Sermon Texts

June 18

Jesus has compassion on the crowds and his immediate response is to send the disciples out to preach and heal.  The job description for disciples has not changed.

June 4

Pentecost Sunday is a day to celebrate how God comes to us just as we are...and then invites us to see diversity as a opportunity to be embraced rather than a problems to be solved.

May 28

At first glance a text about enduring persecution for the faith may seem pretty irrelevant to American Christians; we hardly face the challenges of those in many countries...but maybe we face a much more subtle challenge, which is just as dangerous.

May 21

Paul gives us come clues on how to both meet others where they are and confidently proclaim the gospel to those who may be skeptical and commitment averse.

May 14

When we come to Scripture it is is important to be sure the text intends to address the question we are asking

May 7

A letter to confirmands as they prepare to affirm their baptism....

April 30

"We had hoped."  We have all been at that place of disappointment and despair.  The road to Emmaus is a journey of discovery in which we slowly see the hope which has been there all along.

April 23

Thomas gets a bad rap being known as the doubter.  He shows up in John's gospel as very admirable.  He is called "the twin" and maybe that is because he is a stand-in for us.

April 16

We look for light in the darkness, for a reason to believe there is resurrection beyond death.  It is not evidence but a personal word which makes the difference.

April 2

We all go through valleys of dry bones, wondering, "Can these bones live?"  The vision of the prophet proclaims  a most confident, "Yes."

March 19

How can we be both tolerant and passionate about our faith?  Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman offers some clues.

March 12

Maybe we should spare a little sympathy for Nicodemus; birth is hard and rebirth is even scarier.

March 5

The temptation story is Jesus' story, but it also our story.

February 26

On the Mount of Transfiguaration the disciples are terrified.  But maybe it is less the supernatural appearance which scares them than the call to "listen to him."  

February 19

Why doesn't anyone ask that the Sermon on the Mount be posted in the public square?  Is it because these words are much too demanding?

February 12

What does riding in the backseat with your brother on a long trip have to do with understanding Jesus' intention in the Sermon on the Mount?

February 5

Isaiah's world looks a lot like ours; God seems distant.  Isaiah and Jesus suggest that we find God in doing the distinctive things of God.  The cure begins with us.

January 29

In the beatitudes Jesus offers words of comfort and support for those trying to live his difficult but transformative way.

January 22

During "ordinary time" we focus on what Jesus did in his day to day ministry:  preaching, teaching, healing, and inviting.

January 15

 Paul asks us to remember who we are:  claimed, called in to community, and sent into the world as representatives of God's love.

Christmas Day

The after the great celebration of Christmas Eve can seem a little anticlimactic.  It helps to remember that Christmas Eve offers us a promise which we are still seeing fulfilled.

Christmas Eve

Why do we love the Christmas Story so much?  Perhaps it is part nostalgia, but even more, we long to hear and receive the angel's words, "Be not afraid."

Third Sunday of Advent

John the Baptist looks for some evidence that Jesus is the messiah.  Is the answer he got good enough for us?

Second Sunday of Advent

What is John's peculiar popularity?  Could there be good news in his harsh rhetoric?

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah lays out a bold vision of a world at peace and filled with  justice and righteousness.  Is he unrealistic--or do we not really want to do what it would take to embrace his hope?

Christ the King Sunday

Christ on a cross should tell us that this is no ordinary king...

Nov. 13--Isaiah 65:17-25, Luke 21:5-19 

The vision of a new heaven and earth as well as a gospel text that speaks about end times offers to our weary world ways to wait in hope.  

All Saints Sunday

What really defines a Saint?

October 30

What are the dishes which Lutherans take to the great potluck of the universal church? 

October 16

Why should we care about the Bible?  What the Bible is--and is not.

October 2

Timothy gets a letter from his old pastor....

September 25

Jesus tells a terrifying tale which emphasizes how very easy it is to be blinded by our wealth.

 

September 11

Jesus tells two parables.  Notice, the primary action is on searching and rejoicing, not repenting.  Maybe that tells us someting about the church's proper foci....

September 4

The book of Philemon illustrates how calliing Jesus our Lord may well put us on a collision course with our culture, forcing us to choose between loyalty to Jesus and conformity to social norms.

August 28

It may sound like a sneaky strategy to appear humble and still get what you want, but in this teaching Jesus is really calling us to think about whose opinion really matters.

