Tag Archives: fear

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.

Stand Tall and Look Up

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Biblical Text: Luke 21:5-28
Full Sermon Draft

We are already in the last two weeks of the Church Year, so what that means for the texts is typically various parables and text that relating to the end. Some are more end focused while others have a near meaning in the AD 70 destruction of the temple. This text is one that is heavily focused on AD 70, but Jesus seems to invite some meditation at the end.

This sermon looks at the difference in how Jesus describes AD 70 from how he turns to the end. While in AD 70 he gives the warning to flee, in the end the command is to “stand tall and look up, for your redemption draws near.” That difference has influenced the Christian attitude to worldly events during the entire time of the church, or in the words of the text “the time of the gentiles”. The signs of the kingdom’s coming happen all the time. What the Christian takes from these is not fear or anxiety but assurance. Our redemption draws near.

The applied moral is really for this congregation. We are debating the purchase of a new organ. The sermon attempts to calm some fears in those matters.

Worship Note: Two musical parts are left in. Our opening hymn: Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying is the classic Lutheran chorale, LSB 516. Also, our choir sounded very good today at full strength singing the Psalm of the Day, Psalm 98.

There’s a Sky! And it’s Blue!

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Biblical Text: Luke 11:11-13

Full Sermon Draft

I hope this sermon is meaningful. There is a lot of thinking that has gone into it not just this past week, but for quite a while. In one way it is my attempt to address Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. That is not a book for everyone, but I think he is correct in being trapped in an immanent frame. The Chesterton quote I think captures the problem with this. And part of the reason this is so hard to escape from is because I think our situation is the opposite of the scriptures. And for that matter the opposite of the Reformation. Both of those ages feared a Holy God, but had trouble understanding his love. As such they were lacking on wonder. Our age has no problem thinking about the love of God, primarily because we have either substituted ourselves for God, or we’ve domesticated God. But we’ve lost the fear, or neither of those conceptions of God all for a holy fear. Wonder is that combination of love and fear. And that is what we’ve lost. This sermon, reflecting on the Lord’s prayer and Abraham’s experience, attempts to make real both the fear and the love. It attempts to break us out of our wonderless cage, to live before the God of wonder.

Recording note: This is a re-recording after the fact. We had some trouble with the mic’s this morning. Guess I haven’t chased down that ghost yet. So, because of that, I don’t have a hymn with it. Just hum What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Faith over Fear

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Biblical Text: Mark 9:14-29
Full Sermon Draft

Fear is just not a permanent facet of the Christian life. It is not that we don’t feel it. It is not that we are spared the type of experiences that bring it forward. But the big difference is our belief in the end. The Christian both believes in an author of history, a providential God, and he believes that this providential God loves us and does all things for our benefit. We may fear for a night, but the steadfast love of the Lord is forever. This sermon examines fear, the response of faith with overcomes fear, and how the Christian lives out of that faith instead of fear. As we started Sunday School today, special emphasis is given to that roll of teacher.

What’s Your Ending? – Hope or Fear

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Biblical Text: Mark 16:1-8
Full Sermon Draft

The Easter Text in Mark’s gospel ends on a strange word – fear. What this sermon does is look both at our discomfort at fear and at what Easter has to say about it. Mixed in with a bit about that interesting ending of the gospel.

Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!

And Some Doubted…A Trinity Sunday Meditation on Faith, Fear and Doubt

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Text: Matt 28:16-20, Athanasian Creed
Full Sermon Text

The start of that title is an interesting bit in Matthew 28:17. It is made all the more interesting because of the liturgical day of Trinity Sunday. On Trinity Sunday we confess the Athanasian Creed which is the most strident of the three historic creeds in its statements and sweep. In that way it mirrors the statements by Jesus right around that interesting bit. What this sermon does is examine the current fetish with doubt, point to the real trouble which is not doubt itself but fear, and look at the ways that both fear and doubt are calls to The Faith, expressed in clear form like the creeds, and to faithfulness. Lastly, it attempts to knock down one of the great fears behind clear statements of the faith, by recalling Jesus’ final words and Peter’s Pentecost sermon…Let all Israel know for certain…(read/listen to the sermon to hear the rest).

