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Showing posts from 2006

Musings on Death

While I was working on the sermon posted below, (not necessarily in relation to it though) I was thinking about a comparison between the experience of dying to the experience of being born. In the process of dying, people often endure great hardship and pain, perhaps even leading to confusion or uncertainty about what is happening to them or why. If we could see into the mind of an infant going through birth, I'd imagine we'd find their thoughts and experience to be quite similar. Both, are passing through narrow straits (figuratively and in reality). Yet for the Christian, passing through the narrow straits of death is the entrance to the broad and expansive freedom and bliss of heaven, in the presence of our Triune God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. The new joys of heaven will make the confusion of suffering seem like a distant memory, as must also be true of the birth of an infant, who passes from the narrow confines of the womb to a great and open new world. Yet unlik…

Sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost: 2 Cor. 4:5-12

I forgot to post this one last week, I gave a sermon on Father's Day. I love you Dad!
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In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. The sermon text is the epistle reading, 2 Cor. 4:5-12,

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death f…

Just to prove I'm still alive!

So it has been a really long time since I've posted anything on my blog, and for the handful of folks who still check it occasionally, I apologize--and I can't promise whether I'm going to continue it much :) ...but I did just post a new sermon I preached yesterday at my home church.

In case anyone is wondering what's been happening lately, the good news is that I've graduated from seminary, and received my call into the ministry as an associate pastor. I'm scheduled for ordination this Sunday, and am expecting to leave early July for my call...which is to Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Kahului, Hawaii! Yes, it's true! I am going to Maui for my first call. I'm actually going to be serving in a unique situation--initially I will be a teacher for the 6th-8th grade science and religion classes, so I'm going to have the greater portion of my duties as a full-time teacher to start out. I will also be helping the pastor on a part-time basis, probably 25% of …

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday: Acts 2:22-36

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen. The text for this Pentecost Sunday is the reading from Acts. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Today in the Church Year is Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection. Pentecost means “fiftieth,” and was originally an Old Testament festival. It was transformed into a Christian festival when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 12 disciples, and they spoke the Gospel in so many different languages. For the Old Testament Israelites, Pentecost was called the “Feast of Weeks” and was a harvest festival, where they offered the firstfruits of their grain harvest as offerings to God. Now, the 50th day after Jesus’ Resurrection, and 10 days after His ascension into heaven, the day of Pentecost would take on a whole new meaning. Instead of being a festival of harvest for grain, it would now become a harvest of souls! That day a large number of faithful Jews had gathered f…

Lenten Sermon Series

Our 4th Year Preaching Workshop Class got a rare opportunity this year for 7 of us to write sermons for a Lenten Sermon Series commemorating the 100th year since Dietrich Bonhoeffer's birth. The sermons are not about Bonhoeffer, but are intended to utilize a short reading or poem of his, written while in prison, to help formulate some ideas while preaching on a specific text of Scripture. I contributed the last in the series, the Good Friday sermon, based on a short piece Bonhoeffer wrote called "Outline for a book." My sermon, as well as those of my classmates can be read at the website for Goettinger Predigten a preaching resources website from the University of Goettingen in Germany. To find the sermons, click "current sermons" then on the right column click 2006 Lenten Sermon Series, then they are listed along the right side. It was an interesting opportunity for me, because up until know I have known little about Bonhoeffer beyond the basic story of his de…

Bonhoeffer Quotes

I recently came across two great little quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that really struck me:

"A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.”

and,

“One cannot understand and preach the gospel tangibly enough. A truly evangelical sermon must be like offering a child a red apple or a thirsty person a glass of cool water and asking, ‘Do you want it’ We should talk about matters of faith in such a manner that people would stretch out their hands for it faster than we can fill them”

SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!

For laughs, check this church advertisment out:
SUNDAY!

On Justification and Sanctification in Ethics: A response to "The Quest for Holiness"

(I meant to post this awhile ago...I highly recommend Koberle's book "The Quest for Holiness", but its very deep reading, esp. the first 50-60 pages).

Sanctification is the popular topic among Lutherans in America today, and perhaps rightly so. Lutherans are regularly criticized for having little to say about sanctification, and rarely emphasize it, especially in preaching. One theologian cynically remarked that the Lutheran existence consists of the Lutheran constantly muttering the mantra “I am justified by faith alone.” Others criticize Lutheran theology for being too antinomian, or that we just don’t teach about good works. While none of these accusations is novel, and were present in the time of the Reformation, their persistent reappearance makes it crucial that Lutherans decisively answer the question of how justification and sanctification are related, and what their role is in the ethical life. In other words, how does the interplay and distinction between justi…

A quote in Reply to postmodernism

"But it should give Christian theologians the necessary
candor to look their secularist opponent in the eye and confront
his arguments about rationality and intellectual honesty
head on: You are neither rational nor honest; on thecontrary, all
your important positions are dependent on theological points
of view which you have made it your raison de'tre to attack.
You think the world makes sense? It doesn't, if there is no God
to grant it. You build your argument on the idea that what you
say makes sense to another human being? Be careful, for you
may unwittingly have confirmed the idea that all human beings
are created in the image of God." --Knut Alfsvag

Sample Funeral Sermon

I've always loved the imagery Paul uses in 1 Cor. 15 relating to death and resurrection. For probably 6 years now I've wanted to write a funeral sermon on that text, and I finally had my chance in Preaching Workshop class here at seminary. We had to write a funeral sermon on a real or fictional person. And I knew all along which text I wanted to do. I chose a fictional character, so the sermon isn't actually for someone I know or who has died, but there are certainly real-life elements I tried to incorporate into it. Since I've dwelt on this text quite a bit for many years, it was really quite personal for me, and I greatly enjoyed writing this sermon.
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“A Gardener For Life”
1 Cor. 15:35-49
“Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
I.
To the end, Edith was a gardener. Anyone who knew her knew of her fondness for all sorts of green plants. At the end of every winter, as …

Losing Our Virtue: a Reaction

{{Here is a reaction paper I wrote for a theological ethics course, based on the book "Losing our Virtue: Why the Church must Regain its Moral Vision" by David F. Wells. }}

Perhaps no one needs to tell us that the moral fabric of North America has been unraveling for many years now. A plethora of Christian writers have bemoaned this fact, especially as Americans have more and more bought into the (nearly) ubiquitous post-modernism of this age. But the telling issue for the church as we face this moral decay, is how to bring about a recovery of our “moral vision” both in secular culture and in the church. David Wells takes up this issue with an insightful diagnosis of the post-modernism that inhabits our culture and is creeping into or already present in our churches. Precisely what challenges this moral climate presents for the church, and the implications this may hold for Lutheran ethical reflection, will be set forth here.

The root of the problem lies in the variety of a…

Sermon on Luke 2:21, New Year's Day

In the name of Jesus, Amen. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text is Luke 2:21, “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise Him, He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He had been conceived.”

A blessed New Year to you all! Even if you didn’t stay up for the countdown to midnight last night, you probably all remember the New Year’s Eve parties from years past—staying up late with friends and family to watch the countdown till the New Year began. When I was growing up our relatives the Lights would come over for New Year’s Eve, and we’d all watch the big ball in New York City on TV, and count down the seconds in eager expectation for the ball to drop. There’s always a certain joy and festivity that surrounds the long-expected beginning of a new year—a time to start afresh, to wipe the slate clean from the past year’s mistakes and begin again.

This New Year's Day we remember another gre…