Sermons

True Forgiveness

So I’m going to be honest with you – this is probably the hardest sermon I’ve ever written. Of course, it’s also maybe my eighth sermon ever, so maybe that’s not saying much. But I’ve been sitting with this text all week, mulling it over, praying about it, reading commentaries… I started to write this sermon three times, only to get halfway through and throw it away.

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The Heart of the Matter

It is a blessing to be back with you as the conversation continues about living wholeheartedly in Christ. While there are glittery, red, and pink hearts abounding this time of year, let’s begin our focus by dipping into a conversation between God and the prophet Ezekiel about hearts.

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On the Sabbath

I have a problem with rules. Like, just in general. I’m not a troublemaker per se, but rules have always made me want to break them, especially if they’re presented as “this is the way things are”. I hear a rule like the third commandment – remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy – and I’m immediately going to ask: why? How? So what? I realize that many rules give life and promote community, but man, if I can’t see that right off the bat, I don’t love rules.

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Fishing from an Empty Boat

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore.

There are interesting and important details in the first couple of verses of today’s reading.

Jesus notices two boats pulled up on shore, the fishermen were out of the boats and they were washing their nets.

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Today

My home congregation called me home early in my theological education to preach on a summer Sunday. They didn’t ask me to preach at just any service. They asked me to preach at the county-wide non-denominational Sunday service held at the grandstand during the county fair, the big hometown gathering of the year. Class reunions, family gatherings, and huge events all center around this weekend, and it culminates in worship at the grandstand. What do you suppose the gospel text was for that morning?

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Vulnerability and Repentance

Whenever I read this story from Luke 3 I’ve always been curious as to why people would go out into the wilderness to be yelled at by John the Baptist. That is what it feels like to my 21st century preacher ears. It feels angry, like a street preacher yelling over the crowds.

“You brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” Those are harsh words and to be honest with you I am tired of harsh words.

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What are We Waiting For?

Well, today is the first day of 2017. Starting a new year is always a little strange. On the one hand, we get a fresh start. It’s a time that’s full of possibility. We ask ourselves, “What do I want to accomplish this year? What do I want to see happen?” On the other hand, it can be a sharp reminder of the things that haven’t happened yet. The things we’re still waiting for.

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“The Angels Sing” (Part 1 of 3)

In 2017, people of faith around the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s writing of the 95 theses. This document is generally considered to be the spark that lit the fire of the protestant reformation, leading to the formation of numerous new theologies and traditions. Our own Lutheran denomination owes both its theology and its name to Luther himself.

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Rejoice in the Lord

Friends in Christ, grace to you, and peace, from God our Creator, and our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

I recently learned that a friend of mine had been going through a very hard time. Job loss, illness, a death in the family, and still more. I was late getting a hold of her to offer my love and support, and wasn’t sure quite what to say. So I took a breath, apologized for taking so long, and told her: it will be okay. It isn’t right now, and some day, it will be. She told me later how much that simple statement meant to her.

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