August 14

Jesus lays out the personal and social cost of following where he leads...and in an oblique way give comfort to those are ready to do so.

July 24

Ask, seek, knock....Do some conditions apply?

July 17

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people."  So writes Anne Lamott--and Jesus seems to agree...

July 3

Evangelism is less about what we say than who we are. It begins by aceepting the gifts of the person who is in front of us.

June 26

Sometimes there is a moment when there is no turning back.  Jesus calls for great sacrifice, but he shows us the way.

June 19

Paul reminds us that God has an agenda in Jesus Christ to break down barriers which divide us.

June 12

June 12  Luke 7:36--8:3  Jesus invites all to see the woman in todays Gospel lesson. 

 

June 6

  Jesus sometimes responds to the faith around him, but just as often he acts out of pure compassion.

May 29

Jesus blesses faith when he finds it in an unexpected place, suggesting that we might also do the same.

May 22

The "problem of succession" is ongoing:  How do you keep the energy when the founder of a company or movement is no longer present?  Jesus promises that the Spirit will continue to enlighten and comfort the disciples.

May 15

Where is the fire? 

May 8 

Jesus prays "that they may all be one."  What kind of unity does he desire?  How can unity be more than uniformity and differences be  creative rather than destructive?

May 1

Jesus has a habit of asking "dumb" questions, questions to which the answer seems obvious.  But these are invitations to think deeper.  Today he asks, "Do you want to be made well?"  Do we?   Really?

April 24

One of the great challenges of faithful living as a follower of Jesus is treasuring a rich tradition while being open to the new thing which God is doing in the world.

April 17

 There is no substitute for taking the journey of faith and Jesus promises that nothing will separate us from him along the way.

April 10

Another story of Jesus' appearance after his resurrection. 

April 4

The Risen Christ gives the disciples four gifts which empower them to be the gospel in the world.

March 27--Easter

Nobody expects resurrection--until it becomes personal and "for you."

March 13

Christian devotion takes many forms.  Mary shows that there is a time and place for extravagant displays--and that need not detract from our desire to follow Jesus in the path of service.

March 6

Our reasons for being angry, bitter, or distant are many--righteous indignation, fear, deep sorrow--but Paul and Jesus invite to let it all go and "be reconciled."

February 28

There is something seductiive in simplistic answers to complex questions.  Jesus suggests that sometimes we are so focused on trying to explain the inexplicable that we miss the greater danger of complacency.  Though we seek to be fruitful, we are thankful for God's gentle patience.

February 21

Jesus shows defiance in the face of Herod's threats.  But he is no stock hero, fighting evil.  In his lament over Jerusalem he shows the deep compassion which distinguishes his vision.

February 7

The Transfiguration narrative is not so much interested in giving us life lessons as plunging us into the mystery of God's revelation--but it does invite us to make a response, to listen to what Jesus says about his calling and ours.

January 31

Things are going great in Nazareth until Jesus suggests that God is no tribal diety, but one deeply concerned about all people.  The great challenge is often being passionate and being a person of love

January 24

When he comes home to Nazareth Jesus delivers what amounts to a stump speech, laying out the priortiees which will drive his ministry--and which should drive ours.

January 17

Everyone is gifted by the Spirit; Paul makes that clear.  The art is understanding how to value and use our gifts for the common good.

January 3

Images are important.  The writer of the gospel of John believes that Jesus is the ultimate image of what heady abstractions such as truth and light look like.  He invites us to follow John the Baptizer in being a living testimony to the light.

December 24, Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is not the end of the season; it is the beginning of God's transforming work.

December 20

Many things tempt us to pointless worry.  An encounter between Mary and Elizabeth invites us to celebrate, confirm, and consecrate instead.....

December 6

In the midst of a holiday season too often driven by envy and created wants, rather than the spirit of Jesus, it is good to cultivate rituals of thanksgiving in daily life.

November 22

Christ the King is an ambivalent image; some find it to be the relic of a bygone day.  Yet is serves as a confession, hope, and challenge.  Perhaps the greatest challenge is for us to acknowledge Christ as King precisely when the world, stricken by terrorism, calls out for the same old kings of violence, fear, and xenophobia.

November 15

We are not the first people to feel like the foundations of our society are shaking.  Jesus gives some guidance concerning what to do when change tempts us to fear.

November 8

It's not the size of the gift; it's the attitude of the giver.  Lessons from a poor widow who understood the Great Commandment.

