Showing posts from March, 2013

Sermon on Luke 23, for Palm Sunday, "Calm our deep distress"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. It’s a short trip from the gates of Jerusalem and the palm-strewn roads, to the agony of the cross. As we arrive at Holy Week, we’re pulled into a roiling mix of emotions and clashing events. No wonder the cross makes us so uncomfortable. Side by side there’s cruel laughter, mockery, and scorn, and heart-wrenching love and sorrow. Everything gets turned inside out, including us. Ruthless men are turned from laughing to mute astonishment and fear. Bold and loyal disciples are turned into cowards in hiding. Meek and trusting women cast away fear and stand in grieving shock and hopeless adoration before the cross. Proud and callous rulers hesitate at innocence, but commit themselves to wicked injustice at the bloodthirsty demands of a crowd. The mob which gathers in furious glee—by the end dispels in mirthless lamentation. Things had not gone down as planned. Had Jesus “played the part

Sermon on Psalm 118, for Lent 6 Midweek, "Hosanna--Save Us!"

Sermon Outline: ·          Psalm 118 finds its prophetic connection to Jesus in the Gospel reading (Matt. 21). Triumphal entry: both Ps. 118 & 8 are quoted. Jesus coming into Jerusalem on the donkey, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy (Zech. 9:9). The people shout triumphantly the words of this Psalm to praise and acclaim Jesus as the promised Messiah. “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Their confidence in His identity reached a fevered pitch. The city was exuberant with excitement, and the chief priests and scribes were trying their worst to quell the fervor. But when the celebration continued into the Temple courts, and the priests protested to Jesus, He replied with the words of Psalm 8, that “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” God Himself had prepared this worship for Jesus from the mouths of children. ·          Perhaps as much as 1,000 years before those events of J

Sermon on Luke 20:9-20, for the 5th Sunday in Lent, "Why did God become vulnerable?"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. This vineyard parable is complex in many ways, but today we’ll focus on why God became vulnerable? The vineyard owner in the story takes a gamble in sending his son. Not a gamble we’d be willing to take. We’d expect him to opt instead for violence or retribution, seeking justice. Kenneth Bailey tells the remarkable story of King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan: learned from security police that 75 Jordanian army officers were plotting against him that night. Military overthrow. The police wanted to storm the building and arrest the conspirators. Instead, the king had a helicopter pilot fly him to the building, gave instructions that he should fly away immediately without the king if he heard gunshots. Entered the building unarmed, calmly told them he learned of the conspiracy, warned of the devastation to the country, the civil war, the thousands of innocent deaths at stake, offered th

Sermon on Psalm 69, for Lent 5 Midweek, "Zealous Love"

Sermon Outline: ·          Prayed first by David, but amplified and fulfilled in Jesus. Quoted multiple times in NT, in reference to Christ: the hatred of Jesus without cause, His zeal in cleansing the Temple, the sour wine to drink in crucifixion, His betrayal by Judas, and Judas’ desolation afterward; Paul speaking about the hardening of Israel when they do not receive Christ. ·          Like Psalm 22, a portrait of the crucifixion—Jesus drowning in the waters, losing His foothold on life as He’s surrounded and attacked by those who hate Him and lie about Him. Describes His weariness and thirst, His longing for God’s help while facing apparent silence from God, the alienation and rejection from His own brothers. He laments the mockery and dishonor He’s faced, and His distress at the hiddenness of God’s face. He appeals for God’s vengeance against malicious enemies, that they would suffer God’s wrath and punishment, and not be counted among the righteous. He recounts His afflict

Sermon on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32, for the 4th Sunday in Lent, "World's Best Dad!"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The parable Jesus tells in today’s reading is a profound picture of God the Father’s love for us. The story takes place in a time and culture where the community was shaped by honor and shame. Everyone in that community would have seen that the runaway son did a shocking dishonor to his father. It wasn’t like he’d just asked dad for a loan, and then spent it wastefully. Rather, it was as though he’d said to his father, “I wish you were dead! and all I care about is your money, so I can go have a good time.” Even though it was unthinkable, the Father granted this outrageous request. The son’s request was shameful to the family, and he would’ve been despised by the community. Probably few of us have grown up in a culture where honor and shame played such a powerful role in shaping expectations and behavior. The community wouldn’t have expected to hear back anything good about this son.

Sermon on Ezekiel 33:7-20, for the 3rd Sunday in Lent, "Light or Heavy?"

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Our text is from Ezekiel, where God lays on him the solemn responsibility of being accountable for the people. Of particular concern is that he warn the wicked of their sin so that they can turn and live, and to warn the righteous who presume they are saved, to not build false confidence in their righteousness. Likewise pastors have the solemn charge to preach God’s Word of Law, to bring the wicked to repentance and to unsettle the complacent, and to speak God’s Word of Gospel to the repentant to give them comfort. God’s Word from Ezekiel strikes a severe blow at our pride, and the pride of any who would cling to their own righteousness to deliver them from their sin. It disables the “balancing scale model of salvation”—that if we do enough good deeds to outweigh the bad, then we’ll live by that righteousness. This is so common, as to nearly be universal in our human thought. But God warns the “righteous” that