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Called onto the Water

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Our texts this week are very rich. There is a lot find within all of these texts, but especially our first reading and gospel. I was thinking about what direction to take this:
What part of the story to focus on?
What can we take away in our time and in our place today?

I don’t think we focus enough what happened before we got to this section of the gospel. Jesus has just healed sick people. Jesus has just feed over 5,000 men, not including the women and the children who were also gathered.

It is easy to overlook that before Jesus did all that, he was looking for a quiet place. He was looking for way to escape the crowds, and perhaps even his disciples, in order to mourn and grieve the death of John the Baptist. However, he put his own need for quiet,  solitude, prayer, and what we would call self-care for the sake of those gathered around him.

This is something that we, as caregivers, tend to do. We put our own needs and care on hold.

Jesus sends the disciples away and dismisses the crowd. He realized he is out of energy. He doesn’t want and long for solitude, but it is essential for him to carry on his ministry.

Jesus sends the disciples ahead of him on a boat. The weather turns bad with waves and wind beating up against the boat. The disciples, most of them, had been professional fisherman. They would not have necessarily enjoyed this weather, but it probably would not have scared them.

Suddenly, the disciples see a man walking on water towards them in the distance. I’m guessing this is a sight they had never seen before and a sight none of us have seen before. The disciples become fearful thinking they must be seeing a ghost or a spirit, not bone and flesh, walking towards them.

Jesus repeats one of the most common phrases in all of scripture, appearing 365 times, “Be Not Afraid”.

The disciples realize it is Jesus. Then Peter excitedly and anxiously shouts “Lord, I want to be right next to you. If you command it, with everything I have seen you do, I’ll be able to walk on the water and come out to you”.

It is as though Christ says “come, if you want to but…alright”.
We get an one word reply from Christ, it is “Come”.

Peter steps out of the security of the boat and his company of friends. He is doing well, for awhile he stays on top of the water walking towards Christ. His focus is right there on Christ, which is what we emphasize in this text because when Peter realizes what he is doing the logical/rational part of his brain reacts. He starts thinking “Wait a Minute! I am Human! I cannot be walking on the water!”. He starts to sink. He screams out to be rescued and Christ extends his hand, rescues him, they both get into the security of the boat, and the storm starts to settle.

Walking on water is no easy task. A couple of years ago, at the Highlander festival, I was put into one of the big, blow-up hamster balls. Then, it was put into a kiddie pool of water and I was to walk on the water. If I ever had the illusion that I can walk on water, it was shattered that day. It was quite amusing to watch, there is even video of it on our Facebook page.

Walking on water is not an easy task. The thing is you lack control.

It is no secret that I am OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), is it is an anxiety disorder often flaring up when I feel like I am not in control. I often explain that when things in my life out of control, which is always, I need to control what I can. It is usually that my home is clean and organized.

Peter may have had a similar experience. He is out on the water, when suddenly he realizes that things are out of his control. So, what does he do?  He tries to take control of the situation, instead of continuing to walk towards Christ he starts sinking.

How often do the storms rage in our own lives, externally and internally, that make us realize that we’re not in control?

How often do we respond to that by trying to take control?
If not over the whole, at least what we can?

How often do we feel over-whelmed as though we are sinking?

I hadn’t thought about until reading a commentary this week, but  Peter leaves his boat of comfort risking everything to walk on the water because of his faith, or trust.

How often are we willing to get out of our comfort, safety, and security?

How often are we willing to leave the support of family and friends readily available to help us weather all the storms?

How often are we willing to step out and head towards what Christ is calling us to?

I think often times we do not.

Christ calls us to many things such as our Baptismal promises:

We’re called to speak out against injustice.
We’re called to speak out against hate.
We’re called to act with compassion and mercy.
We’re called to love and to serve.

How often do we risk our comfort to live into those promises?
How often do we risk our comfort to live into those callings?

I think we have more opportunities to follow Christ in such a way, but we do not do it.

My encouragement for us this week is to think about the times that we do or do not get out of the boat or our comfort . May we be assured that if we begin to sink, God is always there to rescue us. Amen.

Scripture was Matthew 14: 23-33.
Originally preached on 13 August 2017 at Gloria Dei (Kelso, WA).

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2017 in Sermons

 

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The Lost Things and Broken Pieces

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So, I am gonna ask a question here.
How many of you have seen the new Tinkerbell movies?

I figured I may be about the only one with my hand up. I figured that would happen.

