Tag Archives: King

Messiahs – Tyrants and True (Palm/Passion Sunday)

Biblical Texts: Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday Matthew 21:1-17, Matthew 27:32-66
Full Sermon Draft

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew exactly what was going to happen, what was going to happen was a travesty but the desires of everyone involved are just too set in stone? Every action and reaction is a cruel inversion of the claims of those doing them? That is Holy Week. The desires of the Galilean crowds, the desires of the Jerusalem priests and the desires of Rome are locked into a danse macabre . The thing about the dance of death is that it reveals all of our follies. All of our false pieties and crass ambitions are laid bare and open for us to see. Those groups dancing 2000 years ago desired messiahs not very much different from those we often desire. Jesus exposes them, and defines what the messiah is. The sermon explores our false messiahs and how they tyrannize us, and the freedom the true King offers us.

Worship note: I’ve left in a bunch of music this time. The hymns for Palm Sunday are probably the greatest in the hymnal. Between the palm and passion lessons the choir sings a pretty arrangement of the Palm Sunday Hosanna. The Hymn of the Day was LSB 444, No Tramp of Soldiers Marching Feet, a modern hymn which keys off of Pilate’s ironic words in the gospel of John “behold your King”. Truer words were never spoken that came off a tongue so false. The closing hymn, LSB 441, Ride on Ride on in Majesty, also beautifully connects the Palms and the Passion.

Humble Authority

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Biblical Text: Matthew 21:1-11, Isaiah 2:1-5
Full Sermon Draft

The text for the first Sunday in Advent is usually Palm Sunday. The theme is the Advent of the King. There are multiple ways that Advent invites us to ponder the Kingship of Jesus. We can reflect on the first advent in a holy longing for the second advent. The first time in grace and humility, the second in judgement and power. We could reflect on the King as stand-in for His people. In this case the King on the way to the cross and our penitential need. That is Advent as a penitential season. The Isaiah text which is just as much the sermon text of the day invites a third meditation, Advent as the dawning and growing of the light. What this sermon attempts to do is think about what it means to have a King. It posits a couple of forms of human kingship – modern and ancient. It then contrasts those with the Biblical picture of the Kingship of Jesus. It concludes with the encouragement as the natural light grows shorter, to let they spiritual light brighten. Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Worship notes: The other voice you hear is our Seminarian Tim Bayer. He was in town for Thanksgiving and it is always great to be able to include him in the service. Since the break is a short one, he and his wonderful voice handled the liturgy for us. I’ve left in two hymns. At the start LSB 343, Prepare the Royal Highway. At the end LSB 331, The Advent of Our King. Both carry the Kingship theme and explore it is ways similar to the sermon. I love the hymns of Advent. I’ll often try to work some of them in during the year itself because the season itself is made to short. The other reason is that the themes of advent are so deep and worthy of reflection.

Credential Check

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Text: Luke 19:28-40
Full Sermon Draft

Our world is awash in various forms of credential checks. What I mean by that is various ways of authorizing or legitimizing certain behavior or positions. The opening comparison is how we as American used to be by looking at Abe Lincoln’s credentials to be a lawyer vs. what we require to be a hairdresser today. (Hint, I think we require more of the cosmetologist than Abe had to provide to practice law.) We then look at what credentials mean to theology and the pastorate.

The reason I do that is hopefully to evoke the uneasy nature of theological credentials. The text has this idea running throughout it with two conflicting groups. There are those who accept Jesus at the word of his disciples. The Lord has need of it at which the colt’s owners let it go. And there are those who reject the word of Jesus. The Pharisees telling the “teacher” to “rebuke your disciples.” Both scenes are a form of credential check. Those with the perfect Jerusalem credentials fail the city. Those without have the freedom and hearts to join the triumphal entry.

The theological truth that the Kingdom of God comes humbly always makes theological credentials tenuous. The best are learned through prayer, study and trial – represented by the margin notes of my grandfather.

