Sermon for Christ the King Sunday - Matthew 25:31-46
“Jesus and…” is not the Gospel. Jesus supplemented with anything in heaven or on earth is an attempt to discredit his blood shed and body broken for you; that he is not enough for you. Looking around the church, deciding we don’t like the way it looks, it can lead to us not liking the way Jesus looks. Then we tend to make the church about something more than Jesus. The danger is that this desire in our hearts to add anything to Christ is an attempt to remove Christ from that cross because if we can make salvation and the Last Judgement about anything but Jesus, then we can decide who and what makes it through the pearly gates. It makes it easier to craft a heaven with a few less of our enemies, all those we don’t like, when Jesus the Justifier is erased from our lives. Deciding what actions make us worthy of goodness, of acceptance, of salvation, anything that it is that we may qualify our Jesus with, means no Jesus. No forgiveness. Because forgiveness without Jesus, is just dross. Something to be burned up and lost. Making the incarnation, the coming of God to us in Christ, pointless. Making the crucifixion just another man dying a public death for no reason other than he ticked off the wrong empire. Making the resurrection just a fairy tale, and nothing more.
Sermon for a Thanksgiving Evening Service, November 21st, Bethany Lutheran Church - Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Philippians 4:4-9; John 6:25-35
The first of the fruit of the promised land. Fruit that leads to rejoicing. Fruit so precious that you cross a lake for it, find the rabbi, and ask – What must we do to do the works of God? Seeing in this Jesus a fruit more fruitful than a few loaves. Seeing in this Lord something worth rejoicing over. Seeing in this promised land of graciousness and lovingkindness a God who hears, who sees our toil, who remembers the oppression we endure and brings us out by an outstretched arm.
Sermon for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost - Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus is the embodiment of the God who gives. A God who gives us good things always, at all times, in every way, yet we don’t see it. We look at other things around us thinking that that person over there has been blessed but not me. Or “O, if they would just turn their lives around, God would bless them.” Or “God doesn’t care about me. He has forgotten me. I am nothing. He takes, and takes, never giving to me.” Jesus coming to earth as an actual human being should hopefully change our minds. Having a physical person to look to as God’s presence with us. A presence that sees suffering, death on a cross, and yet life and salvation. Having your faith there, in a God who gives himself to you, is a God who gives good things to you.
Sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (St. Martin's Sunday) - Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus is the Bridegroom for whom we wait. He is the one which we keep our focus on, looking for, knowing that when he gets here the party will start. We wait in anticipation for Jesus to return because we know we need him. We know that all the other Jesus’s we create have fallen short. All the other bridegrooms we betroth ourselves to, money, security, time, health, power, politics, they all fade. They all turn to dust. They can all be taken away or destroyed by someone stronger, faster, bigger, richer, more powerful. And so we wait. We wait because we have nothing left to lose. We wait because if we don’t, the end could be worse than the beginning.
Sermon for All Saints Sunday - Matthew 5, Revelation 7, 1 John 3
It is in Jesus that all hope, all life, all love and mercy, all blessedness and goodness, all peoples and things are found. Those we have lost are not lost. Those whom we commemorate today are not hidden somewhere in a cupboard we can’t find, or fallen out of our pockets as we walked along the seashore. It is a strange word lost, and yet that is how we describe death. “We lost her to cancer ten years ago.” “We lost him to a heart attack in 1958.” As though, because they were here, and now they are not, they are lost. We miss them. We don’t seem to have them here, but they are not lost, we just have forgotten where to look.