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Category Archives: Sermon Summaries

Stewardship of Humanity

This Lenten season, we are focusing on Holistic Stewardship, which is:
the good management of financial/material resources and our time, energy, and talents to care for, love, and serve our neighbors, all people, and the entire creation for the sake of God’s realm that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Temple Talk (Sunday, March 31):
We have been discussing Holistic Stewardship which is the management of our financial means, time, energy, and talents for our stewardship of humankind and creation.

The idea of stewarding people may seem odd, especially if you do not supervise others in your paid or volunteered vocations.

But, we are continually called to care for, love, and serve all people by using our resources, time, energy, and talents to do so in word and deed, big and small. It might be donating food, clothing, or items for those in need. It might be feeding hungry people or seeking shelter for the homeless.

But, do we use our resources, time, energy, and talent to do so?

I was pondering a song, which speaks of helping our fellow humans when we have more time. One concluding line is “Funny how I think this sitting in my Lazy Boy”.

How can we manage our resources, time, energy, and talents for the sake of all people?

Mid-Week Service (Wednesday, April 3):
Holistic stewardship, again, is not limited to managing our financial means, time, energy, and talents for our own sake but for the sake of all humankind and creation.

The Torah is often translated as ‘law’, although more accurately ‘teaching’.
It is the first 5 books in the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, which are:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

As the years, decades, and centuries have continued to march forth, religious leadership had and continue to build a defensive ‘fence’ around the Torah to protect it from becoming profane, ordinary, or vandalized by our transgressions (or sins).

In essence, they did not want God’s precious teachings to be vulnerable to human error, misuse, and abuse. Additionally, the defense would permit a buffer zone between human imperfection and the teaching and enable those who honored the fence to be “blameless” before God and neighbor.

It sounds reasonable, secure, and perhaps wise.
But, such defensive measures only separate us from the Torah, God, and neighbor a like.

We all build defenses to protect our most vulnerable self, but we all know a person or several who seem to effortlessly tear down those defenses.

For example, I have an old flame with that innate ability while I am attempting to further fortify my defenses. As I shared this with another friend, she asked if it would be such a ‘bad’ thing for those defenses to come tumbling down. My reply was yes and no.

Yes. Who wants to be vulnerable? Who wants to be exposed for potential heartbreak?
No. The defenses only serve the purpose to separate and divide.

Similarly, the defense of the Torah protects and separates.

Jesus and his rebel friends were often accused of ‘breaking the law’, but the truth is that they were intentionally demolishing the defensive system that separated all people, the “blameless” and the sinner, from the Torah, from God, and from one another as neighbors.

It was for the sake of humankind, but particularly those Jesus refers to as the ‘least of these’ in our Matthew text. Jesus is warning us that we are expected to see, to bear witness to, to love, and to serve ALL people because Christ is within ALL people despite: their need for food, clothing, shelter, and companionship, but also their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexuality, politics, socio-economic status, religion, creed, their past, or etc.

This teaching was and remains quite offensive to many persons, but especially those who understand themselves as the “keepers of the law” or the “blameless” who accept the demonization of the ‘least of these’ and the lie these can ‘contaminate’ them.
Another example of this teaching is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The ‘law-abiding’ religious were fearful that such association would jeopardize their relationship with the other ‘law-abiding religious’ and God.
BUT at the moment of Jesus’ death upon the cross, the curtain in the Temple which separated the Holy of Holies (where God resided) and the people (or world) was torn in two. Thus, the defensive barrier between God and people was no more.

Our Romans text, however, reminds us of one defense system that continues to exist within and around the Torah… Love.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law”.

So, let us be honest. It can be a challenge to use our finances, time, energy, and talents to tear down the defensive walls. And in the words of Garth Brooks (Thicker than Blood):

Why can’t we see the walls we can’t see through?

May our eyes be open to the walls we cannot see and cannot see through.
May we tear down said walls.
May we see Christ in ALL people.
May we reach out in love to ALL people, especially the “least of those”.
May we serve ALL people, again especially the “least of those”.
May we reflect Christ and God’s love to ALL through word and deed, big and small.
Amen.

Scriptures were Matthew 25: 34-40 and Romans 13: 7-10.
 