It is the humility of those credentials that free us. The false messiahs and false prophets – the laws and priests – that Bethany and Bethphage represent (per o]Origin) always try and keep us bound. It is the humble credentials of Christ and his word that free us, and free us for his need. The Lord has need of us. Do we hear his credentials, or do we demand better ones?

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Isaiah 33:1-24 Revelation 5:1-14

Isaiah 33:1-24
Revelation 5:1-14
OT apocalypse vs. New Testament – a day of darkness vs. grace
The balance between God of grace and King Jesus and the personhood of God

A Kingly Irony

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Biblical Text: Mark 11:1-11
Full Sermon Draft

This was the first Sunday in Advent which is a season of preparation, of preparation for receiving God. The first open reception of Jesus as the Christ as the King was Palm Sunday, and the triumphal entry has been the historic reading for the first Sunday in Advent for almost forever. When you read it from the Gospel of Mark, as we are doing this year, it reads as irony (in contrast to the moment of messianic fervor in Matthew). In Mark, that first time, nobody got it. They were all looking for the messiah, the king, and when he shows up, nobody recognizes him. Now I think you could say the inverse. Nobody is expecting the messiah, the king, and if you believe the Bible, when he shows up this time, everybody will recognize him immediately. That is the Kingly Irony.

This sermon looks at the way this irony continues in our lives and that irony is actually the extended offer of the grace of the King.

The King who comes humbly – Palm Sunday

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Biblical Text: Matthew 21:1-17
Full Sermon Draft

This is the biblical text for the events of Palm Sunday, the start of holy week. The outline is very basic law and gospel. The law consists of identifying where we have gone astray. That happens in the reactions of the crowds. Those who should have known don’t care. This is traced as a pattern in Matthew’s gospel. Those who have some idea never-the-less attempt to pervert the power of the Kingdom to their personal Kingdom. The gospel is simply that the King comes anyway. The King comes, and humbly offers himself to all who believe.

Kings, Crosses and the (un)random universe

Biblical Text: Mark 11:1-11, Mark 15:1-5, 15, 25-26
Full Draft of Sermon

The framing in the world was a massive lottery jackpot. This is not a railing against the lottery, but let me just say the things we surround ourselves with and allow say something about us. The massive growth of lotteries, casinos and “gaming” over my lifetime might tell us something about what we actually worship or at least how we view the world. A step away from despair is to see the world as random, nothing more that lottery balls bouncing through the world.

There are many things we can take from Palm Sunday or the Pilate Readings. But one theme would be that the world has a King. This world is anything but random. If we are tempted to think that nothing matters – like the world weary Pilate – the passion says no. Everything is full of meaning. And the most meaningful things are rarely dressed like Kings but can be found in the humblest places.

Last Judgements

Gospel Text: Matt 25:32-46
Full Sermon Text

I hate to say it, but this is an example of decent sermon prep that lacked editing and carry-through. At least 1 point two many. About a page and a half too long. And missing a story element. Although I do have to add that I’m amazed I didn’t see more yawns. Probably because I didn’t have it down enough to deliver it and was looking down at my paper too much to see them.

Ok, done beating myself up. At an intellectual and a personal piety level this text is a grenade. What I will say is that the Last Judgment from Matthew confronts and contradicts so many of our doctrinal and de facto pieties that it would be tough not to lapse into homiletic underwear and lecture. On its face the judgment is based on ethical reasons. If all you had was the last judgement from Matthew you’d have to say that Pelagius was the saint and Augustine then heretic. I think I describe the web of texts to evaluate that, to put it into the larger story, but it would be much better to have the bible open in front with the possibility for questions and conversation. Putting that aside, our culture in general has moved beyond that debate of works and grace. The phrase translated eternal punishment just isn’t believed by most people. There are different scriptural ways of addressing it that give due pause to abyss we are staring into, but most of America just doesn’t lend credence to the concept of hell. The way I typically describe it for bible study folks is that my impression is most of America has accepted the gospel without hearing the law. They don’t know what they are doing in other words. They take the cheap grace without pausing to think if it is fool’s gold.

