Sermon: Open Heart Surgery

Sunday, October 14, 2018
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

“Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

I think that this verse from Hebrews is a pretty accurate summary of all of our readings for today. From Amos’ dire prophetic warnings to Jesus’ disturbing conversation with the rich man, these are all very challenging texts.  And like a sword, our gospel text for today cuts us open to our very core.  Mark has been pulling no punches – we’ve been working our way through some very difficult passages together over the past few weeks, on hell and death and divorce, and the hits just keep on coming. Let me just say again for the record – I did not pick these texts!

Continue reading “Sermon: Open Heart Surgery”

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Promises, Promises: An All Saints of los Muertos Reformation-Ween Sermon

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New Hope’s beautiful Day of the Dead altar

All Saints Sunday
(according to the preacher)

Reformation Sunday
(according to the music director)

24th Sunday after Pentecost
(according to the secretary/liturgist)

Sunday, October 30, 2016
(according to everyone)

New Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, IL

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6:20-31

The next couple of weeks are packed with momentous and exciting events. Tomorrow, the Lutheran church marks the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. The day after that, the global church marks All Saint’s Day, and the day after that, we celebrate the Day of the Dead. And next week, our country will hold a historic presidential election in which we will decide our leaders for the next four years or more. There’s a lot going on!

But I’d actually like to start off today talking about an upcoming day you probably didn’t expect to hear about from the pulpit: Halloween. Continue reading “Promises, Promises: An All Saints of los Muertos Reformation-Ween Sermon”

What Becomes of Boasting?: A Body Positive Reformation Sermon

Read more of my body positive / fat liberation writings here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
“Encountering the Living Word” preaching course
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC)

martin-luther chubby copy

Romans 3:19-28
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in God’s sight by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by God’s grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. God did this to show God’s righteousness, because in divine forbearance God had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that God themself is righteous and that God justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

I have to be honest: When I was assigned to preach a sermon for Reformation Sunday, I groaned a little on the inside. It’s not that I’m not proud of my Lutheran heritage or anything. I see the value in celebrating the dramatic ways in which God has renewed the church and more fully revealed to us God’s grace. And of course, it’s important to honor saints like Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and others who have gone before us to be agents of renewal in the church.

But I can’t help but wonder whether, in commemorating the Reformation, we are acting as though God’s most important acts of renewing the church all happened in the past. By focusing on an act of reformation that happened nearly five hundred years ago, I wonder whether we are ignoring the ways in which God is still making the world new today. I worry that focusing on the transformative change that happened so long ago may be a means for protecting ourselves from the transformative change that God would wreak on us today. Continue reading “What Becomes of Boasting?: A Body Positive Reformation Sermon”

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