Tag Archives: mission

Swords and Due Rewards

Biblical Text: Matthew 10:34-42
Full Sermon Draft

This is the completion of the reading of the Jesus’ missionary discourse or sermon on mission. The sermon is full of striking images, but this section has one of the most striking. “Don’t think I have come to bring peace, but a sword.” If the first part was about the inception of mission, the middle portion was about encouragement during mission, this last portion is about the results that can be expected. One of those expectation is the division of the cross. But the other expectation is the ultimate success of the mission. The preaching, teaching and ministry of the cross may bring a sword, but it also ensures due rewards through the work of the Body of Christ.

Worship note: I left in a song that we sang as a congregation for the first time. LSB 661, The Son of God Goes Forth to War. I’m have not in the past been a big fan of they hymns with martial images. That is not because the church militant is not a worthy theme, but I think even the hymnody that uses it often abuses it. Instead of aiming the martial spirit at what Jesus would – sin, the life of holiness – it become a triumphal “yea, us.” But in the context of the missionary discourse and the body of Christ this hymn sets it right. The invasion that started and was won by Jesus on the cross, continues from age to age in the church. Who will follow in their train the hymns asks? Those gathered singing – the prophets, the righteous and the little ones.

Flayed and Cast Away

Biblical Text: Matthew 9:35-10:8
Full Sermon Draft

Did I ever tell you how wimpy I think our modern translators are? By wimpy I largely mean they are representatives of their class and training. If the choice is between a gritty word and a noble concept, they reach for the noble concept every time. The example today is Matthew 9:36 in the ESV – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” My pushing it translation that I think gets more at what is going on – “When he saw the crowds, his guts were churned for them, because the were flayed and cast away, like sheep without a shepherd.” The point is that the devil, the world and our own sinful nature bleed us dry and throw out the dead bones. We are helpless in the face of these enemies. But that is what Jesus came to change. That is what the Holy Spirit’s indwelling changes. That is what the Father’s compassion changes, sending workers into his fields.

The gospel always comes freely. The question is once we have been freed, are we willing to freely give? Do we accept that our names are written in that lamb’s book right along with those twelve apostles. That Jesus’ mission, their mission, has become our mission.

Worship Note: I left in our opening hymn which I think is one of the few hymns that an update has improved. We sing typically LSB 827, Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling, which is a Starke re-write of the last three verses. He replaces what could often be a moralistic scold toward missions with a moving meditation on some of the parables of our response to the call. It always gets me.

Shoebox Week

We have in the past packed shoeboxes. It has been a congregational mission running up to Advent, but it was distributed. We provided boxes and info and delivery, but asked individuals to pack their own box. One of our members in the pictures below had done this with her mother. They had been trying to double the number of boxes they did each year and when her mother passed away it became something of a memorial. But now she was looking to double from 18 to 36. The individual approach wouldn’t work so well. She engaged the women’s group and they took it on as a mission. Those in the congregation could still pack their own, but we also asked started to ask for specific items, like 36 toothbrushes and 6 dyno-trucks (for the mid-boys) and baby-dolls for the girls. Also soccer balls (deflated w/pump) for the older kids. If you couldn’t pack your own, some of these smaller items were within reach. A big help from Thrivent action grants as well. A Thrivent T-shirt is in each of those bags. Maybe not the advertisement they were thinking of, but good. Last night they packed all those boxes. Plus it looks like we will get roughly a dozen pack your own. Margaret met her goal. (No idea how we meet next year.) And I have to add that we met a personal goal that I had. When I started encouraging this I had hopes that we would reach a total number of boxes equal to every family in the congregation. With this year it looks like we will have done that. And with how it was collected, I think we got much deeper participation than we ever could have each alone. A beautiful example of “Life Together”.

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Peace, Healing & The Reign

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Biblical Text: Luke 10:1-20
Full Sermon Draft

Program Note: I’m sorry about possible recording quality. I’ve been having a little trouble with the line volume. I think the pulpit mic might be going out, so the altar mic is doing all the recording except for occasional pops. I’ve amplified and leveled the signal such that I think its okay. The altar mic is a real good one and the system isn’t bad, but I’ve got some wire work to do.

The text for the day is often appropriated for mission Sundays, and it can work that way. Biblical texts are multivalent in that there are often multiple appropriate understandings of them. But I don’t think that the sending of the seventy-two is primarily about lay evangelism. Using it to preach that people in the pews should be ready and able to share their faith misses a distinction. That is better preached from something like 1 Peter 3:15. The distinction which is missed using it for that is that the 72 are the new elders of Israel. There are traditions that don’t have an ordained ministry, but the apostolic church, following Jesus here, did set aside those called – think Stephen and the Seven deacons and Timothy and Titus and those Paul sent Titus to appoint and lay on hands. When the apostles did that they were following Jesus here.

What Jesus does here is give the charter for that office. When that office is functioning within bounds as intended what does it do? It preaches peace. It seeks to heal those of the house. It proclaims the reign of God. What this sermon does is attempt to do that while providing examples.

Music Note: I have left in two of the hymns. Our opening hymn Faith and Truth and Life Bestowing (LSB 584) is a wonderful prayer for the opening of service that mirrors Jesus’ words to pray to the Lord of the Harvest. The hymn of the day has a wonderful message, but I left it in primarily because of the tune – We Are Called to Stand Together (LSB 828). Both of them are newer hymns the texts written by people living at the time of hymnal publication (2006) and the tunes as well, although Holy Manna is a new setting of an older hymn tune. The text of We are called mirrors the progression of the sermon moving from Patriarch, Prophets and Apostles through ages to us. The urge is to continue in each generation to proclaim the truth, that the reign of God has come near to you with His peace. That time will end, when we will all be united, but till then we tell the story.

