Tag Archives: call

Pride and Promise

Biblical Text: Isaiah 6:1-8
Full Sermon Draft

This is Trinity Sunday on the Christian calendar. That means a couple of things. The first is that we typically roll out the long creed – the Athanasian Creed. We break it into two logical portions in the service and I’ve tried to capture that here. The second thing that Trinity Sunday invites is a more theological approach. What I mean by that is that the day concerns the nature of God which is something that we can never fully comprehend. If we could, they we aren’t pondering God. This sermon is an attempt to mark out some of the boundaries of pondering God. Not boundaries on God himself, but things that should bind us. And it does this through a contrast between King Uzziah, whom the text starts off telling us died in the year of Isaiah vision, and Isaiah’s vision and call. The contrast I’d boil down to the path of pride and the path of promise. One is the path of life and the other of death. I hope you enjoy this.

Origin Stories

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

I’ve always been fascinated by the synoptic gospel accounts of the disciples juts leaving, dropping their nets and following Jesus. For a long time I thought it doesn’t make any literal sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it isn’t history, but that there had to be a lot more behind those stories. John’s gospel I believe gives us some of that more. John and probably Andrew had been watching this Jesus for a while because of the Baptist. So when he comes by the Sea calling, they drop their nets and follow. But there is more psychological depth to these stories. They are stories of longing, and stories of opportunity. God passes by, the moment moves quickly on, do you live, or go on with life? Do you embark on something original, or stay in well worn ways?

These stories are important to moderns because we have a twofold problem. We are surrounded by origin stories and new beginnings, but then none of ours satisfy, because we don’t actually live them. The call of Christ is the call to true life. It is not something we can live at a remove. We can stay in the boat, or get go toward the shore. We can leave the nets, or hold on, but not both. This sermon attempts to explore that area of necessity and longing.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 16:41-17:13 and Luke 20:1-18

Numbers 16:41-17:13
Luke 20:1-18
Envy & Call
The transfer of the vineyard

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Zechariah 12:1-13:9 and Titus 1:1-2:6

Zechariah 12:1-13:9
Titus 1:1-2:6
The End of Days, Eschatology and the trouble with Universalism
Bishop/Pastor/Deacon and the requirements for office

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Genesis 39:1-23 and Mark 10:13-31

Genesis 39:1-23
Mark 10:13-31
The hard call of the gospel, prioritizing Jesus and the Kingdom

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Ezekiel 1 and Romans 1

Ezekiel 1:1-14,22-28
Romans 1:1-17
Vision and Call, a thanks for those who bring God’s Word, as strange as it might be

Hearing Voices

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Text: John 10:22-30
Full Sermon Draft

The world is full of voices. In the past week we’ve heard from some of the more gruesome. What Jesus says in the text today is “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” He also says bluntly that those who don’t believe (because they haven’t accepted/heard the testimony) are not his sheep.

What the Gospel according to John sets up is the duality of voices. The voice of Christ is the call to life, and the call to life is the call to repentance and a life transformed by the Spirit. All the other voices, whatever their form, are voices of the world leading to death, voices breathing threats and murder. And there is no blending of these voices, just a division. Either we follow the voice of the shepherd, or we follow other voices. Either we believe, and nothing will snatch us out of the Father’s hand, or we join the voices contra Christ. There is no middle ground. And if this week has done anything it has shown the foolishness of dialog with those voices of the world. Voices not based in the life of Christ yield bad fruit.

Scandalized by the Word hidden in our Midst

Biblical Text: Mark 6:1-13
Full Draft

It is a truth of this world that the really important things are usually hidden right in our midst. Think “rosebud” from Citizen Kane. All the great stories are about going out and returning home. When we leave, we don’t know what we are leaving. Think the prodigal. And when we stay, we don’t recognize the good. Think the older son. The good stuff is hidden in our midst. And it takes a revelation for us to see it. [By the way, this is the story of the Odyssey. In The Aeneid, Aeneas stops in the underworld to talk to the mighty hero Achilles and asks him if he would rather have the glory of renown promised, or the years at home. Achilles the shade answers he’d rather have had the stuff he turned down to get on the ship.] And in our moderns world – it is usually the things that shout the loudest that get our attention. The 6-year old sees a commercial and asks for whatever piece of junk it is pushing. He mocks me now he’s heard it enough, but I usually answer him “if it has to be advertised it’s a piece of junk”.

This is true for congregational life is spades. All the really important things God has hidden in our midst: The sacraments, the Word proclaimed, the communion of saints. None of them call out. All of them tend to be neglected. We don’t always recognize them for what they are. Yet these are the real, the important things. Yet we so often react or treat them as the residents of that town of Nazareth. We are scandalized that they are not bigger, or grander, or that they claim too much. This is how God acts? Water, Bread, wine and some fool flapping his mouth? The Word Hidden in our Midst.

Perfection

Full Text

This sermon isn’t so easy to break down. It is really a longer argument around that call to be perfect. We don’t hear perfect the way the disciples did. First I had to try and restore that original sound which is more completeness and wholeness and maturity. In a world of children demanding their rights, their honor, Christians were to be mature. That maturity would be salt and light.

The modern world, miracle of miracles, learned something from the church. That is good news. The modern world is better for that. The common good has increased. Something has been restored. But it has left Christians a little less salty, looking a little less mature. Figuring out how to again be salty – to be whole – to be perfect, is part of the disciple’s call.

Do you have a church?

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A few remarks by people in bible class afterward were interesting feedback. This seem seemed to strike harder than I would have expected. Not that the notes that struck were not there, just that I would have expected a slightly different reaction.

Protestantism and Lutheranism in particular are very polar – either this or that. When you are talking about discipleship or responding to the call of Christ, that isn’t always helpful. Modern protestants have become very able to reduce the gospel to one dimension – believe the right thing. Faith Alone. The dramatic flattening of the gospel in many churches isn’t all Paul’s fault, because Paul is never that one dimensional, but Matthew and the gospels help. The call comes to different people in different ways. The gospel is that it is from God’s guidance and never more than we can handle. That simple faith in the right things – for me encapsulated in the creeds – is the general call given to all humanity. Repent, the Kingdom is here!

But the life of Faith may contain individual calls that go beyond that. They are part of the individuals call to follow. They are part of separating out the disciple of the Kingdom from the admirer.

That title questions – Do you have a church? – is from a story used in the sermon. It is important to ask. Do you have a community of people responding and guided by the call of Jesus, or a club of Jesus admirers?

[Another deeper point not touched on in the sermon directly, but broached in bible class and always floating in Matthew is: are the disciples the embryo church or are they the apostles? When you hear the call to be fisher’s of people, is that given to the entire church, or to the ministers? Same in Matthew 28:18-20. Is the great commission to the church as a whole, or those who normally baptize and teach? It is not as clean as we’d like it. Although I’m sure that many would not like this, how you answer that question is probably a bigger difference today between Rome and Protestants than justification. And that also has an impact on Do you have a church? Rome traditionally said Protestants didn’t. Now we are just imperfectly in communion. Is there a church structure – an ecclesiology – that acknowledges the ambiguity?]