Tag Archives: Lent

Burn It Down! Arise!

While pondering Ash Wednesday, our Lenten journey, and the Resurrection at Easter, I am captivated by the imagery of fire and flames, the ashes left behind, and the mythical Phoenix.

We are temporary.
Ash Wednesday echoes to each person ‘remember that you are ash and to ash you shall return’. It reminds us that our physical bodies, minds, and lives are temporary, for in the grand scheme of time our existence is a mere blink of the eye.

Despite this brief existence, we are tempted to extended it through becoming legends and lifting ourselves onto a delusional pedestal built of pride, ego, and presumed (self) righteousness.

Burn it Down!
Lent is a journey of burning that delusional pedestal down to nothing but ashes.

Lent is a journey forged with vulnerability and honest self-reflection seeking to destroy that pedestal and additional barriers distracting from, challenging, and hindering our relationship with God, neighbor, and self. These barriers include, but are not limited to: Read the rest of this entry »


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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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Why Lent

Confession: Lent is my favorite season.

It is not because I enjoy suffering or even sober events.
It is, however, because it is honest and authentic.

We are beautifully flawed and broken people, who live among beautifully flawed and broken people in a beautifully flawed and broken creation. Our flaws, our brokenness, and those of others and the creation separate us from one another, from neighbor, and from God.

Ash Wednesday humbly reminded us that we, our neighbors, and all of creation are temporary. It all was created from ash/dust and to ash/dust it will all return.

As a girl from the ‘Valley of the Sun’, I am aware that the phoenix dies, becomes ash, then rises again stronger than before. Similarly, we (as individuals, communities, and institutions) are called to die, to become ashes, to rise by the grace of God stronger and further shaped into the one that God has called us each to be.

THIS is the work of Lent.
It is about becoming aware of the distractions
that separate us from God and neighbor…

in order for vulnerable soul-searching…

in order for uncomfortable ‘Come to Jesus’ moments…

in order to return our attention to the cross, to Jesus the Christ,
and to the Triune God…

in order that we may be reconciled and reconnected to God and neighbor alike. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 10, 2019 in Sermons


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Lenten Meditation: the Word Sustains & Shapes

“Since that day God has been at work toward the meaning of the creation… The kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, stands for a mended creation with people and things – a social, economic, ecological reality. Thus, Jesus’ miracles were not primarily signs of his power but acts of mending the creation, pushing back the frontier of Satan, healing minds and bodies, feeding, even counteracting the devastation of the premature death of the young and needy.”
Kister Stendahl, Meanings

“The nature of water is soft, the nature of stone is hard; but if a bottle is hung above a stone letting the water drip down, it wears away the stone. It is like that with the word of God; it is soft and our heart is hard; but if someone hears the word of God often, it will break open his heart to the fear of God.”
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, p. 191.

This evening, we have two qualities or actions of the Word of God instead of one, however how it ‘sustains’ and ‘shapes’ us go hand-in-hand.

There a variety of images that came to mind as I prepared for this evening. One selected is humorous and the other more serious, so we will start with the serious.

While in the final year of Seminary coursework prior to internship, I was also the dorm proctor. One day early in the academic year, a professor had let us “go free” for an hour to read an article and then return ready to discuss it. I was sitting at a local coffee shop, enjoying a coffee, and reading the article when a first year Seminary dorm-mate saw me. He inquired about the article I was reading, which was exploring the different visions of salvation, such as (1) who is saved, (2) how are we saved, and (3) how do we know. Then he asked for my opinion, I gave it to him, and he informed me that I was WRONG. After a few intense moments of discussion, I told him that he would not change my mind and we would have to agree to disagree. His response was to lean over the table between us and start pounding his fist on the table saying “NO! I CANNOT DO THAT”. I replied “I don’t know what to tell you”.

People understand the role of a pastor includes “saving” you, “sustaining” you spiritually, and to correct your misbehavior (sin) transforming each into righteous (Old Testament) law-abiding Christians. Well, I have news for you:

The last time I checked that was NOT within my job description. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Sermons


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New Healing

In preparation for Sundays, there are weeks when I struggle to find a message to preach and then other weeks it is difficult to discern the message because there is a wealth of material and possible directions. This week, I could have easily prepared multiple sermon messages on each of our scriptures.

But, there is a concept that continued to stay with me and it is being healed or healing. We are familiar with the term ‘healing’, but we tend to confuse it with being ‘cured’. There is a difference between being ‘cured’ and being ‘healed’. When one is cured the aliment has been eradicated or removed and thus is not present, while healing does not necessarily require that the illness/trauma is gone or the situation is done (ex. after a cut is ‘healed’ a scar remains).

This difference might be a challenging concept, but I have a few examples to demonstrate.

Highlander, my dog, is diabetic. Yes, dogs can be diabetic.

Will he be “cured” of his diabetes?
No. He will be diabetic for the rest of his life.

