A Call to Division?


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


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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The Holy Trinity and “Making” Disciples


Last week, I talked about how Pentecost seems strange to me because it is a feast to celebrate the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit in a manifestation that usually makes us uncomfortable. It was not the loving, comforting side but rather the unruly, untamed side that sends us forth and out into the world.

At the beginning of the service, I reference that this is also a feast day. It is the feast day (or Sunday) of the Holy Trinity, which is always the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is a strange day in it’s own right.

Our Sunday or Feasts texts usually involve a particular teaching or theme, or it deals with a particular event (like Pentecost), or perhaps a particular person like one of the Saints that we honor. Today is none of those. Today is the ONLY day of the church year that is dedicated to a teaching of the (Christian) Church, a core teaching, one of our most basic and fundamental doctrines.

But, throughout the world today, people will be hearing a lot of heresy (or false teaching) because the Trinity, the three-in-one, the one-in-three is a profound and divine mystery of who God is in our life, in our place, in our time, and in our world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Sermons


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Wild One: the Holy Spirit and Its Gifts


Its Pentecost!! Yahoo!!

I was talking earlier today about how we focus on Pentecost as this festival day, where we get to wear red and we get all excited about it. We get all excited about the Holy Spirit. Yet, it seems so odd to me that we do this; Pentecost seems like an odd thing for me.

We struggle with the Spirit and what the Spirit calls us to do. So, I want to talk about how it influenced the disciples.

Do you remember last week?
Christ has ascended back to the Father. The disciples were hidden in an upper room, praying ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done’. But the truth is, Christ had already sent them into the world to carry on his mission.

I talked about how we are invited, encouraged, and brought into that same mission through our baptismal promises; nurtured by the faithful, nurtured by Word and Sacrament. We are called to proclaim the Word in word and deed. We’re called to seek justice, to act with mercy and compassion, to love, and to serve.

But, the disciples are in an upstairs room praying ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done’. Where is the action?

The analogy I used last week was the relay runner, because we are called to get a head-start while the one running up behind us is bringing us the drive or motivation to continue.

That motivation, that drive happened at Pentecost. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Sermons


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Mission Relay

Mission Relay


I told LeAndra before our service started that this is a weird Sunday in the Church year. It might not seem like it is, but it is because we are walking in this small time where we don’t fit into one season or another.

You might note that our hymn board reads as the Seventh Sunday in Easter. During Easter, we are on a journey with Christ after his resurrection. Yet, Thursday was the day of the Ascension, when Christ returned to the right hand of the Father in heaven. But, we are not to Pentecost yet where we receive the Advocate (or the Holy Spirit). That is next Sunday.

So we are in this strange time, when Christ as left us again and again we are not sure what to do.

This season we have been on a journey, which started with the miracle of the resurrection quickly leading us to seek a better understanding of who God is in our time and our place and who God is calling us to be with opened eyes, ears, and hearts. We have heard that this journey is not going to  be easy. We have heard that it is not all about us, it is not our work but rather the Holy Spirit working through us and our baptismal promises that will bring forth the kingdom of God.

Our text today does not lead us too far off our journey, because the disciples were told by Christ to continue his work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Sermons


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Our Vocations: Not to “Save”


We’ve been on a journey through these weeks in this time of Easter. I have been talking about a journey that we are all on, where we’re seeking to better understand God, understand who God is, and how God is shaping us to be the people who God has called us to be. That (journey) requires us to have open hearts, and ears, and eyes to what God is revealing to us; but last week, we were reminded by the stoning of Stephen that it is not always sunshine and roses to do what we have been called to do. We have that same notion of vocation and calling in our Acts text today.

Last week, I talked about that  we all (as baptized Christians) have a call that we get in our baptisms. It is a call to proclaim the Word (proclaim who God is), to seek justice, to act with mercy and compassion, to love, and to serve. Stephen, as a deacon, was called into proclaiming the Word and serving the people.

I want to talk a little bit today about the vocation that Paul had and how this text (in particular) speaks to me about how I continue on that vocation. As a pastor, I have a vocation to ordained ministry, proclaiming the Word and administrating the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, which I referred to last week. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


Vocations: Christians and Mothers


As we read our texts today, you might have noticed that these don’t sound like happy Mother’s Day texts, especially that first one in Acts with Stephen. Our texts today had various ways that I could go, various sermons I could choose to preach. I was debating this during the week.

One thing that kept coming back to me is a theme I have been discussing during this time in Easter, one of a journey in a post-resurrection world. Now, our Gospel text is prior to the death and resurrection of Christ but it teaches us about the thereafter.

We started this season with the resurrection and then we had “Doubting Thomas“, starting us on a journey of seeking to better understand who God is, who Christ is, and the miracle of the resurrection in our lives. I talked about him continuing into India as a missionary, where he would eventually be martyred for it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Uncategorized