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Lectionary 19C (August 11, 2019)

“Abraham believed, and God reckoned it to him as righteousness.” This is one of the most influential sentences ever written. God reckons Abraham’s belief as righteousness. The question, “what is righteousness?” lies beneath everything we do and say as Christians. Old Testament theologian Walter Brueggemann says that (at least in …

Lectionary 18C (August 4, 2019)

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Teacher. Ecclesiastes: also known as “The Day the Teacher Lost It.” The Teacher finally snapped. What does the Teacher mean by “vanity”? We’ve used that English word for centuries to translate a Hebrew word for mist. The ancient Greek translators chose a word meaning “useless.” …

Lectionary 17C (July 28, 2019)

Happy Sodom and Gomorrah Sunday, everybody! I love that the Lectionary pairs this scene with Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer. This scene is the perfect foil to any simplistic reading of Jesus on prayer. Life is complicated. God’s relationship with people is complicated. Abraham’s relationship with Sodom is complicated. …

Lectionary 16C (July 21, 2019)

There’s the object, and there’s our interpretation, and these two things are not the same. This is a common theme in philosophy and the study of how humans think and perceive. Consider today’s Gospel. The earliest interpreters felt that Mary and Martha each represented different ways of being Christian: Mary …

Lectionary 15C (July 14, 2019)

“And who is my neighbor?” On the surface, this is a ridiculous question. The word literally means “someone really close by.” Coming from a “lawyer,” or Jewish Torah expert, this is a real jerk question.        Jesus responds, as he often does, with a parable, one of his most famous. At …

Lectionary 12C (June 23, 2019)

One of Trinity Lutheran Church of Valparaiso’s identifying marks is that we do not (usually) need (much) assuring or exhorting to believe that service in the world is God’s work. Martin Luther famously challenged the medieval hierarchy of clergy (who got to play with holy things and were themselves holy) …

The Holy Trinity (Year C, June 16, 2019)

On Trinity Sunday we pause and reflect on the God who is revealed in the Church’s stories. The text we read today may not be Exodus or Easter, but they reveal the same God. What happens in our texts? What is revealed? In Proverbs, Wisdom is present before creation, with …

Lectionary 13B (July 1, 2018)

There are times when belief in God truly is challenging. I’m talking about believing in a good, gracious, and righteous God when you’ve been mysteriously bleeding for twelve years, believing after you little girl is dead, believing after seeing neighbors rounded up for being Jewish or socialist or gypsy or …

Lectionary 12B (June 24, 2018)

Swamped. That’s how Mark describes the boat. Most of us have been there. Maybe we’re there, now. Trying to have my kid every place they need to be, trying to plan the family schedule and family budget, trying to keep up with work, trying to keep up with health care, …

Lectionary 11B (June 17, 2018)

We Lutherans, we’re the grace people. It’s a basic Christian doctrine that we cannot make ourselves right with God or save ourselves, and whenever someone says we can, we Lutherans rush to be at the front of the line to say, those things are gifts from God. We’re willing to …