Tag Archives: grace

Grace was Never Practical


Biblical Text: Mark 10:2-26
Full Sermon Draft

This sermon is a little longer than my typical one. The subject from the gospel text is marriage and divorce. Because the contextual density of the topic and because of its high profile in our general culture this sermon takes its time and spells out all the steps. I believe I arrive at the proclamation of the gospel, but it might not be the gospel we always want to hear.

A Hidden Transfiguration


Biblical Text: Mark 6:30-44
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the feeding of the 5000 which is portrayed as a foreshadowing of the Last Supper, so this sermon is about communion. A moment of self reflection here, compared to most of my sermons which are unified pieces around a single theme and following a single outline. This one is a little more Pointillistic. Two parts, a catechism part which builds up pictures around a review of Luther’s Catechism on the Lord’s Supper and a compare contrast section looking at the Crowds desires and reactions and Jesus’ desires and reactions. Jesus’ desires, expressed in the Lord’s Supper form us into His people. And that is often at cross-purposes with what we think we desire (i.e. the crowds). For me the picture that ultimately emerges is which people to you want to be a part of: those invited to the meal or those looking for a general/king. And that has a surprising number of personal applications.

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

Kids, Sports and Grace

This article got me on edge. Here is a quick quote:

While neighborhood games become increasingly scarce, year-round travel teams have never been more prevalent. The U.S. Specialty Sports Association, the dominant organizing body for travel baseball, said it has around 1.3 million players spread across 80,000 teams, more than double what it had 10 years ago. The company’s website includes national rankings for teams in age groups that begin at “4 and under.”

Ismael Gonzalez, who manages the Miami-based 9-and-under team MVP Juniors Elite, said his team travels throughout the Southeast, playing more than 100 games a year and practicing two or three days a week. “These kids work like machines,” he said. “This is not just for fun. This is their lifestyle.”

That is child abuse. I don’t remember playing organized sports other than baseball before 7th grade. In High School I played a sport each season. I loved Basketball, but the thought of playing nothing but would drive me crazy. This is the hard saying nobody wants to hear. If your kid is going to make the big leagues in any sport, the level of innate physical talent, usually speed, is such that they will make it dedicating themselves to it starting in High School or later. If they aren’t going to make it, it doesn’t matter how early they specialize, they aren’t going to make it.

The problem with many rec leagues is that the zealots have taken over. The casual league is managed and run with the express purpose of giving travel teams free reign and developing a star player. That is not the purpose of rec leagues or rec facilities. The purpose is to give the average kid something to do for a few hours other than play x-box. To learn the love of being part of a team. To learn that just playing, win or lose, is valued and important. (Not that winning isn’t more fun.)

There are a couple of interesting theological ideas playing out here. The first is the freedom that the idea of election actually gives. Theologically election might be expressed in the biblical phrase, “those that have more will be given, those that have not even what they have will be taken away (Matt 25:29).” Knowing that God gets what God wants or that “my sheep hear my voice” takes the burden off our effort and allows for grace. Baseball wise, little league is not going to make or break a future big leaguer. When you reject election, it is all on you. When it is all on you, life gets out of whack and grace disappears. The second is that the law always accuses. When grace has been abandoned for the law alone, baseball wise when leagues are run for producing the future hall of famer, all who don’t measure up to that level are condemned. The law is unyielding. What grace does is not take away the chance to be a hall of famer, we still have saints. What it does is say is play it for love.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 16:23-40 and Luke 19:29-48

Numbers 16:23-40
Luke 19:29-48
The Holiness of God and What we approach in Communion
Recognizing when God is acting in our midst

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 16:1-22 and Luke 19:11-28

Numbers 16:1-22
Luke 19:11-28
Vocation & Faithfulness with what has been given
Lukewarm and our conception of God

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 11:1-23,31-35 and Luke 17:1-19

Numbers 11:1-23,31-35
Luke 17:1-19
Freedom vs. Slavery
The Responsibilities of being Free
The necessity of thanks and grace

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 9:1-23 and Luke 16:1-18

Numbers 9:1-23
Luke 16:1-18
Grace and Mercy and the roll of the Law in following God
Getting the order of Lord’s correct

Program note: The phrase I was struggling to remember about Luke 16:16 is “the violent bare it away”. That is a better translation of the phrase. It is another example of what we’ve seen in Sunday bible class recently of the translators bringing a “cheery” gloss to a verbal aspect or metaphor instead of the “sign of contradiction”. In this case the Kingdom of God comes and meets violent rejection. The verse is not about everybody’s scramble to be part of the Kingdom, but in context how the things of God are violently rejected by men, in this case the Pharisees. Never-the-less choose your Prince. The one who rewards in this life alone, or the one who welcomes into eternal dwellings.

Everything Written Must Be Fulfilled


Biblical Text: Luke 24:36-49
Full Sermon Draft

The text is concerned with a couple of items. First it is concerned with the literal physical resurrection – “touch and see!” Second it is concerned about how those not part of that first generation of apostles can be sure of that experience. Jesus supplies the answer in the written word and the witness of the apostles. That witness of the apostles becomes word and sacrament, forgiveness of sins and what we know as the new testament. We share those with those first apostles. We also share the Holy Spirit, the “Power from on High”, that testifies to the truth of Word and Sacrament.

The moral question of Easter is that we have heard these things. We know the story. We have experienced the witness that Jesus says is good. Are we changed by that? The reactions of the disciples in the text give us three levels of reaction. Startled and frightened thinking it a ghost. Just a ghost in the machine. Joy and marvel at the announcement but still disbelieving I’m spiritual, but I’m not sure about being a disciple. Minds open to the scriptures and we are the witnesses of these things. Has Easter changed you?

That might be a scary thought, are we ever sure we are changed? Good news it is not us there either. We have been clothed with power from on high. The Spirit who spoke by the prophets still ensures that everything written is fulfilled including the salvation of the saints.

Maundy Thursday – Preparation


Biblical Text: Mark 14:12-26
Full Sermon Draft

Maundy Thursday is the night of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. This sermons keys off of two things: 1) the idea of preparation. The disciples asked what they needed to do to prepare the Passover. What is a fitting preparation for the Lord’s Supper? The text helps us answer this. 2) What are the effects of reception? There are two groups who receive the first – the 11 represented by Peter and 1 represented by Judas. Again in this we get a glimpse of our answer.

I’ve left in the recording the Choir singing O Perfect Life of Love, and the congregation singing Aquinas’ Now My Toungue The Mystery Telling (LSB 630) and the first verse one of the classing Lutheran Chorales Soul Adorn Yourself With Gladness (LSB 636)