Posts

Showing posts from June, 2009

Easy Does It??

For most Christians who are grounded in the Biblical theology confessed in the Reformation, we have a distinct awareness that we are incapable of properly keeping God’s Law. Rather than taking a view of God’s Law that it is partly achievable, or that we can in some way satisfy its demands to God’s pleasure, if we only try hard enough—we acknowledge that we utterly fail to keep His Holy Law. Rather than water-down the demands of the law to make it a low-enough-hurdle so that we can jump it—we acknowledge that the demands of God’s Law are far beyond our reach. Lutherans and other Reformation-minded Christians are accustomed to hearing this preached. When we hear Jesus say, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), we know this is unachievable by human effort. When we hear Paul write that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), or “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone…

Sermon on 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15, for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost. "Growing in the Grace of Giving"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today’s text from 2 Corinthians 8 might surprise us with how Divine Arithmetic works. We might be surprised at how things add up when God is involved. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about the grace of giving; about charity. And he shows a positive example in the Macedonian church. But what’s surprising is the kind of Divine Arithmetic that was at work among the Macedonians. This is the equation that Paul describes in Macedonia: Severe affliction + abundance of joy + extreme poverty = believers overflowing with a wealth of generosity. How does it all add up? Today we’ll see how God helps us to grow in the grace of giving. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Certainly severe affliction combined with extreme poverty should add up to little or no giving at all! Since when does extreme poverty produce a “wealth of generosity?” Perhaps now is a partic…

Sermon on Isaiah 6:1-8, for Trinity Sunday, "Encountering God"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. On this Trinity Sunday, it may seem odd to talk about an encounter with the Triune God from an Old Testament passage. Isn’t the Trinity only a New Testament teaching? Not exactly. Of course the Three persons in One God are most clearly named and described in the New Testament, at Jesus’ baptism (Mt. 3) or at His commissioning of the disciples to baptize in the “Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28). But the reality of God in three persons, blessed Trinity (LSB 507), is just as true in the Old Testament. Less obvious? Yes. The three-fold “Holy, Holy, Holy” addressed to the Lord God, already hints at His Triune nature. When He asks Isaiah whom He will send, He says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” The Triune God speaks of Himself in the plural, “us,” just as He did at creation: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). So the Triune God Isaiah encoun…

Sermon on John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 for Pentecost, "Concerning Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today on Pentecost Sunday we remember the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the apostles as they went forward with the mission to go and testify about Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Since the readings all focus on the Holy Spirit, we’ll look at what Christian spirituality is. What genuine spirituality for the Christian is, and what the work of the Holy Spirit is, and how Christ and the cross stand at the center of true spirituality. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

While religious belief isn’t “in vogue” today, the generic idea of spirituality is. As author Gene Veith describes in his book, “The Spirituality of the Cross,” people today say they aren’t interested in doctrines, creeds, or institutions, but they are very interested in “spirituality.” “They are in the market for something that will give them a pleasant my…