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Showing posts from April, 2013

Sermon on Acts 20:17-35, for the 4th Sunday of Easter, "Pastor and Flock"

Sermon Outline: ·Congregation doesn’t often get to hear what the responsibilities of the pastor are toward the congregation—usually just performed and assumed. Occasions when it’s made explicit, like an ordination or installation of a pastor, are rare, and not always attended by the entire congregation. Acts 20, Paul gives a “farewell address” to the elders of the church of Ephesus. Elders (“presbuterous”—the term was not used in the NT to describe lay people, but the pastors of the church, also called “episcopous”—bishops or overseers, and given the task of “shepherding”—no rankings in these terms). As a congregation of God, what have you the right to expect of us as pastors? Doesn’t lay out the complete task, but what does it tell? ·First and foremost: to preach and teach the whole counsel of God, not adding or subtracting. The temptation of every preacher is to add their own ideas to the Bible, or to subtract those things (typically) that are hardest to teach or unpopular. The pastor…

Sermon on John 21_1-14, for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, "The Lord's Catch"

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. We’re never really told why Peter and the six other disciples decided to go out fishing that night, sometime after Jesus’ first two resurrection appearances to them, and before they received the special outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost. But the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias) was an old, familiar place, filled with memories of their lives as fishermen, and then, when Jesus came teaching and calling, their lives as disciples. Were Peter and the disciples restless—searching for guidance on what to do now, after the stunning events of Easter, and seeing Jesus risen from the dead? Were they retreating from the task that Jesus had set before them, to go and proclaim repentance and forgiveness in His name to all nations? Uncertain? Retreating into a familiar, comfortable routine? We certainly know the reasons why we do that sort of thing. Or were they simply passing the time until the gift of the Holy Spirit would co…

Sermon on John 20:19-31, for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, "Doubt or Faith?"

Sermon Outline: ·Who was Thomas? (larger question Thomas had answered: Who is the Christ, the Messiah of promise?). Thomas and Lazarus (John 11). “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14). Loyalty, brotherhood, certainty, skepticism, avoid deception, proof, conviction. Eyewitness. Where was the flaw in his thinking? That he doubted Jesus’ word? Needed proof? ·Jesus met Thomas’ challenge, as though He’d been eavesdropping. Thomas’ reaction. Jesus’ response. Thomas’ role in the resurrection accounts—not just a fantastical tale, nor a wispy hope based on rumors. Thomas’ encounter passed this skeptic’s tests, proved the Jesus’ resurrection in the body was real. Important “test” to pass, because the future faith of those who would never get to see, but still would believe, is not based on flights into absurdity or “magical thinking.” Rather: the very Word of God made flesh, God in human person, the One who opened Thomas’ eyes at last, “My Lord and my God…

Sermon on Luke 24:1-12, for Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus, "You have my word!"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! How often have we heard someone promise something, and they said, “You have my word!” “I’ll take you…you have my word.” “It’ll be done by Friday…you have my word.” “I’ll never do that…you have my word.” And we’ve all seen how unreliable people can be. How quickly promises are changed, delayed, or forgotten. Rare is the individual who lives up to the phrase, “My word is my bond.” Rare indeed is the individual who can always be counted on to never break their promises. Many strive to keep their word, and I hope that we all do earnestly and sincerely, but who can be found that never broke a promise? We’re conditioned by repeated disappointments or let downs, to be skeptical of those who say, “You have my word.” The disciples of Jesus, both the remaining 11 and the women who were the closest followers of Jesus, had His Word as well. Three dist…

Sermon on Psalm 41 for Maundy Thursday, the night when Jesus was betrayed. "Betrayal or Loyalty?"

David wrote the Psalm in a time of crisis—he speaks of his illness, his enemies wishing harm and death upon him, hoping for his death and the end of his legacy. And as if that weren’t bad enough, his close and trusted friend betrayed him. “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” It probably felt like being kicked when you were down….by your friend. Or one you thought was your friend. Betrayal was one of the worst wounds. Psalm 41 may refer to the time when David’s kingdom was in turmoil, with his son Absalom plotting his overthrow and stealing the hearts of the people. One of David’s most trusted friends, his advisor Ahithophel—betrayed him and joined with the treasonous Absalom in the conspiracy. Ahithophel fits the bill for a close, trusted friend, who dined with David, but then betrayed him. And when the conspiracy began to fail, Ahithophel saw the writing on the wall, and hung himself. Regardless of whether the unnamed traitor in …