Tag Archives: belief

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.

The First of the Signs

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Biblical Text: John 2:1-11
Full Sermon Draft

John intentionally uses and structures half his gospel around a different word than Matthew, Mark and Luke. Those synoptics describe what we call miracles as works of power. John calls them signs and the first twelve chapters of John are structured around seven signs. And I think John tells us the difference at the end of Cana. To John the signs due two things: 1) they manifest glory and 2) they inspire belief. What this sermon attempts to do is three things: a) ponder that difference between works of power, both natural and supernatural, and signs, b) flesh out what specifically Cana as the first of the signs encourages us to believe and c) apply those encouraged beliefs to our lives.

I’d add here, something that the sermon doesn’t, that works of power can also inspire belief. They are just as much signs as the ones John picks out like Cana. The big difference is the emphasis between the two aspects. Is the primary purpose a manifestation of glory, or has that manifestation worked itself into our understanding of ourselves and our actions. Does seeing the glory change us in deeper ways.

I’d also add here a second note about this sermon. A better preacher could make this much better, but my reflection after delivery is that I rendered a very deep text in a meaningful way. It is one of the rare times preaching on John that I don’t feel defeated.

The Indwelling Word

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Biblical Text: John 6:51-69
Full Sermon Draft

This is the third and last sermon on the “Bread of Life Discourse” in John 6. The typical and easiest way to understand the entire discourse where Jesus says we must eat his flesh and drink his blood is as a reference to the Lord’s Supper. That isn’t wrong, but we do have to ignore that fact that when Jesus said it the crowds who heard it had no recourse to the sacrament. What this sermon attempts to do is proclaim the gospel from this most perplexing text with the sacrament not as first resource but as an gift that embodies for all time the truth.

What I latch onto is Jesus’ embellishment of eating the flesh and blood as the gateway or image of Christ abiding or indwelling in us. Just as the Father dwells in Christ or Christ as the perfect icon of the Father, by eating Christ he dwells in us. Creation has always been about building a dwelling place or a temple for God. In Christ we have the perfect temple, and we are made the living stones as God dwells in us. As Christ is the icon of God, we become the body of Christ and icon of a sort (although that might be a little strong this side of the New Jerusalem). That flesh and spirit incarnation is always a scandal to the world which wants to keep them separate.

Yet as Peter says – these are the words of eternal life. The second part of the gospel explored is Peter sequence where we believe first and then come to know. We must eat first – take Christ into us – to know. The body and blood of Christ give us a sure foundation. We can know because he is the bread that has come down. If we keep it outside of us, we can’t know. Belief comes first and it is belief from the heart.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Psalm 77:10-15 and John 12:36-50

Psalm 77:10-15
John 12:36-50
Election and Pop Songs

Three Comparisons

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Biblical Text: Mark 1:14-20
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the emergence of Jesus after the arrest of John the Baptist and his calling of disciples. This sermon looks at three sets of comparisons encouraged in the text by their juxtaposition: Jesus and John the Baptist, Andrew/Peter and James/John, and Jesus and his disciples. Each comparison increases our knowledge of God and the path of discipleship. The sermon explores those especially the role of courage in the life of discipleship.

A note on the recording: I’ve included a couple of musical pieces. Our Choir sang an infectious newer hymn, LSB 833 Listen, God is Calling. It has a dramatic African Call/Response structure. I’ve been looking for about three years for a chance to get it into the service. It is just not something that a congregation can take on cold, but the choir sounded great. The second hymn is LSB 856 O Christ, Who Called the Twelve. It also is a newer hymn with some amazing depth paired with probably a familiar tune, Terra Beata formally, but I know it as This is Our Father’s World. (And I am still convinced that the theme song running throughout the Lord of the Rings movies is inspired by this hymn tune. At every moment of near despair, Frodo or Sam remember the shire and this theme plays in the background.) Both of these hymns are great additions to a Lutheran Congregation’s Hymnbook.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Joel 1:1-20 and Romans 10:1-21

Joel 1:1-20
Romans 10:1-21
The very thing needed is taken
God’s Word given to those who were not a nation, to those who were foolish…

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 9:29-10:20 and Hebrews 3:1-19

Exodus 9:29-10:20
Hebrews 3:1-19
Hard Heart, The Rest of God, Not that God denies the rest but our hearts do
Jesus, Refuge of the Weary – Lutheran Service Book 423

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 33:1-18 and John 10:22-42

Job 33:1-18

John 10:22-42

Introduction of the Interior and Exterior life (Origins of Psychology), The Deity of Jesus & Believing the Word/Testimony even if it starts with a works based belief.

Stop The Unbelief

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Text: John 20:19-31
Full Sermon Draft

Okay, I’ll admit that this is one of my geekier sermons. Although I think even if you completely don’t get what I’m talking about in the middle, the introduction and the application or gospel in the world section work.

Why this is so geeky is because it is an attempt to identify something that we are dealing with but has not been completely defined to the point of say “well duh”. Trying to compress it I think our society has a hard time believing anything. That unbelief is not you garden variety doubt, which I would label as just part of the Christian life. The older saints would call it poetically a dark night of the soul. Thomas doesn’t doubt, he believes something else entirely. He believes is wood and steel and Roman power and his senses and dead things stay dead. When Jesus appears the command is not stop doubting and believe, but stop the unbelief and believe. Now I said Thomas believed in something (wood and steel, cross and spear, the marks in the hands and the side), but belief in idols is no belief at all. Idols have no real existence, so belief in them is unbelief. Jesus tells Thomas, to stop the idolatry. And that is our problem. Our old idols of nation, race, ideology and even church have failed. And postmodernism has convinced us to not get fooled again. But the problem is that we don’t have a choice. We are contingent creatures. We all rest on something. The default metaphysical dreams are our bellies or nothingness or gussied up mammon and nihilism. Those are the idols of post-modernism. And they are bad ones. The command issued by Jesus to Thomas caught in both is stop the unbelief and believe. Christ is the true cornerstone that we can build upon. All the old idols have been knocked down, but they have been knocked down so that we might see Christ. Not so that we can find worse idols.

Proclamation and Reaction

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Biblical Text: Luke 4:31-44
Full Sermon Draft

The text for the day shows people who are captured and oppressed by that unholy trinity of the devil, the world and our flesh. Simon’s mother-in-law running a high fever (flesh), the demon possessed man (devil) and the crowds (world) all are healed. They all have the release proclaimed to them. The all recognize the authority of the Word of Jesus. But they all have different reactions. They are all freed. The devil, the world and the flesh are all rebuked, but only one of the reactions is appropriate.

After three Sunday’s looking at how we see God through the sacraments, the theme this Sunday was the proclaimed word. And while we can say we see God in the Word (especially THE WORD, Jesus Christ), that seeing function is more answered by the sacraments. God has instituted and promised to be present in Water, Bread, Wine and absolution. Those are something physical that we can “see”. The proclaimed word is more about answering that second order question, how do we know we’ve seen? We know we’ve seen because someone has told us and we believe that testimony. Our belief influences what we see. We can see the sacraments because we believe, because the Holy Spirit has created eyes of faith. But the orthodox faith doesn’t just push something called fideism, or faith in faith. Out faith does not rest on an emotional desire or something we gin up in ourselves. Saving faith rests on the Word. The proclaimed word brings forth a reaction. Preachers don’t (or shouldn’t) proclaim themselves or feelings or vague movements. Preachers proclaim the Word. And THE WORD is Jesus Christ. How do we know we know? Christ told us. It all rests on him. Who do you say he is? What is your reaction to the proclamation?