November 1, All Saints Sunday

Jesus weeps even as he prepares to do a great sign, suggesting we mark All Saints with a mixture of celebration, empathy with those who mourn, and thanksgiving for those who have shown us the way.

October 25

What can a bunch of kindergarten kids and their Legos tell us about our calling as heirs of the Reformation?

October 11

It's not that wealth is inherently evil, rather, Jesus says it is a risk factor for our spiritual health--a bit like high blood pressure is for your body's wellbeing.

October 4

Jesus has demanding words for all who enter into marriage.  Yet, here as always, the final word is grace to those who fall short of the ideal.

September 27

What do an encounter with an exorcist, mutilation, and salt have in common?  Together they invite us to be both gracious and passionate.

September 6

We all want to find our "tribe."  Nothing is more natural than wanted to find a community where you share a lot with others.  The challenge is to keep expanding the boundaries of "our people"--until they encompass all people.

August 30

Jesus is often portrayed as the iconoclastic enemy of ritual and spiritiual discipline...it's not that simple...Jesus urged his listeners to distinguish the "commandments of God" from the "traditions of the elders."  We have our own traditions which can either draw us closer to God or set up barriers to faithful living.

August 16

We understand Jesus best when we distinguish figurative and literal language.  Jesus employs metaphor because the gift he offers is both mystical and precious--himself.

August 9

In the early church adult converts were given new clothes at their baptism.  We too put on a new nature when we enter into the community of faith--and each day we chose anew.

 

August 2

Jesus has no interest in making "rice Christians," followers who see him more as a rich uncle than as the bread which fills their deepest hunger.

 

July 26

Imagine a mother's prayer of the day of her child's baptism...

July  12

It is a fallacy to believe that we can separate our faith from the rough and tumble worlds of politics, policy, and economics.  As Amos eloquently demonstrates, God has claim on our whole lives.  Private piety and public righteousness go together.

June 28

There are times when it feels like we are alone in the midst of challenge and suffering.  We cry out to God, "Do you not care..."  Finally, comes an answer, "Do not be afraid."

Sometimes we struggle to discern the will of God for our lives.  One option is to take a clue from the early church and throw dice direction.  That's what they that when trying to decide who would replace Judas as an apostle.  But it is what they did before casting lots which is important.

 

 

We tend to think of commanments as negative  killjoys.  Jesus suggests that they are essential if we are to find joy in him.

 

 

There is something in us which likes quick fixes.  Drawing of the image of vine and branches, Jesus reminds us that the life of discipleship involves foundation, focus, and follow through.

 

In trying to understand the context of a biblical passage we sometimes forget to ask the most basic question:  "So What?"  Easter presents us with the audacious claim that in Jesus we see into the heart of God.  How do we dare to proclaim such a bold hope?

 

Mark ends his gospel with the first witnesses slack-jawed, afraid, and silent.  Now why would he do that?

 

 

Despite our desire to choose darkness, God continues to offer us light.  Our challenge is to respond to God's gift with an attitude which is as gracious and expansive as the love revealed by Christ lifted up.

 

 

We can begin something with the best intentions and have it end up far from our goal.  Our worship can be like that: We intend to honor God and discover we are going through the motions.

 

 

Who is going to lead?  Will we follow Jesus or will we try mold him to our agenda?  These are fundamental questions of Lent.

 

 

Everyone spends time in the wilderness, that place where we feel confused, alone, and searching for clarity.  The wilderness is a place of both peril and promise; God is with us there as always.

 

 

Sometimes we are like folks lost on a freeway--not sure where we are going, but getting there at 75 miles an hour.  Discipleship is about more than holy busyness; it involves a rhythm of passionate engagement and prayerful discernment.

 

 

"What have you to do with this?"  We sometimes say these words to Jesus in defiance and sometimes in resignation.  In his exorcisms Jesus makes it clear that nothing is beyond God's care and concern.

 

The rapid response of James, John, Simon, and and Andrew to Jesus' call is hard to understand.  Mark gives us very little explanation for why they would drop all and follow.  But maybe that is the point, that sometimes a call comes which is too urgent to ignore--especially when it comes from Jesus.

 

Balancing rights and responsiblity to a community can be difficult.  Paul gives us some help in discerning the difference between Christian freedom and mere license.

