Pentecost 20A: Used by Trump or by God?

The alternative Old Testament Reading for this Sunday is Isaiah 45:1-7, where the Lord calls up Cyrus to be used as an instrument to subdue nations, strip kings of their robes, and open doors for the returning exiles.

 

And in the Gospel Reading, Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees, along with their political enemies, the sycophants around the […]

Pentecost 19A: God’s Terrible, Terrific Expectations

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is Matthew 22:1-14, the Parable of the Wedding Banquet.

 

As we listen to Jesus as church members, we are generally okay with the first part. The king is God, the son is Jesus, the banquet is for us. Those lazy, distracted people at home watching the football game, playing golf, working on […]

Pentecost 17A What Does Authority Look Like?

The Gospel for the 17 Sunday after Pentecost is Matthew 21:23-32

“By what authority do you do these things, Jesus?”

 

Behind the current battle about “fake news,” and whom to believe—scientists or politicians, is an existential question about the nature of true authority.

There is a great difference between authority and authoritarianism. Matthew tells us about a confrontation […]

Pentecost 11: Prejudice Defiles

The Gospel Reading for this Sunday is Mathew 15:1-28

 

The plague we are fighting today is not simply Covid-19. It is prejudice—the prejudice that keeps us from listening to people’s cries—the prejudice that fills us with fear, anger and hatred—the prejudice that defiles.

 

The lectionary gives us the choice at stopping at verse 20 of Matthew 15; […]

Pentecost 10: Little Faith, Big Job, Big God

The Gospel Reading for this, the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, is Matthew 14:2-33

 

Jesus comes to the boat of the disciples in spite of battering waves. He walks on the waves. Peter hopes to do the same. Jesus says, “Come.” Peter tries, but the wind and his fear cause him to sink, and he calls out […]

Pentecost 8: Nothing Random in the Big Picture

The second reading for this coming Sunday is Romans 8:26-39. It includes these verses:

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he […]

Pentecost 3: Fear, Love, and Our New Family

Matthew 10:24-39

 

We have several pandemics going on. The most threatening is the pandemic of polarization. The Devil’s favorite weapon is polarization, or should we say scattering. Strike the shepherd and scatter the flock.

 

The forces of polarization peddle an alternate reality. They want to shake things up—sow confusion—divide and conquer. And the way they do this […]

Pentecost 2: Sheep into the Midst of Wolves

Gospel for Proper 6 (Pentecost 2) Series A

Matthew 9:35–10:8 (10:9–23)

 

This is the year of Matthew in the Revised Common Lectionary. But this is the Sunday we get our first real introduction to what it means to be Christ-followers—what it means to be a genuine part of the church.

 

And it isn’t pretty! And it is not […]

Ferguson Is Bigger than Any Grand Jury Decision

All this fuss over waiting for a grand jury decision!

 

But there is more to the story than Michael Brown lying dead and Darren Wilson having pulled the trigger. Of course the tragedy of that single death is immense. Of course the agony that Michael Brown’s family and friends are going through is unfathomable. So is […]

Joseph's Fear and Ours

The following is a sermon I prepared for Advent 4–December 22 at First Lutheran Church in Lee, Illinois. Icy roads caused the cancellation of the service, so, I offer this sermon for the members of Lee and for anyone interested. I pray it adds to Christmastide reflections.

 

If an angel of the Lord appears before you […]