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Category Archives: Sermons

Dead Enough

As the entire world is impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, practicing social distancing and isolating, we are consumed with concern for the increasing confirmed cases and those deceased. Our scriptures are also consumed with the concept of death.

Ezekiel has a vision of dry bones within a valley, which I envision to be a remote desert similar to familiar spots in Arizona. These dry bones are the most extreme depiction of death, and yet God orders Ezekiel to prophesy that these may become covered in flesh again. But, something is missing.

In our gospel, Jesus receives word that a friend, named Lazarus, is ill. Jesus, however, waits several days until after Lazarus’ death before returning to Bethany, which is on the out-skirts of Jerusalem. Upon Jesus’ arrival he is moved, disturbed in spirit, and weeps in grief before ordering Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, to rise and come out. Lazarus does, but he is still bound.

As I pondered these scriptures, in light of these times, I recalled a segment from True Terror with Robert Englund. It shares historical reports and accounts of strange events, this particular story occurred in New Orleans in 1875 during the small pox epidemic.

A young man was declared dead, but he was alive and aware of his surroundings although unable to communicate. He was placed in a wooden coffin, loaded into a wagon, and it was departing for the local cemetery. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2020 in Sermons, Uncategorized

 

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Open Our Eyes: Pandemic Edition

The Scripture begun with a question of the people.

  • It is a question that was pondered for centuries before Jesus and continues to be centuries after Jesus.
  • It is a question that influences not only the human-God relationship, but also the human-human relationship.
  • It is a question rooted within Theodicy, the ‘fancy’ language for
    ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ or ‘why does suffering exist?’.

The people had presumed (and we often continue to presume) that suffering is caused by God as a punishment for sin, or even for a lack of faith. Therefore, the people inquire if the man born blind was punished for his own sins or those of his parents.

It is significant to note, Jesus denounces that the blindness was a result of sin, whether his own, his parents, or even his ancestors.

Jesus heals the man, in order to demonstrate the glory and the power of God.

Unfortunately, the man and his parents are extensively questioned by the religious elite. According to John, the religious elite are seeking an answer or witness that would condemn Jesus as a demonic and not the Messiah. Their argument is that Jesus must not be from God, because a holy man would never heal on the Sabbath in accordance with the law, or teaching.

Jesus shifts the dialogue in the Scriptures from physical sight to spiritual sight. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Social Distancing: Woman at the Well

I previously shared that Lent is a beloved season, in part because Jesus’ humanity is more apparent.

Jesus and his recently called disciples are traveling through Samaria.

Jesus is hungry, perhaps hangry, and exhausted.
He sends the disciples into town for food.

Jesus essentially clasps at the well in exhaustion without the energy to draw a drink of water.

BUT, a Samaritan woman comes to the well during the mid-day heat and alone, because of social distancing.

The historical and cultural nuances are essential to this scripture.

Jesus is a man, Jewish in ethnicity and religious adherence, and a Rabbi (teacher).

Jesus’ disciples are men, Jewish in ethnicity and religious adherence, but considered ‘sinners’ by the religious elite.

She is an unnamed woman. She is a Samaritan.
She is not socially accepted among Samaritan ‘polite society’. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Jesus Tempted?

Welcome to Lent, a personally beloved season.
It is not so because of the sober tone and doom and gloom, but despite it.
It is so beloved because it is authentic, reflective, and emphasizes Jesus’ humanity.

The Christian Church professes that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, but it is challenging to wrap our minds around and communicate this divine mystery. Therefore, we have consciously or unconsciously decided to evaluate the divinity of Jesus at the expense of his humanity.

Honestly, it is hard as a helpless, worthless, sinful critter to deeply connect with the divine nature of Jesus.

Yet, this morning we witness Jesus within an universal human experience… temptation.

But, was Jesus really tempted? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Vulnerable Authenticity (Ash Wed)

WELCOME to my most beloved church season… Lent.

It is not beloved because of its sober tone or the gloom and doom, but despite it. It is beloved because of its authenticity.

Generation X and younger have especially demanded that those identifying as Christin, their faith communities and denominations, as well as the church universal be authentic and transparent. Their participation or lack thereof is often rooted in these demands.