A Brooklyn Angel’s Message

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Biblical Text: Matthew 28:1-10
Easter Sermon Draft

It isn’t Chrysostom, but it’s an Easter Sermon I’m happy with. Have a Happy Easter and stop fearing because He is Risen.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 4:1-18 and Mark 15:1-15

Exodus 4:1-18
Mark 15:1-15
“Playing with the Big Boys Now”, Fear, Suffering, Man’s justice vs. God’s
Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted – Lutheran Service Book 451

Bible Study Fragment…

Our Thursday morning bible study is a great group. For an idea of the maturity they have, when I said I was doing a small catechism class for new members, they said “why don’t we do that as well”. Paraphrasing Luther, always returning to the basics or the seeds of faith, is fruitful, because we have not mastered even such trifles.

We are on the 10 commandments. We spent the last couple of classes on some basic theology – law & gospel, revelation, scripture (and those tougher words authority and inspiration). The point is to make clear how we read the bible and how we make the claims that we do based upon it. But today we got to the commandments themselves. And Luther’s explanation to the first commandment is a tiny treasure. “We should fear, love and trust God above all things.”

All sins are ultimately a trespass of the first, but Luther in the Larger Catechism expands on his explanation. In that expansion he writes, “the heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God an idol…so it is with all idolatry. For it happens not merely by erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather it happens in the heart. For the heart stands gaping at something else…” We all worship something. We all have something, maybe multiple things, which we fear, love and trust above other things. Even the atheist. The atheist fears the idea of God more than God himself. Our age, as the older song says, “has fallen in love with love” without hearing the next line “is playing the fool.” The list of idols of the heart is endless. Cranmer gets at the same thing when he writes, “what the heart wants, the will chooses and the mind justifies.”

God’s Word succinctly captured in Luther’s simple catechism, is a great tool to knock down those idols. Examine yourself (2 Cor 3:15). What do we fear, love and trust above God? Then look to the cross. Look at Jesus there. Is there anything more precious? The judgement and love and trust of God rolled into one man. Judgement of sin brought our release. Love willing took that judgement while we wandered. Jesus trusted his Father that injustice would not stand, and he was raised first to new life and now to the right hand of God. Fear, Love and trust God above all things.

Biblical Personification – Spirits of the air

There are biblical verses that confound moderns – try Eph 6:12 or Eph 2:2.

The Bible consistently affirms there is more to creation than we can see. While it is most easy to understand the Bible as saying there are real spiritual entities (angels/demons) that influence the stuff we see, that is probably not the only valid way to interpret the verses. (The Nicene Creed confesses belief in the Father Almighty…maker of all things visible and invisible – so you can see it there also.)

A simple belief or confession in angels/demons runs smack against Occam’s Razor or the old jokes about angels on the head of a pin. And we should be clear that these are the approved and controlling beliefs of the age. If I can’t see, smell, touch, taste or hear something (i.e. put it on a scientific bench) it’s not there. That type of belief is also why (although all opinion polls would refute this), religious people always caricatured as a superstitious lot. (Why I say polls refute that is because they always find secular people believe it ghosts, ET, the evil eye and such at far greater rates than believing Christians.)

Read this article about the Facebook formula for what/who gets on your Facebook news page. The same thing could be said about Google’s search formula. And in a larger reach the collective wisdom about what is news to be covered and what isn’t. It used to be just the NY Times editor’s board. Today it is a little larger. (Men in Black spoofed this in a funny way with “J” always reading the Weekly World News as the best reporting on the planet.) You can get carried away by paranoia and conspiracy, but that is not the gospel response. It would seem to me that you could talk about these things like the facebook algorithm as “the spirits of the air”. These are things with little corporeal existence, and yet they clearly have influence over our lives. If Google’s formula doesn’t deliver links we probably don’t know it today. I wonder how many husband’s and wife’s are strangers to each other on facebook? And then which relationships are more real, the marriage or the “friends”?

Although not the easiest or most child-like way to read the Bible, it would seem to be valid that when the Bible speaks of ‘Spirits of the Air’ to understand this a those unseen agreements and agents that influence the way we live like the Facebook algorithm. Christian freedom is the freedom not to be afraid and paranoid of these things, but to live an authentic and faithful life in full knowledge of them. God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim 1:7).