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Posted by on April 4, 2019 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Hidden Parables

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Our texts on Sunday came from Matthew chapter 13 and it is a collection of parables.
Parables are challenging to preach on, because usually an explanation accompanies them limiting how you can translate or interpret that into our time and our place.
All of these parables are talking about the kingdom of God and all these parables talk about how the kingdom is hidden.

The first one we have is how the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, small but grows up to be a mighty bush. It calls to mind the story about how if we have faith the size of a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are not the smallest seeds in the world, but they are pretty mighty; in addition to growing huge bushes, they also took the bland foods of Biblical times and added spice to it. Bishop Richard Jaech at our Southwestern Washington Synod Assembly stated that we, as Lutherans, need to be like mustard seeds, “spicy”. The kingdom of God is small, and its mighty, and its flavorful, and its spicy; so is our role within it. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Doubt? Ask and Seek

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Our text this Sunday is a common and familiar one, which is read each year the Sunday after the Resurrection. We know this story as “Doubting Thomas”.

On Palm Sunday, I talked about we all have had our moments when we have been Judas (the betrayer) and Peter (the denier); well, we all are “doubting” Thomas.

My question is, who is Thomas before the Resurrection, during this account, and afterwards?

Well, Thomas (according to John) is one of the twelve disciples of Christ, who prior to the Resurrection [Doubting Thomas] story we have two lines from him. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Resurrected into New Life

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We begun our service with the sanctuary darkened, the stain-glass windows covered, and the items of the crucifixion central to our space; in silence, those were removed while symbols of the Resurrection were brought in.

I led the congregation in a Thanksgiving for/Reminder of our Baptism, while in all black; afterwards, I put on the alb (the white robe).

This was all symbolic of our texts for “He is Risen! He has Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”.

Matthew’s account (chapter 28), Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb to fulfil their responsibility to care for, to anoint the body. The men are hidden away in a dark room fearful of what the future holds. Now, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary would not have been in any more or less danger than those (male) disciples. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Dark Room or Tomb?

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Sunday was Palm Sunday and we celebrated it as both Palm and Passion Sunday, embracing the whole of Holy Week primarily focusing on Maundy Thursday [and] Good Friday.

We begun the service with Christ entering triumphantly into the holy city and making preparations for Passover, which Passover this year begins today for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

We begun with our service with that, but we quickly moved to Maundy Thursday with Holy Communion and then moved into Good Friday: the betrayal of Judas, the arrest of Christ, the denial of Peter, the passion/the punishment/the physical endurance of Christ prior to being crucified and then Christ crucified. We ended the service with Christ’s body laying in the dark tomb.

How do you preach such a range of emotions? I primarily let the scriptural readings, the covering of our symbols, the bringing forth of the items from the crucifixion do most of the ‘proclaiming of the Word’.

But, Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Death, Life, and Officially Alive

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Our texts this week deals with death and life. Our Ezekiel 37 text is Ezekiel prophesying to dry bones in a vision, which becomes flesh and bone and breathing mortal beings. In John 11, Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus is asleep meaning Lazarus has died; they travel to Bethany, where Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave.

We, as society, a humanity, struggle with  death to the point that we don’t plainly call death, death. We say loved ones have “passed on”, “crossed over”, “are in a better place”, or with inanimate objects my grandmother would say “has gone the way of the ghost”. Jesus has to tell the disciples that Lazarus has died.

This notion of death and life, or death and resurrection, are not new to Christianity. It is the foundation of our faith, our teaching, [and] our preaching. We are called to die each and everyday to our sinfulness, our selfishness, [and] our self-centeredness in order to be resurrected in new life that is marked by relationship with God and neighbor, one that brings true joy to ourselves.

But, there is another type of death and resurrection, or death and new life that I want to speak to today. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

Unexpected and Exposing the Darkness

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This week I had a couple of themes interwoven into my sermon.

The first theme begins with 1 Samuel 16. Samuel, a prophet of our Lord, anoints David as king while King Saul is still on the throne.

David not of the royal family, but of a family of shepherds. David was the youngest of eight sons and the runt of the litter, not who we would imagine God choosing as our king. We know the mighty things that David would come to do. We also know how flawed and sinful of a man he was.  A Dominican (Catholic Order) monk classmate once said “you can sin like King David, if you can repent like him”. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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