travesty but the desires of everyone involved are just too set in stone? Every action and reaction is a cruel inversion of the claims of those doing them? That is Holy Week. The desires of the Galilean crowds, the desires of the Jerusalem priests and the desires of Rome are locked into a danse macabre . The thing about the dance of death is that it reveals all of our follies. All of our false pieties and crass ambitions are laid bare and open for us to see. Those groups dancing 2000 years ago desired messiahs not very much different from those we often desire. Jesus exposes them, and defines what the messiah is. The sermon explores our false messiahs and how they tyrannize us, and the freedom the true King offers us.

Worship note: I’ve left in a bunch of music this time. The hymns for Palm Sunday are probably the greatest in the hymnal. Between the palm and passion lessons the choir sings a pretty arrangement of the Palm Sunday Hosanna. The Hymn of the Day was LSB 444, No Tramp of Soldiers Marching Feet, a modern hymn which keys off of Pilate’s ironic words in the gospel of John “behold your King”. Truer words were never spoken that came off a tongue so false. The closing hymn, LSB 441, Ride on Ride on in Majesty, also beautifully connects the Palms and the Passion.

Wrath for Trust


Biblical Text: John 11:1-46
Full Sermon Draft

The text contains a couple of staple funeral texts. They are more than that, but it is that connection that is part of this meditation. The greatest of the “I AM” statements is the first text – “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. The shortest verse in the bible, “Jesus wept”, is the second. Both of these are part of the larger story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. And the repeated line is theirs. “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”

This sermon is a personal reflection on those words. I hope that it carries the gospel.

Worship Note: Two points. First, we got our new organ this week. I believe you might he a much clearer sound. Second, today was a good day to sing some of the great Lenten hymns. The one I left in the recording is LSB 435, Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain. I believe it carries the themes of resurrection and the life, a God who keeps his promises.