 

When is Christmas over?  When the last cookie is eaten?  When the tree is down?  On the Day of the Epiphany?  Maybe the point of Christmas is that it is a gift that gives all year long.

 

 

Luke may have gotten a few of his facts wrong, but if that is what we are focused on we are tone deaf to the song which is being sung in his narrative.

 

 

Mary could have said, "No."  What makes her worthy of honor and imitation is not that she was extraordinary, but that she was just like us--and willing to be used despite her limitations.

 

 

This discipline of thanksgiving is one way to see God in the midst of daily challenges

 

 

The narrative of the Last Judgement suggests that there will be a lot of surprised folks.  What many take to be essential in the life of faith may not be so important after all.  But where do all those acts of mercy come from?

 

 

Christ has come.  Christ comes.  Christ will come again.  In each moment the mandate is the same: be ready to receive him.  Wise waiting involves a lifestyle of patient readiness rather than fretful anxiety.

 

 

Even when we forget--or lose the capacity to remember--we are held in God's memory through all time and circumstances.  That is the hope we recall on All Saints Sunday

 

 

Reformation Sunday has sometimes been an ethnic tribal feast or a day of slight theological hubris among the descendants of the Reformers.  What if we we make it a day of Re-Formation, when we try to envision what God is calling the church to be about in a new day?

 

At first glance it looks like we have a major overreaction to a minor wardrobe malfunction; when we look more closely, we see that the parable of the wedding garment helpfully speaks to the thorny issue of how justification and sanctification are related.

 

 

Discipleship demands a great deal of us, but as Paul notes, the price we may pay seems small in comparison to what we have received in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Be careful when Jesus asks you what seems to be an obvious question.  You might just find yourself admitting more than you intended...

 

 

It is often hard to forgive.  It helps to remember how much we have first been forgiven and that sometimes forgiving another is the gift we give ourselves.

 

Self-denial is not the same thing as self-hate--but it does bring us face to face with one the great paradoxes of life of in Christ, in losing we gain.

 

What do the healing of a Canaanite girl and care of creation have in common?   They both require expanding the vision of mission.  God has a way of pushing us to go beyond old borders to see a calling which is especialy urgent for our particular time and place.

 

Walking on the water is impressive--but what difference does that make to us.  The story makes two asks us to notice two important things:  Jesus comes.  Peter goes.

 

As impressive as the Feeding of the 5000 might be perhaps the real point of the miracle is not so much a display of power as the revelation of what God is like--and what we are called to be.

 

Living faithfully involves, as that great theologian Casey Kasem put it, that you, "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars"--or to put it another way, that we be rooted in our tradition yet open to God's new thing.

 

Most of the time we think Jesus' familiar parable is about being good soil, but maybe the point is the power of the seed and the courage of the sower...

 

Taking on the yoke of Jesus may sound like a very taxing decision.  It is--but it just happens to be the way to find real freedom and healing.

 

We seldom explicitly tell someone they do not belong in our congregation, but we have ways to make it very clear who is welcome.  Hospitality is at the core of being a Christian, but it also essential if we are are stay spiritually alive.

 

Pentecost Sunday is a time to reflect on the need to know our story so that we can tell it in new languages to a culture which is not at all sure the church is worth the time.

 

In a religiously pluralistic society it can be hard to speak of our faith with both confidence and civility.  In his speech at the Areopagus,Paul gives us a good example of how to reach out to the skeptical and apathetic.

 

We need to appreciate the complicated relationship with have with our mothers--including Mother Church.  Finally, our call is to give thanks for all who mother us.

 

Jesus comes to us in the ordinary places of life and where he has promised to be:  in scripture and the sacraments.

 

It is fine to celebrate the triumph of Easter, but we celebrate best when we take up Jesus' mission.

 

In the midst of so much death, we need a little Easter in our lives and and in our world

 

When Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well, barriers fall.  Sometimes we need to hear a word of welcome...and other times we need to be the ones speaking it in Jesus name.

 

Jesus tell Nicodemus, "You must be born..."  Is it "again" or "from above?"  Maybe it is both.  Maybe John has given us a rich word to bring out the complexity of discipleship, both radical transformation and divine action in our lives.

 

Speaking of the narrative usually called the story of "the Fall," Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes, "No text in Genesis (or likely in the entire Bible has been more used, interpreted, or misunderstood than this text."  Is it possible to see Eden with fresh eyes?

