Between Samaria and Galilee

On October 9 the gospel lesson from Luke 17:11-19 tells the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. The geography is interesting to me, the little word “between” takes on added meaning in October, as the season of Pentecost winds down and the story of Jesus turns toward Jerusalem and crucifixion.

 

Many themes can be pulled from this text, from gratitude to authority. The nine are obedient, but the one was transformed.

St Paul 10/9

For the kids, I read a book from my shelf, Circles of Hope, which seemed timely in the wake of hurricane Matthew and renewed prayers for the people of Haiti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wrong Question

The text for October 2, 2016, Luke 17:5-10, starts out easy but ends with unsettling and confusing imagery. I used the epistle reading, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, to answer the question raised in Luke.

It’s not really a question, it’s more of a plea from the disciples to Jesus: Increase our faith! I think it’s not about how much faith one has, but what one does with it. This is hard for a Lutheran, we are based in grace and not works. But I think that applies to salvation, and this passage is about day-to-day life. Kingdom living, an image I like to use.

St. Paul 10/2

I talked about St. Francis with the kids, remind me next time to print out a picture or bring in a statue or something. They stayed with me pretty well, but something concrete is always a good idea.

 

Rally Day

On September 11 so much was going on: Rally Day, New Members, God’s Work: Our Hands; also prayers and remembrance of the fifteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The gospel appointed for the day was Luke 15:1-10.

I could have been more focused in this sermon. I usually don’t include things like Veteran’s Day, Mother’s Day, or the remembrance of 9-11 in my sermons. Perhaps because I did include Labor Day the week before, I preached on 9-11 and togetherness. I found this great video called The Fallen of World War II that gave me great perspective on the times we’re living in. Joy is the upshot, I hope, of this sermon, and of the life of faith.

Labor Day sermon

Preachers sometimes talk about preaching the text versus preaching the day. I’m sure you can guess that the former choice is the better choice; but we also seek to be contextual, and part of our context is things like Labor Day (or Mother’s Day, etc.). On September 4, I preached Luke 14:25-33, but I also talked about Labor Day and #decolonizeLutheranism.

 

 

This was a time when I went to bed with one sermon and woke up with another, which means I preached from notes, as I didn’t have time to rewrite. I got good feedback at the door. I could have left off the stuff about Labor Day, but it flows. It’s less polished than the last couple of weeks, but I was truly filled with the Holy Spirit and for that I’m grateful.

St. Paul, Labor Day weekend 2016

Thanks be to God.

 

Let mutual love continue

On August 28 I put Luke 14 in the backseat and preached mostly on Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16.

Blending two texts into a sermon can be tricky, and I certainly gave Luke short shrift here, just pulling a couple of ideas that complemented the Hebrews’ theme of the love that Jesus urges us to express in the world.

Hebrews 13

I told stories on my brother Andy and my mom. Beforehand I was very nervous, I cribbed the exegesis from a sermon I preached at seminary and then rewrote for my context now. It felt sewed-together, jangly, when I read it to myself Sunday morning. But it preached well, I think.

Sabbath as identity

On August 21 Luke brings us a great story, with themes of healing and controversy. Luke 13:10-17

Sermon audio: St. Paul 8/21

We incorporated healing prayer into the service this morning. Following worship was the third of three congregational meetings we’ve held this summer, mostly to discuss a budget shortfall and solutions. Our council president, Stacy Turke, was so great when she said, the first meeting was like, “the sky is falling!” The second meeting was about transparency: here are the numbers, here’s what we think is going on, here are potential budget cuts. The third reported the good news of St. Paul members’ amazing generosity; in one month we cut the deficit by nearly $5,000; additional pledges made the budget solvent and prevented salary cuts. I am overwhelmed by the Spirit moving among the people in our congregation. Many have pledged; many have stepped forward as leaders; we are filled with hope and joy.

 

Be ready for the Father’s good pleasure

From August 7, Luke’s version of do not worry, from chapter 12.

This summer of stories from Luke tell us to listen, to be prepared, not to be anxious. Trust is clearly an issue for us humans. The question is, since we are saved, what does living in the kingdom look like?

Little flock, St. Paul

I love the imagery in this passage. Write it on your hearts.

Fire & division

The text for August 14 was Luke bringing us the counter-intuitive news that Jesus brings fire and division.

We are taught to value family, and that’s a good thing. Jesus reminds us who our family is.

Luke 12, St. Paul

This is my shortest sermon since Good Friday, and also perhaps my best. I’m being won over to writing out my messages more fully, it does make them very concise.