Showing posts from February, 2021

Sermon on Isaiah 43:1-7, Lent Midweek 2 2021, "He Only Has Eyes for You"

 (lightly revised from "Singing with the Exiles" sermon by Rev. Reed Lessing) “He Only Has Eyes for You!” Isaiah 43:1-7 “You are valuable in my eyes.” Isaiah 43:4a.               The song, I Only Have Eyes for You, was composed in 1934 and has been recorded by numerous musicians, and one of the many versions ranks 157 th in Rolling Stone ’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time .             Yahweh has his own version of this golden oldie. “ You are valuable in my eyes.”             The “you” is singular, not plural. It’s “you” not “you all.” A Singular “you” is individual and intimate, particular and personal. The same specific concern for “you” comes in Is. 43:1 where Yahweh says, “I am calling you by name, you are mine.” Yahweh’s care is cosmic and universal, to be sure, but his exclusive love for you, is emphasized by twenty-five “you” singular words and endings in Is. 43:1–7. Over and over again it is you, you, you! “ You are valuable in my eyes.”             T

Sermon on James 1:13-18, 1st Sunday in Lent, "Two Sides"

  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Lent always opens with Jesus’ wilderness temptation. 40 days of testing, and 40 days of Lent. Temptation, sin, and repentance are major Lent themes. Two sides are always at work in the struggle. Temptation vs. testing, Satan vs. God, our sinful will vs. God’s good will. The two sides of the struggle spring up from two different planted seeds. Planted seeds? What do you mean? In the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat, Jesus says the devil sows weed seed in God’s fields after God first plants good seed. The world is filled with bad seed mixed among the good, these two seeds that are planted with two outcomes, two sides in the struggle. James also looks at human sin and temptation as a weed seed that we plant in ourselves by an evil desire. An evil desire is a seed planted, that conceives and gives birth to sin, then matures into adulthood and brings forth death. That’s weed seed and its outcome. On the other hand,

Sermon on Isaiah 41:14-16, for Ash Wednesday, "God has a word for that!"

(Singing with the Exiles Series, Rev. Reed Lessing)  “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel, for I myself will help you, declares Yahweh, your Restorer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14.   If you could become any animal in the world, which one would you choose?   Maybe like Isaiah you would soar on wings like an eagle. Or like Amos perhaps the lion is your animal of choice, because you love to rumble in the jungle! Or maybe like Elisha you boast in the bear because when it comes to obstacles you maim and you maul. Or if your name is Caleb – which in Hebrew means dog – you just might choose to be a sweet and faithful little dog. Question. How many of you would like to become a worm?   May I see a show of hands? That’s just what I thought. None of you are worm wannabes!   I don’t blame you. Worms have no arms, no legs, and no eyes! They’re small and insignificant and, if you ask me, worms don’t have a lot of personality! No one ever stops their car and says, “Hey every

Sermon on Mark 9:2-9, Transfiguration of our Lord 2021 (B), "The Total Jesus"

  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today is the Transfiguration of Jesus, a glimpse of Jesus’ glory shortly before His death on the cross and the resurrection. After the glory fades from the spectacular transformation, Peter, James and John are left with Jesus only. And that’s not a let-down—it’s the point. Having Jesus only, is having everything we need. The Total Jesus. The One to heed and hear, the Only One we need and fear. With a newfound reverence for God’s Beloved Son, they descend the mountain where Jesus resumes His path to the cross. But we have the Total Jesus; He is our “ all in all ” (Eph. 1:23; Col. 3:11). The Transfiguration shows several ways how we have the Total Jesus. When we have Christ, we lack nothing. Let’s consider four ways He is the “Total Jesus.” His Transfiguration shows His Total Authority, Total Truth, Total Purity, and Total Glory. It was quite extraordinary to see these living saints and biggest heroes of the Old T

Sermon on Isaiah 40:21-31, 5th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (B), "Utterly Unlike us; Utterly Dependable"

              Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. Isaiah 40 has many great verses and themes in it, but in our section today God turns the tables on us. Normally we bombard God with all our questions, “why this”? “How that?” “What for?” But here God returns the favor with a packed blast of questions for us. Do you not know? Have you not heard? Hasn’t it been told to you? Who created this? Who can you compare me to? Why do you say…? Don’t you understand? It all surrounds the people’s complaint against God: “ My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God” . Hear that for a moment. The Israelites (and plenty of us today) think or feel God has forgotten them. He seems to be ignoring justice and we’re oppressed. Or I’m at the end of my rope, and utterly exhausted. Where’s God when I need Him? These thoughts are summed up in this cry from the people, “ My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded b

Sermon on Mark 1:21-28, 4th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (B), "A New Teaching, With Authority!"

  Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The theme that jumps out of Mark 1 today is Jesus’ Authority. He teaches, He casts out demons, and crowds marvel that they haven’t seen anything like this before. They search and inquire among themselves: “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Jesus’ authority still rules His Church, and His Word still advances against a world of darkness and spiritual evil. May God continue to visit us with His authority for our good. One of the first things strikes people yesterday and today, is that Jesus does not teach like everyone else. The rabbis, or Jewish teachers, had their customary way of quoting other supporting ancient teachers and authorities, building their interpretations and reasoning on what others had said before. Never standing on their own authority. Which in a sense is good; men should never presume to usurp God’s