Is he being “healed”?
Yes. He receives insulin twice daily. Since beginning the insulin, he is back to his crazy ‘old’ self.
Thus, Highlander is not cured but is healing as there has been restoration to his well-being.

In our time and place, we focus on the “cure” and often ignore the “healing”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 11, 2018 in Sermons


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Lent Meditation: the Word Commands

“This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal but it is the right road. At the present, everything does not glam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed.”
Martin Luther, Defense and Explanation of All Articles (1521)

On Sunday, we heard two scriptural passages that can be fun to explore.

The first scripture was Exodus 20 (1-17), the Ten Commandments and it never hurts us to be reminded of these commandments.

1. You should have no gods above me.
2. You should not use my name in vain or use it wrongly.
3. You should remember the Sabbath, or day of rest, and keep it holy.
4. You should honor your father and mother.
5. You should not murder.
6. You should not commit adultery.
7. You should not steal.
8. You should not bear false witness or lie.
9. You should not covet your neighbor’s house.
10. You should not covet your neighbor’s… well you name it.

The last commandment includes everything from your neighbor’s wife and children, to their slaves, to their livestock… it literally covers it ALL.

The Ten Commandments are imagined as the foundation of the law; thus, we envision these as the Word ‘Commands’ us.

The Ten Commandments are standards by which all people, all societies, and all faiths embrace, therefore it is a common code of conduct that we ALL struggle to fully live into. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Sermons


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New Standard


Our scripture this morning is different than those we often encounter about Jesus and his ministry, perhaps that is why I love this passage. It portrays another side of Jesus that we do not often have the chance to explore.

We, as humans, enjoy and seek comfort in our lives. Comfort can be achieved with everything being black and white. Thus, we prefer black and white instructions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that are easy to follow exactly.

BUT, life is not black and white. Life has countless shades of grey.

Our scriptures are not black and white either.

In fact, I am drawn to Lutheran theology/teaching because we acknowledge the grey within our lives, within our faith lives, and within our scriptures. Thus, it requires more discernment rather than simply reading and living it word for word. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Sermons


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Lent Meditation: The WORD Calls

“For in truth we are not called once only, but many times; all through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in Baptism; but afterwards also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still. If we fall from our Baptism, He calls us to repent; if we are striving to fulfill our calling, he calls us from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness, where life is given to us.”
John Henry Newman, “Divine Callings” in Callings

Our callings/vocations are among the few components that are the firm foundation of Lutheran theology and teaching. This foundation, along with “Saved by Grace Alone” and the authority of Scripture (alone), is vocation. Thus, it is among few components that are too important to be considered Adiaphora, a fancy term for “things indifferent”.

However, in our time and place, we tend to imagine our calling/vocation as our professional lives or how we provide for our families and ourselves. BUT, vocation goes much deeper.

Our vocations begin from before we are born and continues until the moment of our death. We ALL have vocations as sons/daughters, nieces/nephews, cousins, and friends.

We, the baptized, have been baptized into Christian vocation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Sermons


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New Name, New Identity

There are a couple themes during this season of Lent.

  1. Although Lent is a solemn time, I embrace it as a time of renewal and new life. In fact I begun it with New, but NOT Charmed, Life preaching about our new life which is not free from temptation, sin, and suffering. The “new” theme continues this week with New Name, New Identity.
  2. This year, focused on the Gospel according to Mark, is full of covenants, promises, or contracts between God and God’s people.

New, but NOT Charmed, Life included the promise made after the genocide of the flood. It is the promise that God will NEVER destroy humankind, animals, or creation again. As a sign of that covenant/promise, God placed a rainbow within the sky, not necessarily as a reminder to God’s people (all creation) of this covenant to last forever but as a reminder to God’s self.

This morning, we have another covenant narrative, which God made with Abram/Abraham and his descendants. It is a covenant originally created with two individuals significantly beyond the age of child-bearing. It is a covenant that these two will parent a child and their descendants will be more numerous than all the stars in the sky. As a sign of that covenant, God has changed their names (and identities). Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Sermons


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Lent Mediation: The Word Creates


“Since the divine life is essentially creative, all three modes of time must be used in symbolizing it. God has created the world, he is creative in the present moment, and he will creatively fulfill his telos [goal or purpose].”
Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. 1


In preparation for these Wednesday nights, I have been using a book entitled Lenten Journey: Seven Wonders of the Word. It is based on a Bible Study from Book of Faith created by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in the hopes of getting people more familiar with scripture, how to read, and how to reflect on it. This one was specifically created for Lent.

The Lenten Journey: Seven Wonders of the Word gives Bible verses and a Theological Thought each day. This first week focuses on how the Word “Creates”.

I, personally, enjoy Paul Tillich. He was a 19th century Lutheran systematic theologian who lived in Germany at the beginning of World War II tensions. He stood in opposition to the NAZI party and when Hitler came into power, Tillich lost everything: his position as a systematic theology professor, his family, and his home. He immigrated to the United States and begun to teach systematic theology. You can witness where this experience left a lasting impression on his theology, including his quote above.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in Sermons


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