So, there is a whole series of Tinkerbell movies, there are four main ones now, and I prefer this Tinkerbell over the Peter Pan Tinkerbell.

She still has the attitude.
She is still feisty.
She still has her temper, but she is not quite as jealous as she was.

You can actually understand her because she talks and it doesn’t simply sound like a bell ringing.

She has some (fairy) friends. She hasn’t made it to Neverland yet, instead she lives in Pixie Hallow with all the other fairies. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Sermons

 

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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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Freed to… What?

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So, this is the 4th of July weekend. A lot of things are going on to celebrate what the 4th of July is for us, whether that be cook-outs or fireworks shows. It comes down to a celebration of freedom. Its a luxury that we hold dear to our hearts in this country: Freedom. We think about the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom to be who we are.

But today, we can celebrate another type of freedom:
a freedom that comes from our baptismal rites;
a freedom that frees us from the baggage of the past;
a freedom that tells us we are no longer held in bondage to sin, or for Luther that would be bondage to being curved in on the self, selfishness, self-centeredness. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Sermons

 

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Sorting the Wheat and Weeds

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Today, we have another one of those agricultural parables.

Last week, we had one about good soil, about seeds being thrown out as many would consider kind of foolishly. Some landing on a rocky path to be ate by birds; some falling in shallow soil, where they grow quickly but are easily uprooted; And others that fall among weeds and thorns, and they grow but are choked out by the worries and concerns of the world.

Today, we have the one of the wheat and the weeds.

I am not good at growing plants. If it doesn’t make noise, I tend to forget to take care of it. But, I do know that you don’t usually want to let weeds hang out in our garden. And yet, that is precisely what we have in our parable today.

Why wouldn’t it be easy to identify what these weeds are in comparison to wheat?
There seems to be a question about how to remove it without taking the good wheat along with it.

In Jesus’ time, there was a common practice of revenge which was to take seeds for darnel which is a weed, a poisonous weed, that looks like wheat. The common practice of revenge in that day was to planet these bad seeds among the good seeds of your enemy so that when the wheat started growing, the weeds would be growing right along side. It was challenging to tell the difference.

I don’t think that is too hard of a concept for us to get in our time and in our place. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Sermons

 

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A Call to Division?

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There are some weeks when I look at our texts and I don’t want to preach on them.
This was one of those weeks.

The text is not warm and fuzzy.
The text is challenging and frustrating.

Often times, I try to connect our current texts with those we have recently heard or the larger Biblical story as a whole.

There were two main sources of frustration for me in our Gospel today.

First, the theme of division. We have our Prince of Peace saying “I didn’t come to bring peace, I came to bring division”. Yet, a common theme in my preaching is that the Holy Spirit has taken those differences that we let divide us and broken through those walls so that we can reach across the divides to be reconciled, to love, and to serve one another no matter where we might find them on their path and we find them on our own. That (theme) is a little bit of a challenge to preach with the text we have today.

Second frustration, last week was Father’s Day. I preached about the role of a (ideal) father or parent as one that helps is to have wings to go fly with and when we fall picks us up, dusts us off, and sends us further into who we are called to be and the journey that we are called to travel. Today’s text has father against son, mother against daughter, and it reads daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (which from my experience is not that difficult of a division). BUT, it is about divisions between relationships that last week we honored and we lifted up.

I think this text and the reality of our lives show why language of God as the Father, the Mother, or the Parent is challenged. In our own lives, we know that not all (earthly) fathers are good fathers and not all (earthly) mothers are good mothers. Some try and fall short, while others just don’t even try. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2017 in Sermons

 

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Testing Our Wings: Father’s Day Sermon

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These texts that we have today were a challenge for me. We have different texts that give themselves to or have themes that have been hijacked for purposes other than what I would call the gospel, or the good news.

I was wrestling with that this week.
How do I preach this, especially on the coat tails of a Sunday where I loved the gospel?

Then, I got to thinking about Father’s Day, who a father is, and our image of God as the perfect Father (the model of what fatherhood should ideally be).

I became a little more comfortable with the texts at that point.

In our gospel text (Matt. 9-10), we have Christ sending his disciples out to do those things we have been talking about:
the proclamation of the WORD in word and deed;
we don’t have the baptizing yet, but that will come;
the acts of compassion and mercy; and
the love and the service (of others).
They have been sent out into the world to do that, but not quite fully yet. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2017 in Sermons

 

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