 

Is there a good word to be said for guilt--or at least honest reflection

 

Few texts are more difficult than Jesus' call to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and  love our enemies.  We work very hard to domesticate these challenging words...but don't we know what Jesus is asking of us?

 

Sometimes we resist choosing; most of us hate to have our options limited.  But Moses reminds the people that sometimes choosing is the only way we embrance abundance

 

The Beatitudes are densely packed with profound meaning. But they are also a basic call to see and embrace Jesus' distinctive way of being in the world  which is marked by simplicity, compassion, and hopefulness.

 

The big question:  Do we love our personal party more than unity in Christ?

 

What are you looking for?  Jesus asks that question and we do well to ponder it deeply.

 

What gift does the Christ child really want?  Hint:  It isn't gold, frankincense, or myrrh...

 

How are vacations and the Christmas season alike?  Both often leave us feeling down because they can not bear the weight of our outsized expectations.  But God comes into less than perfect places.

 

What gave Joseph the courage to trust his dream?  He was open to the possibilty that God might be doing a new thing...like God had done many times before.  Worth remembering when we come to our own dead end.

 

Oddly enough, the fearsome message of John the Baptist may be an expression of a divine love which cares too much for us to leave us comfortable.

 

What does it mean to call Christ the King?  A great soaring hymn from Colossians bears witness to the mystery of a God both cosmic and caring.

 

The writer of II Thessalonians says we must grow weary doing good--but in fact we do.  What makes us weary and what can sustain us in hard times?

 

Sometimes we feel besieged by life.  We face many challenges which can make us anxious and drain our energy.  Yet we have much for which we can give thanks, not the least of which is our identity as beloved children of God.

 

We tend to adopt a mindset of scarcity, afraid that we will run out money, time, and love.  Reformation Sunday is time to focus of the incredible generosity of God.

 

The problem is not so much that we are unconcerned for the poor, but that we just do not really see them.  Jesus tells a story about how one man's blindness separated him from God

 

It's easy for us to love mercy; justice is a little harder sell.  Yet, what "happens in the marketplace stays in the marketplace" is not the vision of community which Jesus offers us.

 

How do we keep centered in a world where the ethical choices demanded of us seem less black and white than fifty shades of grey?

 

Sometimes we make Jesus merely a modern iconoclast.  But the truth is more nuanced than that.  Sometimes Jesus broke the rules to honor the best of his tradition--which gives us both rooting and freedom as we face our own challenges.

 

" I come to bring fire."  That certainly doesn't sound like our often overly romantic image of Jesus meek and mild.  Is there a difference between peace and placation; is conflict always the opposite of passionate pursuit of reconciliation?

 

"You can't take it with you;" we have heard that often.  But what about the danger of having your soul slowly warped by a love of things--right now?  Maybe that is the point of Jesus' parable of a rich but foolish farmer.

 

Suppose we give a little love to St. Martha, patron saint of the harried and distracted...

 

Some think Care of Creation is a trendy topic which is, at best,  a distraction from the heart of the gospel.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Discipleship involves celebrating and caring for the world in which we live and understanding what it means to be neighbor to those far away.

 

Who me, an Evangelist?  Yes, and in the commissioning of the 70 we see how that need not be such a scary thought.

 

It is easy for us to become jaded to God's love because it is always there.  Gratitude gives us life.  When we notice the blessings received daily acts of discipleship flow naturally from our hearts.

 

How are Christians who are serious about their faith supposed to relate to the outsider, to those whose lives are often appealing but rooted in a different foundation.  Is there a choice between seeing religious convictions as merely a personal preference and becoming rigidly dogmatic?

 

Many people feel a little uncomfortable with Pentecost.  This festival day explicitly celebrates the work of the Holy Sprit--and we are not at all sure we want that kind of power let loose in our lives.

 

Jesus prays "that they may all be one."  Is that possible--or even desireable?

 

Jesus promises us peace, but what does that mean?  Pastor King explores some counterfeits and the real thing.

 

Modern people did not invent skepticism and the struggle to believe the amazing promise of resurrection is real.  Read Pastor King's word to all who long to move from emptiness to hope.

 

Pastor King preached a series of sermon outlining what Luther Memorial might set as its core values in the coming years.  Borrowing on Brian McLaren's work in The Church on the Other Side, he suggested that LMLC commit itself to

  • More Christians
  • Better Christians
  • In Missional Community
  • For the Sake of the World