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Showing posts from January, 2011

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, "Under the Cross"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. In today’s epistle reading, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, the Apostle Paul talks about the relationship between the wisdom of the world and God’s wisdom. So what’s the place of reason and knowledge in the Christian faith? What’s the relationship of the word of the cross, or the message of the Gospel, to human wisdom? And how’s God’s true wisdom taught in the cross?

Some people claim that Christianity is against reason and wisdom. That it’s irrational. They would call the Bible a book of legends and miracles that disobey the laws of nature. Some would say that Christianity is above reason and wisdom. That faith and reason belong in two completely disconnected realms. They would say that reason can neither prove or disprove nor explore the events and claims of the Bible. Still others might claim that Christianity is completely rational and that everything in the Bible can be logically explained …

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, "I Appeal to You"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth is a surprising study in how much can go wrong in a church. The books of 1 & 2 Corinthians are New Testament letters to the Christian church that Paul founded in Corinth. Corinth was a prosperous city of major importance in Greece, sitting on a narrow strip of land that connected important commercial routes. A center of commerce, culture, religious pluralism, and philosophy, Corinth was a melting pot. It was infamous for its vices and immorality.

The Christian church that Paul started there struggled with all kinds of pressures surrounding them. The worship of a pantheon of idols and false gods, the popularity of various religious philosophies, the temptation and wide acceptance of all kinds of sexual sins and the low regard for marriage, along with the usual temptations of wealth or pride. It was an easy place for the church to go astray. Ma…

Sermon on Isaiah 49:1-7, for Life Sunday, "Formed from the Womb"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. In the reading from Isaiah 49, the speaker calls us to attention: “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar.” Are you listening? Who is it that is speaking? Read the text before you in your bulletin. The speaker says “The Lord has called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” And the Lord God said: “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” So what is the identity of this speaker, who calls for our attention, says that God called Him from the womb, and God gave Him a name while He was still in the body of His mother?

Of course it’s Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the servant of God who would bring glory to God, and who was chosen from long before His birth to be God’s servant. And He was named Jesus and titled Immanuel, God with us, from before His birth. Only when this was written, this was some 7 centu…

Sermon on Romans 6:1-11, for The Baptism of Our Lord, "Rescue At Sea"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. A person is lost deep at sea, and drowns in the ocean. A ship comes near to rescue. The captain dives in the water, rescues the victim, and resuscitates him on-board the ship. The victim coughs and spits up water, then breathes in the life-giving air. “Welcome aboard the Ship Salvation,” says the captain, “We’ll safely bring you home to Heavenly Harbor. There you can thank my Father who sent me on this rescue mission to find you. Here’s a set of clean clothes to wear. Put these on and we’ll throw away those old dirty rags you’re wearing. It’s quite a long trip back to Harbor, so please join our other rescued guests onboard in the ship’s chapel.”

“There are other guests?” Asks Peter, the newly rescued victim.

“Of course! This ship sails for one purpose, to rescue lost souls drowned in the sea of sin.” He continued, “I’m the Captain of the ship. I cross the sea and pull in many a drowned s…

Sermon on Luke 2:40-52, for the 2nd Sunday after Christmas, "In His Father's House"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Following on the heels of the birth of Jesus, and then His naming and presentation in the Temple as an infant, the next big story in the life of Jesus is when He is 12 years old. The Gospels give very little biographical detail about Jesus’ early life, other than His birth in Matthew and Luke, and then this one account at age 12. People have always itched for more background, and speculated what the child Jesus would be like. From the centuries after the apostles, right up to the present day, various authors have tried to fill in those missing years with stories ranging from pious, misinformed legends to shameful lies and dreams. Some have made up stories about Jesus’ infancy and childhood to make it seem more miraculous and spectacular than the Bible records; others have made up stories to make it seem un-miraculous and ordinary.

So what does this single story of Jesus’ childhood tell …