Knights Errant

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Biblical Text: Acts 1:1-11, Luke 24:44-53
Full Sermon Text

We observed Ascension Day yesterday. The core teaching of Ascension day is right in the creed. He sits at the right hand of god. Christ reigns. Simple teaching, plenty of proofs throughout history. But there are two standing complaints, both express right away by the disciples. THis sermon looks at both of those complaints. It suggest a reasoning, part of it is where the title comes from. God does not desire courtiers, but Knights of Faith. It ends with a comparison of everything that we might find “more real” than an ascended king with a challenge to compare their realities. When you do that, you’ve answered the second complaint.

The final hymn in our worship I think captures the message of Ascension Day perfectly. LSB 830 Spread the Reign of GOd the Lord. It is also paired with a pretty tuned that I’ve been humming for the last day.

Kingdom Memory, Kingdom Walk

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Biblical Text: Mark 9:38-50
Full Sermon Draft

The Gospel of Mark, per the early church, is the memories/sermons/stories of Peter written down around the time of his death. And I tend to think at the close of sections, like today’s text, you can see just the way memory works. The big story about a point is told, but there are a bunch of smaller sayings and stories that rush into the mind afterward. Those other stories and sayings are important, you can’t imagine the full story without them, but they are footnotes or modifiers on the larger points. After being put in their place about status positions this text modifies just how disciples are to walk with each other. The main modification is an acceptance that the Kingdom is something larger that one tribe or expression of it. But that modifier deserves a second, a don’t let your brains fall out. While you can find joy in an expression of the Kingdom that isn’t yours, the church still has boundaries. Those boundaries involve sin and truth. The church is a community of truth and as such is calls out sin. It doesn’t just accept it as a different expression of church. And the teachers of the church have a scary role in that that could end in millstones and deep water.

The sermon attempts to have an artistic flair. Parts of a one man show, the remembrances of Peter. And those remembrances are brought forward in application to our situation. I’ve succeeded if you’ve heard the voice of the Apostle.

Music Note. I left in the recording our hymn of the day which is in my top 5 hymns. My guess is that you wouldn’t here this one in many churches and definitely not in the local mega-church. Mainly because it is a little slow do develop and has a strong poetic structure. The first three verses get darker before the last three speak of our reality in God. It fit with my understanding of these verses. Yes, we will all be salted with fire, but that is as the living sacrifices. We walk toward truth and peace which is with Jesus and heavenward all the way. Even in the midst of trial. I Walk in Danger All the Way, Lutheran Service Book 716.

Can I Get a Witness?

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Text: Acts 1:1-11, John 17:11-19
Draft of Homily

On the Sunday we celebrated Ascension Day (actual Ascension Day was Thursday) we had a mission Sunday. This seems fitting because the last words of Jesus at His Ascension were that we, his disciples, would be His witnesses. We would also be clothed with power from on high, the promise of the Holy Spirit fulfilled 10 short days later on Pentecost. For this reason we invited Scarlett Aeckerle, the executive director of LINC-Rochester which is the local Lutheran mission society for the city of Rochester, to come speak. So, my little homily served a couple of purposes. The first was a mission charge. Don’t fall in the ditch of being mute or the opposite ditch of distorting the witness of the sake of “effectiveness”. The power is the Spirit’s. We get to take part. The second was to introduce Scarlett. So, you’ll hear me and then Scarlett.

Scarlett brought visuals, so at the end she moves away from the mike. I’ve amplified it in line with the rest and think it sounds ok, but if the background sounds a little louder, that is why.

Judgement By Works?

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Biblical Text: Matthew 25:31-46
Full Sermon Draft

The last judgement text can give a Lutheran heartburn, primarily because it inspires the question in the title.

What this sermon does is attempt to put the last judgement within its context in Matthew. It seeks to stay within two guard rails in interpretation: being willing to say ‘I don’t know’ and letting the text tell us what it means. There are two important questions that this is applied to. 1) Who are all the nations? 2) Who are the brothers Jesus references? These two questions form two halves of an answer. They also help I think to answer that title question, or at least lessen its force. The sermon ends with three short applications for our life together.

If we are willing to narrow the scope of the what those phrases mean – which I believe is correct based on the Gospel text itself – we get both a more humble eschatology, a text that is encouragement instead of judgement, and a greater emphasis on faith and church life.

A Hard Man or the Icon of Love?

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Biblical Text: Matthew 25:14-30
Full Draft of Sermon

The response of the slave who was given 1 talent is remarkably relevant. He ends up saying three things.
1) He knows his master to be a hard man
2) The master will reap where he doesn’t sow
3) The master will gather where he doesn’t scatter

This sermon hazards an interpretation of those three things for our day. The first is a claim to know God. The second and third involve the claims of universalism, not my job and not enough given to accomplish.

The gospel response to all of these is “You know this, do you?” Jesus is the revealed God that we do know and instead of being a hard man he is the icon of love. He does sow abundantly through Word and Sacrament. And part of how He does that is scattering his people in the midst of the world.

Instead of the false beliefs that so much of today’s church is involved in, we would be better to recognize the gifts that have been given to us and get about the job we have been invited to join. That job isn’t always easy. It is a call to the cross. But Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. Likewise we have the joy set before us.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 34:29-35:21 and Luke 7:36-50

Exodus 34:29-35:21
Luke 7:36-50
A stewardship lesson, social pressure, the practical thing vs. the gospel thing, staying on mission