Tag Archives: grace

What Then Will We Have?

92114wordle

Biblical Text: Matthew 19:27-20:16 (Lectionary Reading: Matthew 20:1-16)
Full Draft of Sermon

That title is Peter’s question that leads to the aphorism: the first will be last and the last first, and the parable of the vineyard. This sermon looks at in sequence:
a) the literal facts of the parable, that God provides our daily bread
b) what it reveals to us about God, that He is never less than just, but full of surprising grace
c) a moral teaching, that comparisons within the vineyard are dangerous and instead we keep our eyes on Christ
d) the end times hope, that in the regeneration/new world the heat of the day of the vineyard gives way to pure light.

Take a listen.

The Keys of Grace

9714wordle

Biblical Text: Matthew 18:1-20
Full Sermon Draft

Jesus’ predictions of His passion each elicit responses by the disciples. Those response are often quite telling. They highlight some false idea which the disciples are clinging to. But there is something else that swirls around the first two – Jesus offering what the church calls the Keys. What you bind is bound and what you loose is loosed. The first offer of the Keys leads to the passion prediction which Peter responds roughly “not going to happen”. In this second passion prediction Peter doesn’t directly confront Jesus, but in this sermon’s conceit starts succession planning. The sermon of Jesus that follows talks about what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like which is nothing to start succession planning over. Instead of leading with the offer, Jesus ends with the offer of the Keys. His followers will be humble or childlike or little enough to not demand the law or their due with each other. The church instead is based on confession and absolution. The church is based on offering and receiving grace.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – 1 Kings 18:1-19 and Ephesians 2:1-22

1 Kings 18:1-19
Ephesians 2:1-22
A funny scene with Elijah & its NT parallel (Joanna, the wife of Chuza in Luke 8:3)
The doctrinal gospel in the nutshell – grace, faith, election
A theoretical question – commandment vs. ordinances

Daily Lectionary Podcast – 2 Samuel 12:1-25 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

2 Samuel 12:1-25
1 Corinthians 12:1-13
The reach and effects of sin, the varied gifts of the Spirit reflecting the Creator
“How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints”…CS Lewis (This is the full quote I was struggling to bring to mind.)

Daily Lectionary Podcast – 1 Samuel 8:1-22 and Acts 21:15-36

1 Samuel 8:1-22
Acts 21:15-36
The desire for a King, The King we get vs. the King we desire

Fake and Real

7614wordle

Biblical Text: Matthew 11:25-30, Romans 7:14-25
Full Sermon Draft

I guess this is the cliche/classic “what I did on my vacation” sermon. It centers around the contrast between father and son and the son’s surprising statement that re-centers the entire experience between fake and real, between (pseudo-) law and grace.

Text of Funeral Sermon for Charlie Gruschow

I almost didn’t get through this one…

Biblical Texts: Isaiah 49:13-16, Romans 5:1-5 and Matthew 11:28-30
Introduction
Charlie Gruschow was a fixture here at St. Mark’s. And I say that in more ways than one. He was a fixture as a greeter handing out bulletins on Sunday morning. Being the youngest of a large family, he was a great talker with a twinkle in his eye. A bit of rogue-ish charm. The family name is on the stained glass windows right there. He was never a junior, but Charles is also on there. And there is a great story about that organ. Charlie saw the bank account going down and took it upon himself to, and I’m quoting, “get something before the buffoons spent it all”. Charlie’s in the fixtures, and I’ve often reflected that when I stumbled across something fine or of good quality, Charlie was behind it. He didn’t go for junk.

He didn’t do that around church. Charlie didn’t do that in jobs he did. He was always willing to help and do the work.

Now I suppose that same unabashedness and charm combined with those high standards might have led to some confrontations over his years. Charlie was his own man and had his own opinions. That conflict continued in some ways in his later years as instead of battling things external Charlie started battling his own body. When work – like mowers and blades and tractors – that you’ve lined up just can’t be done, it grated. It sucks, when your own gait can’t measure up to your standards.

Gospel in the Life

But let me suggest that Charlie understood something very important.

Peace didn’t come easily to Charlie, he worked. He expected to work. I expect that was why he was here, even hobbling, almost every Sunday. In the midst of a life of work, He knew he needed the grace. In an era full of cheap grace – lowered standards, denial of culpability – Charlie would have none of it. He was plainspoken, even if the plain speech pointed at himself. He might not have shared that with everyone, he was a man of his time, but he didn’t spare himself. And he needed the real grace – the grace that is only available through Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Charlie needed that. When the work was beyond him, he was strong enough to take God’s peace declared on that cross. And due to his standards he knew the full measure of what that cross offered…of what that cross offers you.

Conclusion
I have to admit something, my prayers for older folks who have major surgery are often two-fold. Typically I ask for healing and restoration, but I also usually ask that God’s peace might be with them. My prayers were selfish with Charlie, I wanted him back. One more story, a couple of months ago at men’s club, Charlie started telling of one of those confrontations that happened roughly 20 years ago. An elder of the congregation had stopped by and somehow had expressed the thought or feeling that he was fine if God took him. That offended Charlie and that day that elder was practically thrown out of Charlie’s house. But at this retelling I got the feeling Charlie was telling it not as a saga of old, but as a current reflection.

Charlie’s passing was a shock – to the doctors and to us. I was too engrossed in my selfish prayers. But Charlie heard Jesus – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He was willing to put down the yoke he had pulled so long.

Charlie put that down, not in weakness, but in hope. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character hope. And Charlie was full of hope. Charlie knew that we who are buried with Christ in baptism will also be raised with him. We are engraved in the palm of His hand, and our walls our bodies will stand before Him. Resurrected bodies no longer bent by the work, but eternal dwellings full of grace.

So, the work remains our task, and we do not have Charlie to pull it anymore. But his witness remains with us as well. In the grace of Jesus, we stand. In the Hope of the Glory of God, we rejoice. (Rom 5:2) Amen.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Luke 23:1-56

Luke 23:1-56
Man’s Justice, God’s grace

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 23:4-28 and Luke 22:47-71

Numbers 23:4-28
Luke 22:47-71
The Word of the Lord vs. Magic, The humanness of the passion stories, the absurdity of the our judgement vs. the absurdity of grace

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

Numbers 16:23-40
Luke 19:29-48
The great flip, the great and the least, the offering of Christ