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Showing posts from March, 2010

Sermon on Luke 23, for Palm Sunday. "Presumed Innocent!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Our sermon text is Luke 23, the narrative of Jesus’ passion, but I want to re-read one section from verse 39-43:

39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

This scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, where two criminals hung together with Jesus, are discussing His punishment and guilt or innocence, reminds me of a scene from a movie where an innocent man goes to prison for a crime that he…

Sermon on 1 Peter 4:1-6, Lent 6, "I need this...and this...and this..."

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Last week we talked about how people react to evil in the world, and doubt God’s existence. We talked about how Christ crucified rescues us from the darkness of our sins, and how the caring community that we are in Christ helps us to share our burdens and encourage one another. Today I invite you to reflect on how we thirst in this world, and how that thirst often goes unquenched. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

“I thirst.” Continuing our Lenten meditations, we come to these words of Jesus from the cross. “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of a hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips” (John 19:28-29). Hearing these words, you can imagine how this sermon might begin. Perhaps a li…

Sermon on Luke 20:9-20, for the 5th Sunday in Lent, "Costly Grace"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The parable that Jesus tells today goes by various names: the parable of the vineyard, the parable of the wicked tenants or vinedressers, or as one author suggests: the parable of the noble vineyard owner and his son. However it’s named, the parable is one that speaks a shocking case of rejection, and the even more astonishing response to that rejection. Jesus told this parable shortly after His Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem. This was followed soon after with His own rejection by the chief priests and scribes, who were infuriated by His cleansing of the temple and the authority of His teaching. Today we’ll see what His parable told of rejection and also of the mercy and long-suffering of God. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

When Jesus spoke this parable, He was borrowing language from Isaiah chapter 5, a “love song” about a vineyard. The viney…

Sermon on 1 Peter 1:6-9, for Lent 5, "I can't believe in a God who would..."

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Last week we talked about how we are called to be a caring community in Christ, and not isolated from one another. This week I invite you to reflect on how as a community in Christ we face the difficulties and tragedies in life that would tempt us to despair, rather than to hope. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The word ‘abyss’ describes a bottomless pit—a hole of enveloping darkness. A fitting word to describe the yawning darkness that swallowed Jesus on the day of His crucifixion and death. He hung on the cross, like a slender strand of rope suspending the great weight of humanity’s sins, a rope hanging down from heaven. He was our slender strand of hope, the last connection from earth to heaven, and our sins were an impossibly heavy burden, straining, pulling, dragging Him down into the abyss. Shrill cries of mockery dared Him to come off the …

Sermon on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32; for the 4th Sunday in Lent, "Embrace for the Lost"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The story of the prodigal or lost son is probably one of the most familiar parables Jesus taught. A son rejects his living father as dead, wants to cash out his inheritance now, and run off with the money to party and live life to the fullest. The parable is about that ever-so-difficult homecoming when the lost son returned broken and empty-handed to beg for food and a place to stay from the father he’d disowned. Today we’ll consider how the father and the older brother each reacted. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The lost son was lost when he squandered all his father’s inheritance in wild living. Then he returned to his home and to his father, but when he arrives, in another way he’s still lost. He doesn’t know his own father. So he comes on the grounds of his own merits. But he realizes that he’s shot any merits he’s had to oblivion. He’s a l…

Sermon on 1 Peter 4:7-11, for Lent 4, "Who am I?"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Last week we talked about the overarching story of life that defines us. The story of our repentance over sin, receiving forgiveness from Jesus, and the promise of eternal life. Today I want you to reflect on who we’re called to be in this lifetime, as we wait for the coming end. Since this is our future and this is our story, who are we to be and what are we to do? Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

When the apostle Peter declares to us from the pages of Scripture that the “end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded, for the sake of your prayers”—what’s our reaction? Being that his warning was written nearly 2,000 years ago, do begin to doubt the urgency of his admonition? Do we scoff and say: “Where is the promise of [Christ’s] coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were f…

Sermon on Luke 13:1-9, for the 3rd Sunday in Lent, "God and Disasters"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. There’s an old familiar problem that always rears its ugly head whenever there are natural disasters like the earthquakes, tsunamis, or humanly inflicted tragedies like genocides and terrorist attacks. That old familiar problem is the question of evil. Usually people ask this question: “How can a good God exist and allow so much evil to happen?” Great tragedies with huge death tolls bring this question racing to the forefront of our minds. Sometimes, as a way of excusing God, people will actually blame the victims instead. It was their wickedness that brought this disaster down on their own head. Today we’ll hear how Jesus addresses these problems and what God has done to intervene against evil in this world. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

We’ve probably all heard some of the opining when these tragedies occur. Often it’s offensive speculation. …

Sermon on 1 Peter 1:3-5, for Lent 3, "This is It???"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Last week we talked about the question of identity, and knowing who we are in Christ, so that we can be true to ourselves and true to God. Today I invite you to reflect on the question of “what’s my story?” If your whole life could be embraced in one defining story, what would it be? Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Naturally there would be quite a variety of responses if you asked people what the story of their life was. There’s all the little stories of our daily lives, what we did at work, what our childhood was like, who were our friends and family. Which people impacted our lives, where we were and what we did when notable events happened. Our lives are full of stories that tell who we are, what we’ve done, where we’ve been and where we’re going. Some of us have grand aspirations to leave an impact or legacy in life like an Olympian, inventor…

Sermon on Romans 5:1-5, for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, "Chain Reaction!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Welcome again to our church on this Preschool Sunday, and thanks to our children for singing their praises to God today! The Bible reading that I want to speak to you about is the second reading you heard today, Romans 5:1-5, printed in your bulletin.

5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

In everyday life there are many circumstance…