Showing posts from July, 2015

Sermon on Mark 6:45-56, for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, "From Hardness to a Trusting Heart"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Unbelief is really the chief and greatest sin of all, and the hardest sin to overcome. When we think of what the worst sin might be, our mind rarely lands on unbelief—but unbelief is really the sin against the first commandment. God says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Believing in God is the first and most important command. Unbelief shows itself in a variety of symptoms, ranging from outright rejection or anger toward God, to making substitute gods or idols, to take the place of the One True God, or hardness of heart and distrust. The last one, hardness of heart, is the core problem in today’s reading. What does the Bible say about hardness of heart? Frequently in the Old Testament, this is described as a sin that is common to rulers and kings. Pharaohs, Kings of Israel, and Kings of Babylon all suffered from this sin. They became proud in their spirit, stubborn and

Sermon on Mark 6:30-44, for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, "Lessons and Loaves"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Today we hear the well-known miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Today we are also installing a new principal and teacher, and rededicating our staff for the upcoming school year. It’s interesting to see in the story the pattern or cycle of teaching, followed by hunger and tiredness, and how that turns into more teaching, healings by Jesus, more hunger, and finally a meal. A miraculous meal, which provides yet another teaching lesson. I’m sure we won’t have to stretch for teachers to relate to teaching, hunger, and fatigue, both on their part, and on that of their students. Often hunger competes with learning. It also reminds me of the fact that there are all types of learners. In the early verses of Mark 6, we heard the last two weeks, about those who resisted and defied Jesus’ and John’s teaching of God’s Word. Today we have crowds racing ahead of Jesus just to get more teaching, and experience more of H

Sermon on Mark 6:14-29, for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, "Misidentified"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. As we’ve gone through the chapters of Mark these last weeks, it continues to hit me how the experiences of the community in Jesus’ day mirrors in many ways our present day world. Even the grisly executions done by ISIS echo and multiply the violent death of John the Baptist for standing for the truth. This Gospel reading is marked by rejection and misidentification of Jesus—so that right from the first verse, King Herod and the community are mistaking the miracles and works of Jesus and His disciples, for John the Baptist risen from the dead. With misidentification, superstition, scandal, incest, a prophet speaking the truth and righteousness, a conflicted conscience, a murderous grudge, rash vow, persecution, and gory ending, this story has all the elements of a modern movie drama. The reading explains through a flashback, that Herod had recently killed John, and he and the peop