I wrote this four years ago in response to some frustrations I saw in our churches and education for pastors. Some of my views have changed,..but not really. I still spend most of my days saying to myself - "What the hell are you doing? Do you know what you are doing?" Luther has made some changes to their education since I wrote this, but I still worry that our focus may be off. Telling the truth to those who come to seminary may be important. Speaking of this as a calling of preachers to be sent as missionaries all over the world perhaps. Things we may not like to hear because we are comfortable first world people.
(Written on Thursday, October 30, 2014)
When one goes off to study for a particular career, the desire is to be prepared to actually perform those duties when one is finished. There should be some core competencies that one should be able to fulfill while studying in order to be ready for the real thing.
…give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
There is a difference between gratitude and thanksgiving. Gratitude is being thankful for something. Thankful for a nice day. Thankful for your food, or grandma, or puppies. Being thankful is being grateful for whatever it is we have received.
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is taking that thankfulness and turning it towards the source. Giving our gratitude back towards the one who has given to us. So, think of thank you notes. Grandma gives you a new sweater for Christmas. There is expectation for you to say thank you. Often in writing. Turning your thankfulness towards the actual person.
Sermon for Reformation Sunday, October 28, 2018 - Romans 3:19-28 "But now..."
What you just witnessed was the most Reformation-y thing we could do today. Placing into the hands of our younger members the Scriptures. Doing what it was that Luther felt the need to do as he rediscovered the necessity of the Word of God in the lives of Christians. For it is in the Scriptures that we have Christ speaking to us. The Lord deigning to come and dwell with us by spoken Word. Giving us the words and promises of life in his name. Letters on a page the very gifts of God granted in the Gospel. These are true words. The Word of God is powerful and does it’s work in us, whether we want it to or not.
There are so many in my life I can say have been there as mentors to help shepherd me on to this calling of Word and Sacrament ministry. My grandparents became foundational to me. My dad handed to me the grace I often found missing in the church and in life. Martin Luther opened up for me the truth of Christ as the One who has embraced my sin in all its ugliness and handed me his righteousness like an ice cream cone to a 2 year old. Jim Nestingen, Steve Paulson, and David Fredrickson, in one way shape or form have formed me as a theologian that I may hand to my people the truth of the cross and its work for the sake of your justification. But Eugene Peterson in "The Contemplative Pastor" and "The Pastor" truly opened my mind to the work of a pastor. Living and dwelling in the Word and the work that entails in order that my teaching may be one of shepherding for sinners.
Sermon for the 21st Sunday of Trinity Season - Mark 10:35-45 "Glory and the Suffering Servant"
Over this past season, Major League Baseball teams spent $3.955 billion (that’s with a “B”) on team payroll. As of right now, with the playoffs underway, $3.591 billion of that was wasted. That’s the sum total of money paid by teams to players that won’t win the World Series this year. The kicker is that the San Francisco Giants, a team my family has supported off and on over the years, spent the most money of all teams, $221 million, to finish fourth in their division. That’s twelfth out of fifteen teams in the National League. I guess the bright spot is that they aren’t the Baltimore Orioles, who spent $148 million dollars to win 47 games and have the worst record in the major leagues. Makes me want to call them up and say, for 10% of your lowest contract, I’ll lose for you. I can do that. I was pitcher in 6th grade.
Sermon on the 20th Sunday after Trinity - Mark 10:17-31 "The Rich Young Man"
When does enough become enough? Now I know what you are thinking. This is going to be some sermon on stewardship, or wealth or poverty. Why? Because if I know most of you, your ears perked up and your eyes saw first and foremost – You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. We either hear that and think – Good policy. So-and-so should sell all he has, give to me, and follow Jesus. Or – Great. Our Pastor will do it again. Slam me for my stuff and tell me to do more to help the poor. Well, unlike what I feel many of my colleagues wish to do with this text, I won’t. I’m not here to talk to you about money. Stewardship. Giving. Instead, I ask the question again – When does enough become enough?
Sermon on Mark 10:2-16 - Jesus, Divorce, Children, and God
Mark 10 is not fun. Its not easy. Especially in the beginning. It is a text that has caused immense distraction and hardship in the church for well over 1000 years because of misinterpretation. Misapplication. Or just down right sinful, godless, graceless division. Usually every year this text, whether from Matthew, Mark, or Luke comes up and every pastor wishes to preach on something else. A friend changed his sermon text this week because he didn’t want to preach on this. Which was probably wise on his part, since Dr. Karoline Lewis at Luther Seminary wrote this week that - Pastor, this text must be preached. It cannot be read and unsaid. She is right.