Tag Archives: Kingdom of Heaven

In The Zone

Text: Matthew 5:1-12
Full Sermon Draft

The Beatitudes (Blessed are the poor in spirit, etc.) are the poetic introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. In Epiphany, the liturgical season given to coming to know who Jesus is, that sermon is assigned reading over five weeks. I won’t call it a sermon series for a couple of reasons, mostly because that phase annoys me, but also because I’d be worried by week 5 that even my regulars would be ditching services. More seriously, the sermons will be connected because the text is naturally connected, but it isn’t a forced connection.

So this sermon attempts to do three things:
1) Re-introduce into our imaginations the “Blessed are…” statements. We hear them, but they don’t engage the imagination as to what they actually mean because “blessed are…” is both too well known and too little understood. We’ve been inoculated to it. I want us to be infected with the Kingdom that Jesus is preaching.
2) Hear the gospel in these statements and not just a list of “well, I gotta do that.” Part of prodding the imagination is seeing a world where I would freely choose what Jesus describes.
3) Start laying the ground work for the connecting theme of compulsion vs. freedom.

Worship note: You can hear our recently growing choir in a couple of spots. This was a 5th Sunday where our choir supports the liturgy. I didn’t include the Chanted Intoit, but you can catch the gradual and the verse in the midst of the Alleluias. I have left in our closing hymn, LSB 690, Hope of the World. We sang stanzas 1-4. The tune is the workable EIRENE which grows on you once you grasp its internal stress and direction. The text is an deep contemplation not on the simple hope of a Deus ex Machina, but of the hope of becoming fully human in Christ.

Who is the Treasure? – Parables of Deliverance

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Biblical Text: Matthew 13:44-52
Full Sermon Text

This sermon attempts to tie together the study of the parables in Matthew 13. The parable of the sower (two weeks ago) serves as the key to understanding. It brings up the problem – the kingdom of Heaven meets opposition – and answers why – our great enemies of the devil, the world and our flesh. The middle three parables (last week) point out what the Kingdom of Heaven will look like from Jesus to the end of the age as it engages those three. Compared to our expectations, this is often troublesome as the wheat and weeds forms the paradigm. The trouble is not wished away but we struggle against it. These things might look insurmountable. But that is the where the final three parables, today’s text enter. A man finds a treasure and sells all he has so that he might have it. That man is the Son of Man, Jesus, and the treasure is His peculiar treasure – you. Christ has defeated our great enemies and will surely deliver us.

Babels and Beasts

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Biblical Text: Matthew 13:24-43
Full Sermon Draft

We continue this week with the parables in Matthew 13. The parable of the sower with its focus on individuals soils is more applicable on a personal level. The parable of the weeds and with it the parable of the leaven care less about individual reception of the gospel but are aimed more toward the various situations that the people of God might find themselves. The leaven is hid in the midst of a very large amount of flour. The wheat and the weeds grow together. The people of God find themselves in a wide variety of fields in the world.

The title points toward Peter Leithart’s taxonomy of the kingdoms of this world: guardians, babels and beasts. The sermon attempts two things: 1) a warning to the people of God used to a guardian what it means to live in babel and 2) a refocus on the core hope – the resurrection – that unites the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom might look small and weak, but that is how God has chosen to act, and the reign of heaven even small instills hope.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 17:1-16 and Hebrews 11:1-29

Exodus 17:1-16
Hebrews 11:1-29
Not by our strength, The Victory comes from God by Faith
Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling – Lutheran Service Book 826/827

Ugh, sorry about the quality (Audacity switched microphones on me and I didn’t notice). If I get 10 mins I re-record later, if not, I’m sorry.

The Reign of God has Drawn Near to You

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Biblical Text: Matthew 3:1-12
Full Sermon Draft

I attempted something in this sermon through a couple of methods that I think most people would say don’t. John the Baptist is an enigmatic figure. He was a huge deal to those in Jesus’ time. The whole “there is not one greater born of woman” phrase that Jesus employs. John had disciples that lasted long in to the first century. The apostles in Acts run into them as “ones who’ve had the baptism of John” but didn’t know about Jesus. Even in secular literature John gets more time. Josephus records the extent of the Baptist’s following which was enough to cause Herod to come after him. But in our day and for most of Christian history John is just an almost forgotten per-cursor. He would have liked that. “He must become greater, I must become less.” But preaching from John to me has renewed vitality. My intention was to create the picture of how we and those people streaming out to John are very close, probably closer than we have been for at least 500 years if not 2000. Want to hear more of that take a listen.

The pay-off is that the proclamation of John can be the direct proclamation to the people of God today. Not that it couldn’t have been 50 or 100 years ago, but I think, if I was successful with the first part, then the second part becomes one of those “ah-ha” type experiences. That is what was so powerful, combined with oh, and it applies to me in some very specific way.

So, my guess is this either “works” or you wonder what the heck I’m talking about. Either I was successful in casting “in those days” over today, or the proclamation falls on deaf ears.