Sermon: All the Feels

Sunday, April 21, 2019
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
[Christ is risen indeed, alleluia!]

This joyful greeting is the same one that Christians have used for centuries to greet each other on Easter morning.  This is indeed a day of great joy!  For many of us, that joy is obvious – the joy of gathering with family, of seeing children and grandchildren, the joy of a time to rest and a time to celebrate with the people we care about.

But of course, the true joy of Easter goes much, much deeper than these things.  Today we celebrate the fact that the fundamental order of the cosmos has been shifted.  When Christ was killed and then rose from the dead, he broke death itself. On Easter, we remember that we have been freed from slavery to sin and death; we have been joined to Christ forever in both life and death, and we too will rise again to eternal life in God’s kingdom.  Surely this is a cause for boundless joy!

Continue reading “Sermon: All the Feels”

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Sermon: Rebels Without a Clue

Sunday, March 17, 2019
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Second Sunday in Lent

In our gospel reading for this morning, we catch a glimpse of Jesus in a very sassy mood.  The pharisees come to him with death threats from Herod, but Jesus basically just brushes them off.  He calls Herod a “fox” and tells them to say, “Look Herod, I don’t have time for you right now.  I’ve got work to do.  But hey, I’ve got an opening in three days, so if you still want to kill me, you can come on down to Jerusalem and do it then – because we all know that no prophet can be killed outside of Jerusalem, amirite?”

But his snarky comments are immediately followed by a tender, heartbroken lament: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”  Despite his sarcastic remarks, we see in Jesus the image of God as a mother: a mother whose heart is breaking over the way her children have rejected her and turned away from her.  God the mother has had it up to here with her wayward children, but she still loves them so much it hurts.

Continue reading “Sermon: Rebels Without a Clue”

Sermon: Do Not Be Afraid

Sunday, October 21, 2018
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost
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Our gospel text for today seems to illustrate the old saying: There’s no such thing as a stupid question… but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots.  James and John ask Jesus to let them sit by his side “in his glory,” and even Jesus is like, “buddy, I don’t think you really know what you’re asking.”

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Sermon: Even Now

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Friday, March 30, 2018
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Good Friday

The Passion of Jesus according to John

We’ve read and heard this story so many times that I wonder whether it still sounds as shocking to us as it should.  “Crucifixion” is a word that belongs to ancient history and church rituals; it doesn’t evoke for us the same kind of visceral reaction as “electric chair” or “firing squad” or “hanging.”  And yet it is also a method of execution by the state, one that is a hundred times more bloody, torturous, and painful.  Even before we get to the cross, there is an unbelievable amount of violence in this story.  Jesus Christ is struck across the face multiple times.  He has sharp thorns jammed down onto his head; this was after he was flogged, a practice in which one’s bare back is whipped with a whip that has small pieces of metal or bone at the end, to inflict the most damage.  This story is a horrifying testament to the creativity of human cruelty. Continue reading “Sermon: Even Now”

Sermon: Bitten Again

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Ash Wednesday

Today, we mark the beginning of Lent, the long, slow march toward Christ’s death on the cross. As I’ve been reflecting on these texts once again this week, I’ve found myself noticing just how many words we encounter this time of year that start with “re-”: repentance, regret, reconciliation, remission, return. Among these words, one word in particular grabbed my attention:  the word “remorse.”  When I read the word in Spanish – remordimiento – it occurred to me that the literal definition of “remorse” is actually “to bite again.” As it turns out, much like my cat, Lent is a season that bites. Continue reading “Sermon: Bitten Again”

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