Those first two points have unfortunately become a polarity in the church. Yet they go together. One grows out of the other. The life of faith finds its start and its proof in obedience to the Word. The text is the amazing catch of fish, but you never get to the catch if Peter is not obedient twice to the Word of Jesus. But both the faith and the mission rest on the experience of God. This sermon attempts to experience along with Peter that presence of God through obedience to the faith and the call to mission.
The text details a Sabbath Day for Jesus in Capernaum. It is a day full of demons and healing. And what it makes completely clear is that the cosmic battle has come to earth. Christ has come to make us holy. The confrontation in the Synagogue with the demon sets the conflict. The demon thinks that “us” is mankind and the demons. The Holy One of God has nothing to do with that us. But Jesus rejects the demon’s definition of “us”. To Jesus us is God and man, God with us. And Jesus intends to make us holy. And he does this by His word. The sermon examines the authority of that word and what it calls us to be and do.
The text is Jesus returning to Nazareth to preach in his home synagogue. His message in the first place is right in line with what they all hoped and expected. He announces that he is the messiah. He also describes what kind of messiah he is – one that is bringing the Year of Jubilee. That is on OT concept the sermon explains a bit. Jesus is our Jubilee. But his message in the second place is much tougher. So tough that the Synagogue of Nazareth, full of people who knew Jesus from childhood, wants to cast him over the cliff. The text says they are full of wrath as the words of Jesus. The contrast is Jubilee and wrath. And that is what is put before us. Which way shall we choose. God has given us the kingdom, and he’s given us the kingdom in times and ways he feels best. Do we live in wrath against God for any perceived slights, or do we join the Jubilee?
Preaching on John is always interesting. The wedding at Cana is one of those texts that you just can’t drain it all. 180 gallons of good wine will do that. This sermon has three movements. The first is doctrinal. The wedding at Cana reminds us how much God loves and blesses marriage. The second is personal. Mary is the picture of Faith. The interaction of Jesus and his mother is a picture of the test of faith. And what God gives through that test. The last movement is what the church used to call a spiritual or mystical reading. Why six stone jars, why water to brim, and what about the wine? This one goes in the keeper file.
Sorry for the delay in getting this uploaded. Busy weekend.
What this sermon encourages you to think about is a very Lutheran topic, the roll of faith in the sacraments. The sacraments, in this specific case Baptism, are the physical promises of God. They are a word made flesh if you will. They do what they promise. But to receive that promises for us requires faith. Faith in the promises and faith in the giver of the promise. That leads to the two edged nature of the sacraments that is so highlighted by Luther’s baptismal prayer. The flood destroyed the world, yet saved Noah and family. The Red Sea swept away hard-hearted pharaoh and all his host while Israel walked on dry ground. Baptism grants us forgiveness, new life and eternal life for those who believe. But for those who walk away, the condition is worse than before.
This sermon is a reworking of one given by Luther in 1523. I took from that one its main points and the general outline. But the flesh of it I had to rework for 2022. I did this because I felt the main point was both one that we rarely hear in churches today and that it needs to be heard. That main point is the reality of testing in the life of the believer and why God brings that into our lives. The biblical basis is Mary’s losing the young Jesus. The second point is where our consolation is found in the midst of testing. Mary searches for Jesus: in the group, among relatives and acquaintances, around Jerusalem before finally coming to the temple. They say that Luther was against allegory, but he could use it well while preaching. This sermon updates his examples for all the places we look for God before going to where he has promised to be.
Recording note: I’m not sure of the complete quality. You might occasionally hear a dropped first syllable, especially after a pause. I think it’s time to replace the mic batteries. That is what tends to happen when they are starting to go. It takes a syllable to recognize line volume again. I only heard a couple, so it doesn’t ruin the recording.
This is a stand alone sermon (most of mine are) but with John the Baptist at the center it is something of a pair with last week. It is a scene of taking stock. John’s in prison and going to lose his head. Has his work been at all meaningful? The one he said must increase doesn’t look exactly like what he was proclaiming the loudest. Jesus, are you sure what you are doing? Is the prophet and his prophetic words true? Does this grace that can be seen in this hour align with that word? How do grace and truth go together? They go together in the one Christ. Blessed is the one who is not scandalized by me.
It’s the first Sunday in Advent. The Gospel text is traditionally Palm Sunday – the triumphal entry, which is Jesus the King coming to Jerusalem. This sermon is based off of the Old Testament lesson from Jeremiah. Jeremiah is traditionally the prophet of doom and lamentation. But here he tells of fulfillment. God fulfills his promises. He fulfilled them to the heirs of Jacob. There was a greater fulfillment for Israel, a fulfillment we receive by faith. But behold, the days are coming when they will be fulfilled again. This sermon retells the covenants God has promised to his people.
What exactly is Reformation Day? It has been a lot of things. This sermon mentions a couple of them. But almost of of the alternates are corruptions of what it really was. Which is a recovery of the Apostle Paul. Which is a new birth of freedom in hearing the law and the gospel. It is not just the gospel, although that is the happy best part. It is also the law. The Reformation recovered that 200 proof cask of grace that Paul preached. Christ died for sinners and God’s righteousness is given to you as a gift. You have been made a member of God’s house by God’s choice. And that free gift also frees us to see the law for what it is. It is not a method of saving ourselves. But it is also no longer our writ of condemnation. Yes, we are sinners. But the righteousness of God does not come by the law, but by grace through faith. So we can accept the law as God’s good gift to us for our good. Reformation Day is about the law and the gospel, and how they Reform our hard hearts into hearts of flesh.
The Gospel text assigned for today is the second half of a pair that occurs in all the Synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark and Luke). The first part is the transfiguration, when Peter, James and John are taken up the mountain and see Jesus transfigured in glory. The second part is this story of arguments, crowds, fathers, sons and evil. It is a story of the confusion that reigns here on the plain, here at the bottom of the mount. And since they are always juxtaposed the text invites us to ponder, what is the difference between the mountaintop experience and life down below. The big difference is the role of faith. The mountaintop is not about faith, because you see. You might have trouble comprehending what you see. Integrating what you see might be tough. But you don’t have to have faith in it. Life on the plain is about faith. This sermon ponders that difference and the meaning of a prayer, “I believe, help my unbelief”, and prayer in general (“This kind only comes out by prayer”) in the life of faith lived here on the plain.