It is not about ever-changing, energy-charged, entertaining worship.
It is not about the music, sound system, or multi-media.
It is not about coffee bars or accommodations.

Again, it is about authenticity.
But, it is challenging because it requires vulnerability and self-reflection.

Thus, Lent is our annual emphasis on removing the masks that hide our self-centeredness, insecurities, flaws, failures, and less than Christ-like thoughts, words, and deeds which harm our relationship with God, neighbor, and self.

This focus includes NOT practicing our piety and presumed righteousness before others. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2020 in Sermons, Uncategorized

 

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Terrifying Silence: NASCAR edition

Let us pause and consider the Transfiguration within it’s scriptural context.

After Jesus’ infamous ‘Sermon on the Mount’, which intensified the law and declared himself as the fulfilment, he asks his inner-most circle of disciples ‘who do you say I am’.

Simeon Peter answers ‘the Christ, the Son of God’.
Thus, Peter is given the ‘keys’ to heaven and called the ‘rock upon which the church is built’.

Jesus continues sharing with these disciples his betrayal, arrest, passion, crucifixion, and death to come. Peter takes Jesus to the side and says ‘don’t talk like that’. Jesus rebukes Peter and continues to teach this sorrowful truth.

Jesus, Peter, James, and John are on the mountain top six days later.
Jesus is transfigured.
Jesus is with Moses and Elijah.
Jesus is truly the embodiment and fulfillment of the law AND the prophets.

Although the disciples have experienced the supernatural before, I imagine that Jesus literally glowing and standing with two deceased legends of Judaism would have been unusual, uncomfortable, and perhaps disconcerting. I envision the disciples stunned, standing in silence because Peter (who can be as dense as a rock) opens his mouth and inserts his foot again: “It is good for us to be here. We should…”

But, before Peter can finish, a disembodied voice attributed to God basically booms forth “Be Quiet. LISTEN.” The disciples fall to the ground terrified.

We, like Peter, can be as dense as rocks.
We, like the disciples, are not comfortable with silence.
We, like Peter, open our mouths and insert foot to fill the silence;
thus, we tend to listen to respond not to understand.

This silence can be terrifying.

Our discomfort with silence and simply how terrifying it can be became all too real on Monday evening for the NASCAR community.

But, lets rewind for a moment.

During the 2001 Daytona 500, the legend Dale Earnhardt Sr died in a crash on the final lap.

In 2002, we begun to watch NASCAR.

I choose the veteran Bill Elliott.

Amanda (my sister) choose the rookie Jimmie Johnson.

My mama choose South Bend raised, Purdue graduate, Hoosier, rookie…
Ryan Newman.

The 2020 Daytona 500 was on Monday evening.
It ended with a significant crash on the final lap, reminiscent of Dale Sr.

While seeking information from the broadcast and social media, I was yelling at the commentators who were simply fulfilling their vocation…. filling the silence. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Intensified Law, Sin Boldly

Our gospel is a continued except from Jesus’ infamous ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

Within the scripture,…

But Jesus’ tone has shifted.
Jesus denounces the rumor that he came to ‘abolish’ the law.

The Torah, teaching, is the first 5 Books in the Hebrew Bible (and Old Testament).
The Torah includes the Ten Commandments and the remaining legal code.

Who enjoys the law? Depends on the situation. 

According to Martin Luther and our Lutheran tradition, the legal code serves three purposes:

  1. Civil Law and Order
    It is a guideline for healthy interaction with God and neighbor while maintaining good order (and boundaries). In essence the legal code restrains us, especially from killing one another, due to the consequences. Honestly, in the words of Brandy Clarks’ Strips “the crime of passion aint worth the crime of fashion” (lol).
  2. A Mirror Reflecting Our Short-Comings
    Who enjoys seeing themselves in the mirror in the morning, without hair and make up done? NO ONE. The legal code is that mirror, which reflects to us the sins, failures, and short-comings we are reluctant to recognize and acknowledge.
  3. Points us to Christ
    Although the third use of the law is debated, after looking into the mirror, it points us to our need for God’s love, mercy, and grace through Jesus the Christ.

Jesus did not abolish the legal code, but intensified it while rebelling against the non-essentials. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2020 in Sermons

 

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