Tag Archives: suffering

The Moral Calculus

Text: John 9:1-41
Full Sermon Draft

The question of suffering is one of the constant ones of modernity. The curmudgeon in me wants to draw a graph showing interest is the problem of suffering going straight up over time and actual suffering has gone down over the same time, but a smart person once told me that “yes, suffering may be comparatively less, but it is still mine.”

The disciples ask a question that is full of assumptions about how God and the moral calculus works. Jesus’ answer bears directly on suffering, and gets to the heart of the gospel. The moral calculus doesn’t balance. At least not how we think. This sermon attempts to examine that fact in the light of Jesus who says “I am the light of the World”.

I’m not going to add more other than say give it a listen.
Worship note: I left out the hymns primarily because the sermon and Gospel lesson are longer than normal and I try to keep the total recording time around 25 mins or less.

He Preached the Good News…

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Biblical Text: Luke 3:15-22
Full Sermon Draft

The day on the Church calendar was the Baptism of Christ and the text recognizes that. I think in the sermon there is recognition of baptism. If not, all the hymns of the day picked up on it as their connecting theme. But as I was preparing the sermon verse 18 (“So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people”) combined with a comment by Origin (2nd Century Teacher quoted in the sermon) made me look at John the Baptist himself. What was the gospel, the good news, that John preached?

As he would say, “Christ must increase, I must decrease”, so as a preacher the core of that Good News was simply the bridegroom has come – Jesus. That is the core of any preaching. But John’s good news, just from this brief snippet (Luke 3:1-22), is expansive. And Luke’s version of John has a striking and touching emphasis. After pointing out the bridegroom – the kinsman redeemer of Israel, John preaches against a false in everyway redeemer, Herod. Jesus & Israel are the bridegroom and sanctified bride. Herod and Herodias are the mocking of that redemption. John calls him out, and pays with his freedom and life. John’s preaching of good news, includes the role of suffering.

I didn’t make the connection in the sermon because the sermon itself is more breadth than depth. Pulling together all the threads of levirate marriage that this text relies on would have been explaining too much for a sermon. Better suited for a study. But marriage as the symbol of what God does for his people, and the mocking of marriage made by the state, and John’s suffering caused by that confrontation, seems applicable.

Recording Note: I have left in our opening hymn Lutheran Service Book 405 To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord. The congregation sounded great, and that hymn really captures the core message of the festival – “This man is Christ our substitute!” Also, they sang it post the OT reading, but I’ve moved it after the sermon here. These recordings can’t really capture the full service. We don’t really have the recording equipment for that, so the focus is really on the spoken parts (i.e. texts and sermon). But, I included our Choir singing a wonderful Epiphany piece. I included such things as markers to the full live experience. Worship really is about being there.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Psalm 61, John 11:1-16

Psalm 61
John 11:1-16
The strangeness of the acts of God
Suffering and Participation in the life of Christ

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 5:1 – 6:1 and Mark 15:33-47

Exodus 5:1-6:1

Mark 15:33-47

Bricks without straw, Building Up Confrontation so that there is no doubt that The LORD does this, The cross placed before every eye

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 4:1-18 and Mark 15:1-15

Exodus 4:1-18
Mark 15:1-15
“Playing with the Big Boys Now”, Fear, Suffering, Man’s justice vs. God’s
Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted – Lutheran Service Book 451

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 31:1-12, 33-40 and John 9:24-41

Job 31:1-12, 33-44
John 9:24-41
A glorious exchange

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 30:16-31 and John 9:1-23

Job 30:16-31
John 9:1-23
“So that the work of God might be revealed”

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 21:1-21, 34 and John 8:39-59

Job 21:1-21, 34
John 8:39-59
Quick rundown of Job 21-30, How our trite answers just comfort us and not who they are supposed to comfort, do we really want to hear the Word of God, chasing God out of the temple

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 20:1-23,29 and John 8:21-38

Job 20:1-23,29
John 8:21-38
A quick recap of Job’s three friend’s positions, How people react to suffering, Jesus as the Word, Revelation or the Word is a prerequisite of truth

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job17:1-16 and John 7:14-31

Job 17:1-16
John 7:14-31
The Hope that Lives in Us, Appearances can be deceiving