You become what you love. We either love God, and with loving God love the truth and love our neighbor; or we have something else we love. And whatever else that something is, it isn’t enough, not to be the primary love that forms our souls. The biblical text is Jesus’ encounter with what is typically called the rich young ruler. The man – the individual soul – knows something is wrong. He is actually quite sharp, sharper than we tend to be these days. This sermon meditates upon this encounter of love, and what questions our souls should be asking? Into what are we forming our eternal life?
The text is one of the “Markan Sandwiches” – an outside story interrupted by an inside story. That gives us a chance to reflect on things exterior and things interior. In the biblical text the the outside and the inside stories interact and intensify each other. They are told in this way because we are meant to understand them together. Likewise our internal and external selves. The first reflection this sermon delves into is the contrasts between Jesus and the Crowds in the external story in regards to hope. Internally it is the difference between hope and despair, externally it is the difference between the acts of horror and serenity. The second reflection contrasts the woman and the disciples in the internal story in regards to cost. What is the cost of this hope? There are only two answers. Give the sermon a listen to hear.
The Sunday is Trinity Sunday, which is the final “Festival” in the Festival half of the church year. It is set aside to meditate on the Truth that captured the imagination of the first six centuries of the church – The Trinity. Part of that in the Lutheran church is the confession of the Athanasian Creed. (In the recording responsively.) But the texts for the day are rich is so many ways. This sermon does something I don’t do that often, it layers the Old Testament lesson in with the Gospel. And I did this because the story of Uzziah, mentioned in Isaiah’s call, and the story of Nicodemus layer so beautifully. They are stories of incense and pride. They are stories of desiring to see God in His essence, and missing God in what He has done. The year Uzziah dies, is the year we can see God. This sermon helps us see that.
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.
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.
I’m sorry for our technical difficulties for any who attempted to stream the service. After checking things out I don’t think it was on this end. Changing nothing, it all worked about 2 PM. I usually don’t post funeral services because they feel like a close private thing, which the internet is not. But, due to the troubles earlier, I’ve edited and put together the lessons and sermon from Gene’s service.
It is the first Sunday in Advent, and when I was planning my preaching for the season I looked and saw three texts from Isaiah in a row, and I felt the need to preach a little on the Old Testament. The sermon elaborates a little bit, but this text is from “third Isaiah”. For someone like me who sees no reason to reject the received tradition – that Isaiah the prophet saw foresaw – third Isaiah is simply the portion of Isaiah addressed to those who have returned from exile, what we would call the intertestamental period. And this particular text is one that resonates deeply.
Oh that the Lord would come down. It is Isaiah working out his desire for signs and wonders that would rescue his people. And debating with God, and with himself, if that is possible. Which of course it is, but first the Lord must come down in grace. The power teaches us to fear, but if we are wise we know to fear. It is the grace which moves to abiding love.
Recording Note: We had a snafu on recording live, so this recording is an after the fact re-recording. Lessons and sermon only.
The text is the parable of the talents. And we often get lost in pondering the talents themselves. So much so that the word, which originally was just a measure of weight of precious metal, now means abilities. That gives us an insight into how this parable has shaped in influenced our very language.
But the parable really is not primarily about our actions, but about our beliefs that drive those actions. It wants us to ask what do we believe about our master, Jesus. Do we live in the grace and love of God such that we immediately try to do his will, working the talents? Or do we think he is “hard” and merciless? It is a parable that tells us about God and holds a mirror up to our heart’s understanding of God. Will we have such a Lord as Christ?
This is the close of the parable sermon. And I’ve got a little bone to pick with how these are typically preached. They are typically preached as law. Now the law is good. Seeing Christ as the treasure encourages a fine piety, and piety is a good thing. But it is also something that ultimately fails. No, the person doing the action in the parables is almost always Jesus. Who is the treasure? Who is the pearl of great price? It is you. Christ sold everything he had to redeem you. The rest of the sermon teases out some of the implication.
The Sunday after Pentecost is always set aside as Trinity Sunday. And the key piece of Trinity Sunday worship is the Athanasian Creed. Creeds can unfortunately be turned into dead letters. Something read or looked at, but not pondered within one’s heart. Not a symbol of a living faith. When they are dead letters they turn into checklists of mental assent or legalisms or even worse esotericism. What this sermon attempts to do is show them as invitations. “This is the catholic faith”. When you hear/say them as that, they become deadly practical. They help us remember what this sermon attempts to bring back.
Note: Here is the “funny” that the sermon starts off describing.