OCC Wrap Up

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.

King’s Choice

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.

Impermanance, Anxiety and the Hairs of Your Balding Head

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.

Operation Christmas Child

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

World Weary Religion

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.

What’s a Saint?

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.

The Righteousness of God Comes By ______?

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.

Pester God? No, Trust Him!

Biblical Text: Luke 18:1-8, 18:1-8 KJV

This text is one that I think has had much harm done to it over the years by overly pious preachers and translators. They promise things that Jesus himself is contradicting. And their promises often make God out to be a monster and a liar. I don’t know if I manage to do it, but I hoped to set it straight. The persistent widow is not a tale about how we should pester God. That oddly feeds into a prosperity gospel trope of “asking consistently and believing”. Instead it is much more specific. What is she asking for? Justice? When does Justice for the Christian happen? At the return of Jesus. Until then we live in the now and not yet. The Kingdom is now ours; it has not yet been fully revealed. Hence we persevere is asking “deliver us from evil”. And we do that because we have faith in the one who promised. Because the Character of God is not one that needs pestering, but one slow to anger and abounding is steadfast love. Persistence in prayer is just outward proof of persistence in faith.

Pray, Praise and Give Thanks

Biblical Text: Luke 17:1-11

How does one use the name of God?

The right use of God’s name always ends in thanksgiving.

That I believe is the message contained in the story of the 10 healed lepers. It is not just a miracle, although it is that. Neither is it an overly simple, “aw shucks, we should give thanks” lesson, although giving thanks is a good habit. It is really a lesson on who has used the name of God rightly. There are three groups named at the start: Jerusalem, Galilee and Samaria. All three think they know how to use the name. The 10 lepers use the name in seeking mercy. But only one receives the grace. Only one receives the kingdom. This sermon contemplates the 2nd commandment from Luther’s catechism, which is a spiritual classic. And it ponders our lives, our prayer, praise and thanks, in light of the command and the text. What does it mean to use the name of God rightly? Think about it.

Faith for Forgiveness

Biblical Text: Luke 17:1-10 (Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4)

If Christianity is reduced to one word, that word would be forgiveness. And Jesus doesn’t mess around in this text. I think there are two parts here. There is a warning to folks like me – preachers – not to mess up that message. Natural man does not like, cannot hear that message. Forgiveness is foreign to natural man. He can accept sin, he can demand justice, but forgiveness requires faith. Preaching acceptance or justice always goes over better. But should the preacher grind out that bad bread, it would be better that he had that millstone that ground it out around his neck. The second part is that with that faith the people of God must live out that forgiveness. And Jesus’ words about this are just as harsh. If we do this, we are merely doing our duty. The people of God are to be known by their grace. Just like their Lord. And we should not be dumb about this, this is hard. It requires a supernatural faith.