Sermon: Resistance is Futile

Sunday, October 16, 2016
Zion Lutheran Church in Franklin, NE

Luke 18:1-8
persistent-widow-crooked-judgeThen Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Good morning! Thank you all for the opportunity to be here with you this morning. It’s great to get to come back and preach in my home state of Nebraska.

My name is Day Hefner and I’m a seminarian at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. I just started my third year of classes, and I’m looking forward to finishing up my seminary education on internship next year.

It’s been an interesting journey going through the candidacy process along with other seminarians in Chicago and Nebraska and all over. I’ve gotten the chance to hear many people tell their different stories of how they each ended up where they are, of how they decided to become candidates for ministry in the ELCA.

And even though each person’s story is unique and different, a lot of them tend to share one similar narrative, which is this: “You know, I’ve been feeling a call for years, and I’ve done my best to ignore it – but God is so darn persistent that, well, here I am.” Continue reading

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Folks and Yokes

Today was the last day for my friend Erin and me at our Ministry in Context — “MIC” — site.  We bid a fond farewell to the bilingual congregation we’ve been serving part-time in the western suburbs of Chicago for most of the last nine months.  Even though we only got to spend seven or eight hours a week in the church, we really started getting to know people and building relationships with members of the congregation.  It was bittersweet to leave when it feels like we’ve barely begun.

Probably my favorite moment of the day was a part of the special sending they did for us at each of the three services.  The pastor had congregants come forward and lay hands on us, while he prayed, blessed us, and anointed us with oil.  It never ceases to amaze me just how powerful the ministry of touch is.  Just as much as the very kind words of affection and affirmation that we heard from parishioners, the warm, loving touch of their hands on our backs and shoulders was a palpable sign of their care and blessing.

At one of the services, as I stood there before the altar, feeling the light pressure of their hands on my shoulders, I was suddenly reminded of Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew 11: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  This is the vocation to which I have been called: to be “yoked” to the church, “burdened” with love for this community and for its Lord.  And I am so grateful for it.