The core assertion in the text is that you did not choose Christ, but Christ chose you. And there are three things that flow from that election: joy, love and friendship. Joy in that we have been given both the victory and a vocation. Love in that we are to emulate Christ’s love for us toward our neighbor. And friendship in that we have been invited into a deep union with God. We are no not slaves of the law, but we are friends in the gospel. We have been made children of the royal household who do not need to seek an audience with the law giver, but merely need to ask our dear Father.
Why does faith feel attenuated or faint today? What is different today than even say 100 years ago? It is a question that I find myself asking over and over. And I think that that answer is what we refuse to take seriously. We will take faith itself seriously, sometimes so seriously it is just “the big lie” or maybe the necessary lie. We take works deadly seriously. Well maybe not Christians as much catechized on grace, but the world right now is all about justice which is nothing if not a demand for good works. But what we do not take seriously, as something worthy of contemplation in itself, in Himself, is God. The ground of all faith and works, the precursor to these things, is God. We are invited to abide in Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches. That is not an image of faith, but of union. And we feel that ache of desire without understanding what it is pointing at. We always get turned inward which finds nothing when the object of desire is outside of us.
This sermon attempts to us John’s Good Shepherd passage as an icon, an image through which we can see reality. The reality in this case is who the Good Shepherd is which is pictured clearly. It also includes the images of others on the Spiritual field – wolves and hired hands. It is in the comparison that the full goodness of the Shepherd is clear.
The third Sunday after Easter is usually the resurrection account from Luke. Everybody’s favorite is the road to Emmaus. It has that air of mystery that tickles. But in year B you get Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after that. This appearance mirrors the 2nd Sunday’s account from John. Jesus appears and show the disciples his hands and feet. And while faith is always a point, Luke’s emphasis is on the peace of Christ and how we can be sure of it. What starts with the mystery of the road to Emmaus is explained by Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God. God desires us to know his peace which is distinct from that offered by Satan in that God is always revealing more of himself. This sermon looks at that revelation in the resurrection light.
Within the larger Thomas story is one of the the seed beds of Christian Doctrine. There are three places in scripture where Jesus gives to certain people the authority to bind and to loose sins. And it is really all three of them working together that gives us the full picture of God’s “superabundant grace and goodness.” This sermon starts from the seat in this text and preaches the forgiveness of sins specifically understood through the Office of the Keys and the Pastoral Office. With special attention paid to God’s both/and when we often desire an either/or.
This Easter Day sermon picks up from the Good Friday one. One of Good Friday’s ponderings was on the Cry of Dereliction – “My God, Why have you forsaken me?” We probably all hear that in a certain way. This sermon attempts to point out the history of why we do, and why that history is wrong. Easter is the answer to the challenge of that cry. Easter is the eschatological inbreaking of the Kingdom, the first day of the new creation. This sermon proclaims what that means and what it asks of us.
The recording is of the full tenebrae service. The sermon is by parts between the readings. The theme would be the dual apocalypse or revelation of the cross. The first is what the passion says about us, the second is what it says about God. And the day ends with the challenge, waiting for the Day of the Lord.
Maundy Thursday is the night of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The celebration of the Supper is, if not the central focus, one of only two in Christian Worship. Christian worship has since its beginning been divided into Word and Sacrament. The Word portion typically includes lessons and the sermon, but it can include things like the confessional address here which leads into corporate confession and absolution. The Word is where were hear both the teaching and the proclamation. The Word invites us to the sacrament, where God gives us himself. This particular sermon focuses on two pictures in the text. First, two unnamed characters that are necessary to prepare the meal, and second the table itself and what it tells us about this meal. How we are invited to be free members of the household of God. And the responsibilities of freedom.
As my daughter said this morning “Palm Sunday has the best hymns”. I’ve left a goodly amount of them in the recording. But this morning’s service is also “Passion Sunday” and it contains a full reading of the Passion account from the Gospel of Mark. If you have never simply listened to it read aloud, here it is. The sermon is based on the first part of the that reading, the anointing of Jesus by a woman at Simon’s place. Jesus calls he actions a “beautiful work” and promises that is will be part of the gospel proclamation forever. The foil in this scene if Judas. The sermon examines the conflicts brought to the service between the woman’s beautiful act and Judas’ reaction. And then it meditates on how Jesus’ words “you will not always have me” might motivate our own beautiful works under the cross. It was a very good morning. Blessings on your Holy Week.
The text is Jeremiah’s invoking of a new covenant. The sermon attempts to think about what we are talking about when we say the word covenant. What a covenant is is the Hebrew answer to the question: “How does God interact with man?” There are a bunch of other answer to that question. The sermon starts out cataloging some of them and how they came about. But the Hebrew answer is unique. And the Christian answer is the Hebrew answer.
The trouble that Jeremiah is experiencing is similar I think to what we might be experiencing today. Just how good does the answer of the covenant fit with how we experience God? A big part of the word covenant is simply a way that God binds himself. If the covenants appear to be failing, as they could appear to Jeremiah, in what way is the God who bound himself actually God? Jeremiah’s prophecy is “the new covenant”, not a breaking of the old ones, but their fulfillment. And that fulfillment is in Jesus Christ. Christ has always been the fulfillment, but in the new covenant we have the greater revelation written on our hearts. It is no longer blood on the external posts and lintels, but blood taken in. The fulfillment is no longer an external obedience, but the obedience of the heart through faith.