The last part which dominates the sermon and would have been the core point is that we modern Americans just don’t understand monarchy. What lands the goats in fire is not that they are evil to their core. They answer Lord. They wonder when they haven’t been good. Thinking of a human King – arguing from lesser to greater – you can immediately see the times when it is what you didn’t do that got you in trouble. It is what you don’t do that typically brings into question the kind. If the King says – “do the will of my Father” and then you proceed to ignore the law completely…

So, I’m glad we have a lectionary that forces these texts. I’m also glad it only comes up once every three years.

Pick it up and read it / Prepare for the Coming King


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First comment, the Thanksgiving sermon was the better sermon this week. Page down and read that one if you didn’t hear it. That one was winsome and inviting and still crunchy, which by that I mean it had a message behind it that didn’t duck reality. This Sunday sermon was crunchy, but winsome…not so much. Which is a deep error when you are trying to get people to do something. In this case pick up the bible and read it.

It was the first Sunday of Advent which means it is new years day in the church. The lectionary rolls over to a different gospel, this year Matthew. The text was Matt 21:1-11 which is the triumphal entry or Palm Sunday. The main textual point is the welcoming of a king. That day 2000 years ago they welcomed a king who came humbly, but wanted the one who came in righteousness. Somewhere in the future, we welcome a king who comes in righteousness, but what is our impression of Jesus? How do we prepare for the coming of a King?

If the Gallup pole is right, we don’t prepare at all. We probably spend more time preparing for Santa than for Christ. And there are many multiple ways of preparing. Reading the scriptures is not the only way of being in the Word. But it is the seedbed. The scriptures are the authoritative way that God has chosen to speak to us. And here I go ranting again. Being open to the scriptures is just that important. Emotionally, I’m grabbing everyone I can by the lapels and shaking – these words are life. Its that important. Make time for it. Make sure your lamps have oil.

I ended the sermon with three questions. Three questions that a Bible literate loving people could chew on. I think these three questions might get to the core spiritual problem of today. I’ve got some personal answers to them, but they are dangerous and tough. And they require a people grounded on the truth of scripture.

1) What does it mean for how we should be living if the first time he came humble, but with righteousness the next time?
2) Where are we like the Galileans hailing the Galilean messiah today, going home and letting Jerusalem do to our messiah as it wills? [That is a question for laymen and women – because we clergy are probably the Jerusalem.]
3) How does a church forced out to the margins of society – forced to live from the Mount of Olives – respond like David – “weeping for the son who forced him out”?

Christ the King – one rule, not multiple


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Text: Luke 23:27-43

Christ the King is the last Sunday of the church year. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent or the church’s new year. The emphasis of Christ the King is the pretty simple – the ascended Christ is Lord of All – hidden now, revealed at times, revealed for all times on the last day. The lectionary specified the crucifixion reading from Luke, which is different. The Matthew (Year A) and Mark (Year B) readings are the sheep and the goats and the the lesson of the fig tree. Year C with Luke focuses on the thief on the cross. Do you see the world aligned with the priests, and soldiers and skeptical thief? Or do you see it from the position of the other thief? Is the cross just a scandalous death, or is it a coronation. Is the one on it, The King of the Jews?

If you side with the thief in paradise – it has all kinds of implications. The world today really wants us to separate ourselves into separate little fiefdoms – this is my private life, this is my public life, this is my work life, this is my life life, this is my financial life, and this is my spiritual life. And the world wants us to act differently in each – to act as if they are all disconnected, as if we could isolate things in one life from things in another. That path just leads to broken selves. Harry Potter’s Voldemort is a great example. He divides himself into multiple horcruxes. It allows him to go on living, but he misses the entire point of being human, in fact in that very act he gives up his humanity.

Instead, God made us Body and Spirit. He made us whole and wants us healed and restored. Restored under the one rule of Christ the King – coronated on a cross. If Christ is King over the heights of heaven and the depths of the pit, then there is nothing mundane or secular. Whether that is money or holiday celebrations or the clothes we wear, it has all been redeemed by the divine. And how we use it, how we live, reflects our king. Do we live as if we have split ourselves – barely human? Or do we live as if Jesus, true man also true God is one Christ – King?