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Sermons

The Presentation of our Lord (Feb 2, 2020)

We read this text unironically. We live in a world in which Pastor Paula White—also known as President Trump’s spiritual advisor—prays for God to cause Satanic pregnancies to miscarry. We hear that and we all shake our heads at how crazy it sounds. And then we read—without a trace of …

Epiphany 3A (Jan 26, 2020)

It’s not every Sunday that your Gospel reading quotes your First Reading, much less quotes extensively a short First Reading. That tells us these words from Isaiah must be important. Zebulun and Naphtali. Now, I’m a Church geek and a history freak and I like knowing more than other people—it …

Epiphany 2A (Jan 19, 2020)

God shows up for no good reason. I mean, in this scene why is Jesus there? We assume it’s to be baptized, but John says nothing. For all we know, Jesus is on his way to Family Express. Next day, same thing: no explanation. He just comes out of nowhere. …

The Baptism of our Lord (Jan 12, 2020)

Why would God be baptized? Fair question. It’s John the Baptist’s question in Matthew. Jesus responds that it will “fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew depicts John’s baptism as one specifically of repentance, or changing one’s mindset. Baptism—having crazy John immerse you in the muddy Jordan River—is not bathing as we would …

Christmas 1A (Dec 29, 2019)

The story is both ours and not ours. The story is ours because it is part of Christ’s birth narrative and for 2,000 years the Church has read it. The story is not ours because most of us cannot claim as our personal experience the experience of Joseph, Mary, and …

Christmas Eve 2019

“Mary treasured these words and pondered them in her heart.” When reading this verse, I have always envisioned Mary as a wise woman, someone with profound emotional intelligence, who understands what is happening and keeps her precious memories. Luke’s original language suggests this is a bit off. That word “treasure,” …

Advent 4A (Dec 22, 2019)

How are we to understand Joseph? I mean, the story is about Jesus, but Joseph is the central character. Maybe if we can understand Joseph, we can understand what Jesus means to Joseph. We meet Joseph as someone with an embarrassing and anxiety-producing problem: his wife is pregnant and he …

Advent 3A (December 15, 2019)

The reading from James sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s probably in part because Lutherans hate James. Luther famously derided the book as “an epistle of straw.” But it’s also odd as we prepare for Christmas to read, “as an example of suffering and patience take the prophets,” and, …

Advent 2A (Dec 8, 2019)

John the Baptist points. John points away from himself toward God. It’s a crucial part of being Christian—point to God—and it’s why John gets his own Sunday, the second Sunday of each Church Year. John makes claims about God and expresses opinions about how to follow God—and we will talk …

Advent 1A (Dec 1, 2019)

Maybe it’s the onset of the holidays. Maybe it’s the realization that we really did eat that much this week. Maybe it’s the gathering darkness. I don’t know. This Gospel text is troubling, but it resonates with this time of year. It’s about something disturbing that we are supposed to …