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Showing posts from October, 2014

Sermon on Romans 3:19-28, for Reformation Day, "Sin and Grace in the Reformation"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Today on Reformation Day, we conclude our mini-series on some of the things that made the Lutheran Church distinctive. We’re going to look at two core ideas to Lutheranism, from our reading in Romans 3: Sin and Grace. These two teachings of the Bible are at the heart of salvation—they define both our great need before God, and His even greater solution to our predicament. Predicament, or can we say an epidemic?
We have all heard a lot in the news lately about the deadly Ebola virus and the epidemic that has people worried worldwide. An epidemic is when an infectious disease rapidly spreads through a large number of people. Technically, an epidemic is usually temporary, not permanent, and widespread, but not global in reach. The term for something truly universal or worldwide would be “pandemic.” Can the analogy of disease and viruses help us understand something about sin? Sin is really…

Sermon on Matthew 22:15-22, for Reformation 2, "Church and State in the Reformation"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. As we continue in our Reformation month, today we consider the relationship between church and state. How does a Christian live at once governed by God, and faith in His Word, and at the same time living under a government that rules Christian and non-Christian citizens alike? How do we face the interactions and overlap in our lives, between church and state? How does God’s Word guide and inform our responsibilities to both?
Jesus and His apostles address these questions. In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in a question about taxes. First they flatter Jesus by admiring His truthful teaching about God’s way, and that He shows no favoritism. He won’t give in to anyone’s opinion. Then they ask, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” If “yes”, that will be unpopular with the common people; if “no”, then they can accuse Him of stirring up rebellion. Ironically, tho…

Sermon on Philippians 4:4-13, for Reformation 2, "Rejoicing and Prayer in the Reformation"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Did you notice the strong themes of rejoicing, feasting, and wedding celebration in all the readings today; even the Psalm on the front of your bulletin insert, that we didn’t use? They’re all also themes of Christian worship. Every Sunday we gather for rejoicing and a feast, as our worship is centered around Jesus, our Heavenly Groom, and the Lord’s Supper that He gives to His Bride, the Church, as a foretaste of the feast to come. We hope and rejoice each week because of the presence of Jesus and His outpoured blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord,” because true joy is found only in Him. The Old Testament reading describes the heavenly celebration when God swallows up death forever, wipes away the tears from all faces, and takes away the reproach of His people. The Gospel describes a wedding feast filled with undeserving guests, while those who …

Sermon on Philippians 3:4b-14, for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Reformation 1, "Righteousness and the Reformation"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. During this month of October, we’re going to celebrate again a “Reformation Month” where we’ll take the opportunity to highlight some themes of our Lutheran Reformation heritage. We’re closing in on the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, which falls on October 31st, 2017. The Reformation played a large role in returning the church to the foundational authority of the Bible, and the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Today we look to the theme of “righteousness” to consider what Paul was teaching about it in Philippians, and how that informs our Lutheran understanding of our relationship to God.
Imagine for a moment that you were the most successful person in your field—whatever that may be. Maybe it was that you were the employee of the year, or the world’s best mom, or the winner of the beauty pageant, or the valedictorian of your graduating class, or you re…